New York - Crazy Eddie Brand To Open 50 Stores In Tristate Area
New York - In a move many would call in-saane, a Brooklyn businessman is reviving one of the most scandalous names in retail history - Crazy Eddie.
Jack Gemal has purchased the trademark of the 1970s and ‘80s electronics chain and plans to open 50 stores in the tristate area in the next two years.
As well as their rock-bottom prices, the original Crazy Eddie stores were known for their wacky radio and TV commercials featuring a frenzied, bug-eyed Jerry Carroll - driving New Yorkers nuts until the firm went bankrupt in 1989.
“Any New Yorker over 35 knows the line, ‘Crazy Eddie - his prices are in-saane!’ That recognition is worth a lot,” said Gemal.
But some say the new business plan is nuts because it brings one of the worst small-business scandals in the city’s history back to the forefront.
Bringing Crazy Eddie back is downright loony, says Sam Antar, the nephew of founder Eddie Antar and the CFO who helped cook the books and spent six months in house arrest for it. Eddie skipped to Israel, was extradited and spent 7½ years in prison.
“Imagine starting a new investment firm called Bernie Madoff or a corporation by the name of Enron? It’s nuts,” said Sam Antar.
“The name has a vile, ugly history - because of the crimes we committed. We lost investors millions of dollars.”
Eddie Antar and his partners falsified records, swindling investors out of as much as $200 million. Company stock plummeted from $80 to $1 a share.
Gemal bought the trademark from Trident Growth Fund LP, which tried to auction it for $800,000 on eBay in 2006. The top bid was $30,100, which wasn’t enough to close the deal.
“The rights cost us less than the price of a Prius,” Gemal quipped.
He’s now on the hunt for retail space near Penn Station and plans to open the first store this year - an eyebrow-raising move, given the recession.
Circuit City, the country’s second-largest electronics retailer, folded early this year.
The trademark purchase doesn’t include the Crazy Eddie character, for which Carroll retains ownership.
“All they have to do is make me an offer I can’t refuse,” Carroll said.
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