Department store titan Albert Boscov dies

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Albert (Al) Boscov, who built and later saved the family-owned department store group during the financial crisis, has died.

He was 87 and according to media reports suffered from pancreatic cancer. He had retired from the company, but remained chairman.

Tributes poured in on social media for Boscov from currentandformer employees as word of his death were posted on the company’s website and in media reports. Boscov was known for keeping the family touch at the stores.

Boscov was known for keeping the family touch at the stores and promotions aimed at bringing patrons into the stores.

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A long-standing tradition were special shopping days that helped raise funds local non-profit organizations.

Delaware played a key role in the expansion of Boscov’s from its home base in Reading, PA. The company operates stores in Concord Mall, Dover and the Christiana Mall area.

In his latter years, Boscov’s became well known for keeping the company under family ownership and not ending up in the hands of a private equity or liquidation company.

After retiring from the company, his successor and family member decided to add several stores and take on a heavy debt load at the onset of the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009.

Boscov led an uphill fight to refinance the company and keep it under family control while closing some stores and allowing the retailer to quickly emerge from bankruptcy court. He also returned as CEO.

The effort succeeded and the privately held company reported that sales increased every year.

Boscov’s now has more than four dozen stores in an area extending from Connecticut to Ohioand Virginia.

In recent years, the company has gradually added stores, despite difficult conditions in the department store business that have led to much larger rivals, like Macy’s shedding locations, while most family department stores have vanished.

A few years ago, Boscov’s returned to White Marsh Mall, an hour’s down Interstate 95 from Delaware and reopened a store it had shuttered after the overly ambitious expansion. The company recently announced other locations, despite news of closings at other chains.

(Correction) Some versions of this article incorrectly noted that Boscov’s stayed out of bankruptcy. The company briefly entered Chapter 11 proceedings).

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