Two Guys Department Store
Two Guys

Two Guys – What Happened to Them?

Two Guys from Harrison, later known simply as Two Guys, emerged as a discount retail chain in 1946, founded by siblings Herbert and Sidney Hubschman in Harrison, New Jersey. Initially, the store specialized in selling major appliances like televisions. In 1959, Two Guys expanded its reach by acquiring the manufacturers behind the Vornado appliance brand, leading to its transformation into Vornado, Inc. This expansion extended beyond the New York City metropolitan area, encompassing over 100 locations across regions including upstate New York, eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, and even as far as California.

Two Guys

Two Guys: Historical Background

In 1946, the Hubschman brothers operated a snack bar within the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) plant in Harrison, New Jersey, a pioneering manufacturer of television sets in the United States. During this time, they struck up a friendship with an RCA executive who invited Herbert to tour the facility. It was during this tour that Hubschman observed a batch of television sets with scratched cabinets, deemed unsellable by retailers. The Hubschmans devised a plan to purchase these sets at a low cost and sell them in an empty lot, marking up the price by $5 for each set. They promoted their venture with homemade car windshield flyers.

The success of this sale was remarkable, as the entire batch, originally expected to take a month to sell, disappeared within hours. This success led to a continued partnership with RCA and, eventually, the establishment of their own store, accompanied by newspaper advertising. It was during this period that they heard competitors complaining, “We can’t compete with those two bastards from Harrison!” Although they initially wanted to use this phrase as the store’s name to challenge their rivals, no newspaper was willing to print it. Consequently, they settled on “Two Guys from Harrison.”

Two Guys from Harrison NJ

O. A. Sutton Corp

In 1959, Two Guys diversified further by acquiring O. A. Sutton Corporation, the makers of the Vornado line of electric fans, air conditioners, and dehumidifiers. The merged entity adopted the name Vornado, Inc. On January 31, 1962, Vornado, Inc. went public on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol VNO. At its zenith, Two Guys boasted over 100 locations spanning several states, including Upstate New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, California, Maryland, and Virginia.

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Vornado Growth

However, as the late 1960s approached, Vornado sought to diversify beyond its mid-Atlantic marketing region and engaged in a merger with a retail giant on the West Coast. They identified Food Giant Markets, Inc., a Southern California retail behemoth nearly as substantial as Vornado, as an ideal partner. Food Giant owned and operated numerous supermarkets, Unimart discount stores, Builders Emporium hardware stores, and more. Unfortunately, this merger soured quickly, resulting in a decline in the performance of the former Food Giant units. Vornado attributed the downturn to the previous management, while others placed the blame on Vornado’s attempt to impose an East Coast business model on a West Coast clientele.

Dwindling Funds

As Vornado’s commercial fortunes dwindled throughout the mid-to-late 1970s, they began selling off Two Guys stores to various companies. In late 1980, real estate investor Steven Roth, through his firm Interstate Properties, Inc., assumed control of Vornado. He recognized that the land beneath the stores held greater value than the stores themselves as ongoing businesses. Consequently, Interstate initiated the liquidation of Two Guys outlets by closing them and leasing the physical locations to other retailers. Following the sale of all retail stores, Vornado underwent a transformation into Vornado Realty Trust, focusing on real estate management and valuable commercial retail spaces.

Two Guys Discount Stores

Many Two Guys locations originally incorporated a discount store alongside a supermarket, as well as comprehensive hardware, major appliance, and automotive service departments. The Two Guys supermarkets were substantial entities that directly competed with established regional supermarket chains. These stores also featured their own private label trading stamps, which customers could collect and exchange for merchandise credit slips redeemable in any non-food department.

The supermarket’s slogans included “Two Guys, The Super Supermarket” and “We’re Putting Money Back in Your Pocket, Naturally,” while the main store’s tagline was “We Save Money For You, Naturally.” Some locations, such as Bordentown, East Brunswick, East Hanover, Union, and Totowa, New Jersey, even had attached liquor stores and bars known as The Chicken Barn. Additionally, certain stores featured an arcade with a unique 20-foot bowl-o-rama game that used actual bowling pins, a standout attraction in the Dover, NJ location.

Video: Two Guys Store TV Commercial

Two Guys Flagship Store

One of the chain’s more distinctive establishments was its downtown Newark, New Jersey location, situated in a building that had once been the flagship of Kresge-Newark department store and briefly Chase-Newark. This Two Guys store operated on multiple floors and retained elements of a traditional downtown department store, including display windows and revolving doors. It also featured an in-store dining room known as The Rainbow Cafeteria. Despite the chain’s eventual liquidation, this store remained operational until its closure.

Retro TV Shows Merch

Notably, Bernard Marcus, one of the co-founders of Home Depot, launched his retail career by managing the cosmetics concession at a Two Guys store in Totowa, New Jersey. Over time, he assumed responsibility for the sporting goods and major appliance department before departing the company prior to Herbert Hubschman’s passing. Interestingly, Home Depot later opened a store on the same plot of land previously occupied by Two Guys in the mid-1990s.

After Two Guys ceased operations, the Totowa store underwent redevelopment, eventually becoming a shopping center anchored by Bradlees. Subsequently, Bradlees relocated to a newly constructed store, and the original Two Guys building was demolished to make way for a new Home Depot. Similarly, the Kearny, New Jersey location on Passaic Avenue transitioned from a flea market to a TSS Store and finally a Pathmark grocery store after the original Two Guys structure was demolished.

Two Guys

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One response to “Two Guys Department Store”

  1. […] after it’s inception, Montgomery Ward had some serious competition from another mail-order business. You may have heard of them. They were called Sears. At the turn of the century, Sears had sales […]

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