PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — “Boscov’s? What’s that?”
That was the question a number of Rhode Islanders asked when it was announced Tuesday that Nordstrom would be leaving the Providence Place mall in January.
The Boscov’s department store chain, founded in 1914 in Pennsylvania by Russian immigrant Sol Boscov, is better-known further down the East Coast, with locations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, along with a couple New York stores and one each in Connecticut and Ohio.
As told by the company’s official history, the retailer has stayed in the family, with Sol handing down to Albert, who handed down to nephew Jim Boscov.
“We have 47 stores, and that makes us the largest family-owned chain of department stores. But we probably are also the smallest, because there just aren’t any more,” current company chairman and CEO Jim Boscov told Eyewitness News in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Nordstrom company officials said Tuesday they would close the Providence Place location – the mall’s north-end anchor store – after about 20 years in the space. The department store will close after the holidays, on Friday, Jan. 4. About 187 non-seasonal employees will be affected, the company said.
Boscov’s, in turn, plans to hire about 300 employees. They’re aiming to be open in the fall of 2019.
“I know we are being compared to Nordstrom,” Jim Boscov said. “One of the things that Nordstrom does very well is they offer customer service – they set the bar high. We think we will surprise people with the level of our customer service as well.”
A glance at the chain’s website shows a full range of the department store fare shoppers would expect: apparel for the entire family, home furnishings, beauty, skincare, and fragrance sections. Some locations also offer optical services, catering and even travel agents.
A unique part of the plan to move into Providence Place includes a community space – an auditorium, according to Boscov. “We invite different organizations where they have meetings, or fashion shows, or art shows, or lectures,” he said.