Cur­tain call af­ter 117 years in In­gle­wood

Taranaki Daily News - - Front Page - MIKE WAT­SON

A Taranaki fam­ily home fur­nish­ings busi­ness is to close af­ter 117 years of con­tin­u­ous trad­ing.

Noel Drake Ltd, trad­ing as Drake Fur­nish­ings, has served the wider In­gle­wood com­mu­nity since 1900 sell­ing ev­ery­thing from car­pets and cur­tains to fur­ni­ture and paint.

Now af­ter three gen­er­a­tions of fam­ily own­er­ship, cur­rent own­ers Gra­ham and Robin Drake, will shut the doors at the end of De­cem­ber and en­joy re­tire­ment.

‘‘There are a few things on the bucket list we plan to do,’’ Robin said.

The clo­sure will mark the end of one of the town­ship’s, and Taranaki’s, old­est fam­ily busi­nesses.

The Drake fam­ily set­tled in In­gle­wood from Nel­son in 1888 work­ing as farm­ers on Moun­tain Rd.

The busi­ness was started in In­gle­wood in 1900 by Gra­ham’s great grand­fa­ther, Henry Skel­ton Drake, and his brother, Ge­orge Wadding­ton Drake, trad­ing as HS and GW Drake, on Rata St.

The busi­ness was then taken over by Gra­ham’s fa­ther, Noel H Drake, un­til Gra­ham, the third gen­er­a­tion of the fam­ily, bought the busi­ness when his fa­ther re­tired.

Gra­ham, 70, of­ten worked at the shop dur­ing school hol­i­days, and joined as full­time staff mem­ber when he left sec­ondary school.

‘‘Each gen­er­a­tion brought dif­fer­ent set of skills and knowl­edge to the busi­ness,’’ Gra­ham said.

‘‘My grand­fa­ther and his brother were cab­i­net­mak­ers, up­hol­ster­ers and pic­ture framers.

‘‘They made fur­ni­ture and sup­plied glass, paint and wall­pa­per.

‘‘Some of the old ad­ver­tis­ing in­cluded wire wove beds and scrim or kapok mat­tresses, and fold­ing prams.’’

De­liv­er­ies were of­ten car­ried by bike, or hand cart, and paint was mixed on site us­ing oil and pow­dered tints, he said.

‘‘We stocked around two dozen colours, now we have more than 1700 colours for the cus­tomer to choose from.’’

The premises later moved to a big­ger build­ing on Moa St be­fore the fi­nal re­lo­ca­tion to the present, and larger, site on Rata St in 1985.

‘‘We needed newer and big­ger premises and some­where which was on the main traf­fic thor­ough­fare,’’ Robin said.

The Moa St site had been sprawl­ing and oc­cu­pied three de­part­ments to ac­com­mo­date the range of prod­ucts.

The new site be­came a one stop shop cov­er­ing all sur­faces – four walls, ceil­ings, and floors.

Car­pets and bed sizes have been among the big­gest changes to the in­dus­try, Gra­ham said.

‘‘Syn­thetic car­pets have re­ally taken over from woollen car­pets, and of­ten a range will not be kept by man­u­fac­tur­ers af­ter 2-3 years.

‘‘Back then peo­ple would car­pet their houses room by room, year by year, in dif­fer­ent colours.

‘‘Now the whole house is car­peted in one colour through­out.’’

As well bed sizes have in­creased and now most sales are for king sin­gles and queen sized beds, he said.

The cou­ple had en­joyed the sat­is­fac­tion from cus­tomers af­ter their houses have been trans­formed by new paint and fur­ni­ture, Robin said.

‘‘That’s given us the great­est plea­sure to hear peo­ple say ‘I love my house’,’’ she said.

‘‘It re­ally makes a dif­fer­ence if you can help peo­ple feel good about their sur­round­ings.’’

There was no fam­ily mem­ber to pass the busi­ness onto and they agreed with in­creas­ing the tax on goods bought on­line over­seas.

‘‘Ev­ery on­line sale af­fects brick and mor­tar busi­nesses like our­selves,’’ Robin said.

Both would miss the daily in­ter­ac­tion with cus­tomers, they said.

‘‘It re­ally makes a dif­fer­ence if you can help peo­ple feel good about their sur­round­ings.’’

Robin Drake

PHOTO: GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

Gra­ham and Robin Drake at Drakes Fur­nish­ings. The store is clos­ing down af­ter 115 years trad­ing in In­gle­wood.

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