By Alvin Tsang
The woodshop branch of Maker House Co. is closing this fall.
Store owner Gareth Davies has been making custom-cut furniture for seven years. Customers who wanted any specific size, colour or style of any table, bench, bookcase or whatever other furniture were able to have their specifications met at Maker House.
“In terms of the furniture that we’ve created, there’s a legacy that will live on in a lot of people’s homes,” Davies said. “We’ve received an outpour of support from people in the community, so it’s bittersweet. The people who have commissioned us over the years say it’s very sad news. They say they’ll appreciate their custom furniture pieces all the more now that it can’t happen anymore.”
The final day for quote requests from customers was Sept. 30.
With this year’s rise in cost of materials, Maker House hasn’t been able to keep up with the cost of operating. The number of requests and projects hasn’t been the same, and it’s come to a point where Maker House is losing too much money.
“The economy is shifting so fast right now that, as soon as you adapt to the latest change, it’s too late,” Davies said. “The next change is already happening.”
What Maker House needed were sales, projects and revenue to keep the woodshop going, but all of it dropped and business became unsustainable.
“It wasn’t an easy decision. We approached the point where it was going to impact our ability to operate the store to its full potential, so that’s why we have to close the woodshop,” he said.
In 2021, Maker House expanded its budget and team in an effort to grow the woodshop branch. Davies hired two new full-time staff, a woodworker and a sales lead, but unfortunately the response hasn’t been as strong in 2022.
“I would have loved for this to work. The dream was to go into a custom furniture business that could last for decades. People can tell their kids, ‘we bought our furniture there, you should buy it there too.’ We wanted to be that well-known local spot that different generations would remember and know about,” Davies said.
In a regular business year, Maker House would complete over 100 custom furniture requests.
“We’re thankful for all our customers over the years for keeping our store going,” Davies said. “I think one of the reasons people support Maker House, and like buying from us, is that we give back to the community.”
Since 2015, Maker House has raised over $150,000 for various charities and organisations like the Parkdale Food Centre. This fall, Maker House will partner with the food centre once more, and two per cent of all earnings from woodcraft projects will be donated.
Although the closing date for custom furniture requests has passed, Maker House will continue to have handmade furniture available for sale at the store and on its website this fall.
“We’re about to have some really good deals to clear out some of our stock from this summer season,” Davies said. “People can find really good prices on some unique local pieces.”
For more information, visit Maker House at makerhouse.com