Behind the scenes at Reclaimed World in Little Budworth

PUBLISHED: 00:00 24 March 2017

Furniture and accessorries at Reclaimed World at Little Budworth

Furniture and accessorries at Reclaimed World at Little Budworth

Archant

Reclaimed World began in Little Budworth five years ago, but the story of how it came about goes back to 1979, writes Kate Houghton

Reclaimed World at Little BudworthReclaimed World at Little Budworth

Jeff Pearce left school at 14 with not a qualification to his name, not least because of his undiagnosed dyslexia, which made every interaction with the written word a painful experience. Unsympathetic teachers and a headmaster who was pleased to release him early sent him off to make a living without any suggestions on how this might be possible.

Luckily, Jeff, now 63, had something very special going for him – an unshakeable belief in the power of hard work.

‘At 14 I was effectively written off by authority,’ he says. ‘At 24 I banked my first million.’

I love a story like this, and spending time with Jeff is to be given access to a stream of anecdotes and stories that combine and coalesce into something really rather wonderful. He’s spilling over with pride for his current business and I can’t blame him, it’s an absolutely smashing place, packed with treasures old and new and filled with inspiration.

An eclectic mixAn eclectic mix

It takes mere moments to recognise something of the salesman in Jeff and it comes as no surprise to hear that he started his working life (aged around five) on a market stall in Liverpool, a second-hand clothes stall run by his adored mother.

Jeff had a few jobs after leaving school, none of which exactly worked out for him, until he set himself up with a market stall of his own. I can imagine his cheeky banter with the shoppers, as he sold teen fashions from a stall he set up with his then girlfriend, now wife, Gina. The couple quickly grew their business to stalls in markets across the city, before in 1979 opening his first bricks and mortar shop, Girls Talk, on Church Street.

His business went from strength to strength; he and Gina opened shops across the region and established their own design and manufacturing arm, Tickled Pink, supplying retailers across the UK with teen fashions …only for it all to come crashing down on Wednesday September 16 1992: Black Wednesday. He lost everything. With no money owing to suppliers or staff, the decision to take down his business was purely financial and not uncommon then, but desperately painful all the same.

So, what did he do? He started again…market stalls in Liverpool, teaching riders to play polo at Cheshire Polo Club - anything it took. He remained on the markets for seven years, but in 2000 finally took the plunge of opening a new store - Jeff’s of Bold Street, in Liverpool. In 2001 he opened his department store of the same name just along the road and in 2002 he won Independent Womenswear Retailer of the Year AND Independent Retailer of the Year at the Drapers Annual Awards; the Oscars of the fashion industry.

Jeff and Gina Pearce (fore) and their team at Reclaimed World at Little Budworth; (from the left); George Ando, Ben Taylor, John Atkins and Oliver BurdonJeff and Gina Pearce (fore) and their team at Reclaimed World at Little Budworth; (from the left); George Ando, Ben Taylor, John Atkins and Oliver Burdon

So, what did Jeff do next? Well, he retired. Yes, that’s what I thought. This unstoppable man, this force of nature, this perfect example of the optimistic, hardworking entrepreneur who sees not problems or barriers but challenges and solutions…retire? You’re right, it didn’t last long.

‘I retired at age 53,’ he tells me, ‘and I was bored rigid!’

So what did he do? He wrote a book, his life story. A Pocketful of Hopes and Dreams is a fascinating read and even more so when you realise his illiteracy, a secret he’d kept since leaving school. Encouraged by Gina, his book came together slowly but surely and found a publisher – before hitting the number one spot on the Sunday Times Best Seller list for 24 weeks in a row.

So, how did Reclaimed World come to be?

‘I really believe in following your dreams and one thing I’d always dreamed of was owning a reclamation yard. When we lost our house in 1992 I bought a tumbledown farmhouse in Little Budworth and it needed refurbishment and re-building. All my shops I’d fitted out myself, using reclaimed wood and recycled accessories. The land behind our home had been derelict for a long time and when it came up for sale ago I went for it.’

He certainly did. It’s clear that this is a man who does nothing by halves; he’s the ultimate proponent of the expression ‘good enough is not good enough’. While most reclamation yards are higgledy piggledy rabbit warrens of building materials and stuff stripped from demolished properties with little sense of order or, indeed, safety, Reclaimed World is an organised, smart and inspiring three acres of wonder; beautifully and intelligently laid out.

‘It’s taken me five years to build a fantastic team and get the business looking the way I want it,’ he says. ‘Outside all the stone and wood is carefully placed to ensure it’s easily visible and safe to examine. I’ve built zones, such as the outdoor living zone [with working pizza oven fired up and supplying freshly made pizza all summer long] and in the warehouse the Man Cave and Lady Shed, all of which helps people envision what they can do with everything they find here.’

As well as the expected reclaimed wood, brick, cobbles and stone, Jeff has sourced a fun and fascinating eclectic collection of antiques, vintage, upcycled and new, retro-style, interiors furniture and accessories – from old cinema seats to Georgian overmantle mirrors to 1950’s soda siphons to washing machine drum lights to…oh, all sorts of fabulous stuff! I am particularly taken with a coffee table made from an old porter’s trolley and Jeff tells me he designed and made this here on the premises, one of just many wonderful pieces he’s seen an opportunity to upcycle into new and groovy life. I spot so much I’d love to take home with me it’s a good job I only have a small car – though Jeff is very willing to arrange delivery.

I shall be back. I have my eye on a garden set that’s both beautifully made and beautifully priced – and fingers crossed I bump into the wonderful Jeff again, he’s a chap I could spend a lot more time with.

Forest Road, Little Budworth, Tarporley CW6 9ES

www.reclaimedworld.com | 01829 760 288

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