, the son of Dart Drug
founder Herbert Haft
, became a household name in the Washington, DC
, and Los Angeles
markets for his commercials tagglined "Books cost too much". After graduating Harvard with his MBA, Robert started discount book chain Crown Books
in 1977 in Landover, MD (the same year the Borders Brothers
founded Borders Books and Music
Crown Books enjoyed booming success in the early 1980's, and Robert envisioned expanding the name to other lines, including Crown Software and Crown Music, many of which never saw actualization. In the heat of a bitter divorce, Herbert, then Chairman of the Dart Group, which owned a controlling share of Crown Books, fired Robert as the book chains' president. Robert counter-sued, and the back-and-forth rocked the 196-store chain into Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
With the money he won in 1994 from his wrongful-termination lawsuit, Robert bought into Phar-Mor in 1995, changing the name to Vitamins.com and opening several retail shops in the Washington DC, metro area.
- "Herbert and Robert Haft: The Dynasty Behind Dart's Expanding Empire, New York Times, January 25, 1987
- "The Haft Rivalry rides herd on the Internet", Nightscribe.com, 1995
- "'Our Destiny is in Our Hands' Says Phar-Mor CEO Haft, Drug Store News, October 9, 1995
- "Phar-Mor's Haft to Step Down", Drug Store News, September 8, 1997
- "Crown Books Company History", International Directory of Company Histories Volume 21, St James Press, 1998
- "Denoument of a Family Feud?", New York Times, June 20, 1999
- "Robert Haft Biography", University of Pennsylvania Press, September 2007