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Our Story: William Gee, family-run since 1906

Gee's Blog
2009
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William Goldstein's Haberdashery in 1906 before it was renamed William Gee
In 1906, William Goldstein- an East European immigrant- changed his name to William Gee and opened a small trimmings shop at 495 Kingsland Road with £2 worth of stock.
At that time Hackney was a well-to-do area as well as being a centre for the rag trade. There were garment shops, clothing companies, factories and small units all along the road. Most products were manufactured locally and then supplied to the big shops and manufacturers in the West End. William Gee’s business soon started to expand and moved across the road to larger premises at 520 Kingsland Road. His sons, Sidney and Alfred, built up the business and merged with David Graham who had his own business in Commercial Street in the East End.
William Gee - 1970s

William Gee staff in the 1970s, with directors Sidney Gee (far left) and David Graham (far right)

As a child I remember there was almost a Dickensian atmosphere, clerks sat on high stools working with big ledgers. There were seventy to eighty people working here and all the floors were occupied with separate departments for zips, sewing threads, haberdashery, buttons, and linings. There’d be ten or twelve ladies upstairs making covered buttons – it was like a bingo session. People left school at fifteen and were here all their working lives. It was a career for life and many couples and families worked here.
Rare photos of William Gee's Haberdashery
David Graham and Sidney Gee celebrate William Gee's 75th anniversary
I worked here as a student in the summer holidays and my father (pictured above, right) asked me if I could help out. I’ve been here full time since 1988. It hasn’t changed an awful lot since I remember it as a child. We thought about modernising it and making the shop self service like a supermarket but people come in and say ‘don’t change it’. They’ll say ’my grandma used to send me in here for buttons, and we like it as it is’. So we’ve kept it in its old style; there have always been two long benches for serving at the side of the shop and despite its old fashioned style (or maybe because of it) it has a certain charm.
Letter from Her Majesty the Queen on the occasion of William Gee's 75 anniversary

A letter from Her Majesty The Queen on the occasion of William Gee’s 75 anniversary

Although as a company we are predominantly a wholesale company supplying manufacturers and hospitals, bridalwear and corporate wear suppliers, the shop has always served the local trade. But over the years that has changed. Many factories have closed down as production has moved to cheaper labour economies, first East Europe and now the Far East. Now we are much more retail based. We have a very wide and varied customer base supplying trimmings to film companies and theatre groups, fashion colleges and students, and many local designers and their studios.
Like everyone in the fashion business we are customer driven and our business is supplying what the customers require. Just like in the days when William Gee started his business.

The warehouse round the corner on Forest Road - not much has changed since the 1970s

As for the future…

We took part in an exhibition all about shops and the shopping experience in our area in Hackney Library a few years ago. The organisers asked shopkeepers what they thought business would be like in 10 years, and without exception everyone said they were worried and lacked confidence. There was a feeling that the high street was in decline due to the growth of massive shopping centres, rising rents and business rates and more people looking to buy online. In my opinion the high street is changing but there is a need for a vibrant high street, full of indie stores, for the sake of local communities.
William Gee co-Directors Jeffrey (left) and Adam Graham

William Gee co-Directors Jeffrey (left) and Adam Graham

So how do we see the future for William Gee? We are expanding our online shop and constantly adding to our catalogue and there are exciting plans for future developments. My son, Adam, is involved with the management of the company and in particular growing our online site which has been most successful. After 113 years of trading, William Gee is still looking to adapt and grow as a company and to help all our customers – both in the clothing industry and with domestic customers alike.
Here’s to the next 113 years.
Jeffrey Graham
Director

