Bob's Discount Furniture is an American regional chain of privately owned furniture stores in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic & Midwestern United States. Bob's Discount Furniture started in Connecticut and its corporate headquarters are in Manchester, CT. The company has stores located in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Illinois. In fall 2016, three new stores opened – Wharton, NJ, Hagerstown, MD & Riverdale, NY. – bringing the total number of Bob’s Discount Furniture stores to 76. Bob's Discount Furniture is continuing to expand in 2017, with new stores coming to the Chicago & St. Louis markets.
The company was founded in 1991 with its first store in Newington, Connecticut. Bob's Discount Furniture is based in Manchester, Connecticut and is ranked 14th among U.S. furniture stores. In addition to being known for its distinctive advertisements, the company is also known for offering amenities at many of its stores, which may include an in-store cafe with complimentary refreshments. Many of the stores have a back room where people can get items that are considered imperfect; this area is called The "Outlet". Bob's is also a main sponsor for several professional sports teams such as the Washington Redskins, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, and more. Chandler Jones of the Patriots and Rashad Jennings of the Giants have been featured in commercials, having sofa sets named after them.
In 1976, future company co-founder Bob Kaufman was injured in a motorcycle accident. He discovered the benefits of a waterbed for recuperation. The experience inspired Kaufman to become involved with waterbed sales, and during the 1980s, he rented space in 24 New England stores for selling waterbeds. By 1990, waterbed sales had dwindled, and Kaufman partnered with Gene Rosenberg (owner of Wholesale Furniture, where Kaufman had rented space for waterbed sales). At this point, Rosenberg acquired a building in Newington, Connecticut previously owned by a furniture company that had become bankrupt. In 1991, the Newington, Connecticut location became the first Bob's Discount Furniture store. The company was initially co-owned by Rosenberg (two-thirds) and Kaufman (one-third). As time progressed, the company expanded to additional locations, often acquiring buildings that had been vacated by tenants bankrupted during the recession. By 1997, the company operated a dozen stores in Connecticut and two in western Massachusetts. The company's ability to grow during its early years in spite of unfavorable economic conditions has been partially attributed to the extensive use of commercials. In early 2005, the investment firm Saunders Karp & Megrue acquired 70 percent ownership of Bob's Discount Furniture; subsequently, Saunders Karp & Megrue was acquired by Apax Partners Worldwide in March 2005. In November 2006, Ted English, former president and CEO of TJX Companies, became the CEO of Bob's Discount Furniture, replacing Stan Adelstein, who became chairman. Adelstein retired in April 2013, with English taking over as chairman. By this point, Bob's Discount Furniture had recently expanded into Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York. Ted has led Bob's into its expansion further south into Maryland and Virginia. In Q1 of 2014, Bob's Discount Furniture was acquired by Bain Capital, with the current management team continuing to own a significant stake in the company.
Bob's Discount Furniture is widely recognized for its idiosyncratic advertising. Bob Kaufman has been characterized as "something of a celebrity in the Northeast, thanks to his quirky television commercials". As of 1997, the company broadcast roughly 500 commercials a week in Connecticut on network and cable television stations. More recently, the commercials have become common during broadcasts of Boston Red Sox and New York Mets games. The commercials usually feature company president Bob Kaufman, typically wearing jeans and a golf shirt or turtleneck, and have also included Bob's Discount Furniture employees. Cathy Poulin, the company's Director of Public Relations, is the female face of the company. Cathy has been publicly criticized, however, for her contrasting style of dress. Cathy appears in commercials and at events both with and without Bob. "Spanish Bob" William Newton appears in Bob's Discount Furniture commercials on Spanish stations, such as Telemundo. "Clay Bob" makes frequent appearances in the company's commercials, often providing seasonal advertisements. The commercials have been characterized as "amateurish", "unconventional", and "wacky", and viewer reaction to the commercials is mixed, with some disliking the advertisements. The advertisements often feature catchphrases, including "Gotcha!", "Untouchable!", "Lickety-split delivery!", "It's a no-brainer!", and most famous (in Bob's early years), "Come on down!".
