Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Two Guys

There was a reference on Mary Kunz Goldman's Facebook page the other day to the Two Guys store on Sheridan and Niagara Falls Blvd. in Amherst. I sprung to attention. That store was part of my youth ... twice. And it also connected to one of my favorite broadcasting stories. But we'll get to that in a moment.

Two Guys was one of the original discount stores. It was originally called Two Guys from Harrison (as in Harrison, New Jersey); you can read the whole story, which is sort of charming, by clicking here. When we lived in New Jersey when I was 5 to 10 years old, Two Guys was a regular stop on our shopping hit list.

In hindsight, it was a great store for an 8-year-old. It had all sorts of stuff, it was a little messy, and most of it was pretty cheap. Kind of looked like my room, with fewer baseball cards. I bought my first music 45 there, which was "Do You Want to Know a Secret?" by the Beatles. You'd think there would be a plaque on the site, at the intersection of Routes 46 and 23 in Northern New Jersey, marking the historical location. On the other hand, I think Interstate 80 was built right through the electronics section of the site of the store, so perhaps it's good no one bothered.

We moved to Elmira, where there was no Two Guys but an Elmira Discount -- complete with ads featuring a voiceover by "Danny Discount," the store's owner. My sister went to high school with his daughter; she was called, sure enough, "Holly Discount." But when we moved to Buffalo in 1970, there was Two Guys. It was still gloriously cluttered, and still the place to buy cheap record albums.

Two Guys had expanded to several states, but I would guess that the march of national stores such as Kmart and eventually Walmart doomed it. By 1981 or so, stores were closing ... including the one in Amherst. Which brings me to a story told to me by the late Bob Koop of Channel 4, which dates to that time.

Koop was doing a news broadcast one night, and the end of one segment featured a story on the death of actress Natalie Wood, I believe it was. There was a somber shot at the report's conclusion of flowers thrown on top of the ocean. When the story ended, Koop said nothing as the picture faded to black with the required amount of solemnity. The first commercial in the break was a loud one: "TWO GUYS SAYS GOODBYE FOREVER!!" Once Koop stopped laughing, he said to those on the set, "Doesn't anyone check the commercial log?"

Jacquie Walker of Ch. 4 says that story is still told around the newsroom with great relish.

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1 comment:

C. Byrd said...

Great story Budd!!! I miss the regional chain stores of yesteryear.