Woodworkers around the U.S. are reaching customers through online sites specializing in custom wood crafts, furniture and other individually produced wood specialties. Sites range from mega portals for all types of crafts, such as the 5.5 million member Etsy,to those like MaineFurniture.org, dedicated primarily to promoting sales of more professional custom wood products and furniture by 30 Maine-based businesses.
Mark McKelvey founded MaineFurniture.org after his woodworking shop burned down in 2009. A victim of arson (Maine Today reported last month that the perpetrator was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Kennebec County, ME, Superior Court), McKelvey was uninsured.
Rather than re-enter woodworking, McKelvey decided to launch the non-profit MaineFurniture.org with support from a Maine development agency, to promote Maine furniture makers and woodworkers. McKelvey says he hopes Maine furniture will reach the cache of Main lobster or Maine blueberries, or another woodworking-related site, mainebuiltboats.com.
MaineFurniture.org features firms producing all types of woodwork, everything from from carving and turning, to lumber and millwork, as well as kitchen cabinetry and residential wood interiors.
Around the country woodworkers are turning to market sites that have aggregate drawing power and search engine optimization to deliver customers - far beyond what individuals shop sites can attain in displaying their own woodwork portfolios.
One such site, Etsy.com, lists 39,000 items under woodworking; and 1,704 items under handcrafted furniture, including furniture made from reclaimed wood by Philadelphia-based Walter Kent. Another site, 1000 Markets, includes a variety of wood crafts and furnishings, including a $795 mission table by Dryad Studios. Another site, Custommade.com wood furniture with Rockler. Many of the sites function like eBay, taking a percentage of the transaction as part of their business model.
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