The late VICTOR POTAMKIN is best known locally as the owner of Potamkin Chevrolet on South Broad Street in Philadelphia, and nationally as the founder of multi-state chain of automobile dealerships spanning six states. He set sales records after taking over a failing Cadillac Agency in New York, with both he and his wife Luba appearing in television advertisements.
Less well known is the fact that prior to going into the automobile business, Victor Potamkin was in the poultry and fish business in Camden. He and his brothers had operated Potamkin Brothers, a poultry and fish business located at 527 Kaighn Avenue in South Camden, on the corner of Kaighn Avenue and Marion Street during the late 1930s and early 1940s. Future heavyweight boxing champion Jersey Joe Walcott was a Potamkin employee for a time.
The Potamkin Brothers had left 527 Kaighn Avenue by 1947. The building was then occupied by Lee's Poultry, whose proprietor was Ellis Lee.
New York Daily News - June 7, 1995
CADILLAC BIG VICTOR POTAMKIN DIES AT 83
BY DICK SHERIDAN
Victor Potamkin, who built the world's largest Cadillac auto dealership, has died at age 83.
Potamkin died Monday at Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami after a brief illness, his family said yesterday. His sons Robert and Alan were at his bedside.
Born in 1911 in Philadelphia, Potamkin attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He launched his business career during the Depression, selling chicken parts under the slogan "Be Smart, Buy a Part" long before the advent of such high-profile poultry marketers as Frank Perdue.
Always an enterprising and wide-ranging businessman, Potamkin then took on the management of one of his company's delivery drivers, Jersey Joe Walcott, who went on to become world heavyweight boxing champion.
Potamkin also discovered and managed the singing career of Sergio Franchi, and for a time was owner of the Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach. He was also a one-time partner in Checker Motors.
In 1947 Potamkin bought a Lincoln-Mercury dealership in Philadelphia, then added a Chevrolet franchise there. In 1972 he moved into the Manhattan market, taking over two Cadillac dealerships at General Motors' behest. He and his family gained local fame through the '70s by promoting Cadillac in a series of popular TV ads.
Potamkin Cadillac gave way to Penske Auto Center in 1987, but returned in 1991 when Penske went under.
The Potamkin family operates a retailing empire, extending from New York to Miami, that includes 54 dealerships representing a variety of domestic and import automobile makes.
Potamkin's wife, Luba, died of complications from Alzheimer's disease in April 1994. In addition to his sons, he is survived by brothers Pat and Nat and by grandchildren Andi, Melissa and Jamin.
New York Times - June 7, 1995
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