Two Guys From Harrison: A New Jersey Discounting Adventure (1946-1982)

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Ah, Two Guys! For those who grew up in the New York City metropolitan area in the mid-20th century, the name evokes a wave of nostalgia. It wasn't just a department store; it was a blue-collar paradise, a place where savvy shoppers could snag brand-name appliances, clothing, and even groceries at unbelievably discounted prices. Buckle up, because we're about to embark on a journey through the rise and fall of Two Guys Discount Department Stores, a uniquely New Jersey retail legend.

From Humble Beginnings to Appliance Kings (1940s-1950s)

The Two Guys story starts not with a bang, but with a bargain. In 1946, brothers Herbert and Sidney Hubschman, fresh out of the Navy, spotted a deal they couldn't resist – a surplus of televisions from RCA. They bought them in bulk and started selling them out of a vacant lot in Harrison, New Jersey. Their motto? "Two Guys from Harrison Selling at Rock Bottom Prices."

The strategy was simple: low overhead costs, high volume sales, and a no-frills shopping experience. It worked. Newspapers, unwilling to print their initial name "Two Guys from Harrison" due to its perceived vulgarity, simply referred to them as "Two Guys." This unintentional nickname stuck and became synonymous with discount shopping in the region.

By the late 1940s, Two Guys had expanded beyond televisions, offering an array of major appliances like washing machines and refrigerators. Their success stemmed from a winning formula: top-quality brands at deeply discounted prices.

The Rise of the Discount Department Store (1950s-1960s)

The 1950s and 1960s witnessed the golden age of Two Guys. The company, fueled by its initial success, began to expand rapidly. They weren't just selling appliances anymore. Two Guys morphed into full-fledged discount department stores, offering a smorgasbord of merchandise under one roof – clothing, furniture, housewares, and even sporting goods.

The stores themselves were an experience. Imagine vast, brightly lit spaces crammed with merchandise, a shopper's paradise for those seeking the best deals. Many locations even featured on-site supermarkets, offering a one-stop shop for families.

The Vornado Acquisition and Suburban Sprawl (1960s-1970s)

A pivotal moment in Two Guys' history came in 1959 with the acquisition of the Vornado appliance brand. This move solidified their position as a major appliance retailer in the region. With newfound resources, Two Guys continued their aggressive expansion strategy, pushing beyond their New Jersey roots and opening stores throughout the Northeast, reaching as far west as California.

The rise of the suburbs in the post-war era also played a role in Two Guys' success. Their large, out-of-town stores, with ample parking, were perfectly positioned to cater to the growing suburban population.

The Glimmer Fades: Changing Consumer Habits and Financial Woes (1970s-1980s)

However, the retail landscape began to shift in the late 1970s. Newer, more modern discount chains like Kmart and Walmart emerged, offering an even wider selection of goods and a more polished shopping experience. Two Guys, with their somewhat dated stores and no-frills approach, started to lose their competitive edge.

This decline was compounded by internal financial struggles. The company's rapid expansion had stretched its resources thin, and management decisions proved to be less than stellar. The Vornado acquisition, initially a boon, turned sour as the appliance brand's performance faltered.

By the early 1980s, Two Guys was facing a perfect retail storm. Competition was fierce, consumer tastes were evolving, and the company was saddled with debt. In 1982, the inevitable happened: Two Guys Discount Department Stores closed its doors for good.

A Legacy in Discounts and New Jersey Nostalgia

Though Two Guys might be a relic of the past, its legacy lives on in the memories of generations of New Jersey shoppers. It was a pioneer in the discount department store industry, offering quality merchandise at rock-bottom prices.

The next time you score a great deal on an appliance or find a hidden gem at a discount store, take a moment to remember Two Guys – a New Jersey retail success story that brought bargain-hunting joy to the masses for over three decades.

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This blog post was created using information gathered from various online sources. While I strive to provide accurate information, it is recommended that you conduct your own research to verify the content.