Harold Edward Reeve buys the Barford St Martin Bakery & Grocery Shop and runs it with his sister Violet. After he baked the day’s bread he would deliver it around the local village. He would give regular customers a cash book to keep an account of what they owed and for the customer to write the grocery requirements in.
Ray Reeve starts working for the family business and has a vision to grow the business and the seed of ‘Reeve the baker’ was sown. A few years later, aged 16, Ray leaves school and enrolls at Southampton Bakery School whilst working part time as a baker honing his craft.
The Wilton shop
Ray Reeve buys a shop in Wilton whilst still working for his father in Barford St Martin. He opened the shop and sold goods he bought from his father at a discounted price. Ray was allowed to keep 20% and returned 80% of profits to his father.
After opening an initial, not particularly successful, small shop in Amesbury Ray soon realised that location is key and he closed the bakery. A second shop in Amesbury was opened and supplied with goods from the shop in Wilton. This was the first site in Amesbury, it was not until the late ‘70’s that they moved to the site in Salisbury Street; a much better position and still very popular to this day.
The first shop on Butcher Row, Salisbury was very thin and not wide enough to fit counters. Therefore they had the idea of pilling the goods onto the window beds and selling it straight off them. A few years later the shop next door was acquired and after knocking through doubled the size of the shop and also opened the tea room upstairs.
The Silver Street Shop was opened as a solution to the long queue times at the main shop. Originally used as a sandwich shop - not selling bread or large cakes. It now offers a large range of products just on a smaller scale than the main Salisbury shop in Butcher Row.
Ray noticed a lack of bakery shops in Warminster, when picking up and dropping his daughter from school and decided to send out letters to several promising looking shops to see if any of the owners would be willing to sell. Gary Reeve, who had just finished school, took up a part time job as a van driver for the bakery and a few weeks later announced that he liked the idea of working for the bakery full-time.
The Winchester Shop site is located in town on the main street pedestrian street. This shop came with its own restrictions and challenges, most notably the ban on deliveries to the front door after 10am. Despite all this, the Winchester site has proved to be a very busy and successful shop and the Reeve team has had no trouble getting all their deliveries before 10am!
The Romsey shop was originally a Mr Crumbles bakery. At the time the shop was dying and deserted, yet it held a good position in the town centre. A deal was soon arranged and Reeve took over the shop in a few weeks. Ray met the manager of the firm that owned Mr Crumbles about 3 months after the takeover and was able to tell him that the Romsey shop takings were three times over what they were before Reeve took over!
Shaftesbury was home to family friends George and Beryl Anstee, who also owned bakeries. George treated Ray like family even sharing with him the recipe for his Cornish Pasties, after Ray promised not to tell another soul of course. They both had an understanding that they would never trade against each other. This agreement was honoured for many years until George passed away and his shop closed. The infamous anonymous enquiry letter was then sent out from Reeve to potential shops in Shaftesbury. They ended up settling on a shop nearly at the top of Gold Hill, known for its use in a famous Hovis bread advert.
Initially Ray came across a great potential location for a new shop in the lovely market square of Devizes. Unfortunately, upon further inspection they noticed a sign on the door that informed them that another popular bakery chain was to be opened there in the future. Soon after they took a site in the pedestrian street, leading off the market square. The Reeve team has worked hard to build up trade here and Ray credits it to the hard work from the staff and the quality of the product!
The Ringwood site first proved to be a difficult one to acquire with Reeve’s anonymous enquiry letters, to potential shops, not returning any success. In the end Ray contacted a local baker who had a shop on the main street. He was very keen to sell and a deal was soon agreed.
Gary Reeve spent a lot of time pursuing an empty Stead and Simpson shop in Blandford, and after about 12 months was successful in signing a lease. The Blandford shop exceeded their expectations and took 50% more in its first full week. It’s no surprise many customers and friends have mentioned the town and the square is ideal for a bakers shop!
Being a strong market town, Sherborne was always on the list of desired locations for Reeve the baker, so when the Card Factory shop left the town we took the opportunity to rent the shop and make the necessary conversions.