A 1970s remnant of a Crazy Eddie record store

I have no idea why the original owner of this yellow paper bag from Crazy Eddie’s held onto it for so long. But when it turned up for sale at a vintage shop (pressed in plastic, no less), I couldn’t resist spending a few bucks to own a piece of 1970s/1980s New York history.

If you lived in the New York City area in those decades, then you remember the electronics store and record/tape shop Crazy Eddie—mainly for the commercials, which featured a DJ named Jerry Carroll gesturing and shouting that the store’s prices were insane. (Sometimes in a santa claus cap for the annual Christmas in August sale.)

The original Crazy Eddie was on King’s Highway in Brooklyn. But the store’s TV ad schtick and actual low prices spread franchises to the Bronx, Manhattan, upstate, and Long Island.

Unfortunately it was all over for Crazy Eddie’s owners by the 1990s, thanks to inflating sales numbers and other illegal business practices that mandated store closures and jail time. New Yorkers turned to other electronics stores like (Nobody Beats) the Wiz and J&R Music World, but these too are long gone from the cityscape.

A quick Google maps check shows that the original King’s Highway store is now a bank branch.

[Second image: New York Daily News February 22, 1980; third image: Youtube]

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22 Responses to “A 1970s remnant of a Crazy Eddie record store”

  1. Bob Says:

    The name was “(Nobody Beats) The Wiz” not “The Whiz.”

  2. countrypaul Says:

    I was never in a Crazy Eddie store, but who could miss the ads? As a voice-over artist myself, I will attest that it takes a lot of concentration and consistency to carry off Jerry Carroll’s commercial talent. Those “insane” spots are monumental in the genre (and no doubt would be considered un-PC these days!).

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      It’s funny you mention how un-PC those ads are. I thought that too; today, Crazy Eddie would be cancelled not for their fraudulent business practices but for making some people feel unsafe.

      • countrypaul Says:

        Probably both. Eddie Antar was “not a nice man,” and you can’t say “insane” in news or advertising without a clinical diagnosis (although some do). You can still get away with “crazy,” though!

  3. GC Says:

    My dad went to a crazy eddies electronics to try to apply the money back guarantee they had at the time. I think he said it was something like find a better price and we will refund the difference kind of thing. Anyway, within a moment of him mentioning this, hired goons removed him from the premises.

  4. Ginger Says:

    I own a Crazy Eddie wallet, t-shirt, and keychains (because the initial one has just the logo and phone number but an eBay seller had one with some addresses on it so that succeeded the first one) AND a Nobody Beats the Wiz mug and thermos. Being a native New Yorker I too had those “Insane!” commercials impressed in my head as a child. However, my father was an electronics buff and I would accompany him to ALL the places you mentioned- J&R was his super-favorite. I last went there in 2010 to buy a newly-released CD.

  5. bofis Says:

    So the Route 22 location there in NJ was the Crazy Eddie’s near me as a kid, and it’s an interesting location that later turned into a Nobody Beats the Wiz once Crazy Eddie’s closed, and remains a P.C. Richards to this day. But if you look on Google Maps, the entire building was designed to look like a “Flagship” and has been like that since the Crazy Eddie’s days, though I assume even earlier.
    https://goo.gl/maps/uMXa9bXhNLehXXN99

    • countrypaul Says:

      It was actually called The Flagship for many years and, I believe, originated as a restaurant and dance hall. The earlier wooden structure burned and was replaced by the concrete and steel structure that is there now. I vaguely recall it was a clothing store before it became hi-fi and appliances.

      • countrypaul Says:

        I should add that the Flagship name was originally inspired by being between the old and at the time new lanes of Route 22, on the “island” in the middle. It was considered to be a very progressive traffic solution at the time, but has of course turned into a present-day nightmare. Getting out of any businesses in the island is an adventure at most times of the day.

  6. Bill Wolfe Says:

    Even though it was a regional ad campaign, the Crazy Eddie ads achieved a level of national fame when Dan Aykroyd did a sketch featuring a slightly different name, but otherwise exactly the same ad on Saturday Night Live. Nothing spoke to true pop culture importance during this period than becoming a basis for an SNL sketch

  7. Ricky Says:

    The Flagship was a great location to meet friends from other parts of NJ when you were getting together for a night out.

  8. ironrailsironweights Says:

    Consumer electronics have long been one of the most brutally competitive retail sectors with a high failure rate. Just a few months ago Fry’s Electronics, a mostly West Coast chain of gigantic themed megastores, went bust after several years of decline. Crazy Eddie’s less than 20 year lifespan was actually pretty good for its market segment.
    Yet, somehow, PC Richards keeps on going and going.|

    Peter

    • countrypaul Says:

      It may be because they are primarily or at least equally an appliance store. They have also stayed within a market area they know; their expansions have been controlled.

      • ironrailsironweights Says:

        While we don’t know for sure as it’s a private company and doesn’t release financial information, PC Richards may have been able to avoid excessive corporate debt. Too much debt has been the death knell for many retailers. Toys R Us was an especially bad case, its sales were strong but it was paying out so much money in interest it couldn’t stay in business.

        Peter

      • Tom B Says:

        Excessive debt and paying so much money in interest sounds familiar.

  9. Joe Says:

    During the 1977 blackout, I remember a guy brandishing a machine gun standing atop a cargo van in front of Crazy Eddie’s on Fordham Road in the Bronx. His security was insane

  10. Gerry Says:

    Not the Whiz..It was called “The Wiz”…Just so you know I was one of the few who got to beat Crazy Eddie at their own game..Details coming in my Memoir!

  11. Chris Fletcher Says:

    Right up there with “what’s the story, Jerry?”

  12. RM Says:

    Wow, Crazy Eddies! I lived near the 8th street location in Greenwich Village and visited quite frequently. This location was always crowded and the salespeople were a bit obnoxious here. This store location was always loud and fun to visit.

    An important note: at this location was originally a Howard Johnsons restaurant with full blown orange and off blue decor. Visited when I went to PS41. I think Crazy Eddie’s came along in the very late 70s or early 80s. Not sure, but it became a staple of the Village. But the best part of Crazy Eddie’s were the commercials, they were INSANE!!!

    Another little note, Crazy Eddie became a brand name for Angel Dust popular in the late 80s/90s. Used the same logo and everything, so I’ve heard.

    Thanks for the post on this, it was food for the soul. NY has changed so much, being here for almost 5 decades I can see the changes happen ever more quickly. I love your site and thank you sincerely!

    RM

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