One of our best-loved local businesses is also one of our longest standing. Snape and Sons, the good, the old-fashioned yet totally modern hardware store have been in business for almost 85 years.
Handy for Bramhall and Cheadle Hulme, on Church Road, Snape and Sons are renowned for selling pretty much anything. Indeed, if they don’t have it, they’ll get it. Such is the level of service and the dedication to their customers. Last year, Snape & Sons were recognised with the Home Hardware Retailer of the Year, beating off 0ver 500 competitors.
The incredible customer service ethic has never been more apparent – or more appreciated – than throughout the Covid19 crisis and lockdown. Adam and team were inundated and went the extra mile after mile to deliver. Literally. And not just to their local community of Bramhall and Cheadle Hulme, either, but across the borough – and way beyond.
Adam is the fourth generation Snape to run the store. The shop was established in 1936 by Adam’s Great Grandad, Harry Snape. Originally situated where Crown Bedrooms – another local, family company with a rich history – now stands. Snape & Sons as we now know and love it moved to Church Road back in 1976, after Clough’s Hardware was offered to Adam’s Grandad. At this point Adam’s dad joined the company full time, and his friendly face and unflappable manner is still a welcome sight today.
The front of the store was totally remodelled during the 1980s, and saw the door relocated to the middle of the frontage. The back of the shop was also extended. Then, the ’90s saw another extension as demand grew and Snape & Sons matched it with service. In the early noughties, Snape & Sons joined Homehardware, the biggest independent hardware buying group in the whole of the UK. A rebrand – to Snape & Sons – followed and in 2012 Adam joined the family firm full time. Prior to this, Adam worked for Snapes Estate Agents. Who knew? Sharing the name isn’t just a coincidence – Snapes Estate Agents is run by Adam’s uncle!
Since then, a big, bright new showroom – opened in 2017 – has allowed Snape & Sons to hugely extend their offering. A fresh, new e-commerce website went live during the pandemic. Snape & Sons now offer nationwide shipping, local delivery AND click-and-collect services. All have been a huge hit – and a tremendous help. That’s the epitome of going the extra mile…
Adam is currently painstakingly adding all Snape & Sons core stock to the website. That’s nearly 7,500 lines, so it’s an arduous task, to say the least. Maybe don’t mention the other 2,500 seasonal and promotional lines! It’s certainly a work in progress, but the majority of listings are now live. Snape & Sons also offer emergency services staff a discount on their online shopping: https://www.snapeandsons.co.uk/pages/nhs-discount
Coping with Covid restrictions, while doing their utmost to care for their customers, has been a challenge. Everything is now protracted and time-consuming. From taking orders manually, talking customers through the stock, picking the goods for the order, calling the customer back to confirm the products, the price and take a card payment manually to finally arranging collection or delivery. The increased phone usage has been so excessive, Snape & Sons’ phone providers thought there was a problem! Early in the crisis, customer demand was astronomical. The phones rang off the hook, the lines were jammed and nobody could even ring out to customers. Eventually, the decision had to be taken to turn off the phone lines. A recorded message requested that people email, and apologised to those who couldn’t. Orders could be worked through in order, that way.
Demand for all gardening and DIY products has been huge, as people have tried to make the most of being at home. Already, more seeds have sold this year than during the previous two years combined! Customers seem keen to ‘grow their own’ vegetables, or perhaps keep the kids busy while off school.
Says Adam, “some products are still unavailable now, weeks after the initial spike in demand. Cuprinol paints for instance sold a year’s supply of their fence paint in just three weeks, meaning there’s something of a hole in the supply chain at the moment!”
He continues “As always our customers have been brilliant. We’ve never received such appreciation for our services. The generosity shown has been lovely to see too, with people volunteering to deliver for us or coming down to collect orders on behalf of others who are self-isolating, to help them and take the pressure off our delivery trucks. Everyone has been so understanding of every decision we had to make and unbelievably patient while we’ve been getting to grips with the new way of doing business.”
The new website is ideal while standard shopping remains uncertain. Customers can browse and purchase from the comfort of home. Their goods are then delivered direct to their door, or customers can choose to click and collect. Adam and his helpful, knowledgeable team have really missed seeing everyone in store. Sadly, due to the well-stocked tight layout in Snape & Sons won’t be opening as quickly as other shops. Deliveries will continue – that’s a standard service Snape & Sons have always offered. The delivery area has been expanded even beyond Cheadle Hulme and Bramhall. Snape & Sons now cover all of SK7 and SK8 as well as parts of SK6, SK9 and SK12. And now they’re shipping to the rest of the UK too!
Adam wholeheartedly agrees with us that Cheadle Hulme and Bramhall have the best community.
“Everyone is so friendly and supportive of each other – it’s great. I believe there’s a reason we still have so many long-standing and independent businesses when so many other towns and villages have been overrun – and that’s down to the residents! I try and use as many local businesses as possible, use them or lose them, and I support local whenever I get the chance.”
Let’s return that loyalty. There’s a reason for their success and longevity. It’s because Snape & Son is a simply brilliant shop delivering simply brilliant service – no matter what the circumstances.