Peterman Rides Again

John Peterman, Author Prentice Hall Press $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7352-0199-6
The romantic product descriptions in J. Peterman's clothing catalogue not only launched one of the most eccentric careers in the retail world but led Peterman to sitcom notoriety as Elaine's boss on TV's Seinfeld. Offering ""protection against the winds of Wyoming, the blizzards of Wall Street,"" Peterman's ad for a long cowboy duster earned him and his partners $580,000 in their first year in business. However, during the decade of his tenure at the J. Peterman Company (which is now owned by Paul Harris), Peterman's business decisions were not always sound: he expanded the catalogue business too rapidly, opened several lavish stores around the country and didn't hire experienced executives. In 1999, he sat through bankruptcy hearings and found himself out of a job. In addition to his business venture, this memoir chronicles Peterman's life--from his days as a minor league baseball player to his journeys around the world in search of exotic products. The anecdotes about his eponymous company are amusing (who would have thought 5,000 people would want to buy a $90 gold-plated monocle?), yet Peterman's memoir reads too much like one of his catalogues--like a grab bag wreathed in gauze--jumping confusingly from his college days to the present, back to his childhood and then forward to his first years of heady success. Photos. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/30/2000
Release date: 11/01/2000
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