The Schots Story
The Schots story began in 1978, when Neville and Heather took the opportunity to open a small shop and residence in Moonee Ponds. Called The Antique Garden, they sold potted plants and locally sourced second-hand furniture that they would restore in a makeshift workshop in the back room of the shop. Between sourcing the most promising furniture, that could be afforded from Melbourne’s auction houses, carefully refurbishing them and running the shopfront, the days were long but the rewards were great as the couple saw how well their products were received
While still a relatively young business, Neville and Heather’s enthusiasm and hunger for challenge saw them quickly move into a larger space in Chapel Street, South Yarra. Making the most of a trend that saw many Australians restoring old homes, they spent the next 15 years growing the furnishing side of the business. Naturally, the shop evolved and the Schots started to sell reproduction and original fixtures, fittings and other building materials.
Bigger & Better Things
Schots continued to expand across three stores in Surrey Hills, Ascot Vale and South Yarra, plus an additional workshop in Brunswick. But in 1994, Neville and Heather decided to unite their stores under the one roof. Fortunately, the couple found the perfect, central space large enough to merge four locations into one and still have room to continue to grow. The three-storey red brick factory on Hoddle Street Clifton Hill was built in 1913 by the Clifton Shoe Company.
Neville and Heather fell in love with the history of the building and over the years added the convenience of escalators across the three floors and carefully restored parts of the old factory, much like their customers do to their homes. This gorgeous old factory continues to be the perfect residence for Schots headquarters and a Melbourne emporium. Further growth meant that in 2003, warehousing had to be moved from the Clifton Hill store to an independent site in Altona. This site continues to serve as both a warehouse and store to this day and is operated by a team of dedicated individuals.
Responding to a growing demand outside of Melbourne, the Schot family opened a new store in Geelong in 2012. Again, the history of the building played a significant part in Neville and Heather’s choice of location. Situated in the old Pilkington automotive glass plant, Schots Home Emporium Geelong has enjoyed great success due to the tremendous support from the Geelong community.
Now & Beyond
From modest beginnings, Schots has grown into one of Australia’s leading distributors of unique home fittings, fixtures and furniture. And while Neville and Heather still head the business, their children Megan, Fiona and Elliot are now involved in the family’s vision for unearthing the uncommon and collecting eclectic, finely crafted furnishings. Today, the Schots work alongside an extended family of over 70 staff, including: international buyers, importers, marketers, managers, retail and warehouse staff. Together, they search the globe for the best quality materials, craftsmanship and design and proudly display their discoveries across the three expansive emporiums, warehouse and estore.