Some of my earliest memories growing up were Saturday mornings in winter in the Stony Stratford shop. There was a small office in the back with a huge map of the south of England on it. It was well out of date. The M25 wasn’t even on the map but I remember looking all over it for the places my dad was going to be delivering furniture to that day or where he would be collecting new items to bring back.
That office was freezing cold and there was just a small 2 bar heater in there. This was the late 80’s and I was sporting the latest in 100% polyester shell suits. The sort the scousers wore in a Harry Enfield sketch. The thing with polyester shell suits near a 2 bar heater is it doesn’t take long before you can start to smell them burning. This was just one of many funny (usually poor health and safety) stories that happened in the shops growing up. The opening of the Bedford shop was a big event. The place was packed and I would of been about 10 years old and I was serving Asti Spumante and Italian cakes to all the customers coming in. In Bedford there was always work to do. I was usually found hiding in a huge cardboard box out the back waiting to jump out on the delivery drivers. This became a habit until one of the delivery drivers used brown tape and taped me up inside and I was trapped. All day.
This wasn’t my only embarrassment. My parents had decided to use horrendous photos of Charlotte, my sister, and I to greet customers when they arrived in the showroom. Customers from far and wide have been subjected to seeing pictures of me dressed up as superman. Or a family photograph of the four of us with exotic birds on our heads from a holiday in Gran Canaria. That photo has been up in the office for the best part of 25 years.
There was always something happening in the showroom at Bedford. There would be people spraying furniture in one room or fitting glass into corner cabinets. If ever you bought a large Globe bar from Carlo Furniture in the late 90’s there was a very good chance that it was put together by a 14 year old boy. Me.
Dad taught me lots of tricks growing up and now he is teaching my son also. How to use different tools for different things and even how to use some tools that weren’t even meant for those means. The most important piece of equipment that he had and will always take with him when he does a job was not a screwdriver or a hammer, it was a candle. It was the most useful by far. There was always a way to fix something. Not always the safest way to fix something but there was always a way. Nothing changes, when I called the other day there he was at the top of a ladder, answering the phone, changing an entire light fixing but without isolating the electric.
They worked hard every day often leaving the house before we had woken up and getting in after we were asleep. The amazing business that it is today is down to that hard work and the personal touch that it gives every customer and this is from the name of the business itself, Carlo.
No children were harmed in the making of this business, well, just mild burns.