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Bears' shutout costs store $300K in free furniture

9/12/2006 - Chicago Bears

CHICAGO -- It all started with a little trash-talking.

Randy Gonigam, a Kendall County furniture store owner and "huge
Bears fan," got tired of players bragging about their defense, so
he decided to put his money on it.

Over Labor Day weekend, Gonigam's World Furniture Mall in Plano
offered customers free furniture -- up to $10,000 -- if the
Chicago Bears shut out the Green Bay Packers in their season opener.

Four quarters, 206 customers and about $300,000 later, Gonigam
is still a little shell-shocked.

"This is beyond our wildest dreams," he said.

The Bears blanked the Packers 26-0 Sunday, ending Green Bay's
233-game scoring streak and giving Brett Favre the first shutout of
his 16-year NFL career.

The idea that it was a long shot didn't keep him from insuring
the store for up to $300,000 worth of furniture with a company that
specializes in insuring prize reimbursements.

Gonigam got the idea to offer full refunds over Labor Day
weekend after hearing Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher brag that the
team would have the best defense in the NFL this year.

"As a Chicago sports fan, you get frustrated," he said. "I
thought, 'Prove it."'

Customer and expectant mother Kathleen Spayer, 40, went back
into the store Monday to make sure her $5,000 master bedroom suite
was really free.

"It's the luckiest year of my life," she said.

Plano is about 45 miles southwest of Chicago.