If the founder of Greggs Furniture walked into the company’s manufacturing area today, he’d be able to settle into work right away building sofas and chairs.
“We are very much still completely handmade from the ground up,” said owner David Screech. The View Royal councillor began working in Greggs’ warehouse when he was 23, later moving into management and eventual ownership in 2000.
Greggs Furniture dates back more than half a century. Its first listing in the Victoria telephone directory was in 1958 at 2101 Government St.
Many original patterns created by founder Gregg Low are still being used.
Victoria’s Murray Scott bought the company in the mid-1960s, and the business was at the corner of Douglas Street and Queens Avenue for many years, even after a massive fire in 1982 destroyed two manufacturing buildings. The Scott family sold the furniture and upholstery operation, now at 2333 Government St., to Screech.
An offshoot of the original business and an independent company, Greggs Marine Interiors, serves the cruise ship industry. Brothers Robert and James Scott, sons of the late Murray Scott, are partners.
Greggs Furniture specializes in reupholstering, which represents 60 per cent of business, and new upholstered furniture. As well as filling custom orders, Greggs carries furniture from Ontario manufacturers with similar quality standards, Screech said.
Greggs prides itself on manufacturing high-quality furniture that will last for many years, Screech said. The company is used to seeing generations of customers. “We regularly recover our frames for the third or fourth time,” he said.
Glenn Oliphant, a retired interior designer, used Greggs for years, saying “their quality is top-notch.”
B.C. spruce and alder wood used in Greggs furniture is supplied by CarlWood Lumber, a family owned company with a sawmill at Maple Ridge. “They have milled it to our specs for at least 40 years,” Screech said.
The furniture market has changed in the past 10 to 15 years as competitors carry low-cost products made offshore, he said.
A standard Greggs custom-made sofa is about $2,200 to $2,500, Screech said. Price is largely dictated by fabric, which can range from $30 to $300 per yard.
Customers ordering from Greggs can watch their order in progress by walking upstairs to the manufacturing area. This suits buyers who, for example, want to try out two or three different levels of firmness for foam in seats.
One couple ordered a sofa with one seat cushion that was firm for the husband and a softer cushion for the wife.
Retro-look furniture is “hugely popular” these days, Screech said, pointing to white-grey-and-black patterned chairs without arms. “Those are very much a throwback to a 1970s design.”
The style has simple, clean lines, but it’s also a space-saver, something that can appeal to the growing number of condominium dwellers. Greggs will manufacture chairs that can be clipped together to be converted into a love seat or sofa, creating design choices for an owner.