russell oliver cashman

Russell Oliver is the Cashman behind Toronto's most unusual jewellery store

There's a lot you can learn from a guy like "the Cashman" Russell Oliver of Oliver Jewellery. The family man has been in the bling business for the past five decades, and has plans to open a new (seventh) location at 88 Yorkville Avenue sometime next year. 

Oliver told me that this is a "full circle" moment for him, as he used to run his shop on the nearby Cumberland Street in the 70s and 80s. 

Plus, the company itself is changing. Oliver's four sons run a lot of the business these days, and a PR company has taken more creative control of the brand itself.

However, back in the day, Oliver came up with all of his own ideas. Whether it was painting himself in head-to-toe silver, writing original music, or dressing up in blue and red spandex, and popping out of a telephone booth as the Cashman, the philosophy here is that "no publicity is bad publicity."

Even when Oliver was sued by Time-Warner for impersonating Superman in 1998, he told me that, despite the legal fees, the attention was "phenomenal."

Oliver said that at the time, he was getting calls from all over the world asking him if it was true that he was being sued, and he would respond, "yeah, I'm an old balding, Jewish guy with a belly, and I'm imitating Superman. We made such fun of it."

This infectious energy that is on display in every one of his commercials definitely comes across while we were chatting. He's got stories about growing up in South Africa, and running his very own discotheque in Church-Wellesley Village (called The Village Green) when he was finishing his Masters in Philosophy at York University.

He once ran a promotion where he gave a car away to the late John Candy. He worked on a campaign with Mr. T, and even though his rate was high, Oliver told me that, "[Mr T.] was a gold-aholic. I didn't have to give him a dime. He gave me money every week. He was coming in and buying stuff."

At the core of it all, Oliver says he always wanted to be famous, and the decision to get into jewellery was a "fluke." There's no denying that the Cashman does love the payoff, "my favorite Rolex is the one that I sell for the most profit," he tells me.

My whole conversation with Mr. Russell Oliver was full of surprises, but the one that got me the most was where he got the inspiration for his unforgettable, "OH YEAH."

"The truth is it came from Seinfeld, and nobody knows
about this, but at one point somebody in Seinfeld, I guess it was Kramer, he said, 'oh yeah,' and I just picked it up and I loved it."

Listen to Season 2, Episode 7 of the blogTO podcast

Russell Oliver has been in the jewellery business in some form for the past 50 years, so as you can imagine, he's got some interesting stories about his iconic commercials, celebrity encounters, legal issues, and interacting with fans.

In what could be his last interview as "the Cashman," Oliver discusses the secrets to his success, including where he got the inspiration for his "oh yeah" tagline.

Guide to this podcast
  • 1:35 Getting his masters in philosophy
  • 2:00 Running The Village Green
  • 2:30 The happiest time in Russell's life
  • 3:36 Buying his first jewellery store
  • 4:30 Always a promoter
  • 5:03 Making the move to Yorkville
  • 6:00 Getting on television
  • 7:34 Becoming the Cashman and getting sued
  • 8:45 Any publicity is good publicity
  • 10:13 Growing up in South Africa
  • 11:00 Better at business than acting
  • 12:20 Yorkville in the 70s
  • 13:00 Going back to Yorkville with a total rebrand
  • 13:38 The last interview with the Cashman
  • 14:00 The biggest thrill of the job
  • 15:05 Giving away a Mercedes for publicity
  • 15:55 Getting to know John Candy and Eugene Levy
  • 17:05 Mr. T loves gold
  • 17:43 No regrets
  • 18:38 How do people react to the Cashman?
  • 19:09 Loved by truck drivers
  • 20:00 Russell's daily routine and future plans
  • 22:10 Russell's got lots of love for Toronto
  • 23:03 Where did Russell Oliver get the inspiration for his "oh yeah" tagline?
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Lead photo by

Oliver Jewellers

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