Located at 1531 Commercial Street in Bangor-Wisconsin, Woodchucks Woods & Gifts is quietly thriving. Operated by duo Marcy and Chuck LaBeause, the shop sells novelties, gifts, indoor decorations, and stunning wood pieces. After their opening last year was a success, they’ve been prepping for a second go around with high hopes.
Chuck works with a variety of tools to produce custom furniture pieces, novelty signs, toys, driveway markers – you name it, he’ll make it. Marcy makes handmade ceramic pieces, knitted items, and then paints everything that might need a coat – including Chuck’s creations. Besides their creations, works by area artists are also featured in the shop, including paintings and sculptures by local indie artists.
One of the joys of this small store, besides the lovely items that are featured in it, is the obvious sense of community one feels upon walking in. It’s cramped in a cozy way, and every wall and floor is filled to the brim with colorful items. There’s an obvious sense of goodwill instilled in every corner of the store, which is perfect for the upcoming holiday season.
The community also played a large part in how the store came to fruition. Originally, Chuck & Marcy were selling their creations as part of a pop-up program coordinated by a nonprofit organization, along with other various partner groups. The goal of these programs is to help revive local businesses, and help fill vacant commercial spaces with small businesses. The long-term goal of this is obvious – to stimulate local economies and help generate more circulating revenue. As part of an effort to stimulate business growth, the LaBeauses were able to operate Woodchucks Woods & Gifts rent-free for three months. This valuable time allowed the duo to build a client base, organize, their shop, and also get the word out about their store without worrying about overhead fees.
The costs of a small business: benchtop jointer have value?
As a carpenter and woodworker, Chuck LaBeause has plenty of overhead fees to worry about. The tools required for the job can either be numerous and minimal. Chuck has to make a variety of decisions about what tools are required for jobs, versus what will be more convenient. It’s nice to have the best equipment, and can certainly make the work easier for him, but many carpentry tools can be serious investments, and aren’t reasonable for small businesses to purchase (or even rent). For example, while owning a benchtop jointer would be nice to square off rough wooden boards (enabling Chuck to buy cheaper lumber), the investment of purchasing one wouldn’t pay itself off for months.
Conundrums like these are run of the mill for small business owners – but that doesn’t make them any easier to deal with. However, for Chuck & Marcy, the problems are worth it. “I’m not in this to make a lot of money,” Chuck says. “I just want people to be able to get something that’s nice, that they can afford.” Noble aspirations are inherent to the smallest of businesses, and hopefully we can see more of this in Bangor.