2000: Spotlight Fades For Luggage Shop

Pair packed lots of fun into 5 Letterman spots

Kathy Lynd
Kathy Lynd is still plugging away as the owner and manager of Preston Luggage and Gifts in Preston Center, but her Late Show sidekick, Al Cordova, has retired. Staff Photo: Chris McGathey

By Joanna England | Staff Writer

While everyone has their baggage, Kathy Lynd’s has been seen on national television five times.

Lynd, the owner and manager of Preston Luggage & Gifts, says she’s the last person you’d expect to see on TV. But that didn’t stop her from appearing on the Late Show With David Letterman.

The segments happened entirely by accident, according to a 2000 story in Park Cities People. After being turned away from both DFW Airport and Love Field for a luggage-oriented farce, a Late Show crew found the small, family-owned Preston Center store.

After some convincing, Lynd acquiesced. But the self-described wallflower said her first appearance on the Late Show was particularly anxiety-inducing.

“I was stiff as a board,” Lynd said.

The recurring bit, which had Lynd donning an earpiece and communicating with Letterman live in New York, included both Lynd and salesman Al Cordova, and even their customers at times.

Kathy Lynd and Al Cordova“[Letterman] just ad-libs whatever happens in the store. They just figure something out to do,” Lynd said. “The first show, it was just me and Al in the store. They were cutting down luggage, or rather making me cut down the quality of the luggage.”

Lynd, who’d lost touch with Cordova, said the now-retired salesman “was the big star of it all” and loved the attention he got. Cordova, who left Preston Luggage eight years ago, remembers the first show being something akin to a whirlwind.

“It was a big surprise when they came by the first time,” he said. But Cordova, dubbed “America’s Greatest Luggage Salesman” on the show, enjoyed mugging for the camera. Getting recognized on the street was a perk too.

“I was standing on the corner, and a girl ran up to me on the street,” Cordova recalled. “She said, ‘Were you on Letterman?’ and I said ‘Yeah, I was.’ She said, ‘I’m glad to meet you,’ and I said, ‘Thank you.’ ”

In some of the bits, Letterman had Lynd hassling Cordova over his sales. But it wasn’t long before some of the store’s customers were thrown into the mix.

“I sold a $2 wallet once,” Lynd recalled. “[Letterman] wasn’t really messing with me, but he was messing with the [customer], saying things like, ‘Couldn’t you do any better?’ ”

While the experience was nerve-wracking to say the least, Lynd wouldn’t trade it for the world.

“The customers really got more relaxed in the store. They felt like they got to know me a little better,” Lynd said. “I didn’t like doing it, but I loved the after effects.”

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