Charles Bilezikian, who incited a Christmas Tree Shops into a Cape Cod destination, dies during 79

July 28, 2016 - Picnic Time


Charles Bilezikian.

Imagine that it’s late Jun in 2003 and you’re station inside a Christmas Tree Shops in Yarmouth Port, those manors of sell that Chuck Bilezikian built into a sprawling sovereignty with his mom and dual sons. A few days earlier, a Bilezikians had announced that they were offered their business to Bed Bath Beyond, though on that summer afternoon we could squeeze a doorway spray lonesome with cosmetic shells and starfish for $4.99, a 26-piece flashlight set for $3.99, or scores of other equipment we never suspicion we indispensable before stepping by a door.

Those low prices and a silly array of offered possibilities were mostly a work of Mr. Bilezikian, who was a “visionary,” his wife, Doreen, told a Globe in 2000.


“He got to know his business really well,” removed Ed Mullin, who ran a company’s administration and financial multiplication for many years. Mr. Bilezikian, Mullin said, would find out a intensity new object “and would demeanour during a product and say, ‘My business would compensate $1.99 for that.’ ” Then Mr. Bilezikian would figure out how to buy in bulk so he could resell any object during precisely a cost he had named.

A charitable for many causes after offered a Christmas Tree Shops, Mr. Bilezikian died Tuesday in his Osterville home of pancreatic cancer. He was 79 and had divided his time between Osterville and Palm Beach, Fla.

As a slogan, a Christmas Tree Shops adopted a word that was both a doubt and a challenge: “Don’t we usually adore a bargain?” Virtually everybody did, and scarcely no one could conflict a offerings. Shoppers who suspicion they could zephyr by and shun empty-handed mostly left with one or dual equipment – or one or dual dozen. Bus tours, Mullin said, would bucket adult in New Jersey in a morning, revisit a few Christmas Tree Shops locations, and conduct home during night.

That wasn’t usually since Mr. Bilezikian had a used eye for stuffing shelves with stocking stuffers that valid overwhelming in August. Mullin pronounced his trainer also staffed stores with a right brew of employees, with whom he common some-more than a nodding acquaintance. Mr. Bilezikian, Mullin said, had a talent for remembering names and suggestive sum about any employee, even when a sequence stretched from a tiny beginnings to a 23 stores a family sole to Bed Bath Beyond in 2003 for about $200 million.

“He would travel over to an worker and say, ‘Hi, Mary. How are you? How’s your son John? Is he still carrying problems with math?’ When we had a few stores, he did it, and when we had a lot of stores, he did it,” Mullin said. “He usually had that adore of people. He would rivet in conversations with his employees, and it wasn’t usually a thing to do. He enjoyed it and he remembered them. You can’t put a value on that.”


Charles G. Bilezikian was one of dual children innate to Krikor Bilezikian and a former Beatrice Kasparian. His father was a tailor who died when Mr. Bilezikian was in his late teens. His mom subsequently worked as a sales clerk in Waltham’s Grover Cronin store.

Mr. Bilezikian graduated from Newton High School and went to Suffolk University. He began operative in retail, and he married Doreen Portnoy 52 years ago.

“He desired merchandise, accepted it, and worked during it,” pronounced their son Jeffrey of Watertown. “And he was good during it. He didn’t get sidetracked. He never said, ‘I wish we was a automobile play or a nightclub owners or a lawyer.’ ”

The Christmas Tree Shops had started out as a summer business in Yarmouth Port. The integrate who founded a association usually non-stop “during Jul and August, though sole usually Christmas merchandise,” Doreen told a Globe in 1996. “They had Christmas song personification and wished everybody a Merry Christmas. Eventually, they went into bankruptcy.” Another owners ran a shops for a decade, she said, and afterwards “we came down for a Jul Fourth weekend with some friends in 1970, and he said, ‘You wish to buy a business?’ ”

They did. The company’s plural name was a curtsy to a 3 apart buildings that were partial of a strange business. The Bilezikians changed into an unit over a Yarmouth Port store and “on Friday nights – since all was so geared to a weekend – we would put a kids in pajamas, go downstairs, and batch a store,” Doreen said.

As a business stretched to some-more locations on and off Cape Cod, Mr. Bilezikian trafficked to China and elsewhere in hunt of products, and he polished his government approach, Mullin said. “Every store was during a option of a manager,” he added. “If we were a manager of Store A, we competence put adult a product adult front, and a manager of Store B competence put it in back.”

Mr. Bilezikian rearranged his workers as skilfully as his managers changed around merchandise. While a payroll grew to about 3,000 employees, “he would take people out of stores and make them buyers, and would make buyers into managers,” Mullin said. “He had that knack to make people overachieve.”

After offered a business, Mr. Bilezikian and his family launched a Bilezikian Family Foundation, that has upheld all from a residential module in South Plymouth for boys in predicament to a accumulation of projects in Armenia. Through a Armenian Missionary Association of America, that he served as a house member, he helped account charitable work that enclosed a kindergarten, a village center, a dental clinic, and a restoration of a hospital.

In further to his mom and son, Mr. Bilezikian leaves another son, Gregory of Hyannisport, and 6 grandchildren.

A wake use will be hold during 11 a.m. Friday in First Armenian Church in Belmont. Burial will be in Newton Cemetery. A jubilee of his life will be hold during 11 a.m. Aug. 18 in First Congregational Church in Yarmouth Port.

Mr. Bilezikian, who grew adult as partial of a vast extended family, was a principal organizer of expanded gatherings any year, including a summer cruise on a Cape.

“We always had Thanksgiving cooking with a hundred people during a church hall,” Jeffrey said. “He desired that. It was a good day to lay around and locate adult with his cousins and family.”

Mr. Bilezikian “was a really loving, kind, inexhaustible man, really hard-working, and he had clever family values,” pronounced his niece Kimberly Kamborian of Watertown. “He always put family initial and brought family together for holidays and picnics. He knew how to lift out a best in people, and to make them feel good.”

Bryan Marquard can be reached during

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