These Iconic Rhode Island Furniture Store Commercials Are Deeply Missed
There was no one more iconic than the Rhode Island/Massachusetts furniture store spokespeople who dominated local television in the '80s and '90s.
These days we can expect to see the Cardi brothers or Eliot and his ponytail from Jordan’s during any commercial break. Many people forget that 20 years ago, local television was a wild west of furniture spokespeople who were carving out their spot in our lives one commercial at a time.
There were plenty of them out there, sure, but these were some of the best characters out there.
John from Alpert's never showed up in his commercials but we all know that voice. He had a really nasally-sounding voice, and later in life when people would say that New Englanders “always sound nasally” when they spoke, I knew exactly what they meant. We are all “John from Alpert's” to some people. John stopped voicing these commercials at some point, likely because a different ad agency took over.
Newer Alpert’s commercials had these micro-scenes of random people ruining their furniture and then it segued into a new voice that was easier on the ears. Eventually, they were sold to Raymore & Flanagan. After much digging, it turns out that John from Alpert's was just a guy who lived on the West Coast and was paid to voice these maddening commercials.
There was Bob, from Bob’s Discount Furniture. People now know the claymation version of Bob but before that, he was a real guy in blue jeans casually doing his own commercials. Eventually, they added a blonde woman Cathy into the mix to star alongside Bob.
I remember thinking Bob didn’t need a crutch or a co-star, he was good enough on his own, but what the heck does a kid know about advertising, right? I found her to be a bit over the top with a lot of over-acting that didn’t really match Bob’s vibe. Eventually, they turned Bob into clay, and now that's the only version of him we get.
Bill Sullivan from Sullivan’s Auctioneers was the first cowboy I ever saw in a commercial. Here was this cool, seemingly down-to-earth guy with his jeans and giant cowboy hat (different hats each time!), selling totally awesome, peak-1990s-trend furniture for super cheap.
He didn’t wave his hands all around, he didn’t shrug through the showroom pointing out living room sets. He just faced the camera in a giant black cowboy hat and gave you a thumbs up when he was done talking. I’m not quite sure what happened to Sullivan’s Auctioneers in the end but I’ll always think of Bill and his stacks and stacks of mattresses when I drive by his former location, the current Cask & Pig, on Route 6 in Dartmouth.
If you are in your late 30s/early 40s right now, there is a pretty good chance that you think of this lady any time you hit something with the vacuum. Luanne from Off Track Bedding would vacuum the showroom in a blazer and pumps. I clearly remember her vacuuming near a bunk bed set and deliberately hitting it with a giant vacuum in between saying “and even a few...(cue vacuum hitting furniture)...dents”.
At the end of the commercial, she’d always sit in some chair next to a pull string lamp and say “ For the lowest prices every…(pulled string to click lamp off)…night.” I don't know how many times my brothers and I mimicked this woman as kids. It's literally the only time you’d see us get near a vacuum. Sadly, my hours of searching YouTube and watching old clips of local news from the '80s and '90s have not turned up this particular Luanne commercial, but here’s the next best one.