Crazy Gideon Closing Shop
Gideon Kotzer, better known as Crazy Gideon, has put the building housing his well-known Arts District electronics store up for lease. He could close for good by the end of the year. Photo by Gary Leonard.

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - The economy may have gotten too crazy even for Crazy Gideon.

The Downtown electronics retailer, famous for the wacky commercials where he smashes TVs to show how crazy he is for having such low prices, has put his 39,000-square-foot Arts District building up for lease. He plans on closing his store for good, possibly as early as the end of this year.

“The economy is really bad. I’ve been carrying this place for six months,” Gideon Kotzer said.

Kotzer still has about $1 million of inventory to sell before he can close, and his store’s website is announcing a going out of business sale with discounts of up to 70% off. Kotzer said he could possibly sell out of inventory by the end of the year.

While Crazy Gideon’s always seems to be in the midst of some kind of going-out-of-business promotion, the fact that the building is being actively marketed could make this different. The three-story property at 830 Traction Ave. is being listed by Major Properties.

According to the listing, the building includes a 10,500-square-foot parking lot. It is on the market for $27,000 per month for the entire structure. There are also options for individual floors, with the ground floor, which houses Crazy Gideon’s, going for $15,000, and an additional $3,000 for the basement. The second floor is listed at $6,000 and the third floor is $4,000.

Mark Silverman, a broker with Major Properties, said the building has been on the market less than a week and has drawn some interest, though he would not elaborate.

Silverman said they are going after a variety of possible tenants, such as artists, people in the food business, restaurants and clubs.

“We’re looking at the entire spectrum. You never know who could be interested, especially in this economy,” he said. “It’s a great location, the Arts District, near all these new residential complexes, a coffee shop. It’s becoming a point of destination in the area.”

Sense of Disbelief

With Kotzer’s history of “Going Out of Business Sales,” some Arts District stakeholders have expressed a sense of, well, disbelief.

Estela Lopez, executive director of the Central City East Association, which operates a business improvement district in the Arts District, has seen the recent going out of business signs. She also remembers the store having similar sales in the past.

“People’s reaction was, you know, he’s done it so many times, so is it real?” she said. “But if it turns out that it’s the real thing, I think it’ll be a little surprising.”

Qathryn Brehm, a longtime Arts District resident, also recalls the many going out of business sales of the past.

“For real this time?” she asked with a chuckle when told that the building is on the market.

“That building is a substantial building. I would love to see retail on the ground floor,” she said. “That would be exciting, and maybe some actual working studios above.”

Kotzer said he is looking for artistically inclined businesses that would fit in with the Arts District. The listing for the property also suggests the space could house a supermarket or a charter school.

Kotzer said he has no plans to sell the building and, depending on how much of the property is leased, he may maintain a small “mom and pop” electronics store at the site.

“Just so I can have a place to go sit down and answer the phone,” he said.

Kotzer gained a following with his bizarre yet memorable commercials. In addition to smashing TVs, the spots showed him in a straitjacket being escorted out of his store for having such crazy low prices, or riding a scooter through the store.

“He brought the Arts District to another audience with his commercials, since in his commercials he’s always used ‘In the Arts District on Traction Avenue,’” Brehm said.

For a time, Kotzer also wanted to bring more residents into the district as well.

He had previously announced plans to build a housing complex on the site. The property has been entitled by the city for 76 residential units and 7,000 square feet of retail space. Kotzer said that project will be put on hold, but could be reconsidered in the future.

“I’ve been in business for 35 years. It’s time to retire,” he said.

Contact Richard Guzmán at

page 3, 10/05/2009

©Los Angeles Downtown News. Reprinting items retrieved from the archives are for personal use only. They may not be reproduced or retransmitted without permission of the Los Angeles Downtown News. If you would like to re-distribute anything from the Los Angeles Downtown News Archives, please call our permissions department at (213) 481-1448.