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The Trio That Blazed a Trail

November 10, 1985|EVELYN De WOLFE

Manny, Moe and Jack are no longer around to watch over their vast and thriving chain of Pep Boys automotive supermarkets. But they would no doubt be impressed by what has replaced their 60-year-old landmark corporate headquarters at 1122 W. Washington Boulevard.

Themed with accents of bright red and proudly displaying its familiar Manny, Moe and Jack logo, the new $7-million, high-tech, three-story building was completed this summer.

The Pep Boys saga starts in Philadelphia in the roarin' '20s. But delving into company history for a reasonable explanation for the catchy company logo, is as mind-boggling as listening to Abbott and Costello's "Who's-on-First" routine.

Actually, Jack was not Jack. His name was Izzy and there were four founders, not three, two of them named Moe.

Moe Strauss, Manny Rosenfeld, Moe Radawitz and W. J. Graham pooled $200 to open their first automotive supplies store. Strauss, who worked for a competitor at the time, remained a silent partner.

The "Boys" portion owes its origin to a cooperative policeman who regularly ticketed Philadelphia motorists near the store for equipment violations. With each ticket, the friendly cop would suggest that the driver "better see the boys down the street at Pep" to buy the needed part.

Soon after the Philadelphia store opened, Moe Strauss came to California and was impressed with the name of a local dress shop called Minnie, Maude and Mabel. When he returned to the East, he and his partners decided to add the name tag, Mannie, Moe and Jack (for Jackson) to Pep Boys.

By then, two of the partners decided to leave and Moe Strauss' brother Izzy became Jack in the smiling caricature that eventually became the best known trademark in the automotive retail aftermarket. Pep Boys West was started in the '30s.

Since its humble beginnings in 1921, Pep Boys has flourished into a 135-store retail chain that is also a multi-property giant. Net income for the fiscal year that ended in February rose to a record $18.34 million.

Store expansion in 1984 added 20 new stores, six of which replaced outmoded stores that were closed during the year. This year, Pep Boys anticipates building 25 to 32 new stores.

With this kind of success, who can argue with a grinning trio that socks it to ya in no uncertain terms: "We're the best friends your car ever had."

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