Martins of Letchworth furniture shop to close its doors after 82 years
PUBLISHED: 07:04 01 February 2018
One of Letchworth’s longest running businesses is set to close after 82 years of trading in Leys Avenue.
Martins of Letchworth furniture shop has been a family-run firm in the town since 1936, when Morris Reed started providing household furniture from the store.
Now, Morris’ two sons Raymond and Norman – who have been running Martins of Letchworth since 1976 – will be stepping down, with the historic shop set to close on the last day of March.
Norman Reed, retired director for Martins, spoke to the Comet about the many fond memories he has – from owning and running the business after his dad – as well as the national chains that are making it harder for independent businesses to thrive.
“I joined the company 57 years ago and my eldest brother and partner Raymond joined seven years later,” Norman said.
“We have a great bond and have always worked well together.
“The service is always most important to our company. One day, a customer wanted a bed delivered and our vans were out, so I had to do something you probably could get arrested for.
“I put the double bed across the wings of the car and we went off to Bassingbourn, and that’s the attitude we have always had towards our customers.
“People now find it much easier to go and buy from the big stores on the outskirts of town. The thing about Letchworth is it’s now got a lot of fantastic restaurants and coffee shops, and that’s what is happening now.
“It’s a shame, and if you think about it there used to be four furniture shops in Letchworth and now there will be none.
“I might be retired but every minute of my day is spent doing something. Unlike some retirees I have a very busy life which I’m very pleased about.”
Now store directors Norman and Raymond have decided to fully retire and close the store, with the last day of March being the final business day for Martins of Letchworth.
The store celebrated it’s 80th birthday in 2016 by burying a time capsule filled with pictures, newspaper clippings, predictions for the future, and more than 100 drawings and stories from students at Hillshott Infant School and Wilshere-Dacre Junior Academy.
The capsule’s location is marked by commemorative limestone slab which was donated by the Letchworth Heritage Foundation.