Our Support Your Local Trader campaign highlights central and west London’s special markets and shops. The London Weekly News supports our community in a way which benefits everyone. So we are starting as we mean to go on, by backing the small businesses which give life to the area and earn a living for their owners – as well as adding a special flavour to life for its residents.
BY GEORGINA GAMBETTA
Manish Vara understands that his hardware store has a special place in the hearts of its life-long customers.
He knows this because recently a 90-year-old customer came into his shop, Farmer Brothers, reminiscing about his childhood.
Manish said: “We chatted about him being a small boy and coming in with his grandfather to get his shoes repaired.” It’s the kind of story the customers tell regularly.
Manish has owned Farmer Brothers for 25 years. He said: “It’s all about making customers happy. We believe this comes from traditional service and selling top quality products.”
Many things have changed in the Fulham Road since the 19th century. Once it was on the rougher side of Chelsea’s artistic bohemian scene.
Now it is lined with trendy bars, chain cafes and chic boutiques. But there is one spot that has remained, essentially, unchanged.
In 1842, before the SW postcode even existed, five brothers from Ireland opened the doors to their hardware store at 319 Fulham Road.
Now, 177 years later, the store is still selling hooks, hammers and hinges to the people of London.
The shop’s regular clientèle includes Kylie Minogue, Dame Maggie Smith and Rowan Atkinson, as well as builders, residents, local businesses, and tourists – a far cry from its trader beginnings.
But it has not always been plain sailing for Farmer Brothers.
When Manish took over the store 25 years ago it was the last standing of the business’s chain of outlets, and looked like it would be closing its doors very soon.
Farmer Brothers weathered the storm by making the shop a more public-friendly environment and expanding into a “one stop shop”, supplying all household essentials from feather dusters to fasteners.
Manish also established OH MY GOSH LONDON to rescue other hardware stores, including Pentons in Marylebone Lane, Skillmans in Kensington High Street and JD Beardmore in Fitzrovia.
All were established more than 100 years ago and held the same values of quality and service as Farmers but, like Farmers, were struggling in the disposable culture of modern society.
Today JD Beardmore, once a world famous ironmongery, is next door to Farmer Brothers.
The threat to higher-end hardware stores like Farmer Brothers used to be DIY companies, but the future means dealing with the internet threat.
But Manish said: “I’m positive about the future for Farmers as we will never compromise on service and quality.
Hopefully people see this is the way forward in the long run and we can continue for another 175 years.”
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