Whatever Happened to Bob of Bob’s Discount Furniture in New England?
In 1991, Bob Kaufman opened his very first furniture store in Newington, Connecticut, called Bob's Discount Furniture. Before long, he had hundreds of stores in the United States, including many in New England.
What was the secret to Bob's success? He leaned heavily into TV and radio advertising and created commercials that that he starred in. In these ads, he'd wear jeans and a golf shirt while talking to the viewers and listeners directly about how much they could save on furniture. The strategy worked, and today, there are 171 stores across the country.
But at some point, Bob was no longer being seen in his commercials. He was suddenly replaced by a puppet version of himself called "Little Bob" that has now become the mascot of the Bob's Discount Furniture.
What happened? A few things came into play here. In 2014, Bob's Discount Furniture was acquired by a private investment firm, and Bob went into retirement. Who could blame him? But why not keep doing the commercials?
In an interview with CTInsider in 2021, Bob said,
I am probably the only person in the history of marketing who lost my job to a puppet. As a student of marketing, I look at Col. Sanders and Dave Thomas. Both did not plan adequately for when they were gone. I’m 69 (now 71), and I don’t want that to happen for my 6,000 employees and tens of thousands of their family members supported by Bob’s income. To me, this puppet has been one of the great experiments in marketing.
So "Little Bob" is here to stay, but I'm sure a lot of people, myself included, would prefer he be voiced by Bob himself. I get it though. If I sold a successful company, I would happily retire and enjoy life too.
Correction: An earlier version of this story reported there are 150 Bob's Discount Furniture Stores. There are in fact, 171 as of 2023.
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