In December of 1984, I wanted a colour tv to replace my battered 19 inch b/w Zenith. I saw a Crazy Eddie advert in the Friday edition of the Daily News about a 13 inch colour tv for $68 at the upper east side store. It seemed to be an unknown brand, but I didn’t care. The price was very reasonable. Maybe a little too reasonable. But I wanted to see the tv for myself. There were limited quantities per store, and I surmised that there would be a line.
On Saturday morning, I woke up early, and took the subway to 86th Street. The store was across the street as I exited the subway. As I had correctly surmised, there was a line, so I hurried across the street and took my place. I was a bit nervous. I was praying that I could get one. Christmas was next week, and this would have been an early present. At 9am, the line started moving. The tension was building. When it was finally my turn, I inquired about the tv, but I was told there were out of stock.
I was dejected, and decided to go back home. As I was waiting for the express on the downtown platform, there was a garbled announcement over the PA system. Something about no Seventh Avenue service south of Chambers Street due to a train with mechanical difficulties. No problem. I can stay on the east side express to Nevins Street and transfer to my “Redbird” train. As I reached Nevins, the very familiar 10 carriage train signed as the number 2 to Flatbush Avenue was pulling in across the platform. I was relieved and a bit surprised because I was under the assumption that there were no trains at all. I would find out later that night that there was a shooting on the train by the so called “Subway Vigilante” Bernhard Goetz. The train was disabled because something pulled the emergency brake cord after shots were fired. The driver no doubt reset the brakes, pulled into Chambers Street and discharged the passengers. I also figured out that downtown trains from the Bronx were rerouted to the east side at 149th Street via the east side cutoff. So technically, I would have picked up my train at 86th Street had I waited long enough.
Yesterday I was thinking about everything that happened that day, and I had an epiphany. If they had the tv, and I had bought it, how would I get it home? Even though it was a 13 inch, it was a CRT television, which was no doubt very heavy. With subway crime being the way it was back in those days, and me struggling to carry a heavy tv on the train in a clearly marked box, I would have been an easy target for a robbery, even thought it was a Saturday morning. It was at least a two mile walk from the station to my apartment carrying that heavy box. So now I am glad I was not able to buy it. But mom bought a 13 inch Sharp colour tv for me. She put it on a small dolly and brought it home on the bus with little fanfare.
Crazy Eddie was one of many electronics stores back in the day. The others were:
Nobody Beats The Wiz
Newmark and Lewis
P.C. Richard and Son
I hated the Wiz. They liked to use the “bait and switch” scheme. The store would advertise an item for x amount of dollars, but when you get to the store and ask for that specific item, they will say they don’t have it, and offer to sell you a comparable item that costs a little more. Case in point: I wanted to purchase a Toshiba radio/cassette player for $25. I knew the specific one I wanted. The salesman claimed it was out of stock, but he offered to sell me a Sony version for $10 more. I declined the offer. The Toshiba had an equalizer, whilst the Sony did not. All of them went out of business, except for P.C. Richard. They never used any bait and switch tactics. I remember when Cablevision bought the NBTW in order to save it from bankruptcy. That was a waste of a few million dollars because the place went bankrupt anyway.
I wanted to mention that when the Crazy Eddie salesman told me there were out of stock on the $68 tv, he was supposed to sell me another one, and not let me leave until I had made a purchase. That’s what all the salesman were told. I got a huge break. Chances are I would have gotten annoyed with the high pressure sales tactics and walked out. It is never a good idea to test my patience. So thank you spirits, for not allowing me to buy that tv. Took me a few decades, but now I realised why it happened.