Channel Home Centers

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Channel Home Centers
IndustryRetail home improvement
FateClosed or rebranded as Rickel, then closed following merger
Founded1948 (first retail location)
HeadquartersWhippany, New Jersey
Key people
Louis L. Slater (chain founder)
Abraham Levy (founder of preceding lumber company
Morris Charin (Levy's partner
ParentFamily owned through 1977; W. R. Grace and Company (1977-86)

Channel Home Centers (formerly known as Channel Lumber Company and often simply known as Channel) was a chain of home-improvement centers that was based in Whippany, New Jersey. The chain of stores was founded in 1948 but could trace its history as far back as 1922 or 1908, when the original lumber company that preceded it was founded. At its peak Channel operated stores in nine states, and did business in the Philadelphia and New York metropolitan areas. In August 1994 Channel was bought by venture capital firm Eos Partners L.P. and merged with competitor Rickel, ceasing to exist.


A 1975 New York Times profile traced the company's origins to a lumber business started in Newark in 1922 by two Russian Jewish Americans, Abraham Levy and Morris Charin (1887–1963).[1][2] A 1990 article in the same publication, and other company releases, however, have put the founding date at 1908.[3] In any event, Louis L. Slater (1913–1987), son-in-law of Levy,[1] opened the first retail outlet in Newark, New Jersey in 1948.[4]

In 1963, it was reported that Channel Lumber had seven locations, all in New Jersey.[5]

By late 1975, the chain had 24 locations, 22 of which were in New Jersey.[1] W. R. Grace and Company purchased the company from the Slater family in 1977[3] for $19 million.[6] By 1979, the company had expanded to over 70 locations, moving beyond New Jersey and Pennsylvania to enter New York, Connecticut, and Delaware in 1978, and Maryland and Massachusetts in 1979.[7]

In 1986, Channel's executives bought the company through a leveraged buyout.[8] The purchase included a total of 202 retail locations in 20 states, including home centers under W.R. Grace located in the southeast, among them "Handy City" and Handy Dan.[6]

By 1990, the chain had grown to 89 Channel outlets in nine states,[3][9] but in early 1991, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and announced a plan to close 34 of 86 stores, mostly in the Baltimore-Washington and New England markets.[9] It emerged from bankruptcy in March 1992.[6]

In 1994, Channel and its competitor Rickel were bought by a venture capital firm, which merged the operations of the two chains under the Rickel name. At that point in time, it had 60 locations, and its 1993 sales topped $300 million.[10] Nearly all the Channel stores were converted into Rickel locations, except for one location that was operated in proximity to a Rickel store.


  1. ^ a b c "'Do-It-Yourself' Does It for Channel". The New York Times. October 26, 1975. Retrieved December 29, 2009.
  2. ^ "New Incorporations". The New York Times. June 9, 1922. Retrieved December 29, 2009.("Channel Lumber Co., Belleville, lumber, $125,000; Morris Charin, Max Adelman, Abraham Levy, Newark.")
  3. ^ a b c Daniel F. Cuff (July 13, 1990). "Channel Home Centers Names Chief Executive". The New York Times. Retrieved December 29, 2009.
  4. ^ "Obituary: Louis L. Slater, 74". Newsday. October 13, 1987. Retrieved December 29, 2009.
  5. ^ "Obituary: Morris Charin". The New York Times. April 6, 1963. Retrieved December 29, 2009.("Morris Charin, founder and president of the Channel Lumber Company, which operates a chain of seven retail outlets in this state, died Thursday in Miami, Fla. He was 76 years old....:")
  6. ^ a b c "Bankruptcy Is Over For Channel Centers". The New York Times. March 20, 1992. Retrieved December 29, 2009.
  7. ^ "Channel Outlet Opening". Reading Eagle. October 11, 1979. Retrieved December 29, 2009.
  8. ^ "Grace Will Sell Home Centers". The New York Times. December 2, 1986. Retrieved December 29, 2009.
  9. ^ a b "Channel Home Centers files under Chapter 11". Reading Eagle. January 15, 1991. Retrieved December 29, 2009.
  10. ^ Levin, Doron P. (Aug 26, 1994). "Sale Set Of Channel And Rickel". The New York Times. Retrieved Sep 11, 2009.