Business Profile
February 02, 2001
Greer's Upholstery is preserving a lost art -Craftsmanship
 You can sense that Bill Greer is a master craftsman just by looking at him, especially his hands. Listening to him describe how he restores fine upholstered furniture strengthens the impression.
Seeing the quality of his work instantly erases whatever doubt may linger.
Samples of Greer's artistry are on display in some of the finest homes in Ponte Vedra Beach, Ortega, and Epping Forest and other fine neighborhoods. Yet, one of the most striking examples of his talent can be found in the clubhouse at Deer Creek Country Club. In late 1999, Greer refurbished all of its furniture - in a scant 28 days.
"We were selected by a designer from Miami who knew of our reputation through another designer" he recounted. "We agreed to everything on a Friday, then on Monday he called again and said everything had to be completed in 28 days because he had already scheduled a photo-shoot."
Greer delivered as promised. How?
"We worked hard," he shrugged with a smile. "Once you're committed, you're committed. So you do whatever it takes to get the job done."  That Greer has been performing his magic for some 26 years in his shop off Emerson Street near I-95 is still largely a well-kept secret, however. It shouldn't be. The expertise that the small, family-owned and operated business offers the First Coast needs to be known far and wide to one and all, not just to those fortunate enough to have benefited from his talents … and his craftsmanship. "It really is almost a lost art," Greer acknowledged one morning. Especially the way he goes about it.
"We strip it down, hand re-tie the springs, re-pad and redesign as necessary, and produce what's really a brand new piece of furniture," he explained with pride. Greer also takes care to match all patterns, whether they feature florals, stripes or plaids - both vertically and horizontally, he added.
 This loveseat that Bill Greer restored is among his favorite projects. He is especially proud of how he meticulously matched the fabric's pattern.  
 "And we're one of the few shops around that will restore antiques to their original condition using their original materials, such as horsehair and cotton batting," Greer pointed out. Indeed, it's in the use of such materials - and oiled hemp string and jute-webbing, to cite two others - that give antiques their real value, he further noted, referring often to practices and methods that are all but forgotten. "And it's our policy to allow customers to inspect their furniture in the comfort of their own home before paying."
"It's the craftsmanship I love the most. I really enjoy seeing an old piece being reconditioned," Greer continued. "It's like reconditioning part of our heritage, some of which we've already lost." Much of the furniture made today, he contended, simply can't compare to what once was built in the mountain towns of North Carolina, where he grew up and learned his craft.
"It's not necessarily cheaper to restore old furniture," he cautioned, "but the advantage is the quality you wind up with, and the opportunity you have to select the fabrics and patterns of your choice."
To be sure, Greer can work with ultra-modern pieces, too, of course, and works with a number of designers and fabric suppliers. He also has the oldest retail foam shop in Jacksonville. At the moment, he is adding a website to his business. While still under construction, it's available at
"We've done about everything," Greer said, citing cornice boards for windows, custom headboards, ottomans, even upholstered walls now and then. "I know it sounds a little odd, but we've done it. His most interesting task was the Harlow House at the beach. One of numerous homes he has helped restore.
The business he and partner Tom Owen now own started "on a shoestring," he said, when he came to Jacksonville in the early 70s from North Carolina. Because Jacksonville struck him as a warm and friendly town that was weathering a rugged recession better than most locales, he decided to settle in and see if there was a need for Greer's skills. It was a sound decision.
The rest, as they say, is history. Which is why Bill Greer relishes the opportunity to thank his loyal customers for the best compliment that they could ever give... their personal recommendation.
 Greer Upholstery Inc. is located at 3167 Spring Park Rd., Jacksonville, FL 32207, telephone and fax 396-0485, e-mail: We are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday. Other hours by appointment. You also can visit Greer Upholstery on the Web at