Tag Archives: Wal-Mart

Jew of the Week: Sol Price

Sol Price (1916-2009) was born in New York City to Jewish-Russian immigrants from Belarus. He grew up in San Diego, where he earned a philosophy degree at San Diego State University before getting a law degree from the University of Southern California. Price was admitted to the bar in 1938. After over a dozen years as a business lawyer, Price had an idea to open a new kind of department store, offering wholesale prices on quality goods sold in bulk. Price opened his first store, called FedMart, in an old airport hangar in 1954. He charged a small membership fee ($2 per family) and kept prices even lower by avoiding advertising, major credit cards, and expensive real estate, and maintaining a small inventory. The model was a great success, and Price expanded rapidly. He pioneered many innovations in retail, including being the first to sell gasoline at wholesale prices, and being the first to have an in-store pharmacy and opticianry. By 1974, FedMart had 45 stores and over $300 million in sales. The following year, FedMart was bought out by a German retailer, and Price was soon kicked out of the company. He then started a new chain, Price Club, in an old factory once owned by Howard Hughes. Price Club expanded quickly, too, and went public in 1980. A few years later, one of Price Club’s employees teamed up with a wealthy lawyer (whose own Jewish family was successful in retail) to start a competing wholesaler, called Costco. In 1993. Price Club merged with Costco to form PriceCostco, together having 206 locations and $16 billion in sales. By 1997, Costco became the official company name, and today, Costco has over 700 locations around the world, with 85 million members, and 174,000 employees. It is the second largest retailer, and the 18th richest company in the world, with $120 billion in revenue. Costco is second only to Wal-Mart. Ironically, Sam Walton wrote in his book that he “borrowed” most of his ideas from Sol Price, and called his store “Wal-Mart” because he liked Sol Price’s FedMart! Not surprisingly, Price is often called the “father of the wholesale retail industry”. He was also a generous philanthropist, having donated tens of millions to various causes, especially in his hometown of San Diego.

Passover Starts Monday Evening!

Words of the Week

On his birthday, a person should meditate, recall and contemplate his past, and correct and repent that which requires correction and repentance.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Jews of the Week: Joe, Ralph, and Avi Nakash

The Jordache Brothers

Avi, Joe, and Ralph Nakash

Joseph Nakash (b. 1942) was born in Israel to poor Syrian-Jewish immigrant parents. At 20, having never finished high school, Joseph moved to New York with just $25. He initially worked as a stock boy making $40 a week before taking over as store manager, saving money to bring over his brothers, Raphael and Avraham, from Israel. Soon after they arrived, the trio combined their savings to purchase an appliance store in Brooklyn, which they converted to a retailer selling designer jeans. The store was an instant hit, and in just a few years, they opened three more locations. They soon started producing their own brand of jeans: Jordache (a contraction of their names: Joe, Ralph, his son David, and Avi Nakash). Taking a loan to start a massive ad campaign, the brothers were able to turn Jordache into a household name in jeans. By the mid-80s, their revenues neared half a billion dollars, and the brothers began to expand their business into other areas. They started their own global cargo shipping business, and also acquired 50% of Guess (a deal which ended in 1990 with Jordache keeping the “Gasoline” brand and Guess keeping the “Diesel” brand). By 1995, Jordache began to lose its “high-end” status so the brothers made an agreement with Wal-Mart to sell the jeans as a discount label. This actually turned out to be a blessing, further propelling their sales. At the same time, they began to manufacture jeans for other brands like Tommy Hilfiger, American Eagle, and even Levi’s! Since then, the Nakash brothers have also expanded into airlines, hotels, agriculture, banking, and real estate. Their Israeli olive oil factory produces award-winning oils, and their Tel-Aviv tomato plant supplies Heinz with tomato paste. Most recently, they purchased Miami’s Versace Mansion (outbidding Donald Trump), and the Setai Miami Beach Hotel, among the city’s most expensive and prestigious. Their shipping company also won exclusive rights to operate Israel’s Red Sea port in Eilat. Despite the fact that the Nakash empire is worth over $2 billion, many of the company’s decisions are still hammered out at the family’s Shabbat dinner table.

Words of the Week

One who does not see God everywhere does not see Him anywhere.
– Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, The Kotzker Rebbe