|Successor(s)||Vornado Realty Trust|
|Founded||Harrison, New Jersey, 1946|
|Headquarters||Harrison, New Jersey|
|Key people||Herbert Hubschman, Co-founder
Sidney Hubschman, Co-founder
|Products||Clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, toys, sporting goods, electronics, housewares, hardware, automotive, appliances, and food.|
Two Guys From Harrison (later shortened to Two Guys) was a discount store chain founded in 1946 by brothers Sidney and Herbert Hubschman in Harrison, New Jersey, originally selling major appliances such as televisions. The chain acquired the manufacturers of the Vornado appliance brand in 1959, and spread beyond the New York City metropolitan area to more than 100 locations in upstate New York, eastern Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, and as far as Illinois and California. The company's financial success started to decline in the late 1970s, and was defunct by 1982.
In 1946, the Hubschmans operated a snack bar concession in the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) plant in Harrison, New Jersey, which was one of the earliest US manufacturers of television sets. They became friendly with one of their customers, an RCA executive who invited Herbert to tour the plant. During the tour, Hubschman saw a batch of scratched-cabinet television sets returned from the retailers as unsalable. The Hubschmans worked out a plan to buy these sets for a low price, and sell them in a vacant lot for a $5 markup on each set, providing their own publicity using car windshield flyers. The sale was so successful, that the batch they figured would take a month to sell were gone in a few hours. They continued the arrangement with RCA, and soon were ready to open their own store and use newspaper advertising. By this time, they had heard of their competitors whining, "We can't compete with those two bastards from Harrison!" The Hubschmans wanted to use that as the store name to taunt the competition, but no newspaper would print it, so they settled on "Two Guys from Harrison".
In 1959, the company acquired O. A. Sutton Corporation, manufacturers of the Vornado line of electric fans, air conditioners, and dehumidifiers. The merged company was renamed Vornado, Inc. At its peak, there were more than 100 Two Guys locations nationwide, including Upstate New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, California, Maryland, and Virginia.
As Vornado's commercial fortunes declined throughout the mid-to-late 1970s, they began selling off Two Guys stores to various companies. In late 1980, Vornado (later renamed to Vornado Realty Trust) was acquired by Interstate Department Stores, Inc. after Interstate won a proxy fight. Interstate began the process of liquidating its Two Guys outlets by closing the stores and leasing the physical locations to other retailers, which had posted a loss of $20 million for the first half of 1981.
Many locations originally included a discount store with a supermarket, as well as complete hardware, major appliance, and automotive service departments. The Two Guys supermarkets were full sized "stores within a store." They competed directly with large supermarket chains in the region at the time like Acme, Food Fair, Penn Fruit, Grand Union, A&P, and ShopRite. Trading stamps like Plaid and S&H Green Stamps were popular supermarket promotions into the early 1980s, and Two Guys supermarkets had its own private label trading stamps. Completed books of Two Guys trading stamps could then be turned in for merchandise credit slips that could be used in any non-food Two Guys department. The supermarkets used the tag line, "Two Guys, The Super Supermarket", while the main store used the tag line, "We Save Money For You, Naturally". The store in East Hanover, New Jersey even had an attached liquor store with bar. It was succeeded by developer Vornado Realty Trust, which developed – and in many cases still owns – the land on which Two Guys stores once stood.
One of the chain's more unusual operations was its outlet in downtown Newark, New Jersey. This location was originally the flagship of the Kresge-Newark department store, and for a brief time Chase-Newark. Two Guys operated on 4 floors of this building (later 3), and operated this store more like a traditional department store. Two Guys continued to maintain display windows, revolving doors and other touches of a traditional downtown department store. This location also included an in-store dining room, The Rainbow Cafeteria. This store opened in 1967, and remained until the chain's liquidation.
Bernard Marcus, one of the founders of Home Depot, began his retail career when he convinced the Hubschmans to let him operate the cosmetics concession at a Two Guys store in Totowa, New Jersey. He eventually was put in charge of first sporting goods and the major appliance department for the entire company, controlling over $1 billion in sales. He left the company after it was sold to outside investors following Herbert Hubschman's death. The Totowa and Lawnside Two Guys are today Home Depot stores.
- Two Guys Anecdote
- Sidney Hubschman Obituary New York Times (April 2, 1986)
- Hattwick, Richard E. (Vol. 12, Fall 2003). Arthur Blank and Bernie Marcus: The Home Depot Story Journal of Business Leadership