Meet a Trader: Vic Angelo of Schwartz & Angelo Fine Furniture in Camberwell
Article posted: February 4, 2016
A passion for creating beautiful, handmade furniture has seen a family business in Camberwell thrive over the years.
Swartz & Angelo Fine Furniture, located in the heart of Camberwell Junction, has had a presence in the area for more than 65 years and is still trading in the same location today.
The business began in 1951 when Ichel Schwartz opened the furniture store and traded under the name I & B Schwartz Continental Fine Furniture.
Salvatore Angelo, known as Sam, migrated to Melbourne in 1959 from Italy and found employment with Schwartz at the store, where he worked for the next 18 years.
In 1977, Angelo took over the business and renamed it Schwartz & Angelo Fine Furniture as a way to honour his loyalty and friendship with Schwartz.
Sam’s son Vic Angelo [pictures], joined the family business in 1992 and learnt the craft of furniture making and French polishing.
Vic said most of the furniture sold at Swartz & Angelo Fine Furniture was handmade on site in Camberwell, in the workshop located behind their retail shop.
They create custom-made furniture, including tables, chairs, bookcases and office desks, giving people the chance to own a unique piece of furniture.
“We specialise in classic furniture and reproduction design including copies of antiques and Victorian, Regency, Georgian, Edwardian and French Provincial styles,” Vic said.
The business also imports selected pieces of furniture from Italy.
“It’s either Italian-made or our own products,” Vic said. “The Italians are known for their magnificent designs and they are quite creative. They also produce excellent quality.”
Those looking to breathe new life into an old piece of furniture can also get repairs or reupholstering done at Swartz & Angelo Fine Furniture.
“Some people might have a piece (of furniture) that has been in their family for years. For sentimental value, they’ll restore it to keep it in good condition and hand it down to the next generation,” Vic said.
A rich heritage
Vic said the store’s history and heritage has been important in maintaining loyalty and trust with their customers.
“My father is still working today, at 81 years of age. He is the longest serving single trader in Camberwell. He has been here in this same building since he started working here when he first arrived in Australia. You rarely see that in businesses these days,” he said.
“We try to keep the heritage there because that is important in business – we’re not here today and gone tomorrow.
“We still have those loyal clients that stick by us. We had one customer come in last week who has been buying furniture from us for 46 years.”
This heritage has been thanks to Vic’s father and his passion for making furniture since a young child.
“From the age of six or seven my dad said he knew he wanted to be cabinet maker. It was almost like his calling,” Vic said.
“After school he would ride his bike about seven kilometres to work at a furniture factory, just to get some skill and start learning the craft.
“I think he genuinely enjoys creating something from a rough, sawn bit of timber and ending up with a beautiful piece of furniture.
“He loves creating something with style, finesse and detail and showing off the beauty of the timber. It’s satisfying work.”