Outlet mall capital Reading, Pennsylvania, has conceived more than bargain shopping. It's given us Boscov's Department Store, which operates about 40 stores (down from 50 five years ago) that anchor malls mainly in Pennsylvania and four other mid-Atlantic states. The stores sell men's, women's, and children's apparel, shoes, and accessories, as well as jewelry, cosmetics, housewares, appliances, and sporting goods. It also operates an online store. Founded by Solomon Boscov in 1911, Boscov's Department Store is owned by an investor group led by chairman and CEO Albert Boscov, which purchased the business out of bankruptcy.
Boscov's was saved from liquidation when a bankruptcy judge approved the $300 million sale of the business the families of Albert Boscov and Edwin Lakin, the son and the son-in-law of the privately-held company's founder. Funding for the chain's rescue was provided in part by community banks that used funds from the U.S. Treasury's Capital Purchase Program (part of the Troubled Assets Relief Programs, better known as TARP), which shored up banks by purchasing preferred stock in them.
The company's financial woes stemmed from the deep recession in the US, which followed an ill-timed expansion that included the purchase of the Kaufmann's, Macy's, and Strawbridge's stores from Macy's, which expanded Boscov's Department Store's presence in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. The chain closed about 10 stores prior to receiving court approval in September 2009 to conclude its bankruptcy case.
Some Boscov's stores also house travel agencies (Boscov's Travel), hearing aid and vision centers, hair salons, and restaurants. Boscov's Travel, with some 30 locations in Boscov stores and on the Web, specializes in leisure and business travel, and offers customized travel arrangements for groups, conventions, and meetings.