It all started in April 1987 when Andrew Martens at 22 and John Hodgins at 54 decided to go into the furniture business together. Andrew and John sold furniture and antiques at the flea market outside of Grand Bend and out of John’s garage in Exeter. The finishing was done in Earl Lippert’s garage in Crediton. This was the start of Antique and Oak or what it is known as today, Forever Furniture.
A year or so later, the partners started to rent Andrew’s dad’s shop on highway 21 outside of St. Joseph's. After a few years, Andrew and John decided a separate showroom would be a good idea. In 1991, the blue showroom was built down the lane from the finishing shop. Andrew and John went into home and garden shows every spring to advertise their products. Slowly the antiques part of the company faded and the majority of Andrew and John’s furniture was built by the Mennonites. They dealt with more than 25 suppliers.
With a lot of business coming from the Sarnia area, it was decided that it was time to open a showroom in Sarnia. The original Antique and Oak Furniture opened at 1880 London Road. The Sarnia grand opening was April 8th, 1995. Only two years later they added the La-Z-Boy brand and moved just across the road to the present location.
The partnership soon came to an end and Andrew decided to become incorporated. John stayed quite involved with the Mennonite runs and Antique and Oak became a corporation on August 30, 1996.
The Mennonite furniture sold at Antique and Oak Furniture was different than any other furniture you could buy. It was all solid wood, came in various styles and they would custom finish every piece themselves - handcrafted with pride! This all rings true today! Along the way, Andrew even came up with his own design for a chair called the “Royal Windsor Wheat Sheath”.
Business kept growing and the men kept running out of room to do their furniture finishing … so in March 1997 the finishers moved to Tin City down the road to finish the furniture. In 2001, the current St. Joseph's Forever Furniture store was built along with the custom finish shop. At this time, Henry Martens, Andrew Martens’ brother became a part of the business. There were two brothers and one growing company, that came to be what we know now as Forever Furniture.