Colin Grey, managing director of Bradford paint manufacturer Shades of Grey, has found the firm’s latest catalogue to be surprisingly popular. “Naturally we’re very proud of our range of paints, which I’m confident represents the most extensive spectrum of greys of any on the market. So when this year we reached our half-century of pigments - coincidentally, the firm’s golden jubilee - we made a bit of a fuss about it and published a particularly lavish catalogue detailing our entire palette.”
However it was not long before Mr Grey realised that orders for the new catalogue are unusually high, as well as generating considerable interest from abroad. “We’ve been mailing out so many that we’ve literally been tying ourselves in knots trying to keep up.” He has also noticed that, rather than established retailers, many of the orders appear to be from women operating as one-person businesses. “I’ve no problem with lasses breaking into the paint retailing market. More power to their elbows, I say.”
Furthermore, the requests have not stopped at the catalogue. “Yes, there have been some highly unusual enquiries lately, for peculiar items like fur-lined handcuffs. I ask you, where are you going to source something like that? To my mind, metal and fur are completely incompatible materials; end of. We also keep getting asked for samples of rope. Why anyone in their right mind would think we had much rope to spare in a paint factory, apart from needing it to lash together pallets of paint tins, is beyond me.
Then there’s the ones who ask about furniture.” Furniture? “Well, cane items to be precise. All I can do is refer them to my good friend Bob Wicker, of Wicker World in Skipton.”
When it was put to Mr Grey that the confusion may have arisen because of the similarity in name of the Grey Shades catalogue and a fashionable series of novels, he stated that he had no time for reading fiction. “Any reading I do, it’s paint catalogues and chemical specs for future colours. That does me.”