Al Greenwood, 'Bedspread King,' dead at 93

Carole Sloan, June 15, 2001

LONG BEACH, CA — Services were held for industry legend Al Greenwood, who died June 6 at the age of 93.

Greenwood, known across the country as the Bedspread King, began his off-price specialty businesses in the early '50s as the Rug King.

As the Bedspread King, his store here was the opposite of fashionable presentation, with merchandise piled on wood shelves and in wire baskets.

He was always outspoken, whether dealing with customers or suppliers, letting everyone know his views on everything from fabric and color to worldly topics.

In the several decades since comforters overwhelmed sales of bedspreads, the Bedspread King was one retail emporium where bedspreads could be had in a wide selection. But the store carried comforters as well as custom draperies, fabrics and kitchen towels.

What distinguished Greenwood was his embrace of promotion. For years he ran small ads featuring his head and shoulders as an integral part of the ad, dressed in a crown and regal robe. The messages were a combination of product, life, love and politics — and never in a bashful voice. Typical were the headlines that read "Bedspreads for the Other Woman," "Bomb Grenada with Decorator Pillows," and "It was the Day's Big Event," a reference to a grandson's first use of a potty chair.

The newspaper ads segued into TV spots that included merchandise and messages from family members.

In 1999, he moved into national TV as a semi-regular commentator on the state of the world, textiles and anything else for "The Daily Show" on the Comedy Central.

Greenwood, who died from complications of congestive heart failure, was working six days a week until the day he died. He only gave up driving last November.

Daughter Susie Laio and son-in-law Bob Laio, co-owners, managed most of the floor selling in recent years.

He is survived by another daughter, Judy Foreman, and three grandsons and two granddaughters.

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