In 1928 a young man named George Farkas opened a small, ready-to-wear store on Third Avenue and named it in honor of his father, Alexander. Then he built another store on Fordham Road in the fast-growing Bronx, and later expanded into the suburbs.
Farkas was ready to build Alexander’s Rego Park as early as 1946, at Queens Boulevard and 63rd Road. But the adjoining property owner on 96th Street, who planned to build apartments, objected to the impact the store would have on his land. The stalemate continued for years.
In 1950 the developer, Alfred Kaskel, proposed having portions of 96th and 97th streets and 97th Place demapped as streets. In 1953 the city approved, so he could build the apartment complex he called Park City, a comfortable distance from the proposed Alexander’s department store.
Alexander’s Rego Park opened on Valentine’s Day 1959, with three stories and 250,000 square feet of selling space. Its 12-acre parking lot could hold 2,000 cars. The store was designed by Frances X. Gina, with interiors by Ketchum and Sharp.
To combat theft Alexander’s was the first retailer to initiate pre-punched sales tickets on all merchandise. The beloved store manager was a Mr. Birnbaum. Thousands of kids got their first job at Alexander’s while in school, as did many housewives.
In the summer of 1966 Alexander’s was enlarged down to 62nd Drive. But eventually the owning family discovered their properties were worth more than the business itself. Alexander’s Rego Park closed in 1993 and later became Rego Center.
Today Alexander’s Inc. is a real estate investment trust that has seven properties in the New York metropolitan area.