Whatever happened to . . . Jack Luskin

Whatever happened to . . .

March 15, 2008|By Frederick N. Rasmussen

For nearly three decades, Jack Luskin was "The Cheapest Guy in Town," which in turn became a household slogan for his Baltimore-based appliance and electronics chain.

Luskin, now 80 and retired, splits his time between homes in Stevenson and Aventura, Fla.

"I have the best of both worlds," he said. "I consider myself unemployed, but I check The Sun's classifieds every day to see what I can do, but no one seems to want me."

Jack and his brother, Joe, established Luskin's Inc. in 1948, and turned the post-World War II demand for refrigerators and washing machines into a successful business.

In those postwar days, there were still plenty of Baltimoreans using iceboxes that required weekly ice delivery by icemen, who carried the heavy blocks on their backs into customers' kitchens.

Eager to sell refrigerators, the brothers employed old-fashioned shoe leather in turning up potential customers.

They followed ice wagons, noted their stops, and then went in and gave potential customers a sales pitch.

"That's how we did it. We convinced them that they could own a brand-new Kelvinator for $1.25 a week, which in those days was the going rate for credit," he said.

Luskin's, which later expanded into electronics, went into bankruptcy in 1997, and re-emerged as the Big Screen Store chain, which is owned and operated by his two sons, Cary and Kevin Luskin.

"I tell them what to do and they do just the opposite," he said, laughing.

His daughter, Jamie, is married to Frank McCourt, owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"Yeah, I have to admit I follow the Dodgers and I'm very friendly with Tommy Lasorda. I guess I'm really living the dream," he said.

Luskin said he and his wife, Jean, have been married for 58 years.

Now, a trivia question:

What was the original slogan the Luskin brothers used until parting company in 1966?

Give up?

"Jack & Joe will save you dough."

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