Arthur Beloff keeps promising to retire soon. But the 72-year-old Florida resident just can't seem to slow down.
His latest project is the Bagel Wizard, a gadget that, he says, makes it almost impossible to cut yourself while slicing a bagel.
The clear plastic box allows the user to hold the bagel steady while still protecting his or her hand. A serrated knife is set in a track inside. A back-and-forth sawing motion permits the user to cut the bagel horizontally, while the track keeps the knife blade from sliding around. Unlike another popular bagel slicer, which is vertical, the knife never comes out.
Beloff was in San Francisco recently to show off his invention, and market it, at the Gourmet Products Show at Moscone Center.
After the Bagel Wizard Safety Slicer, Beloff came up with a version to be used for other bread products, and a humidor-like storage container that reportedly keeps bagels fresher longer.
The series is the most recent in a long line of inventions and innovations for Beloff, who studied engineering at Tufts University near Boston.
"When I look at something, I don't say, `Gee, that's nice,'" said Beloff. "I say `What can I do to make it better?'"
Beloff was raised in a "modern religious" household in Meriden, Conn., where, he said, he was "always involved in the temple."
His father, whom Beloff cites as the source of his inventiveness — "he used to be able to make anything" — was in the ready-to-wear clothing business. Beloff joined the family business after graduating from college. He met his wife, Cloie, when she applied for a job to manage one of the stores. The couple married in 1969.
They now live in Port Manalapan, Fla., an island near Palm Beach. A daughter lives in western Florida and a son in Miami. Both are active in their local synagogues and all of the grandchildren attend Hebrew school.
Beloff's creativity has emerged throughout his many careers. While running clothing stores in the Northeast, he said, he was a pioneer in launching a discount designer-label store.
While in the women's clothing business, Beloff invented his first product, a rubber attachment that kept clothing from sliding off hangers.
When that enterprise got too big, Beloff said, he sold the clothing business and bought a real estate firm. He turned garden apartments into multifamily dwellings, making it possible for smaller investors to buy into the 1980s real estate boom.
He supposedly retired to Florida several years ago, but a new invention soon had him on the move again. An avid cigar smoker, Beloff developed the Cigar Savor, a storage container for partially smoked stogies.
Created at the height of the recent cigar craze, the Cigar Savor was a success; Beloff sold out to his partner "for a good deal of money."
He eventually hopes to do the same with the Bagel Wizard products. Beloff interrupted an interview at the Gourmet Products Show to demonstrate his latest inventions to a representative of the QVC shopping network. He is also reportedly in negotiations with a similar television shopping channel in Florida.
The slicer retails for $29.99 and can be ordered by calling (877) 639-3062.
The ideas just keep coming for Beloff, who when not inventing things likes to paint, sculpt and swim in his pool.
The pool may be the source of his next invention, since "they don't have a good thing to skim the top of the pool." Beloff envisions something like "a vacuum that floats."
He's also working to develop an electric bagel slicer and would like to write a book on inventing, telling people how to take an idea and turn it into a marketable product.
"If you've got the idea," he explains, "creating the invention is the easy part."
His wife would like him to stop working, relax, maybe travel or spend more time with their miniature chocolate poodle, who incidentally, loves bagels.
But Beloff only laughs at the suggestion.
"I keep trying to retire," he says, "but look what I get involved in!"