Two Guys, We Hardly Knew Ye

I never pass up an opportunity to purchase a reminder of my childhood. Toys, books, music, you name it. I got just such an opportunity a few years ago at a flea market in Dover, New Jersey. I was just about to leave this one particularly interesting booth empty-handed when I spotted a bag of these beauties:

Two Guys matchbook cover

Two Guys matchbook cover

Not sure what this means, but I’ll go with it because I dig the fancy font.

Two Guys matchbook cover

No. 1 in our hearts and on our matchbooks.

I don’t smoke, so purchasing a bag of matchbooks probably seems like a silly idea. But you see, that’s how nostalgia works. And besides, it was like a dollar for the whole bunch. Back in the day (up until the early ’80s), the name Two Guys was synonymous in the Northeast with discount stores. It was sort of the Wal-Mart of its day, minus the shady business practices.

A typical family outing to Two Guys could yield everything to new records (the vinyl kind) to a window fan or a bowling ball. I hear many people tell of purchasing furniture at Two Guys some 30 years ago that they still own. This is a testament not only to the fact that a discount store can actually sell quality merchandise, but that there are probably a lot of people out there who still have really dated and tacky bedrooms.

The chain’s sales had been declining for years prior to the 1982 decision by Vornado (the parent company) to abandon the retail business. After Two Guys left my area, it was replaced by (in no particular order) Jamesway, K-Mart, Caldor and Ames. Each new store seemed worse than the one before, not surprisingly.