TORONTO — Famed Greater Toronto Area retailer Bad Boy Furniture Warehouse Ltd. has been around for 70 years, but the business begun by Mel Lastman, a flamboyant Toronto salesman who went on to become the city's mayor, and revived by his son has hit hard times. Amid higher interest rates and slow home sales, it is attempting to restructure its business under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.
This is how Bad Boy got to this point:
1953: Marilyn Lastman gets her future husband Mel Lastman a job at an appliance store on College Street in Toronto. A video Bad Boy once shared detailing his history says Mel Lastman started on accounts receivable, but one night, when a salesman called in sick, he hit the floor, selling two stoves and a fridge, kick-starting his career in sales.
Dec. 13, 1963: Mel Lastman dresses in a jailhouse uniform offering people at Queen and Yonge Streets in Toronto a $2 bill in exchange for $1. The Toronto Star reports Lastman doled out $500 in 15 minutes before the corner got so busy police requested he leave.
1954: Mel Lastman runs Heather Hill appliances in 1954, the Bad Boy video says. Sales were difficult to come by so he would follow an ice truck around noting their delivery stops and would later visit to pitch them on buying a refrigerator.
1955: Mel Lastman changed the name of his business to Bad Boy on the advice of a friend in marketing, the video says. He opened the first Bad Boy store on Weston Road in Toronto.
1965: In another one of his publicity stunts, Mel Lastman flew to Frobisher Bay in Nunavut to "sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo." The Star reports he returned with a few fish and a polar bear skin.
1969: Mel Lastman elected to the North York Board of Control.
Dec. 4, 1972: Lastman was elected mayor of North York. He would serve 10 straight terms — 25 years — as the mayor of the now Toronto suburb.
1976: Mel Lastman sells the Bad Boy business. The Globe and Mail reported a consortium of members it did not name bought the business for $2 million.By then, the chain had 40 stores.
October 1976: Mel Lastman cashed out two-thirds of his family-owned shares in Bad Boy at $3 each, the Star reported. The paper said the move left Lastman with one-third of his shares in the company, walking out with $2.9 million.
1977: The new Bad Boy owners were petitioned into bankruptcy by an unhappy creditor, the Star reported. Creditors were owed $6 million. The owners blamed poor accounting practices, a disastrous expansion into Quebec and declining sales in Ontario for the company's troubles.
July 17, 1990: Bad Boy Furniture Warehouse Ltd. is incorporated in Ontario.
1991: Mel Lastman's son Blayne Lastman revives the Bad Boy business with his first store on Kennedy Road in Scarborough, Ont. The Star lists Marvin Kirsh and Eric Weiss as Lastman's partners. Because Canada was grappling with a recession, Mel Lastman thought his son was "out of his mind" to get into business, Bad Boy's video said. Eventually, he came around and became a fixture in Bad Boy's videos, shouting the chain's famed "nooobody" slogan.
1994: Blayne Lastman hires look-alikes to play Bill and Hillary Clinton, then the U.S. president and first lady, in an ad promoting his stores. The White House sent a cease and desist letter to Bad Boy.
1998: Lastman became first mayor of the newly amalgamated City of Toronto. He was re-elected in 2000, serving two terms before announcing his retirement from politics ahead of the 2003 election.
2006:Blayne Lastman buys out his partners to nab sole ownership of the business, Sun Media reports.He names Mel Lastman honorary chairman of the board of the newly minted Lastman's Bad Boy brand.
Nov. 19, 2014: Bad Boy opens a store in landmark Honest Ed’s building in Toronto
Dec. 11, 2021: Mel Lastman dies at 88.
Nov. 9, 2023: Bad Boy files Notice of Intention in Ontario court in a bid to restructure its business amid high interest rates, slow home sales and a tight retail market.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 13, 2023.
Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press