The History of Building #19:
In 1964 , Jerry lost his job as an appliance salesman when long-time friend Harry Andler offered him a short-term business opportunity: Selling a load of fire-salvaged furniture out of a warehouse in the Old Hingham Shipyard. The number 19 on the building became their lucky charm as more insurance companies began to turn to them to unload goods salvaged from fires, floods, hurricanes, railroad accidents and other disasters.
When, in 1971, the windows began to fall out of the John Hancock Building, Jerry was offered, (and inexplicably bought) the defective window panels that were scheduled to be installed. Apparently, he sensed a pent-up consumer demand for second-rate windows in New England.
“All of a sudden, the whole world heard of us!” said Jerry, noting that national media coverage put him on the map for insurance companies all across the country. The phone began to ring with deals: some great, some not so much. “ We have to be cautious…buying this kind of stuff involves a high element of risk…but we learned to spot a good deal when we saw one.”
Part Side Show, Part Retail Store:
Over the years, Building #19 has creatively peddled offbeat items that don’t usually show up in ‘real’ stores: prison uniforms, hazmat suits, pedal-powered lawnmowers, props from TV shows, and Canadian Army Motorcycles.
Jerry says, “You never know what (or who!) you’ll see when you visit your neighborhood Building #19: Items of all descriptions, and some, BEYOND description.”
The bespectacled entrepreneur claims,”Lots of millionaires and celebrities paw through our goods, trying to save a few bucks…that how they BECAME millionaires, after all.”
Employees are instructed to protect celebrities’ identities, and not to make a fuss over them.”They just want to be treated like everybody else. So save that attention for our regular customers…they’re the ones that deserve it.” instructs the ‘Commander-in-Cheap’.
Free (and worth it!) Coffee! (Free fake cream, too.)
“Harry always said that when you invite the neighbors into your house, you offer them a cup of coffee… so customers can help themselves to a free cup if they wish. We also offer a 30-day no-hard-time 100% money-back guarantee, just save your sales slip, and we also offer the guaranteed Lowest Prices in New England. We’re in the business of making friends. They eventually become customers. Not the other way around.”
Then Jerry grins and says, “That philosophy has worked pretty well for the last 50 years, and it’ll work for the next 50.”