Bob's Discount Furniture has received overwhelmingly negative feedback over the durability of their products and their warranty plan. Bob's Discount Furniture offers a warranty plan for all furniture products, marketed as Goof Proof Protection. This warranty is fulfilled by a third-party, Guardian Protection Products.
Bob's Discount Furniture has received attention for its community involvement. The company has been recognized by the American Red Cross for its blood drives and financial contributions to the organization. It has also been involved in food drives and charity walks, and conducts a "Celebrate the Arts Contest" to provide grants to regional schools. Bob's commercial sidekick, Cathy Poulin, Director of Outreach and Public Relations, drives a "Random Acts of Kindness" van to places in need in the communities served by the stores.
In December 2008, Bob's Discount Furniture donated a household full of furniture to the family in Voluntown, Connecticut receiving an ABC Extreme Home Makeover. In March 2011, the intensive care unit waiting rooms at the Rhode Island Hospital received $25,000 worth of furniture donated by the company. In April 2012, it donated $45,000 in gift cards to the Make-A-Wish Foundation to aid in fundraising efforts.
In response to the devastation to New York and New Jersey caused by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, Bob's Discount Furniture and its employees have provided relief assistance in the following ways:provided trucks to transport food, clothing and other relief supplies collected in New Milford, CT by employee Peter Sorrentino’s sister Tracey. Mr. Sorrentino, Bob’s Director of Delivery Operations, coordinated volunteer drivers and Bob’s 26-foot box trucks to bring the donations to New York City
donated 464 pillows to the evacuated nursing home patients who were temporarily sheltered at New York City’s Brooklyn Technical High School
donated 1400 turkeys for Thanksgiving, with employees from all 43 stores donating an additional 1,200 turkeys or more. The turkey donations were split between Island Harvest (Long Island’s largest hunger-relief organization), and the Community Food Bank of New Jersey (serves 20 of NJ’s 21 counties)
At each Bob’s Discount Furniture Café, a statue of Bob collects thousands of dollars from its customers for a different non-profit charity each quarter. Each year, Bob’s collects, matches and presents 100% of these donations to four charities:Autism Speaks – April 2015 to June 2015 – $100,000
Save the Children – July 2015 to September 2015 – $60,000
Pajama Program – October 2015 to December 2015 - $60,000
Special Olympics – January 2016 to March 2016 – $60,000
Autism Speaks – April 2016 to June 2016 – $125,000
Starting with the 2014 Café Collections for Autism Speaks, Bob’s began matching all customer donations dollar-for-dollar, presenting all of these proceeds to the respective charities along with customer donations. All fourth quarter donations in 2016 will be given to Pajama Program.
Since 1996, Bob Kaufman has been supporting the American Red Cross in New England by hosting blood drives in store locations. Over the years, Bob’s has also sponsored blood drives in partnership with sports teams like the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. This commitment has led to the creation of the Bob’s Discount Furniture High School Heroes program, which awards a total of $250,000 in college scholarships to students who organize, promote, and host at least two high school blood drives in a year. The program, which gives high schools in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey the ability to compete with other schools, awards scholarships from $250 up to $1,000 to individual students, based on a school’s participation rate and total units of blood collected. In total, Bob’s Discount Furniture’s support of New England blood drives has resulted in almost 40,000 units of blood.
In 1991, Bob’s Discount Furniture became an event partner of an annual charity Golf Outing with Planned Furniture Promotions. Money raised from event goes directly to a number of non-profit charities, including Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters, Family & Children’s Aid, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, and Camp Rising Sun, a camp for over 120 children battling cancer.The 28th annual outing raised $600,000 in July 2016. Bob’s Discount Furniture gives $2 million a year to various charitable causes.
Bob’s Discount Furniture launched its Celebrate the Arts contest in 2006 after seeing numerous school districts deal with budget cuts that affected cultural arts programs. Bob’s Outreach program created the annual contest to help schools deal with these issues, awarding more than $300,000 since the inception of the contest. In 2014, Bob’s Discount Furniture awarded a $25,000 check to Gov. John Fairfield School of Saco, Maine. In 2015, Bob’s Discount Furniture awarded a $25,000 check to Holy Trinity Diocesan High School in Hicksville, New York.