SACRAMENTO, Calif. — He's quite possibly the most recognizable person in Sacramento. He's not a movie star or political figure. This man is a furniture store owner.
His name is Ken Nguyen and he is the face of the of the odd and sometimes silly Furniture USA commercials.
“When I said 'Amazon so scared' in my commercial it went viral,” said Nguyen.
Some would call the Furniture USA commercials over the top with outlandish graphics and catch lines.
“We have been voted number one in Sacramento many years,” said Nguyen. “Do you remember any other furniture commercials? No!”
After 20 years in business, Nguyen closing his doors. Not because business is bad... in fact it's good. He’s closing because he's tired. And once you hear his story you will understand why.
"I knew if we got on the ocean we may die, but I would rather die than stay in Vietnam at that time,” said Nguyen.
The year was 1985. American troops had left Vietnam a decade ago, and communism was gaining strength again. Nguyen, his wife, brother, and 4-year-old daughter were desperately trying to leave the war-stricken country.
"We have no freedom, no food, no rights."
Ken's final attempt was by boat. His family and 40-plus people braved the ocean current to escape to Malaysia.
"It was like day and night, hell and heaven,” said Nguyen. "We were on the boat five days, six nights. No food. One cup of water a day. "
Once in Malaysia, Ken and his family spent 10 months in a refugee camp before gaining asylum in the U.S. and a one-way ticket to San Francisco.
"Friday the 13th, 1985, the best day of my life," said Nguyen.
Over the next year, Ken and his wife learned English. In the mornings, Ken delivered newspapers and at night he was a janitor at a furniture store.
"After six months my boss said, 'Ken, do you want to be a salesman? You are in college?'"
That was Nguyen’s start in the furniture business. Four years after landing in San Francisco, Nguyen became manager. He would eventually move to Stockton, buy out his boss, and run his own furniture store for nine years.
"I say this city is too small and not enough business for me."
He later moved to Sacramento and renamed his business.
"Why do I name it Furniture USA? It’s my dream."
It was Nguyen’s American Dream to make this store successful, but his American dream took more than just a catchy commercial. His dream came true because America gave him a chance and he had his family by his side.
"Without my wife, my team, we would not be here today at this level,” said Nguyen.
"I want to thank America, Sacramento and all my customers."
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