Cover Image: Retail Gangster

Retail Gangster

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Member Reviews

This is a good fable full of larger-than-life characters and an interesting picture of a time and place that is New York City in the pre-Giuliani years. Unfortunately, the tale loses some of its energy and verve as the story wears on.
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My thanks to both NetGalley and the publisher Hachette Books for an advanced copy of this business profile and history of a company and its era. 

When my family moved from Bronx to Connecticut my parents loved many things about being in the country. The peace, the quiet, the distance from relatives. However they hated one big thing, shopping. Caldor's and Bradlees were nothing to Alexander's and electronics well at the time nobody beat Crazy Eddie. I knew the show from commercials, a man screaming about prices and how crazy he was and that they practically giving things away. No cartoon was without an ad. Not that my father trusted them, he just thought that as a New Yorker born and bred he could deal with them. But my father was wrong, there is no dealing with crazy, or greed. Retail Gangster: The Insane, Real-Life Story of Crazy Eddie by writer and reporter Gary Weiss is a profile of this company and family who fooled everyone including themselves. 

Eddie Antar was both a dreamer and a schemer, from a family who made money in small shops that catered to locals and stealing from tourists. Eddie graduated from schlocky cheap items at Times Square to his own little store in Brooklyn where he began to advertise his cheaper prices and selection with an ad campaign that was both annoying and mesmerizing. Success lead to scams, not charging sales tax, bait and switching, buying merchandise from outside the normal ways, warranty and insurance fraud. Aided by family and loyal cadre of workers, both willing to do whatever Eddie asked right and usually wrong, the company began to grow, and sales at least in one pair of books looked great. Soon Wall Street took an interest, and the small scams grew bigger and bigger just to keep up. Soon Eddie's greed, demons, his family and the price of success caught up with him, along with a federal investigation or two. 

Gary Weiss has written a book that is nostalgic, humourous, and makes a reader angry at capitalism. The book is really well written with a very good story, man does well, fools Wall Street flees the country with false passports and a Swiss bank account. A true rags to riches tale about the 1980's. Mr. Weiss has the ability to make complicated legal and financial terms interesting and clear, plus explain family dynamics and like in New York during this time. There are very few heroes, but few villains most just seem like people caught up in greed, and not wanting to admit that they were being fooled. Like Wall Street. The big takeaway was the scams. Much to many to list. Eddie tried to scam everyone and everything in everyway possible. Customers, the government, family, his own kids. Eddie wasn't crazy he was just obsessed with getting ahead. And Mr. Weiss really captures that sense well.

A great book especially for people who grew up in this era, or watched TV and remember those ads well. Also there is a lot about other retail giants that are not around, which reminded me a lot about growing up, Syms, the Wiz Uncle Stevie's even Ponderosa Steak House. I knew that I would enjoy the book since I remember well shopping at Crazy Eddie, but Mr. Weiss has a real gift for capturing that whole era. Eddie was crazy, so of course people would shop there and save money, because they were putting something over on somebody, not our fault if he was Crazy, we want ours. That was Wall Street and Eddie's entire retail philosophy. Something that still hasn't changed.
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Very interesting biography about Crazy Eddie. He was before my time, but I have heard of him as I grew up in NY/NJ. I recall several businesses who adapted Crazy Eddie’s marketing of ‘the prices are unbeatable’ motto. I never knew behind-the-scene story, which also was explained in layman’s terms that was easy to understand. I’m not usually into biographies and never thought they’d be entertaining but this read was! Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC for a honest feedback.
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I'd like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for allowing a chance at reading this.

Well. I think that if you're someone who grew up in NY during the days of Crazy Eddie you're gonna want to read this book. I did not grow up in NY, but I felt intrigued by the wild/crazy story the summary proposed. In all actuality, there wasn't a lot of crazy going on. If you count what was going on with his marriage, then yes, that bit was crazy.

Though. I can see where other companies got inspiration for salesmen or men shouting in ads about 'their prices so crazy you're gonna wanna come down and see this!' As a child born in the late 80's, I totally remember ads on TV where furniture stores and warehouses were quoting discount prices that were lower than normal. 

Otherwise, it was a well written but boring true-crime book.
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I was somewhat aware of the Crazy Eddie type advertising back in the day. But I didn’t know about the story of the electronic business and what it really was, namely a scam run by the owners. It reached some amazing highs, but eventually imploded. Wonderfully researched and an interesting read. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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I didn't move to NYC until way after Crazy Eddie's reign, but his cultural footprint was large enough to even reach the little corner of the midwest that I grew up in. It was a blast to get the full details behind Eddie's epic scams. Great, fast-paced fun read.
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Crazy Eddie: His story is INSAAAAAAAANE! Seriously. I grew up in New York and was familiar with the Crazy Eddie motto and commercials, but not the drama behind the tale. Wow. Just, wow. This was a fascinating peek behind the curtain at how far a monstrous ego was willing to go to make a buck (or several million). Equal parts morality tale, history of advertising and sales, and how a family/friendships can go wrong, Weiss's book is entertaining, informative, and absolutely wild in its revelations of audacity. This was a fun read!
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Free ARC from NETGALLEY

Okay Eddie was a bad guy but he was so good at being bad.  Author Weiss navigates the dark rooms of financial corruption and instead delivers a great story in layman's terms about a monster scam.  At the end you still admired a guy a little for being so GOOD  at being BAD!  Enjoy
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This was an interesting book that only proves that everything in business that glitters isn't gold. This book should prove that there are a lot of fakes out there in the world of business.
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This book brought me back to my childhood in the most ridiculous way possible. It made me vividly remember the most obnoxious commercials ever. "Mom, why is that guy yelling?" Because it was a Crazy Eddie's commercial, that's why.

Retail Gangster tells the story of Eddie Antar, the aforementioned Crazy Eddie. It chronicles more than just his amazing fraud scheme, though. Author Gary Weiss digs into the family dynamics, the methods of the fraud (which there were many), and the personalities of the people involved. The sheer number of names in this book can be dizzying.

However, Weiss makes this a very easy and enjoyable read. He never gets bogged down in any one aspect of the story. He also tells you just enough about the financial chicanery without confusing financially illiterate readers (of which I am one). I am clearly at least partially biased by nostalgia, but I think a lot of people will love this book like I do.

And now I know for certain. His prices actually were, "insaaaaaaaaaaane."

(This book was provided to me as an advance copy by Netgalley and Hachette Books. The full review will be posted to HistoryNerdsUnited.com on 8/23/2022.)
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A well researched and very informative book regarding the Crazy Eddie Stores fraud. The author does an amazing job of really explaining the details in layman's terms and does so without making it boring. You not only get to know about the scandal but the family and the complexity of it all. This is truly a very good and informative book. Thanks to Netgalley, the author and publishers for an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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