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Annals of Marketing
In Recognition of Eugene Ferkauf - Retail Pioneer
Thursday, 20th September, 2012  - David Farmer
Eugene Ferkauf, Time Magazine, July 6, 1962

At least part of the art of retailing is simple. Pile it high, sell it cheap and they will come. No one person can be said to have created a trend but Eugene Ferkauf, a post war New York retailer, had a strong influence on the move to large scale 'big box' retailing. His vision had a strong influence on Sam Walton who founded Wal Mart.

In the 1950s Ferkauf founded the E. J. Korvette chain of discount stores. The following passages are from "Eugene Ferkauf, 91, Dies; Restyled Retail", New York Times, June 6th, 2012 by Douglas Martin,

"Mr. Ferkauf was one of the first businessmen to grasp the emergence of a new breed of postwar consumer. Seeing a population of Americans financially better off, impatient to get on with their lives after World War II and susceptible to the advertising shown on the latest new thing, their television sets, he concluded that victory belonged to the very bold. Mr. Ferkauf would not only discount, he would discount more deeply than anyone ever had. Seeing people streaming to the suburbs, he imagined the sort of sprawling, free-standing, conveniently situated, no-frills variety store that came to define American retailing.

"What was new was the almost total lack of sales service and very spare decor. All kinds of merchandise, from cosmetics to carburetors, was piled everywhere. Prices were 10 to 40 percent below those of conventional stores.

"If he could make a one-dollar profit selling a refrigerator, he could make a million-dollar profit selling a million of them."

We are still in this phase in Australia and it has a way to run yet. And what illustrates Ferkauf’s business and retail boldness is this passage.

"In the summer of 1953, he looked at a Long Island potato field and envisioned the sort of huge new store with vast parking lots that became his trademark. The store, in Carle Place, opened on Dec 2. It did what was then a staggering $2 million in sales by Christmas."

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