Ferkauf of E.J. Korvette was born to sell, by definition 1

The 4,400-square-foot home of E.J. Korvette founder Eugene Ferkauf at 187-06 Grand Central Pkwy. in Jamaica.

Eugene Ferkauf was born in Manhattan Nov. 13, 1920, the only son of Harry and Rose Ferkauf. Harry was a immigrant from Iasi, Romania. Yiddish was the language spoken at home; and the name Ferkauf means “to sell” in Yiddish. Eugene married Estelle Silverstein in July 1944. Eugene served in World War II and upon his discharge worked in his father’s luggage store.

After his father’s death he opened up his own 400-square-foot store in Midtown Manhattan, selling luggage and household merchandise — and discounting one-third off the retail price, which was illegal at the time.

In 1948 he and a friend together opened a store named E.J. Korvette. They circumvented the law by giving out membership cards as people entered the store, a technique coming from consumer cooperatives. The business exploded out to the suburbs, with 58 stores at its peak. Its cash cows were records and audio stereo equipment, which made record sales of $20 million in 1964.

Time magazine voted Ferkauf one of six great merchants along side F.W. Woolworth and J.C. Penney. He bought a 4,480-square-foot home at 187-06 Grand Central Pkwy. in Jamaica Estates. In 1966 he sold the company for $20 million. It closed its doors in 1980.

Ferkauf died June 5, 2012, a few months shy of his 92nd birthday. His home last sold for $1,575,000 in 2004, but is valued at $2,675,000 today.