"RIP reader Lawrence Curley remembers this distinguished furniture emporium."
Greetings from Australia, January 2011 I was honoured to work at Maples Tottenham Court Road, then known as the ‘Largest Furniture Store in the World’, for a short period in the late 60s and early 70s.
First I worked as a general furniture salesman (direct from Beard Watsons, George Street, Sydney) and then as the New Complaints Manager answerable to the General Manager Holmes and the Assistant General Manager, the late Tony Parsons, who sadly had committed his whole working life to Maples and at its demise committed suicide. Tony had the complete history of Maples up to the end. I wonder where it all went.
It was an amazing and I have so many recollections of the building. The then China and Glass Department had a gallery above it under which were panels of Lalique Glass. So beautiful in the winter months.
Striped tails and highly polished shoes
There was not only a doorman but a very formal receptionist named Bogard all bedecked in formal dress of striped tails, immaculate white shirt, bow tie, striped pants and the highest polished shoes. It was his role to ascertain what the customer required (and who they were) and who would attend same customer. A series of senior sales people called cabinet salesmen were on hand to Mr Bogard’s requests.
My own wife was not allowed to see me without an appointment! It was amazing - there were so many levels of rank. When you crossed Tottenham Court Road to Warren Street to a terrace house for a hot midday meal it was without question that you did not enter another level’s dining room as you would be asked to leave as I was a number of times when I had been elevated to the upper dining room but liked the company of the lower one. I was Management now.
On each floor under the direction of Mr Bogard, who if I recall, was a Count, there were further receptionists who would greet the customer as they departed the lift, discuss their requirements and then ring a buzzer for a salesman (not cabinet on the general floors) who would then be introduced to the customer.
There are so many stories. Maybe next time.