Come and Celebrate with Us!
Peter Green Furnishers Celebrating 65 years of Success and Still on Trend!
By Wendy Martin Green
It was in 1956 that my father, Peter Green, opened his little bed store called the Sleep Shop in the market town of Eastleigh. A native of Nuneaton in Warwickshire, he was stationed briefly in Southampton during WWII when he met my mother, Norah, at a dance at the Guildhall… and the rest is history.
Almost as soon as he opened the Sleep Shop doors his customers inquired about other furnishings and the Sleep Shop quickly evolved into a furniture and flooring store. One of the first pieces he put on display in front of his tiny shop was the ever-popular Ercol Studio Couch, which had been conceived after Ercol’s early successes responding to the Government’s 1946 ‘National Utility Furniture Scheme’ showcasing excellent design and economic use of materials during the post war period. It became an instant industry favourite!
The Sleep Shop was a huge success and from these small beginnings Peter Green went on to create a new concept with his landmark ‘Walkround Showrooms’ which he opened just ten years later in an old brush factory on Southampton Road. These were the first large showrooms in the region, previously customers having to make choices from catalogues in small high-street shops. Both the size and success of this one-of-a-kind Cash & Carry store was astonishing. People flocked from miles around to shop in this new, more visually stimulating fashion and Saturdays saw a stream of customers strapping rolls of carpet and furniture onto the roofs of their cars before driving their bargains away with them. There was nothing quite like it in the South of England at the time, though we all recognise the format these days with heavily marketed national brands on every retail park. Like his first shop, the new business was based on an ethos of good quality, value, service and in this case immediate delivery of goods. This store is still talked about fondly by locals who remember it to this day.
Peter Green died in 1980 and my mother took over as Chairman. in 1985 the business was moved to an even larger premises on School Lane, Chandlers Ford. The cash and carry concept eventually diminished as nowadays most items are ordered bespoke for each customer because today’s more discerning market would rather have options in styles, shapes, sizes, wood finishes and fabricsto personalise their choice, which requires many pieces to be custom manufactured. We do, however, still have our very own Peter Green Hampshire Collection of exclusive ranges among the more popular styles, many items of which are held as stock and available for immediate delivery across ranges of beds, dining furniture, outdoor furniture and sofas and recliners.
When my mother died 12 years ago I took her place and found my self to be one of the few women in a surprisingly male-dominated industry. Leading the business and building on my parent’s ethics and successes, with the help of a loyal senior team, Peter Green now has a growing commercial division, an interactive transactional website and of course, our showrooms in Chandlers Ford, while no longer quite the biggest in the UK, are still industry-leading. As one of the few remaining independent furnishers in the country we contribute our success to our involvement in a community we have grown up with. We have furnished the region’s homes, schools, hospitals, hotels, gyms, pubs and restaurants as well as their places of worship over many decades. We have employed hundreds of local people over the years and remain heavily involved with many local charities and community organizations. The same goes for the trusted British brands we partner with such as Ercol, G Plan, Hypnos, Brintons, Axminster and ViSpring Beds to name a few – many of which have been supplying us since the beginning.
And in case you have already done the maths… you are right we are not 65 this year but 66!
How is this? Well, last year we were not able to celebrate our anniversary as we would all have liked because of covid restrictions so we are having a belated party now! And that brings me to the Pandemic and how immensely proud we are of making it through when many other small businesses were forced into closure.
And that Ercol Studio Couch we mentioned in the beginning…? Well, we still sell it! The modern version of this classically sleek retro-piece being right on trend for 2022!
On Monday 25th & Wednesday 27th July, Outreach Radio will be broadcasting a special interview with Wendy Martin Green, owner of Peter Green Furnishers, in which she will be sharing some of her memories, and her perspective on how things have changed over the last 65 years. Please tune in straight after Drive Time Vibrations with Oz at 7pm to listen to this special feature.