The email blast touting an upcoming appearance by Sean Lowe, star of The Bachelor, at the grand opening of a Freed’s Furniture in Plano smacked, at first, of desperation. For the uninitiated, The Bachelor is a television reality series wherein one man serially dates a number of women, making out with them in hot tubs and overusing the word “amazing” as he winnows the gaggle down to his preferred life mate. Now in its 17th season, the competition’s star is Dallas’ own Lowe, a virginish, beefy, blond-haired, blue-eyed former insurance salesman with a penchant for muscle t-shirts.
Now, it would not seem out of line for a reality star to appear at the grand opening of a suburban furniture store, especially one where you can afford your dreams. But normally such an appearance would come long after that star’s turn to shine on television, when the mundanity of car payments intersects with the decline of celebrity on the graph of life. Not so with Lowe. His visit to Freed’s came in February, as his iteration of The Bachelor was still on the air. How had he already managed to fall that far?
I had visions of a shirtless Lowe sitting alone at a card table with a Sharpie at the ready and a stack of black-and-white glossies of himself. As a student, if not an admirer, of his work on the show, I felt sad for him. So on a rainy Saturday, I headed north on a mission of mercy to meet the man with all the roses.
Upon arrival, I realized I needn’t have worried. The parking lot was packed. The new hinges on the front doors of Freed’s were tested by a steady stream of young, perfectly made up, smartly fashioned girls entering and exiting. The teens on their way out had their eyes glued to their phones, admiring photos they had taken with Lowe.
Inside, an impressive line of women snaked through the 70,000-square-foot store, around sectionals and past occasional furniture. As I dodged balloons and girls, I overheard a salesman say, “I just sold three sofas.” This seemed unlikely, considering the median age of the visitors that day. Perhaps he had sold them all to Lowe.
It turned out that there was a good explanation for his appearance at the store. In Las Vegas not long ago, Lowe had met Howard Freed, the grandson of David Freed, the Russian immigrant who founded Freed’s in Deep Ellum in 1938. Lowe, who is entertaining the idea of designing his own line of furniture, was in Vegas for a furniture convention. As was Freed. The two struck up a friendship.
At the back of the store, the man of the hour stood in front of a black backdrop lettered with “Freed’s” and “The Bachelor.” One by one, ladies stepped onto the dais and posed while a professional photographer snapped pictures and their friends took phone pictures for Facebook. The line was easily 50 people deep, so I was clearly not needed. As I was leaving, a gentleman remarked that he had been holding his wife’s place in line while she browsed. When his turn came, she wasn’t back, so he decided to get his picture taken with Lowe. “I told him I was here with my wife,” the man said, “but he looked pretty freaked out.”