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Throw away culture? We’ve come to accept that many of the products we purchase are not made to last and that, when they break or wear out, replacing them with another inexpensive facsimile will be cheaper than having them serviced and repaired.
What about throw away furniture? There was a time when furniture was more often built to be lived with for generations, perhaps.
For four generations now, Sheppard Furniture in downtown Simcoe, Ontario, has carried quality, Canadian-made home furnishings made across our nation, backed by outstanding warranties. It’s a commitment that Phil and Carrie Ferreira have kept. Styles have evolved with the times, of course, but their business model has remained constant: You can’t put a price on customer service.
That is literally the case at Sheppard. “We service what we sell,” Phil tells me. Delivery is free, there is no extra cost when house-calls are necessary for repairs and, not surprising, parts from their Canadian suppliers are readily available.
Sheppard also provides in-home consultations to help with choices on style, colour and placement. And you’ll get the same treatment in-store. Says Carrie, whose family took over the business in the mid- 1980’s, “There is a more educated consumer out there who understands the importance of supporting Canadian manufacturing, and buying locally. We take the time to get to know them: what they want, how they want to use it. Times have changed, but our store has operated this way since the ‘50’s.” Customer service doesn’t get old.
Sheppard also contributes to their community by hiring local high-school students for delivery and warehousing. Often it’s their first job, and many stay for the full four years. Phil and Carrie spoke of the pleasure of watching these young people grow into young adults, all the while learning about the world of work in an environment that encourages responsibility and conscience.
Yes, Sheppard Furniture backs up what you buy, and they purchase from manufacturers who do the same. You like the sofa but not the upholstery? Not a problem. You’ll be provided with lots of options, from contemporary to classic. The mattress gallery upstairs is also full of fine, Canadian-made product with 10 year pro-rated warranties.
And if you’re thinking about wood, the keyword is “solid.” At Sheppard you will find solid wood tables, kitchenettes, and bedroom suites. Like I said, the kind of stuff that lasts.
Is it easy running a business with an emphasis on personal, customer care? Both admit there is a lot to juggle sometimes. But it’s worth it. “Yes,” says Carrie with a smile. “Write that.”
For The Silo, Chris Dowber