Gardner is called the Chair City because of a long history of furniture production dating back to the early 19th century. It’s also been called “The Furniture Capital of New England”. It took 100 years, but by 1910 there were 20 chair factories in Gardner producing an average of 200,000 chairs each per year, that’s over 500 chairs each per day per factory. To put it another way, in 1910, 1 chair was finished in Gardner MA every 8 seconds.
Some of the noted manufacturers of furniture from Gardner MA included Heywood-Wakefield which was started by five brothers in the Heywood family in 1826. An interesting factual tidbit is that Levi Heywood set up an outlet store in Boston in 1831 to sell the chairs which were being manufactured in Gardner. Today, these Boston area buyers are being reached by a group of Gardner MA Furniture retailers which are marketing themselves as furniture outlets to sell furniture from the Gardner area and from around the country. The stores include the Factory Coop, Lachance Furniture Showroom and Rome Furniture Center. Their common website is GardnerOutlets.com. Other furniture stores in surrounding communities used to market with these three and include Winchendon Furniture (open and doing a brisk business), Templeton Furniture, and R. Smith Furniture (now defunct).
Gardner was also the home of the Conant-Ball furniture factory. Nichols & Stone, a Gardner Furniture manufacturing company ceased production in 2008. Much of the site is now occupied by a retail location including a Price Chopper Supermarket which opened in Gardner in September 2012.