If you watch enough television where I live–Charlottesville, Virginia–you will probably see commercials for no less than four furniture stores. There’s Kane Furniture (with a kicky cool-jazz-with-flute jingle: “At Kaaaaaaaaane furniture, you’ll have a home fashioned just for you”), Under the Roof (which is a montage of modern-looking furniture set to a ragin’ drum solo), Grand Furniture, and Schewels (who always is having a sale. They had a Friday the 13th sale last month). I swear they advertise more than car dealerships these days, although it is understandable because in a recession, buying furniture is one of the last purchases on a person’s mind.
The unfortunate thing about all this is that with the exception of Schewels’ Crazy Eddie-like tendencies (“WE’RE GIVING EVERYONE CREDIT! WE’RE GIVING EVERYONE EMPLOYEE PRICES! FOR GOD’S SAKE COME IN AND BUY AN ENDTABLE!”), the furniture store commercials in Charlottesville are kind of boring. It’s like … yeah, there’s a couch with giant arms wider than most morbidly obese people. Oh, and a glass table with a marble column for a pedestal just in case someone from New Jersey might shop here. And a denim loveseat. I’m so excited.
But hey, I consider myself spoiled when it comes to local television furniture store commercials (yes, you can be spoiled in this regard) because I grew up on Long Island and our local TV spots were nothing short of epic.
While I am sure that there were more stores advertising on television, when I think back to the late 1980s and early 1990s, I think of two stores: Coronet and Room Plus
Coronet was a family owned baby furniture store located in Old Westbury, and probably did good business for quite a while when I was younger because those were the days before the baby superstores. In fact, nowadays, I’m pretty sure that if you do not register yourself at Babies R Us or Buy Buy Baby, you get a visit from Child Protective Services.
Anyway, the commercials mostly starred the two owners–a couple of brothers with mustaches who looked like your uncle or older cousin–and they’d usually be doing some sort of gag while their mother (“The Coronet Mother”) did the pitch. For instance, The Coronet Mother pitches with her two boys in cribs behind her:
This one, from 1994, features what became a famous tagline of theirs: “… and no talking orangutans”:
According to the comments on one of the videos, Coronet closed around 1996 (though the family is still around) because of Babies R Us. And as funny as the line about no talking orangutans line was, the best furniture commercials came courtesy of a store in the tri-state area called Room Plus:
I don’t know what is more awesome: the spokesperson’s hair, his accent, or the furniture that looks like it was leftover from the set of a B-level teen movie from the 1980s. And he really tries to sell that rounded edge on the formica armoire, doesn’t he?
When I was about nine or ten years old in the late 1980s and these commercials started running on a fairly regular basis, I thought formica furniture with rounded edges in pastel colors was quite possibly the coolest thing and I was pretty sure that my next room was going to be white formica furniture with black sheets and black wallpaper, just like in the awesome examples that are shown in the commercial. Yes, I realize how ridiculous that sentence is, but hey, I was ten years old. The art on my wall still had something to do with Return of the Jedi. But it does kind of look space-agey and modern, doesn’t it?
Anyway, “just ’round the corner” became a bit of a running gag in my house for a while because my dad and I were both able to do a dead-on impression of the pitch guy. The commercials themselves disappeared by the time I went to college, although there was a “Kids Room Plus” spot that aired in the late ’90s:
Room Plus still exists in a way, as Rooms Unlimited [thanks to my friend Corrin for the correction/update]. And even if they don’t make commercials, I hope that someone hired that guy to be a pitch man because he’s way more exciting than half of the “good ‘ol boy” pitchmen that I have to watch on my local channels.
My grandmother worked in the store and even managed it for a while in 60s/early 70s. I was a lucky kid…all the latest hot wheels!