With all the talk of executive bonuses, corporate bail-outs and billion-dollar ponzi schemes, I find it hard to believe that there isn’t a lot of public outcry over the taxpayer bailout of bankrupt department store chain, Boscov’s. Perhaps many don’t know about it, or they just don’t care. But I for one, am still fuming over it.
Boscov’s, headquarted in Reading, PA, was a family owned department store chain started way back in 1921. Following the retirement of Al Boscov, the company was put in the hands of Kenneth Lakin and quickly took a trip south. Boscov’s quickly bought up stores that were closed by department store chains that closed them for a reason, a reason Lakin should have considered before buying them. Eventually, the rapid expansion and stupid moves on behalf of the firm resulted in store closings to reduce overhead and an eventual trip into debt and then to bankruptcy. If you ever need financial help to get out of debt, then consider contacting financial companies like CreditAssociates.
For those who live in the Wilkes-Barre, PA area, you’re familiar with Boscov’s. It’s the dilapidated, shit-hole of a store located on Public Square that the Boscov family hasn’t given a remodel to since they purchased it in the 1980’s. The parking garage smells of vomit and urine and is slowly crumbling. The store itself is dank and dreary with its uneven floors and 70’s decor. The merchandise it sells is close-outs and seconds, but apparently it’s a money making store for the chain. I’m told the Wilkes-Barre store and the one in Binghampton, NY is a dumping ground for merchandise that couldn’t be sold in other stores because nobody would buy it!
Just a few months ago, to save the company from bankruptcy, Al Boscov and his brother-in-law, Ed Lakin, put a plan together to get some cash and buy the company that Lakin’s son forced into bankruptcy. How did old Al get the cash…. a quick phone call to Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. Campaign finance reports show that the Boscov and Lakin family were heavy contributors to Rendell’s campaign, which would explain why Rendell pledged $42 million to Al and Ed. That’s $42 million of YOUR money. But it doesn’t end there. They then went after the cities and counties in which the company’s stores reside and begged for money from them as well. Multiple states, counties and cities fluffed the Boscov-Lakin nest with taxpayer money.
The picture isn’t too clear for me. Son-in-law runs company into the ground. Company goes into bankruptcy. Daddy and father-in-law come to the rescue with taxpayer money. Son-in-law still an executive at the company. I’d fire his ass.
I’ve been very outspoken on this particular story and when it originally broke I called my government representatives to express not only my disappointment, but my disbelief that this could happen. Most never even returned my phone calls or emails and some told me, “that’s politics.” Sure, that’s politics, but it sucks. (By the way, they will never get a vote from me again, as I am now an official resident of Florida.)
The thing that threw me over the edge is when I got an invitation from Penn State University to attend a speaking gig where Al would talk about his achievements. Sure he did a lot during his 70 years on earth. Some will think if it weren’t for Al there would be no downtown Wilkes-Barre. Personally, I think he gets too much credit. Needless to say I didn’t attend the event. But Al and Wilkes-Barre mayor, Tom Leighton, were all smiles when the Times Leader captured them hugging. That hug was worth $3 million – the amount of money Leighton gave Boscov out of the city’s block grant. For $3 million, I’d give the mayor more than a hug and I’d do it on Public Square at lunchtime.
The Citizens’ Voice newspaper quoted Al as saying “dumb things were done” while his son-in-law was running the company (into the ground). Since when do we reward failing businesses with bailout money? Is this the road we are headed down in America today? Apparently it is based on the news of late.
This is just another example of how taxpayer dollars are wasted. Department stores are closing every day. They are a thing of the past as discount retailers such as Target and Walmart become mainstream. Boscov’s won’t be around for long and all that money that went from your pocket to theirs will be gone as well. It’s inevitable. Boscov’s bailout may be a small amount compared to what the government is handing out to the automakers in Detroit and the banks in New York, but it should make you just as angry.