Cupp's celebrate half a century in the vacuum-cleaner business
By David Thompson – Sun-Gazette Staff
To Larry Cupp, owner of Cupp's Vacuum Center, the sound of a well-made vacuum cleaner is music to his ears.
He's been around them all his life. His father, Robert “Bob” Cupp, sold Electrolux vacuum cleaners door to door before opening his own business in 1955 on Grace Street.
“We lived in a house there and he opened a store front shop across the street,” Larry Cupp said during a recent interview.
Bob Cupp worked another job to supplement his income selling vacuum cleaners, Larry said, but eventually the business was able to sustain his family.
In 1964 Bob Cupp moved the business to Kenwood Avenue in Old Lycoming Township. Larry had been working for him in 1975.
“I'd been laid off at Bethlehem Steel,” Larry Cupp said, “I was 26. (Bob) just slowly taught me how to repair vacuums and do a little selling.”
Cupp said he found the vacuum cleaner business to be a good fit.
"People will call us on the phone and we'll be able to figure out what bag they need before they do. If we don't have it, we'll get it for you." -Larry Cupp
“I was kind of surprised that I hadn't done it sooner because he was doing it while I was growing up.” he said.
In spite of his knack for the business, in 1977 Larry Cupp found himself back at Bethlehem Steel.
His father sold his business that year and moved to Florida.
But retiring from a steel mill was not in the cards for Larry Cupp. Almost immediately, he began operating a vacuum repair business out of the basement of his home at 646 Fifth Avenue.
It began when an acquaintance asked him to look at his vacuum cleaner.
“I took it home and fixed it,” Cupp said. “that gave me the bright idea to work out of my basement.”
Cupp placed a classified as in the Sun-Gazette, ordered $95 worth of parts - “one of this, one of that,” he said – and the calls started coming in from customers wanting their vacuum cleaners repaired.
“It improved to the point that in 1984, I left Bethlehem Steel completely, bought a new house and turned my old house into a full-time business,” he said.
“That was a big help. People didn't have to pump their in the basement,” he said.
Cupp's father returned from Florida only a year after he moved there and began helping out at the fledgling business.
Apparently, Florida wasn't all his wife Irene Cupp expected it to be, Larry Cupp said.
“My mother couldn't stand it,” he said. “She missed the family.”
Bob Cupp worked part-time for his son until he retired in 1998. He died in 2000.
In 1992, his son Yancy joined the business.