After Sox Win, Sofas Are Free

30,000 people will get free furniture thanks to baseball-themed promotion.

Oct. 29, 2007 — -- Thousands of Red Sox fans had hoped that their team would win the World Series, not just because they are loyal fans, but because they stood to get free furniture.

Free furniture?

That's right. Thanks to a promotion at a regional furniture chain, nearly 30,000 people ended up getting free couches, dining room tables, beds and mattresses.

Way back in March and April, Jordan's Furniture ran a promotion: buy any sofa, dining room table, bed or mattress, and if the Red Sox win the World Series — yeah, go ahead and make your favorite joke about the once-cursed team — then the price of the furniture will be refunded.

Now, that the Sox swept the championship in four games, millions of dollars' worth of furniture will be given away.

"I've always been a Red Sox fan, lived in Boston my whole life," said Eliot Tatelman, president and CEO of Jordan's. "I said, 'what a great way to support the team, what a great way to tie ourselves in with the Red Sox and what a great way to get everybody rooting for the Red Sox and sell a lot of furniture.'"

So, with all that money on the line, you would think that Tatelman is rooting for the Colorado Rockies, right?

No way.

Jordan's — like most companies that run such promotions — has taken out prize indemnification insurance, which covers the payouts if the team wins the World Series.

"We're rooting for the Red Sox, too," Tatelman said.

Jordan's has four stores spread across the Boston area and has always taken a fun approach to selling furniture. The company was founded by Tatelman's grandfather about 80 years ago and was sold in 1999 to Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway.

Two of the Jordan's stores have IMAX movie theaters, and yes, school groups take field trips there. Another store has a motion simulator movie ride.

Oh yeah, and Jordan's is also the "official furniture store of the Boston Red Sox."

Lots of Couches Sold

Tatelman would not say exactly how much furniture Jordan's sold during the "Monster Deal" promotion, but did say it was just short of 30,000 orders. He would not give a dollar figure.

"They're large orders. There were a lot of dollars involved in this," Tatelman said. "We're not selling $100 items. We're selling $1,000 sofas and $600 pieces, and so forth."

If each order was just $500 — a pretty conservative estimate — then Jordan's might end up giving away more than $15 million.

But generally, most people bought more than one item. Tatelman said that one customer could get $40,000 back after they furnished their whole house. He also said a motel in New Hampshire bought a large amount of furniture during the promotion.

Tanya Kerrigan is a Yankees fan from New York who married an ardent Red Sox fan.

"Born and Bred in Dorchester, Mass.," she told ABC News in an e-mail. "When my husband suggested we buy our couch at Jordan's and possibly benefit from a freebie if the Red Sox won, I said, 'Sure, we need the couch, but there isn't a snowballs chance in hell that the Red Sox will win the series.' Well there is only one thing that this Yankees fan is saying now: Let's go Red Sox."

Not everybody is so happy.

Kelsey Miller wanted a new sofa for two years and came "this close" to getting one during the promotion.

"I chickened out at the last second, knowing that if the Sox didn't win, my credit card account would be near to maxed out," Miller said. "Now I am very close to regretting my fiscal responsibility."

Others had been planning to buy all along and this promotion was a nice perk.

Bruce Chapman had been unhappy with his old living room furniture for years. He had narrowed his sofa choice down to two different styles. Then, when the Red Sox fan heard about the promotion, he went to Jordan's and bought the sofas.

"Only now I feel a little guilty that my cheering the Sox on isn't for entirely the right reasons," Chapman said.

So, how much did Jordan's spend on the prize insurance?

Tatelman wouldn't say, but the cost was in the millions.

Mark Gilmartin is president of Odds on Promotions, a Reno, Nev., company that underwrites such insurance policies. Though Gilmartin didn't do a policy for Jordan's, the furniture store did seek a quote from him.

Gilmartin would have insured the contest for 30 percent of the value of all the furniture given away. Using the conservative $15 million prize tally, that means the insurance would have cost Jordan's $4.5 million.

Whatever the cost, Tatelman said it was worth it. Not only did he get customers in the store, but they bought furniture. And a lot of what they purchased is not covered by the promotion.

If somebody bought a couch and a love seat, only the couch would be free. If they bought a dining room table, chairs, and maybe some china to go with it, only the table would be free.

"The Red Sox winning a world championship, and free furniture — I mean, it doesn't get any better," Tatelman said.

A Free Car for a Hole in One

Gilmartin's company insures all sorts of promotions like this. These conditional rebates — where customers get back the money spent on purchases — could be pegged to anything. For instance, if a local sports team beats a rival, all those pickup trucks purchased last week at a local dealership, could end up being free.

Another popular promotion might involve a rebate if six inches of snow happens to fall on Christmas Day.

Such sales gimmicks "are designed to increase traffic and ultimately increase sales," Gilmartin said. "It's an excellent sales promotion, in addition to being able to show your community support and back your local team."

Besides furniture stores, these promotions often show up at car dealerships and electronics shops. Gilmartin's company just insured a promotion for a Boston-area jewelry shop that will rebate purchases if the New England Patriots go undefeated this season.

Odds on Promotions also has a sister company that insures hole-in-one giveaways — typically, a hole in a tournament where a golfer wins a free car if he or she gets a hole-in-one.

Such promotions also appeal to Americans' enjoyment of gambling on sports.

Even Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper are getting in on the action, making a friendly wager.

If the Colorado Rockies were to have won the baseball championship, Menino would have had tosend Hickenlooper New England clam chowder from Legal Sea Foods, coffee and Boston creme doughnuts from Dunkin' Donuts, Curse Reversed ice cream bars and Boston You're My Home ice cream from Brigham's ice cream.

Now that the Red Sox won, Colorado will send over Quizno's sandwiches, Celestial Seasonings teas, Great Western tortilla chips, Epic Valley salsa and Liks Rocky Road ice cream.

The winning mayor might end up needing a larger desk chair after eating all that food.

Which brings us back to Jordan's. While this whole promotion might have been designed to sell furniture, Tatelman said it means a lot more than just some sales.

"All of a sudden, everybody is a Red Sox fan," he said. "All summer, they're watching games because the sofa they are sitting on, they can have for free if the Red Sox win the World Series."