feeling inspired by William GeeFeeling inspired? Head to our online shop and start planning your next project today, or be sure to follow William Gee's on Instagram for more creative inspiration from your favourite haberdashery!
Textile trimmings, Sewing Products, Haberdashery & Fashion Design Suppliers. Established 1906.
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  • Very good service. Helpful staff with great knowledge. Hope to see shop.
    Pauline Rawlinson
    Pauline Rawlinson
    14:56 03 Jun 19
    Great being able to find all your sewing needs in one place. I placed an order for a few items & all were received quickly & at a great price.
    Jacqui Thomas
    Jacqui Thomas
    11:54 03 Jun 19
    Excellent customer Service. Had an issue with an order and it was sorted in minutes. Also got items in for me that I need on a regular basis. Good prices too.
    Joanna McCall
    Joanna McCall
    16:12 23 May 19
    My first experience of buying from this company. Good price, smooth transaction and super fast delivery. Would definitely recommend them for all your haberdashery needs.
    Christine Muttock
    Christine Muttock
    15:41 19 Apr 19
    Great products, I received my order (overlocker thread and dot & cross pattern paper) within 24 hours of ordering. Would definitely order again.
    Fiona Barnett
    Fiona Barnett
    08:15 04 Apr 19
    Managed to find exactly what I wanted at a fantastic price. Quick delivery. Very happy.
    Lara Lewis
    Lara Lewis
    10:33 25 Mar 19
    Wonderful old shop complete with original layout and fittings. Long may it last. Helpful service too.
    Anne Barron
    Anne Barron
    15:22 15 Mar 19
    Thank you very much for my order. I was able to choose the right products at a good price from an extensive range all in one place. Quick delivery too.
    CatsMistress
    CatsMistress
    12:10 18 Feb 19
    I'm very pleased with the items that I've purchased and they were delivered very quickly.
    jayne cooke
    jayne cooke
    07:25 31 Jan 19
    Not only do William Gee have an amazing amount of products at great prices their customer experience must be second to none! I placed my order at about lunchtime and it was in my house in Derbyshire by 8.15am the next day! Thank you.
    Di Kendall
    Di Kendall
    12:59 23 Jan 19
    Quick delivery, quality products I struggled to find a shop that provided all the products I needed and found this! Will order again.
    RADUTA ROXANA
    RADUTA ROXANA
    14:19 21 Jan 19
    A great little shop with a good selection of quality haberdashery from notions to lining fabrics. I bought a beautiful pair of William Whiteley Wilkinson fabric shears and they are excellent.
    Laura Haines
    Laura Haines
    09:57 10 Jan 19
    Had everything I needed. Delivery was very quick. Will shop with William Gee again.
    Richard Christian
    Richard Christian
    07:50 24 Dec 18
    Ordered two pairs of shears. Got an immediate telephone call advising that one item was not in stock but would be delivered as soon as available. Both items arrived within 8 days.
    David Brown
    David Brown
    15:08 29 Nov 18
    Brilliantly helpful staff, quick to respond to emails and to ship. Helped me find specific items not on the website and very easy to deal with and process. Will continue to use for future business purchases!
    Hayley Jones
    Hayley Jones
    11:22 14 Nov 18
    Excellent service and high quality products. Highly recommended.
    C Parfish
    C Parfish
    17:08 02 Nov 18
    My friend bought some Terko satin cotton recently and was very impressed with the excellent service, will definitely use again.
    derek richardson
    derek richardson
    20:33 29 Oct 18
    Excellent service - William Gee supplied thread for curtain making that I had struggled to find elsewhere and for a fraction of the price of the few suppliers I had managed to find elsewhere. Delivery was fast and reasonably priced. Would recommend and will be shopping there again. Thank you.
    Hannah
    Hannah
    09:48 26 Oct 18
    I ordered binding and was very pleased with it..Communication went smoothly very nice people Thank you so the sale .Annette from Nottingham. Will definitely buy again
    Crabbycheetah
    Crabbycheetah
    06:10 07 Oct 18
    Quick and efficient service. Very good quality products
    Mo Heywood
    Mo Heywood
    06:07 07 Oct 18
    Was more than pleased with the things that I ordered arrived very promptly and were packed well would certainly recommend and look forward to ordering again in the future.
    caren Tapley
    caren Tapley
    07:37 13 Sep 18
    I ordered a 150m. roll of Dot and Cross pattern and received the parcel the following morning, excellent customer service, thank you.
    Janet Megson
    Janet Megson
    14:31 29 Aug 18
