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A Brief History of Smitty’s Fine Furniture

Smitty's moving truck from the history of the companySmitty’s Fine Furniture has been serving customers for over 68 years and is an important fixture in the Canadian furniture industry. Here is a brief history of the story that is Smitty’s.

 

Before There Was Furniture...

 

Smitty's Furniture, Pianos and Groceries

Edward Schmidt (aka Smitty), was born in 1899, and was the third of four sons born to William and Wilhelmina Schmidt, of Bentinck Township near Hanover, Ontario. William and Wilhelmina had recently emigrated from Germany and were attracted to the Hanover area because of its wealth of farmland and hardwood bushes. By the 1920s, Hanover was known as the “Capital” of the Canadian furniture industry.

  • In the 1920s, Edward worked as the head finisher at the Peppler Furniture Company.
  • In the 1930s, Edward started his own piano sales business. He drove all over Toronto in an old pickup truck to buy used upright pianos to fix, and he did all the refinishing and fixing in the living room of his home. The business became so successful that he built a finishing shop behind his home.
  • FUN FACT: Edward was a musician and played the organ at the local church for decades. He was affectionately called ‘Smitty at the organ’, and his musical sensibilities were an asset when tuning his refinished pianos as he had perfect pitch!
  • FUN FACT: During the war, Elmer (Edward’s son) sold cigarettes (they were part of the soldiers' rations) and he saved all his earnings. It was these savings that were used to start Smitty’s!

Next Came Smitty’s Shopping Centre

 

Smitty's Shopping Centre was founded in 1949, and began by selling groceries, meats, vegetables, hardware, and large appliances. In 1951, the first of numerous additions was built for sales of home furnishings, pianos, and organs. At that time, there were 15 furniture factories in the Hanover area.

 

The grocery and hardware business was phased out in 1955 to make way for drapery, broadloom, and televisions.

  • FUN FACT: Throughout 1950s, 60s, and 70s, Smitty’s customers were brought back to Edward’s house for a tumbler of his homemade red wine and to listen to him play his organ.

By 1962 Smitty’s home furnishing started to attract thousands of customers from much larger urban centres.

  • FUN FACT: Elmer was a car wheeler-dealer, buying and selling cars on a weekly basis. One day, his wife came out of the grocery store to find her car missing – Elmer had sold it while she was shopping!

Then Came Smitty’s Fine Furniture

  • In 1963, Edward’s third son (Gordon) joined Smitty’s with his sewing machine business and became a furniture buyer.
  • In 1963, Smitty’s opened a modern 13,000 square foot home furnishings showroom and 12,000 square foot warehouse — the first of its kind in the region.
  • In the 1970s, Smitty’s expanded and built an even larger showroom (25,000 square feet) across the street from the showroom.
  • In the 1980s, Smitty’s began attending home shows in the Toronto region.
  • In 1985, Smitty’s opened a second location (44,000 square feet) in Cambridge.
  • In 2014, the Cambridge location moved to Kitchener.

Many things have changed over the years, but one thing that remains constant is our commitment to providing quality furniture with a focus on Made In Canada products. Today, we are proud to carry the largest variety of Canadian furniture brands in the region.

 

Smitty’s is proud of our heritage and our family focus. Words like caring, giving, and trustworthy are the words that we live by from the moment you step through our doors until we step through yours.

 

For the Love of Canadian Furniture

Thank you for being a part of our history.

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