The Greaves Story...
A long, long time ago, a man called William Greaves worked for a burgeoning Glasgow retailer called the Clydesdale Rubber Company, a purveyor of ladies, gents and children’s waterproofs and raincoats.
The Clydesdale Rubber Company had been established since 1870 but Mr Greaves had a vision to take it to the next level and in 1930 he took ownership of the business and set about building an empire on Glasgow’s Gordon Street, one of the most prestigious shopping streets in the city.
The business survived the difficult 1930s and 40s and in the 1950s, the third generation of the family business, brothers Jim and Bill Greaves, presided over a change of direction which would see this small rubber company grow into one of the best known multi-sports department stores in the UK.
Diversifying into the sports trade and becoming synonymous with winter sports, Jim and Bill rebranded the Clydesdale Rubber Company as Greaves Sports and soon took over their main city rival, Lumley’s, in a bold buy-out which saw them double their presence in Glasgow with a store in one of the city’s other prominent shopping locations, Sauchiehall Street.
The fourth generation leaders of Greaves Sports, Sandy Greaves and his sister Anne, took the reins in the 1990s and have steered the business through some of the biggest changes in the history of sport and retail.
At a time when most sports stores in the UK were revelling in the shell suit revolution, taking down tennis racquets and hockey sticks from the walls and loading up on the big money tracksuits which were to dress millions at the time, Greaves Sports stuck to its guns and provided its customers with the sporting provisions it had always done, specialising in specialising in a huge number of sports.
As more and more rival sports stores swapped out sports gear for leisure wear, Greaves soon became one of the country’s last true multi-sport department stores standing.
The business now has a fifth generation of the Greaves family on the board and employs around 100 people across its stores.
The flagship store remains at 23 Gordon Street, part of Glasgow’s Style Mile, where the six-storey 30,000 square feet property features 15,000 square feet of retail.
Greaves Sports has become a retail destination for sporting goods and a place where customers can receive the kind of customer service normally reserved for buying a luxury car or prestigious watch. Greaves customers can expect to be served by someone with real expertise who is as enthusiastic about their purchase as the customer is.
In addition to the traditional “bricks and mortar” business, Greaves is broken into the “clicks and mortar” side of retail and has become a major online shopping destination with greavessports.com shipping goods from its base in Glasgow all over the world, sending golf clubs to California, football jerseys to Australia and even a Scottish Rugby garden gnome to Brazil!
Over the years the store has been frequented by a host of high profile customers who have enjoyed the Greaves experience. From Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby dropping in to buy golf clubs in the 60s, to Rod Stewart’s regular visits when tour dates permit. Samuel L. Jackson and Eminem can also count themselves as customers of the store as well, even though Eminem’s security weren’t too pleased when Mr Greaves refused to close his store for the visit of the rap superstar!
The original founders of Greaves wouldn’t recognise the place now with the modern technology, golf simulators and video gait analysis treadmills, but they’d certainly recognise one thing that has never changed... the staff’s desire to give customers the absolute best retail experience possible, something the management feel will never go out of fashion (unlike the shell suit!).