    I placed an order for some haberdashery items. They arrived well packed and secure so there was no damage; and, earlier than I expected to receive them. Good quality products, will definitely be ordering again. Thank you very much!
    kemi watchorn
    kemi watchorn
    12:32 06 Aug 18
    Placed an order online to collect, was ready quickly and they called to tell me so. Through browsing online store it is probably the best stocked haberdashery in the uk, stocking harder to find and a lot of items for designers. Will definatly be using again.
    Thewilsonsdidwhat
    Thewilsonsdidwhat
    08:25 02 Aug 18
    Amazing service. Next day delivery. Good value.
    Janette Hall
    Janette Hall
    14:15 30 Jul 18
    Online ordering is simple; efficiency in recieving goods in a timely manner is superb. Will continue to use William Gee.
    Lara Kelly
    Lara Kelly
    12:26 28 Jul 18
    Have used them for a number of years both professionally and personally. Great prices, fast and efficient service and amazing staff who go out of their way to help.
    Catherine McEvoy
    Catherine McEvoy
    16:34 03 Jul 18
    Excellent service and quick delivery. The only place on the Web I could find Acetate Satin at the correct weight. Very pleased with the product and I will certainly come to you again when we need.
    Sifu K
    Sifu K
    20:39 30 Jun 18
    Everything I needed in one place and speedy efficient delivery, can't ask for much more :)
    Shirley Mather
    Shirley Mather
    15:55 22 Jun 18
    Lovely habedashery with very friendly and helpful staff. Easily accessible by public transport. Will definitely go again.
    Fatima Mirza
    Fatima Mirza
    14:35 17 May 18
    I placed my first order recently and I was very pleased with my purchases. Everything was as described, the quality was outstanding and it was all affordable. Their wide range of haberdashery is the best I've come across. I'll definitely be back for another haul.
    twenty.seven zero.three
    twenty.seven zero.three
    07:53 27 Mar 18
    Excellent quality goods and speedy delivery, can't ask for more! I'll definitely shop here again.
    Lisa Wightman
    Lisa Wightman
    22:34 02 Mar 18
    Excellent. I made a silly mistake when ordering. Phoned immediately and it was all sorted straightaway. Couldn’t have wished for better service. Thank you.
    Joan Clark
    Joan Clark
    09:57 25 Jan 18
    I visited WilliamGee store today. I am a new starter in sewing, so I had just a paper with a list of unknown words to me. Effie, the sales assistant, was very helpful, indeed. She explained to me what I needed for and replied friendly to my queries. So, I easily found all I needed and I am happy! I will definitely recommend this place.
    Natalia Kokla
    Natalia Kokla
    12:17 10 Jan 18
    Excellent service provided by this family run business. Not only are the prices superb but the delivery time is swift too. I shall be definitely using William Gee again and have recommended them to all of my 'stitchy' friends!
    Zoe Goodwin
    Zoe Goodwin
    15:54 03 Jan 18
    Great price and found exactly what I need, speedy delivery too. Will definitely be returning for more zips!
    WOSAT Group SC046663
    WOSAT Group SC046663
    09:44 20 Nov 17
    Amazing selection on their website - lots of unusual and hard to find items. Great prices and quick delivery. I will definitely be shopping there again just because of the extensive range of products.
    rosalind povey
    rosalind povey
    09:40 02 Nov 17
    Brilliant service. Really helpful when I telephoned them. My order was processed very quickly. Will definitely use them again.
    Jane
    Jane
    18:14 31 Oct 17
    A fantastic place for all haverdashery needs. I've been buying from this company for years. Excellent customer service, responds promptly to any issues. Shopping online is easy, but the shop is always worth visiting.
    Sonia Auyeung
    Sonia Auyeung
    18:56 06 Sep 17
    Placed my first online order with William Gee for my small sewing business. Web site very easy to navigate and use, good quality products and very speedy delivery. Very happy customer, I will be ordering again. Thank you.
    julie payne
    julie payne
    20:03 13 Aug 17
    Incredible sewing and craft shop, reminds me of long established sewing shops in Manchester growing up in the 80s. It's not a massive shop but they have everything you could ever want at very competitive prices. I also love their bargain bundles and bags.Staff are incredibly friendly and helpful too. I have done both click and collect online and bought from the shop in person, both great experiences but if you're easily tempted I advise the former option.
    Sophie J
    Sophie J
    23:39 11 Aug 17
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