Nooobody does it like a Lastman
From the HGO Merchandiser
Most independent, mid-size furniture, mattress and appliance retailers are run by families – some quite well known. But few are quite as locally famous as Bad Boy Furniture, a thriving Greater Toronto Area operation that’s forever linked to its charismatic and colourful founder, former Toronto (and North York) mayor Mel Lastman.
But while almost anyone in his catchment area can picture Mel gleefully shouting “Nooooobody!” in myriad television and radio spots, not everyone realises one of the younger members of the Lastman clan is doing her part to keep the family business – now led by Mel’s son, Blayne Lastman – innovative and fresh.
Samantha Lastman, the retailer’s director of business development, recently decided to leave the high-intensity consulting world and dedicate her time and energy to keeping the locally legendary furniture operation competitive in a challenging retail landscape.
“I began my career at Bad Boy in October of 2016,” she told Home Goods Online, adding the position is her first foray into the furniture industry.
“Prior to starting, I was working as a systems, applications and products (SAP) consultant at IBM,” she explains, “Now, my job title is director of business development, but I do a little bit of everything.”
For those living outside the GTA, the Bad Boy story might not be as familiar. The brand’s journey began in 1955 when Mel Lastman opened the first Bad Boy store on Weston Road. The store, which became popular for its reasonable price points and well-regarded service, was also beloved for its owner’s more lovable antics.
The senior Lastman became something of a Toronto celebrity in large part because of his creative publicity stunts. In fact, he once decided to start selling two-dollar bills for one dollar, coining the initiative as the “best two-for-one deal you could find.”
In 1972, Mel Lastman ran for and was elected mayor of North York. Three years later he decided to sell Bad Boy, which had grown substantially over those four decades.
But while Mel Lastman would remain a mainstay in Toronto’s political scene for many years to come, the furniture retailing operation eventually went out of business in the late 1980s. In 1991, Mel’s son (and Samantha’s father), Blayne Lastman vowed to continue the Bad Boy legacy and bought back the name and re-launched the franchise with a single store on Toronto’s ‘furniture row’ – Kennedy Road. Within a very few years, the store count was up to five.
Now, the operation boasts 10 stores and a distribution centre (it’s 11th store is opening this year) and employs 350 people. As far as products go, Bad Boy offers a substantial selection of mid-price goods, ranging from upholstery and case goods to major appliances to consumer electronics.
Growing normally in a famous family
What was it like growing up in a famous family? For the youngest Lastman, it was simply...normal.
“It was great, we’re a very busy family and very busy people,” she says. “I was born when [Mel Lastman] was mayor, so I didn’t know any different. When you’re born into it, you don’t really notice it.”
But while the Bad Boy brand and its iconic commercials loomed large while Lastman was growing up, she didn’t plan to transition into a leadership role – or any role, really – at the company straight out of school.