Harry Levin, founder of Happy Harry’s
For Delaware, he was the first person to embrace the idea of discounting. Back then, Delaware still had fair trade laws. My father asked, Why have a standard retail price? He felt strongly that if he could sell “something cheaper and still make a profit,” why not pass that savings on to the consumer? So in 1962 he opened his first store, Discount Center, in North Wilmington. There were three other drugstores, and they all thought he’d go out of business in six months. I remember him always being sued by Gillette or Revlon or Jean Naté because of his pricing. He used to leave the suits posted at the front register so everyone could see, and they all thought that was great because he was taking one for “them.” He had an innate ability to understand people and what they wanted, especially what Delawareans wanted. He could spot a trend and run with it. When he opened his third store, he changed the name to Happy Harry’s, because he was. He had that great smile. He was happiest when he was ringing the register. He loved to touch cash. He opened 17 stores between 1962 and 1986, before he passed in 1987. The funny thing, he was voted least likely to succeed by his class at Wilmington High School. He always thought that was a kick. But he understood Delawareans. That was his universe. There was never a merchant like him before, and I don’t think there will ever be a merchant like him again.