Remembering The Kalamazoo Grapevine Commercial That PO’d Art Van
"Beautiful Day. Great to be Alive." If you were old enough in the 1990's and were anywhere near a radio signal that originated in the Kalamazoo area, those words bring back memories and a smile. The words were spoken by Scott Jett. Jett, along with his late father Richard, were the founders of Grapevine Furniture. Grapevine Furniture sold used furniture. They were not Art Van. Art Van was the mega-furniture giant until a hedge fund and competition put them into the ground.
But what made Grapevine so cool and easy to root for was the fact that they did not take themselves too seriously and they also weren't afraid of taking a friendly shot at the big boys like Art Van. Oh, who are we kidding? At the time, there really was only Art Van here and everybody else here.
Art Van spent a lot of money on advertising. (In fact, when they went out of business, they still owed their ad agency $8 million) Remember, this was the 1990's. Amazon hadn't ruined the entire retail economy yet. Times were good. Some of the advertising was better than others. One of the production companies Art Van used was Cossack International. The ad campaign were used all over the country, but in Michigan it was for Art Van. It was a gravely-voiced man with a slight southern accent doing hard sell. "This will be for only ONE DAY and ONE DAY only, and when Art Van closes its doors tonight at 8pm, IF you MISS OUT on this ONE DAY SALE at Art Van, you might simply want to KILL YOURSELF". It wasn't quite that bad, but after you heard those commercials a few times, that's what it felt like.
So a brilliant and creative ad exec here named Mark Fricke handled the Grapevine account and Scott Jett was game to do anything. So on one weekend, this commercial voiced by Craig Russell ran on the airwaves of our then three stations.
(Kalamazoo Michigan via YouTube)
It only played a few times, but Art Van heard it and they were pissed. But being Sunday, there's not much you can do. And it never ran again. We put it on because Jett was paying us, and we also knew it's better to beg for forgiveness that leave money on the table. That's what they teach in business schools everywhere.
Richard Jett passed away a few years ago and then Scott closed the business. There's not much on the empty lot left, but memories.