Todd White from Big Bargain Furnishers is closing up the family business after 82 years of selling furnishings to Gympie residents from the Mary St store, which is up for sale.
Todd White from Big Bargain Furnishers is closing up the family business after 82 years of selling furnishings to Gympie residents from the Mary St store, which is up for sale. Craig Warhurst

Furniture icon will close

IT’S not the end of the world, just the end of an era for Todd White and the family business he has been in his whole working life.

Mr White’s great-grandfather established the family’s first furniture business in Ipswich during the early 1900s.

Called Big Whites, the store is still open today and is being managed by a relative.

His grandfather Elwyn and great-aunty, Mrs Sedgeman, expanded operations to Gympie in 1929, opening Big Bargain Furnishers where it is currently located.

“Stories I’ve heard is that Elwyn used to load up with gear from the auctions in Gympie and stop at every pub between here and Brisbane to sell his wares,” Mr White said, adding that changes in market trends and the way people shopped for furniture had contributed to his decision to call it a day.

“I’ve been working here for about 26 years...it’s time for a change,” he said.

“It’s a bit hard – people are doing it tough everywhere and there’s not a lot of money around. After paying the bills and basic necessities, there’s not much left over.”

Losing his offsider Andrew Tierney to a job at Nestle had been the final nail in the coffin after tough times reduced trade significantly.

“There have been a lot of really loyal customers over the years.

"We need to thank them all for their support.”

Just as he said that, an elderly customer came in to purchase a mat.

“This place always had what you wanted in furnishings,” she said, disappointed Big Bargain would soon be no more.

Mr White’s seen a lot of changes in his 26 years and quite a few floods.

The family owned two furniture stores (Gold City Furnishers where Dimmeys is now) between 1988 and 2000 before they downsized to the one.

“I want to go and no one in the family wants to take this job on. I wouldn’t push it on to my kids.

“I’m hoping for a brighter future but I won’t be moving from the area. I love it here.”

Gympie Times


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