1832 Egger’s Furniture Company, Middleboro
Secrets: Quality, Value and Service
The history of Egger’s Furniture actually dates all the way back to 1620 when George Soule came to America on the Mayflower. When he stepped aboard the ship bound for America, passenger George Soule (a man-servant to Edward Winslow), had no idea where life was taking him. When the captain asked all the adult males to sign the Mayflower Compact before establishing the new settlement, George signed his name willingly. By 1633 he was listed as a freeman at the official incorporation of Plymouth Plantation. He and his wife, Mary, had seven children and he died in 1679.
153 years and five generations later, a sixth-generation descendant of the Soules, also named George Soule, started a cabinet-making business in Middleboro, about 15 miles from Plymouth where his ancestors had settled in 1620.
Industrious and enterprising, George, who was also a skilled wood carver, also began offering furniture from the newly established furniture factories in Boston and Gardner, Massachusetts. Much of his handiwork can still be seen at the altar of Middleboro’s noted “Church on the Green” which was built in the mid-nineteenth century.
Diversifying his product line, he also made and sold caskets, coffins and funeral accessories. In the nineteenth century it was common for furniture stores to be in the funeral business, and for good reason. Caskets and coffins were considered furniture because most of them were hand-carved and the workmanship was usually excellent—like a beautifully crafted piece of furniture. Funeral homes were rare at that time, and wakes were held in private homes. Soule also offered his team of horses for drawing the hearse, and his deliverymen often served as pall-bearers, if needed. Both the furniture and the funeral business aspects of his business grew.
The original house and shop were at the corner of Main and Wareham Streets in 1832. In 1834 the growing business moved into the new America Hall building half a block away on South Main Street. This building is still standing and was recently converted into an apartment house. In 1852 the Soules built their own building a short distance away at 14 South Main Street where it remained until August 1989. That is when it moved to the present location on Centre Street.
The business stayed in the Soule family until 1937 when it was purchased by William Egger. Bill Egger, a well known civic-minded gentleman, sportsman and auctioneer, had his own furniture store and merged the two companies into one, naming it the William Egger Company. It remained in the same location at 14 South Main Street. A short time later he separated the funeral business from the furniture side of the business and moved it into his home at 61 Pearl Street. When William Egger died in 1949, his widow, Blanche, continued running the furniture company as well as the funeral business. Eventually, she sold the funeral business to Jethro Ashley.
In the 1960s Blanche sold the Furniture Company to her niece, Martha Mitchell and her husband, John. John passed away a short time later and Martha ran the business successfully until she was ready to retire.. When Martha retired in 1979, Egger’s Furniture Company was purchased by Robert and Janice Saquet of Mansfield..
Bob Saquet had been in the furniture business since 1965 and had worked for several well-known manufacturers including Knoll International, Harvey Probber and the Ethan Allen Company. He was always broadening both his experience and his knowledge of the furniture industry. By 1979 Bob and Janice felt it was time to have their own furniture store—the same year Martha Mitchell was ready to retire.
At that time,” Bob remembers, “the company was a typical small-town furniture store that also sold appliances, television sets, vacuum cleaners, dinnerware, housewares, baby carriages and virtually everything for the home, including carpet sweepers and ironing boards. It was located in the building at 14 South Main Street, where it had been since George Soule built it in 1852.
“Over the years this company has dealt in funerals, housewares, oil burners, carpeting, television repair, baby carriages and pianos. William Egger and George Soule wouldn’t recognize the store today.”
Under the Saquets’ influence the company had been transformed into a higher-quality furniture store and it was obvious that the ancient three-story wood-frame building was no longer suitable for the business. It was time for a move. The present building at the corner of Center and Pearl Streets with its signature yellow awnings opened in August, 1989. Today, Egger’s is a destination for those who are looking for the finest in solid wood American made furniture as well as interior design services.
The great American furniture making tradition is carried on by craftsmen all over the country. Some of the best are in the Amish communities of Pennsylvania and Ohio where solid cherry, oak or maple furniture is made by people who care. High quality hand crafted upholstery still comes from family owned factories in North Carolina.
Bob Saquet and the team at Egger’s appreciate being able to speak directly with the manufacturers, and to shorten the shipping time by buying American-made furniture.
Domestic factories are expert at making a table out different wood species and to the specified size, leg style or finish that accommodates the customer’s needs. Custom upholstery pieces can be built in the size, style, and type of fabric and pattern to coordinate with a room’s carpet, wallcovering, paint and draperies.
Today the store has a team of talented employees. Karen Souza is the staff designer. The warehouse team of Dwayne Robbins and Scott Johnson take care of deliveries to the nicest people in the area—the Egger’s customers.
Individual customer satisfaction is the watchword at Egger’s and community involvement is very important to the entire team. Bob Saquet is a long time member of the Middleboro Rotary Club that has a commitment to people and making the community a better place to be. One thing is for certain: Egger’s is definitely making the community a more comfortable place to be!
Perhaps the spirit of Egger’s Furniture can be summed up best by Bob’s explanation of the company’s secrets of success. “We believe we are the oldest retail furniture business in America,” Bob states with justifiable pride, “and we have no secrets! We care about our customers. It helps that the owner is in the store and loves what he does. I don’t (JUST) sit in my office and manage the business; I’m out there on the floor working with the customers, too. We all love what we do and take great satisfaction in doing our best for each person who comes to us. We don’t dwell on problems; we focus on solutions. Our customers can expect personal attention and our desire to be truly helpful by understanding their needs and their wants.”