Gordy Dodd, shares a lifetime of entrepreneurship and philanthropy

Gordy Dodd - Oct/Nov Douglas 2023
Gordy Dodd has passed the torch to son Love, but can’t seem to retire. His one small store is now several big businesses, from Victoria to Campbell River, and he can often be found trading stories with customers. Photo By: Jeffrey Bosdet.

If you haven’t met him in person at an event or at one of his three stores (in Victoria, Nanaimo and Campbell River), then you may have seen Gordy Dodd in an ad supersized on the side of a bus that depicts him as SuperGordy or the whip-wielding “Hindiana Jones and his Temple of Savings.” Most Islanders can hum the tune behind the seven-syllable radio ad tag line: “Dodd’s fur-ni-ture and mat-tress.” His ads might be goofy, but they’re unmistakably Dodd’s. They’re unforgettable — and they work.

He’s also well known for his generosity, including his annual Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for the less fortunate provided through Our Place Society. This year will mark a quarter century he’s been doing this. In 2019, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce awarded him the Governors’ Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2022, he was inducted into the Chamber’s Business Hall of Fame.

Gordy Dodd has passed the torch to son Love, but can’t seem to retire. His one small store is now several big businesses, from Victoria to Campbell River, and he can often be found trading stories with customers.

How long have you been in Canada?

I came first, you know, one time and I went back. Then I got married over there [India] and we decided in 1977 to come back, so it’s been 46 years. 

When you still lived in India, did you ever envision a life such as the one you have now?

Not really. I heard and had seen the people who went to this country from my village. When they were back home on holiday, I could see the difference. These people were more satisfied, doing better financially and everything. They didn’t want to come back, they wanted to stay over there. That meant it was something I should go and see. So, we came over here. This is a big country with a big population and the system is a lot better. If anybody wants to do anything, they can do it. I got good experience over here, while living here for the last 46 years. I’m pretty happy. I had my family and I developed my business.

You’re well-known and well-loved for being a philanthropist. How did that get started?

Well, God has given me everything that I need, the satisfaction of everything that I need. So that’s why I thought with all that God has given me, I should do something to help the community. So that’s what started me, whenever I can afford it, helping homeless people, working with Our Place and working in Nanaimo and Campbell River. It’s not part of any advertisement, it’s all part of giving back to the community, giving back to the Island. We’re feeling good. 

You started with one small store and now you have three big ones. 

We like to serve the whole Island. Victoria, it’s a unique community, a lot of retired people. They’re wonderful people and we’re enjoying them. They want to talk; they like to tell stories. That’s what we wanted to establish elsewhere on the Island. That’s why we opened up in Nanaimo and Campbell River. Also, Victoria is getting more expensive. So, people from Victoria, they want to move to Nanaimo, some to Campbell River. It’s beautiful up there. A great community, full of parks, wonderful places. Less population there. It’s a quiet place and cheaper, too.  

You’re also well known for your terrific , funny TV ads.

In my business, there are so many big ones, like The Brick or Leon’s. To compete with them, I learned you have to do something different. Then you can survive. So, I started doing a different kind of advertisement. Those ads we made were my own idea and I explained to CHEK-TV, I wanted movie stories in 60 seconds. They helped me. And they were so popular. I’m going to start it again … Some of them are internationally popular. We get lots of comments. “Your ads are funny; your ads are good.” People like them. 

No one has come after you for parodying them?

They have. We’ve had a few problems. The Price is Right challenged one, we got letters from them. But we changed them and they said OK. 

You’re in your late 70s now. Any notion of slowing down?

I want to keep in touch. I’m not working full time. I’m in for a couple of hours this morning, but I can take time off. I don’t have too many hobbies. I don’t have golfing; I don’t have fishing. But still I have a couple of hours in a day to come here and spend time, meet everybody. Some customers 20, 25 years ago, they bought a sofa and they want to tell me stories, talk about the old times. It makes me happy. That’s how I pass my day.

You have three granddaughters. Is grandfathering harder or easier than being a dad?

They think their grandfather is funny and easy. I’m pretty easy with them. I want to enjoy the time with them. They’re good, we always have fun. I take them across the street for ice cream and they can eat a hamburger if they want. They feel more freedom with their grandfather. We’re enjoying it. They’re 12, 10 and eight.

What is your favourite thing about your life?

So far, my favourite thing is to come to my business and check what’s going on. I go to Nanaimo, I go to Campbell River every once in a while, and check there. And playing with the grandkids, that gives me happiness. When I go to India, I do some work over there. My village, the people are poor, so giving, I work helping the school, helping the kids. Like every year before winter, I buy them uniforms, shoes. When school opens, I buy them backpacks. Helping them over there, that gives me happiness. 

Succession plan?

I will stay in touch with my community work and the business, that’s my son. 

How would you summarize your success?

I just want to add that it’s a wonderful country. I am here where if you do anything good, if you help somebody, people recognize it. Other countries, it doesn’t matter what you do, people don’t care. The mentality is different.  Here, there’s a chance to do anything. We’re pretty lucky! 

Dodd 2.0

Gordy Dodd’s son and scion, Love Dodd, has been working in the business for some 27 years “… since I was 18.”  

It couldn’t have been easy growing up the son of Gordy Dodd in Victoria. Love says it was tough when he was in elementary school;  he “kind of got picked on.”  But as he got older, people loved the commercials (Love is in many of the ads), thought they were funny and that actually helped him “gain more popularity at school.” 

Did he ever have a moment wanting to do something else?

“There might have been a bit of a rebellious time where I thought: It’s a bit slow, is it a business I really want to get into?  But when I started to get into it, I fell in love with it. People need a couch. And then the relationships you build with them. That’s one of my favourite things,” says Love. 

Gordy is leaving him with “big shoes to fill,” Love allows. “I want to continue on with the philanthropy work, whatever we can do to help the community, make it a place that’s good for everybody.”