SCRANTON -- Al Boscov is stepping down as chief executive officer of his department store chain and has turned the job over to his nephew.
Employees at the Boscov's store in the Mall at Steamtown say Al Boscov told them back in January that he was planning to retire. The board made it official this week and named Jim Boscov as the new CEO. Al Boscov is in his mid-80s and in his long career, has had a lot of influence in the Electric City.
There aren't many department stores where you can buy clothes, candy, and possibly bump into the CEO. It wasn’t unheard of to see the businessman on the floor of any of his stores across Pennsylvania.
“I mean, he`s been the only boss basically that I`ve ever known, but I would certainly think that it`s a one of a kind situation and it will be a long time until we see somebody like him again,” said Steve Vituszynski, manager of the Scranton Boscov`s.
His employees learned in January that the company's namesake would retire, but that word means something different to a guy like Al Boscov.
“It`s still in the family. They`ll keep the family tradition. And he`s still around so he still has a lot to say. Like any person who retires still has a lot to say,” said Judith Scigowski of Lake Ariel.
“He still gets on our conference calls every week and talks to us about what`s happening, and his expectations, and we still see emails from him and I know he still goes to New York,” Vituszynski added.
Al Boscov is stepping down during a critical time for his store in Scranton. The Mall at Steamtown is up for auction in June, but the store manager says he still expects Al will play a role in that auction.
To understand why Al Boscov plans to fight for the mall that his store anchors, you have to understand his role in creating it and in revitalizing Lackawanna Avenue in downtown Scranton.
Former Scranton Mayor Jim Connors knows the history well. With Boscov's help in 1992, Scranton leveled a dilapidated city block to make way for the Mall at Steamtown. It opened with plenty of fanfare in 1993.
"We have never seen such warmth, never gotten so many hugs and kisses. It's like being with a nice family," Boscov said in 1993 when the mall opened.
Al Boscov always had a special place in his heart for Scranton and at every impasse, Connors says Boscov had the same thing to say.
“’Keep the faith.’ And every time he ever said that to me over the years, whenever we ran into a rough spot, he was right, keep the faith,” said Conners.
Al Boscov has said he still has faith in the mall and employees told us that the company plans to make a bid when the mall goes to auction next month.
This is actually Al Boscov's second time retiring. He stepped down about 15 years ago and came back after the store went through bankruptcy. The manager says the stores are on a solid footing now.