“Crazy” Idea to Open A Retail Outlet in this Economy?

Anyone in the New York tri-state area in the late 1970’s couldn’t go five minutes without seeing a commercial for the Crazy Eddie electronic chain. Local dee jay Jerry Carroll was the ubiquitous pitchman who promised low prices that were absolutely insane!  The chain was hit by stock fraud violations by its founder Eddie Antar and went into bankruptcy and oblivion.  However, according to a story in today’s Asbury Park Press, a New Jersey entrepreneur named Jack Gemel has purchased the trademark and name to the Crazy Eddie chain and promises to open at least 50 small electronic stores in the metropolitan region over the next few years, the first launching in midtown in the fourth quarter.

Earlier this decade, Eddie Antar attempted to revive the chain as an online seller of electronics, an attempt that went nowhere. He even brought back Jerry Carroll as a pitchman.

This leads us to the task facing Jack Gemel. Can a chain that caused over $400 million in losses and saw its founder jailed for seven years find an audience?

According to Gemel, research shows that the public associates the Crazy Eddie name with low prices and while some may know the tarnished reputation caused by financial scandal, the low price message still resonates.

With our economy in the tank, this could be the right time for a Crazy Eddie comeback.

Perhaps a recapturing of some of the flavor of the original commercials would be a way to capture attention.

Instead of playing on the past by bringing back the original spokesman, the new team should look to create a new Crazy Eddie persona, perhaps staging a commercial pitchman contest online.   This would give a consumer a chance to be the face of the establishment.

In these times of economic duress, consumers are looking for bargains. If the revived Crazy Eddie can deliver on price and entertain the public, then a return to the success of the 1970’s may not be such an insane idea at all.

 Tom Cosentino


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