Furniture shop closure blamed on town centre disruption

A WOKING furniture shop is closing after nearly 30 years, which the owners blame mostly on disruption from the town centre redevelopment.

Broadway Furniture Centre, near the railway station, was opened in September 1993 by brothers Tony and Jason Richardson.

SUITE SPOT – The shop before the roadside parking became a taxi rank

The three-storey premises soon became the go-to place for local people seeking good-quality furniture.

The shop was part of an expanding business that included a small removals arm and shops in Byfleet, Farnham and Aldershot.

Tony has been in the furniture business for many years and Jason helped him at weekends, while working in insurance, before they bought the shop at 17 The Broadway and ran it together full time.

About 15 years ago they featured in the Channel 5 series Cowboy Builders, donating furniture to a family in Send who had been ripped off by unscrupulous tradesmen.

In September 2014, the News & Mail reported on the Broadway Furniture Centre’s 21st anniversary, with Jason putting their longevity down to having a personal touch, as well as quality products and services.

“Customers stay with us for generations – they come back time after time. We get a lot of recommendations too; word gets around, which is nice,” he said.

Less than five years later, business was being badly affected by changes to parking arrangements, largely because of works on the town centre redevelopment.

STAR QUALITY – Jason, left, and Tony Richardson with the actress and presenter Sheree Murphy, who hosted the TV series Cowboy Builders. In one episode the brothers donated furniture to local victims of unscrupulous tradesmen

Jason wrote to the News & Mail in a letter we published in March 2019, saying: “I am becoming increasingly frustrated at the parking chaos in Woking and the unsympathetic attitude of the traffic wardens.

“Not only have all the customer parking bays been replaced along the Broadway by a taxi rank, causing a massive impact on the businesses, but now customers are being hassled and given parking tickets when they park outside the shop to collect an item.

“Even our delivery drivers are getting tickets. Has the world gone completely mad? I cannot believe the wardens are using any common sense when they can see that people are collecting or dropping off, or delivering.

“Woking shoppers and businesses have been extremely tolerant over the last couple of years with all the building work and roads being dug up.”

Jason asked the borough council, “do you not want shoppers in town? You don’t want businesses to fail – let’s have some common sense and support people and businesses.”

A year later, the pandemic made the situation worse, with shops having to close or follow social distancing and hygiene regulations and a lot of trade going online.

Jason told the News & Mail this week that closing the shop, on 31 July when the lease expires “is another sad day for the independent retailers with another victim to the big corporations along with the council killing off the local high street”. 

All business will now be conducted from Byfleet Beds in the village’s High Road and through the Richardsons’ website.

“We have enjoyed our time in Woking and many of our customers will remember us from the beginning and our team, Andy Booth and Wayne Shuttle, who have always been very loyal and reliable workers,” Jason said.

“It is obviously quite a sad time. I know that things change and move on.

“I’ve got lots of happy memories and we’ve had some really good customers over the years and still have. I think a lot of people will be sad to see us go.”

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