Who is The Shade Centre?
This is a question we are often asked. With so many companies around with Shade in their name it’s easy to get confused about who is who and who does what.. so here’s a brief history of The Shade Centre
In 1985 two brothers Tony and Paul Hopkins decided to get a shadehouse for Paul’s wife and after searching around found there wasn’t many people who did that so out of the backyard of Paul’s house we started Garden of Eden Shadehouses and installed shadehouses on the northside of Brisbane after hours and on weekends. After a few years the business was building well and customers were asking for different types of shadecloth that they couldn’t find in hardware stores. Seeing that there was a market for all different types of shade cloth Paul and Tony, along with their wives Adrienne and Janet (respectively) started The Shade Centre. After the success of Expo 88 here in Brisbane there was a lot of enquiries from customers wanting shade sails instead of pergolas so they expanded into that industry offering a made to measure installation service.
In 1991 we purchased a small shop in the backstreets of Stafford and after a few coats of paint, construction of a large storage shed and some landscaping out the back, The Shade Centre was born. During this time the business focused on the garden side of shade with shadehouses, shadecloth, irrigation and garden pots but soon they expanded into the sale of Garden and Market Umbrellas, locally made arts & crafts and the Aquashade Umbrella (a large permanently installed umbrella that operated via the use of a garden hose).
In 1994 Tony, Paul, Janet & Adrienne had built the business up and were no longer able to run things themselves while also working other jobs so they employed their first full time staff member Garth (who is still with us today). Over the next few years the business kept expanding the product range with lots of shade products from Coolaroo and Beach Products from Shelta Australia. Our customer base was expanding with lots of interstate enquiries from customers who couldn’t find affordable products locally so we also started doing Australia Wide deliveries.
By 2001 The Shade Centre had outgrown it’s Stafford store and purchased a brand new unit in the new industrial area of Brendale. With more space we expanded our range to include gazebos from Oztrail, Clevacover Clothesline Covers, Building Site products and Stainless Steel Hardware. With the larger shed we were able to have a lot more products on display.
In early 2002 we expanded the business and sent Garth up to Townsville to open a North Qld Warehouse in Garbutt. Over the next couple of years we were able to service the shade needs of North Qld where the weather was often over 35 degrees.
In 2006, with the success of our Australia Wide Delivery Service, we closed our NQ Warehouse. Garth returned to Brisbane to start a family and this allowed us to expand our Brendale warehouse by installing a mezzanine and increasing our storage space by 35%. By this time Paul and Tony were getting a little old to keep doing installations so we once again expanded our product range to suit the growing needs of the marketplace. By this time there was a huge influx of customers wanting to DIY thanks to the number of home renovation shows on tv showing people how easy it is to create your million dollar home so The Shade Centre offered all the components required by our DIY customers.
By 2012 we had 8 employees and one of the largest ranges of shade products in Australia. Internet shopping was now starting to take off so our website got a fresh make-over with our new online store featuring most of our products for sale. Over the next few years we moved away from having so many items on display in store and filled our warehouse up with pallet racking so we could increase the stock levels of our better selling items. Weekend and Night Markets had become big businesses for customers with a lot of them needing a Gazebo and Accessories. Thanks to a lot of feedback from customers and a lot of our own research we had discovered Oztrail was now the most popular brand for market stall holders due to their affordability, reliability, range of options and spare parts, so we focused our gazebos sales solely on Oztrail brand.
Here we are now approaching the end of 2018 with 10 employees, we have become one of the largest retailers in Australia for Shade Products such as Oztrail Gazebos, Clevacover Clothesline Covers, Beachkit Beach Umbrellas and Shelta Umbrellas. We still have the largest range of Shadecloth with over 100 different colours from 30% to 100% UV Blockout along with many different building and horticultural fabrics. We now also stock a wide range of Stainless Steel Hardware and Shade Sail fittings at cheaper everyday low prices then those large hardware stores.
In this day and age of large multi-national companies trying to run small family businesses out of business people often ask what our secret to success is. It’s pretty simple, we treat customers the way we want to be treated when buying goods. We want good service and to deal with people who know what they are talking about when it comes to the products they sell. We don’t want our customers to have to sign up to a VIP club and give away personal details just to get something at a reasonable price, and we don’t want them to have to spend hours online or in different stores checking prices and getting proof so they can bring it to us so we can beat the cheapest price by a couple of cents. We would rather be honest with our customers by setting our selling price at the lowest possible price we can, right from the start. We have less overheads and less markup on our goods so we can sell at our cheapest price from the beginning, we don’t have to charge customers extra to accommodate million dollar executive pay packets, corporate sponsorship and advertising. We are here to do our best for our customers, not shareholders.
So next time you are thinking of buying some shade products remember The Shade Centre and how we have built our business from the backyard of a house over 30 years ago to become one of the leading shade companies in Australia, simply by putting our customers first.
1991 – The Shade Centre opens at 132 Clifford St Stafford
2001 – The Shade Centre opens at 5/9 Combarton St Brendale
2002 – The Shade Centre opens at 17 Hamill St Garbutt