Bernie Rubin, Bernie and Phyl’s co-founder, dies of COVID-19

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Image shows an elderly couple with their grandchildren

Bernie and Phyllis Rubin opened the Convertible Castle in Quincy, Mass., 37 years ago. They sold sleeper sofas in a store of less than 1,000 square feet and lost $50,000 in their first year, according to an article in the Boston Business Journal published in 2000.

“My wife and I used to work 80 hours a week, and we never took a dime out of there,” Bernie Rubin recalled.

The occasion for that story: Bernie & Phyl’s, as the business then was known, had entered Furniture Today’s ranking of Top 100 furniture retailers for the first time.

Bernie Rubin died Monday in South Florida, another victim of the COVID-19 pandemic. “He was one in a million,” his family said in a statement. “He was honest, hard-working, fair and, above all, loved his family – which included his entire extended Bernie & Phyl’s family. He will be greatly missed.” He was 82.

TV ads made Bernie and Phyllis celebrities

Bernie and Phyllis Rubin weren’t only a married couple of 61 years. They teamed up in popular TV ads that made them celebrities throughout New England and featured a catchy jingle: “Quality, Comfort and Price (That’s Nice!)”

From that small store in Quincy, the Rubins relocated to a former shoe factory in Weymouth.

Now based in Norton, Mass., Home Furnishings Association member Bernie & Phyl’s had expanded over the years to Braintree, Hyannis, Natick, Raynham, Saugus and Westborough, as well as Nashua and Newington, N.H., and South Portland, Maine.

Rubin drew warm remarks from other area retailers, including Harold Tubman, president of HFA member Circle Furniture in Acton, Mass.
“Bernie was a true mensch while building a great business and was always willing to support the community,” Tubman said in an email to the HFA Tuesday.

‘We know many of you are also suffering’

Bernie Rubin is survived by Phyllis, their children Larry, Michelle and Rob and 10 grandchildren.

In their statement, posted on the business website, Larry, Rob and Michelle added this: “We know many of you are also suffering, and we are keeping you and your loved ones in our thoughts as we navigate these challenging times together.”

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