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Home Style DIY

  • Mon, 21 Aug 2017

Home style DIY, located on Mary Street down towards the Capel Street junction has had a long and interesting history. Now run by Adrian Caplin, the third generation of the Caplin family to take over the reigns of the business, the original business began life on nearby Jervis Street, run by Adrian’s grandfather Israel Caplin. Israel’s father Jacob had arrived in London some time around 1918-1919 fleeing persecution in Russia but his enterprising son had travelled on to Dublin and before long was joined in our fair Capital by his father, his mother Esther and his three brothers and one sister.

The family soon went into business on Jervis Street where they developed a specialist furniture factory there aiming to build and sell only the best “artistic” furniture in the city. The company “J. Caplin & Sons” became members of the Irish Wholesale Furniture Manufacturers Association and exhibited their quality furniture widely, including at prominent society events like the Dublin Horse Show.

The business grew and developed and Israel was able to take on additional artisan staff to help keep up with demand for their quality suites, bureau’s, bookcases and cabinets. Many of those staff stayed with the company for decades and would developed a deep personal connection with Israel Caplin to whom they gave “Charlie” as a nickname, Charlie Caplin, get it?! In 1922 Israel married Bertha Davis, who herself had fled from the Czarist Russian Empire as a young woman. A year later Israel and Bertha’s first child was born and was named Samuel.

As a teenager Sam decided to join the family business and went to London as an apprentice to learn the veneer trade. This was the middle of the 1930’s and the East End of London was not always a safe place to be. Young Sam fell foul of Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts on one occasion as they sought to intimidate these mostly Jewish neighbourhoods. This process of intimidation would culminate with Mosley’s fascist thugs being driven during the Battle of Cable Street after they had tried to march through predominantly Jewish streets in the East End. Things got even worse with the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 and Sam’s parents were glad to get him back to the relative safety of Dublin.

Upon his return home he borrowed a small loan from his father which he paid back in time to set himself up in business at the tender age of just 16. This was how “Modern Veneer Importers” got their start, first on Swift’s Row and later on Parnell Street where they advertised themselves as stocking “everything for the woodworker” or cabinet maker.

By the 1960’s Sam Caplin had moved into number 1 Mary Street where Home style DIY remains to this day. These origins of the business remains obvious to anyone walking into the shop, the walls are adorned with all manner of door handles, locks and knobs or various different alloys and varieties for doors and drawers and cabinets. They stock a huge variety of internal door and kitchen handles as well as front door furniture, decorations, number plates and letter boxes.

Sam has since passed away but his son Adrian runs the business today and can often be found in Mary Street. Much like his father he is civic minded and when he is not meeting his customers DIY needs he doubles as a Peace Commissioner. Useful to know if you ever need a document notarised while in town. The shop maintains all that is good in a family run hardware store; a surprising breadth of stock in a seemingly finite amount of space, and intimate knowledge of the product and the needs of the customer and of course friendly and helpful staff such as his manager of 12 years Gerard Harvey who is there helping customers most days of the week. Home style DIY another fascinating family business in the heart of Dublin One.

Adrian Caplin (right) with a customer