Peter L. Harris

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Peter L. Harris (born December 17, 1943 in Stockton, California) is an American retailer, who now serves as a consultant to retailers in the United States.


Harris attended Whittier College, where he played center on the football team, and was a catcher for the baseball team. He went on to play AAA baseball.[citation needed]

He began his career in the Central Valley of California stocking shelves at Gemco. He became the Chief Executive Officer of the company 13 years later. Under his leadership, Gemco achieved $2.2 billion in sales, its highest level at the time.[citation needed] He became a member of the Young Presidents Organization.

In 1985 as CEO Harris and an investor partner acquired world-famous FAO Schwarz.[1] The company had lost some of its market share to toy discounters and stores with more modern offerings.[which?] Harris brought in exclusive product line agreements and newer toys to supplement traditional sales, and relocated the flagship Manhattan store.[2]

While at the company he invented the concept of "entertainment retail",[3] a strategy that the customer should have an experience while in the store, a personal interaction between consumer and retailer. Harris sold the company to Dutch retail group KKB in 1990 and remained as CEO.

He later moved to video game company Accolade and then Picture People until it was sold to Hallmark Cards. Harris employed the entertainment retail strategy there, where photographers would wear spin hats and children could play with a giant camera.[citation needed]

In July 2000, new owner-representative of the San Francisco 49ers, John York, hired Harris to replace Carmen Policy as President & Chief Executive Officer.[citation needed] Harris stayed for four years but did not renew his contract. During his time with the team, he oversaw the building a new stadium.[citation needed]

In 2004 Harris was named the CEO of NASDAQ listed boating lifestyle West Marine in Watsonville, California with more than 400 stores and 4,000 employees. He resigned in December 2007.[4]

In recent years[when?] Harris took on a full-time advisory and operating role as a Senior Managing Partner at crisis management firm Eaglepoint Advisors, before joining private equity firm TPG Growth as a Senior Advisor responsible for Human Capital. He became the Chairman at TPG portfolio company XOJet where he remains on the Board of Directors. In 2014 he became President of GreenTech Environmental in Johnson City Tennessee where he continues today.

Harris resides in San Francisco with wife Jan and sons David and Richard. 26 year old Michael Harris was killed in a tragic boating accident still under investigation in 2015.


  • In the Tom Hanks film Big the toy-company owner MacMillan, played by Robert Loggia, is based on Harris. The character is portrayed as fun, eccentric, and youthful - words often descriptive of Harris.[5]


  1. ^ Archived July 10, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^
  3. ^;+Peter+Harris,+Former+FAO...-a063329053
  4. ^ Geoff Eisenberg Succeeds Peter Harris As President and Chief Executive Officer of West Marine: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance
  5. ^ Big (1988) - Trivia