Drage’s was a furniture store established by Benjamin Drage in High Holborn, London in 1908. The store would become known as a “hire-purchase” retailer, basing its approach to selling on offering credit terms to customers. For a time Drage’s was hugely successful, achieving nationwide iconic status.
By 1914 Drage’s was promoting “furnishing out of income”. Many families experienced great difficulty in raising sufficient funds to furnish a house and Drage’s “furnishing out of income” was the slogan that described the scheme devised to ease that burden.
At this time there was still a stigma attached to buying goods on credit. Benjamin Drage set about removing this obstacle, claiming his “50-pay-way” system bought a well-furnished home within the reach of all. A customer could order furniture to the value of £100, pay a deposit of £2, and settle the balance in 49 equal monthly installments of £2 – 50 payments in all, hence the “50-pay-way”. No references were required and all deliveries, in plain vans, were free. In addition, every item of furniture was guaranteed, carpets and linos were laid without charge, and a year of free storage was provided for furniture not immediately required. Astonishingly, railway fares were refunded to provincial customers on all orders over £40, and there was even a free fire and life assurance policy covering the cost of the furniture. The Drage “50-pay-way” was extensively advertised in the national press, and full-page advertisements in The Times , with illustrations by well-known artists of the day, were not uncommon.
Drage’s was incorporated as a limited company in 1926. Despite announcing its intention to establish a provincial branch network, only two branch stores were opened, in Manchester and Birmingham.
Benjamin Drage retired in 1928. The company struggled financially in the 1930s until it was taken over by Great Universal Stores in 1937.