When everybody shopped at Crazy Eddie

Were you living in New York City in the 1970s and 1980s? Then you probably shopped at Crazy Eddie—or at least you remember the prices-are-insane and Christmas-in-July commercials.

The chain, which started with one store in Coney Island, was the place to go for TVs, air conditioners, stereos, boom boxes, calculators, as well as records, tapes, and 8-tracks.

This ad comes from the December 10, 1980 New York Post. The logo looks so old-school; I guess it predates the prices-are-insane guy from the TV commercials.

Like so many other electronics chains, Crazy Eddie had a brief shelf life. There was the mid-1980s legal trouble: an SEC investigation, extradition, and prison sentence for the guy who ran the company.

But Crazy Eddie is remembered pretty fondly. The store even has its own tribute page.

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14 Responses to “When everybody shopped at Crazy Eddie”

  1. Sean Says:

    Minor correction.
    The original store was not in Coney Island.
    It was in southern Midwood or Flatlands somewhere on, I believe, Kings Higway, near Coney Island Avenue.

    I bought a stereo there once. Around 1974 or 1975, before the TV commercials took over. I heard of it through audiophile’s word-of-mouth.

    I goes inside, asks for my sound system and the salesman says: $200.
    I said $150. He says, $190. I says, $160.
    He says, ‘I can’t go lower. Speak to Eddie. He’s sitting outside.”

    There is crazy Eddie sitting on a beach chair on the busy street, like some kind of king holding court.
    I say, “Your salesman says he can’t go below $190. I want to pay $160.”
    Eddie, without thinking, says “$175.”
    Deal done.

    Remember, this is when electronic and durable goods manufacturers dictated Minimum Retail Price. If a dealer went below it, the manufacturer would cut off the supply. Eddie overturned that system. There was some Federal lawsuit around that time that overturned the manufacturers monopolistic price-fixing system. Not sure if Eddie was the complainant. But, his policy really helped the consumers from that point on

    Now we all take discounted pricing for granted. That was Crazy Eddie to thank for that retail revolution.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks for the correction. I just remember loving the commercials. Naturally, I thought that actor was Crazy Eddie!

  3. Joe Says:

    My favorite obscure CE reference (actually, my only obscure CE reference) has to do with the Rolling Stones album ‘Some Girls’. The opening line of the first song (Dance, Pt. 1) is “Hey, what am I doing standing here on the corner of West 8th Street and 6th Avenue?”

    At the time, there was a CE right there – and they had a huge sign in the window quoting that… followed by something to the effect of “Buying the new Rolling Stones album for only $….”.

  4. D. Says:

    I don’t know when the actor got to TV, but I do remember the radio commercials (same voice!)

    Christmas in August sale! (Originally it was just a Christmas sale held during August, then it was the Christmas Sale in August! that we remember. There was also, of course, the traditional Christmas sale around actual Christmas. Good times.)

    • wildnewyork Says:

      Ah, Christmas in August! For some reason I remember it as July. I remember thinking it was a very clever idea. I was just a young’in at the time.

  5. Peter Bennett Says:

    I used to shop there all the time, but my best memory is seeing Lauren Bacall, and I suppose here Grand kid,s standing at the counter near the front of the store. She was voted Miss Greenwich Village 1942 I believe, so I shouldn’t have been too surprised.

  6. RAB Says:

    I remember it more vividly for the record and tapes I bought at the Greenwich Village location than for the stereo equipment and appliances. The neighborhood was hardly short of record stores, and I shopped at all of them…but by chance, some of my favorite records were acquired at Crazy Eddie, so that store will always occupy a warm spot in my memories.

  7. Paul Says:

    I remember Crazy Eddies quite well as I lived in the neighborhood where it first started. Back in the 80’s there was a good number of real discount electronics dealers. Now NYC has very little in the way of discount electronics unless you count J&R. The competition has been mostly stifled and Best Buy I’ve rarely found to live up to its name.
    Of course now we go online for our discount shopping but I miss the days of being able to shop around at Crazy Eddies, The Wiz and Tower Records.

  8. Amy Says:

    My favorite part of the ad in the article is that the video tapes are available in VHS and Beta. I got my first Betamax at Crazy Eddie’s. It cost $1000 and weighed about 100 lbs. Ah the joy of carrying that thing home…

  9. Paul Says:

    I’ve got to love the courage of first adopters. Crazy Eddie certainly was known for having the latest products. It was often also known for bait and switch tactics but still often a resource for new products and some competitive pricing that is only matched now by online retailers.

  10. Green daisy Says:

    I never went there, but I know the commercials…one of which was on the TV at Bloomingdales in the movie “Splash”.

  11. Cheryl Says:

    I hated those commercials. They’d come on late at night I used to fall asleep with the TV on when he’d come on screaming like a demented baboon I’d almost have a heart attack Good riddance…

  12. Cheryl Says:

    Forgive the lack of punctuation. One handed typing

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