Marketing wood online has become much more popular, and as we head into the holidays, a couple websites will help make the connection between the custom woodworker and the buyer much easier this year. Many are searching for gift ideas for family and friends, and there are certainly woodworkers around to help fulfill those needs.
Etsy is, according to its website, “a marketplace where people around the world connect to buy and sell unique goods.” The company’s mission is “to re-imagine commerce in ways that build a more fulfilling and lasting world.”
Founded in 2005 and profitable since 2009, the company employs 450 and had $895M in total merchandise sales in 2012, with over 30 million members, 1 million active shops, and over 20 million items listed. Headquartered in Brooklyn, NY, Etsy also has offices in Hudson, NY; San Francisco, CA; Berlin, Germany; London, UK; Dublin, Ireland; and Toronto, Canada. Through Etsy, it is actually possible to shop from custom woodworkers and other merchants around the world.
Etsy offers items that are generally readymade, not made to order. There are a few items currently being listed by woodworking shops on Etsy that might pique the interest of gift buyers this holiday season. One, from DendroCo, a manufacturer of reclaimed wood furniture, is a salvaged reclaimed urban wood bench with industrial steel legs. The wood bench is built by hand from 100% reclaimed old growth Douglas fir salvaged from a building that was more than 160 years old. Dendro guarantees the bench for life and will ship it free from Chicago, IL to the buyer.
Another gift possibility is a shelf mantle from New Mexico-based realwoodworks1, made from a reclaimed box elder tree slab rescued from riparian restoration activities after a flood. According to realwoodworks1, the 8” x 48” x 2” mantle can be delivered to the buyer in a few days, and the natural live edge lends the piece to a variety of styles from primitive to modern.
New Jersey company Westwood Woodworking has a handmade cocobolo box available through Etsy. The box measures 13” x 10” x 6” (without the 3” tall padauk base) and Westwood says it is useful for “jewelry, cutlery, table linen, and elegantly hiding remotes and electronic devices.” The Brusso-hinged top and the sides are made from a single piece of cocobolo. Custom trays for cutlery, humidors and jewelry are available as special orders and are made from Spanish cedar and partially lined with black velvet.
CustomMade is another online marketplace offering woodworking and other items for purchase; however the merchandise is generally made to order. The company says it wants to “fundamentally change the way people think about buying things.” CustomMade sees buying custom from local makers through its website as a viable alternative to buying from big box retailers.
The Cambridge, MA-based company says there are more than 12,000 makers on its website, and around 7,000 of them are woodworkers. There are over 50,000 posted projects, and more than 100,000 buyers for the posted projects, which have an average price of $1,000.
As the company name suggests, “custom” is the name of the game here, including one-of-a-kind kitchen cabinets made by Laurie McKichan LLC of Golden Valley, MN, which McKichan states will provide “a kitchen that looks like individual pieces of furniture.” With a price range of $30,000-$40,000, these are not an inexpensive gift, but they are a truly original one.
CustomMade also showcases a $3,000-$5,000 kitchen remodel made by David Pessin of The Custom Cabinet Guy in Phoenix, AZ. The remodel features solid maple kitchen cabinets with a chestnut-stained frame and panel doors, clear lacquer finish, concealed European hinges, and a buffet with decorative wall cabinets above to match.
Both websites have added features, including blogs to help visitors get to know more about some of the merchants and their special products, as well as “review” sections on each merchant, which enables the buyer to leave reviews about their experience with a purchase and gives future buyers the ability to research a company before buying their product.