The Seahawks and Patriots may pound the gridiron during Sunday’s big game, but in Charleston, many armchair athletes will enjoy the Super Bowl from the comfort of their recliners.
“I can rule the world from here,” says Mick Hiser of Charleston, leaning back in his black leather recliner where he’s spent many a Super Bowl. He gestures to the nearby small table that holds just the essentials: a beverage, a phone, a book and the television remote. “This is my domain.”
If a man’s home is his castle, his recliner may be the throne from which he rules his roost. Ruler he may be, but according to several recliner retailers, it is the woman who is the power behind the throne.
“It’s the same story with every one,” says Joseph Sokol of Morris Sokol Furniture on upper King Street. “Women will let the man have the recliner as long as it doesn’t look like a recliner. The man could care less; he just wants to be comfortable. But the lady looks at it and says, ‘Does it look good?’ ”
Hiser, whose chair is his domain, admits that he would never have gotten his recliner “without the endorsement of my lovely bride of 44 years.”
Fortunately, the trend in recliners is to look less like the big behemoths of old and more like chairs that just happen to recline.
“We’re getting away from the old Archie Bunker style, although we still sell plenty of those as well,” says James Orvin, general manager of Orvin’s Furniture in Moncks Corner. “People are not wanting as big a recliner, so it doesn’t take up so much space in the room.”
Another big trend is power. Charlestonians want chairs that recline with the push of a button and have more precision positions than just the basic up or back, according to La-Z-Boy North Charleston.
Not only are women determining the style of recliner, but they are increasingly getting their own chairs.
That’s the case for Jean Chiola of Mount Pleasant, who has had her recliner for 26 years. The chair not only reclines but also swivels and rocks.
“That chair is still in great condition,” Chiola says. “When I bought it, my youngest was three. I rocked my babies in it, I rocked my grandbabies in it. It’s just been a great chair. The kids used to use it as a toy, spinning each other until I caught them. That was the end of that. This is my chair. It’s always been my chair.”
Male or female, that kind of fierce territoriality about recliners is fairly standard.
“When company comes over, they know that’s my chair,” Sokol says. “My two grandchildren both sit in it, but as soon as I walk in, they get up in a few seconds and I get back in my recliner.”
For many families, the solution is to buy generations of recliners.
Hiser says his father had a recliner, his son has one, and when Hiser’s latest recliner to match the new decor arrives, he will give the black leather one to his son-in-law.
“Do you think there’s a genetic link here?” he asks.
Even the family dog gets in the act.
“It used to be a chair for dad, but now it’s a chair for the family,” says Don Morris, vice president of merchandising for La-Z-Boy of North Charleston. “Some people even bring their pets to the store to make sure it fits next to them on the chair.”
The recliner becomes the command center. People eat or read while reclining. Chiola says she slept in hers for weeks while recuperating from knee replacement surgery. Something about leaning back with one’s feet up lulls everyone to sleep at some point.
“I don’t nap in my chair,” Hiser says, but then admits, “Every once in a while, I hear a chirp from the sofa: ‘Are you asleep?’ And of course, I’ve drifted off.”
And Sokol says, “I’ve done my best snoring on that recliner.”
And of course, people watch sports from their recliners.
“Holidays are huge (for recliner purchases), and Super Bowl is one of them,” Orvin says. “We have families who realize they’re having a party and have nowhere to sit, or someone who realizes that, along with a new TV, they’re ready for a new chair.”
Seattle and New England may have their rabid fans, but their devotion pales in comparison to the loyalty shown by recliner owners.
“I may never get rid of my chair,” Chiola says. “It’s my happy place.”