Remembering Crazy Eddie, the electronics store chain that was run like Studio 54

Originally published at: Remembering Crazy Eddie, the electronics store chain that was run like Studio 54 | Boing Boing


They engaged in tax and securities fraud, but other than that they didn’t really scam anyone. The merchandise they sold was good quality, and their loss leader pricing forced dealers across the country (including my father) to bring their own prices down. I don’t even think they sold the grey market goods, at least not at first, that became a staple of Brooklyn electronics and camera dealers in the late 70s.


I remember these commercials, because they were insane.


As anyone growing up in the tri-state area during the 70s-80s can tell you, Crazy Eddie ads were all. over. television. 24/7. They made THOUSANDS of them, cheaply, and ran the shit out of them. We’re talking Carvel Ice Cream levels of unrelentingly bad commercials.


But how else would you know where to get your Carvel “cookie puss cake”?


Tom the Turkey. Every frickin year.


Whoa whoa whoa. . . Carvel Ice Cream ads were “bad”??

Even “Cookie O’Puss” the St. Patrick’s day cake?


I’ll club a seal to make a better deal!

the UHF commercial makes more sense now.


Jesus Christ.

I had no idea Cookie Puss had an even more terrifying cousin from abroad.


Crazy Eddie’s pitchman was a onetime DJ named Jerry Carroll. Very mild-mannered, he was a customer at a Connecticut restaurant where I worked in the late 1970s. When any of our more annoying patrons recognized him and insisted he perform his well-known spiel, he’d smile bashfully and say, “Thanks for asking, but I only do that for money.” I visited a Crazy Eddie store in 1978, looking for a tuner. In spite of the “help” from an annoying salesguy who was showing off in front of his girlfriend, I chose an Onkyo model that cost about $100 back then. As he disparaged my too-cheap choice, the guy wrote out my pick-up slip, which I took to a cashier, then to the pick-up area. As I put it in my car, I noticed that the box read “tuner-amplifier.” Turns out the guy wrote the wrong model number on my slip, and I’d just walked away with a nice Onkyo receiver. Even better: it still works.


The ads always gave me the impression that another aspect of Studio 54 was at play at Crazy Eddie’s: mounds and mounds of coke.

Bad? Who better to sell ice cream to kids than an old man who sounds like he subsists on Canadian Club whiskey and White Owl cigars?


Every other commercial back then was LOUD and tacky. Bed stores, electronics, car dealerships - the whole radio/TV commercial genre was out to out-jingle each other. If I recall correctly, this brinksmanship caused the charge to have TV volume modulation settings so that commercial volume would be controlled down to a dull roar. Too bad that never really worked well.


Absolutely. You hear “Christmas in July!” every summer of your childhood, that sticks with you for life.


you mention Cookie O’Puss BEFORE Fudgie the Whale? the disrespect is staggering.


So that didn’t harm your family? Or countless other independent businesses? Financial crime like this tilts the playing field and harms everyone. Tax fraud alone doesn’t harm the government, it harms all of us as well.

Tiny edit


You mean they scammed everybody. That’s what tax fraud is. We all pay a lot more taxes because of people like him (and his modern billionaire equivalents) who don’t pay their share.

The most telling thing to me in the linked story is the closing remarks from Eddie:

Antar, who deflected blame for his crimes onto his family, thought of himself as more of a trendsetter than a fraudster.
“Everybody knows Crazy Eddie. What can I tell you?” he told The Record in 2012. “I changed the business. I changed the whole business.”

Of all the lies that men like him tell, I’m always interested in the ones they tell themselves to live with what they do. Do they believe what they tell themselves, I wonder? Or do they repeat it a lot in the hopes they will?


“They committed crimes. Other than that, they didn’t commit crimes.” (What?)
They literally scammed everyone, high and low: taxpayers, competitors, stockholders, vendors.

You admit he’s a fraud but somehow hold he is not a scammer? They’re synonymous.

You seem to making these arguments out of a soft spot in your heart for Crazy Eddie. And you can keep that sentiment, but don’t make him out to be some innocent. To reprise Casablanca, "We’ll always have Paramus."


Aggressive upselling was a big part of their business model. It is how they made so much money with such low advertised prices.

Unlike, say, Walmart, Eddie didn’t move next door and sell product for less than my father could buy it from the distributor. They did set a new lower bar for profit margins. Dealers had to either drop their own margins or up their customer support game. That’s how this sector of the free market works.

I never said the tax and securities fraud didn’t harm anyone. Of course it did, and the subsequent arrests were warranted. I’m only saying that it was not a scam.


I grew up in Edison, NJ during the 70’s and 80’s and we bought loads of stuff at Crazy Eddie’s. As others have noted, their merchandise was top quality and their prices were often at cost, especially if you bought the “service plan”. (Money for service plans went right into Antar’s pocket.) Since the owners and managers didn’t care what happened as long as they were making sales, the return/replacement policy was pretty much “bring it back, we’ll give you a new one”. Great place to shop.

If you think New Jersey in 21st century is corrupt, you should have been there in the 70’s.