View Full Version : WoodCraft Closing

Val Kosmider
01-22-2014, 11:29 AM
I moved to Tennessee about 18 months ago and one of the unplanned joys was the Woodcraft which was a couple miles down the road from me. The owners were very amiable folks, offered a good selection of reasonably priced products, had good hours, and had a wealth of advice and information when I had built myself into a corner.

After nearly one year of trying to sell the store, they announced on Friday that they will be closing the store and returning the franchise to Woodcraft (not renewing the franchise is the way they put it).

This comes as a startling blow. I have come to really depend on them and while I know that I pay a slight premium for some items, it is worth it to me just to have the resource so convenient to my location.

Where do I shop now>? We have the usual big box places , and a couple of Ace hardware stores. The mom and pop tool and/or hardware shops seem nonexistent. My nearest Woodcraft is now about 100 miles away--decent roads, but too far to go on Sunday afternoon when I need a specific router bit or a bottle of Trans Tint--neither of which are likely to be available locally.

Bottom line: I am bummed by this turn of events, and will have to scramble to find some things here, and some things there, in terms of supplies, tools and materials. I guess in a way they have forced me to turn to the interweb for my sourcing needs. I feel like I am in Alaska and have to plan weeks ahead of time for those special screws I might need!

I also wonder if this is a reflection, in general, that woodworking as a hobby is a dying activity. It costs so much to buy wood, tools and supplies that maybe people are finding other activities. Maybe it is, to some extent, generational: not a lot of instant gratification cutting a board or turning a bowl compared to certain electronic gadgets that seem to have captured todays sedentary population.

Rant off! Just expressing my dismay over the development. Seems like I have lost a significant part of my hobby!

David Weaver
01-22-2014, 11:35 AM
That's the way it goes, I guess. We lost ours probably 5 years ago now. it just disappeared from its location with no fanfare.

Amazon Prime, McMaster Carr and BIN items on ebay are the way I go for a lot of stuff, though I have a rockler close, I often don't bother to go there for stuff like router bits of a very specific type - sometimes I do, though. Not necessarily because of price, but because I don't want to drive there and find out that they don't have a bit that's any closer than a 32nd to what I need.

Scott Reed
01-22-2014, 11:39 AM
I know your frustration well. My local Woodcraft just closed on 1/12/14. It sucks! I have a klingspor's about 30 minutes from me and a WoodWorker's Supply about 40 minutes away but I greatly prefer Woodcraft. I'm not sure of why these stores are closing but I assume it's for the same reason most retail brick and mortar stores are having trouble: competing with Amazon and other internet sellers.

glenn bradley
01-22-2014, 12:01 PM
My understanding is that the Woodcraft franchises are pretty restrictive. This may have contributed to the location's lack of success. I am sure there are many factors which we will never know that led to the decision to close.

As to the cost of woodworking as a hobby? I have been an official "enthusiast" for about a decade and have yet to spend anywhere near what I spent on golf. I have friends who fish seriously. What they spend on gear and outings makes me look like an amateur.

Art Mann
01-22-2014, 12:12 PM
Was it the store in Franklin that closed? I was just there a couple of weeks ago.

Val Kosmider
01-22-2014, 12:24 PM
Was it the store in Franklin that closed? I was just there a couple of weeks ago.

Johnson City, TN. A smaller market, to be sure. But it draws from Roanoke in the Northeast, to Knoxville in the Southwest. The store was open for ten years, and the owner wanted to retire...(again). There were two buyers, from what I understand, and they may not have passed muster (liquidity/background) with Woodcraft. In the end, they both bailed at pretty much the same time. My understanding is that the store 'was profitable'. I did not see the actual price tag, but I was told it was around seven figures.....but I do not know if that included the Franchise, or the lease on the building. I know it did include the complete inventory. The store always 'seemed' to be active.....but apparently, not 'active' enough for someone to buy it.

shane lyall
01-22-2014, 12:29 PM
Val, That's my local store too. I'm in Kingsport and there isn't much here either. I do this for a living so I do buy some stuff wholesale but it was nice to be able to run and pick up this and that when I needed it. I spend every penny I can with local folks just for that reason. All my blade/knife/bit sharpening went out thru them as well, In fact, I just dropped off a spare set of planner knives yesterday. It will still go to the same sharpener but pick up/ drop off is going to the ACE across the street. As far as screws and a few other things, Fastenal is here in Kingsport and a Granger in JC if that helps

Jim Rimmer
01-22-2014, 1:24 PM
You won't have the camaraderie or receive the good advice, but you can still buy from Woodcraft on-line. My nearest WC is 30 minutes on a toll road so unless I need something right now I order it. Gas and tolls are generally more than shipping.

You can always come here for advice and friendship. :)

Jerry Thompson
01-22-2014, 4:53 PM
There is a WC in my area but it is about 30 miles of city driving. I hardly ever make a special trip there unless I really need something. I usually order from Highland Wood Working. It gets here fast and I do not have to risk traffic.

Steve Rozmiarek
01-22-2014, 6:51 PM
I've never understood how the Woodcraft business model could work well. It's surprising that any of them can compete with the internet stores IMHO. I've never been in one though, so maybe I'm missing something.

Rich Riddle
01-22-2014, 6:58 PM
The franchise Woodcraft in Cincinnati closed last year but corporate opened in the same location a short time later. Perhaps Woodcraft will choose that option for you. The Woodcraft store seems a bit higher than Rockler in our area, and that's saying a lot since Rockler isn't cheap by any means. Like many other hobbies, woodworkers might have cut back on purchases in the rougher economic times. The Woodcraft in Cincinnati has a footprint about eight to ten times that of Rockler yet the don't sell many more products.

Dave Lehnert
01-22-2014, 8:21 PM
Like Rich said above. The owner of the Cincinnati Woodcraft was unable to sell so corporate opened it back up. Hope that happens in your case.
I have to say I have not set foot in the local Woodcraft in two years. It's only about 20- 30 min from home but not on my normal path. Woodcraft is so good about shipping, if I order before 2pm most times I have the package at my doorstep by 10am the next day.

Sam Whit
01-23-2014, 3:05 PM
What did y'all buy most frequently at that store? Anything in particular that you'd really want to pick up local instead of catalog/web (besides cheap lumber :D )?

David Weaver
01-23-2014, 4:03 PM
There certainly wasn't cheap lumber in mine. There is lower priced lumber sometimes at the local rockler, but it's often not worth having. The lumber in the wall racks is better quality, but it isn't included in the sales like the shorts and narrows of bad color, etc, that come in on the floor.

I went to woodcraft when it was here and bought two lie nielsen planes, IIRC, and I think I bought a gennou (japanese hammer). Other than that, it was hard to find anything in the store where the price was close enough to what I could get elsewhere to buy. The prices were too high, like someone said either here or in another thread, they were higher yet than rockler's and no coupons of any measurable amount.

It was otherwise too far away to drive for no reason only to be shocked by the prices.

That sounds cold, I suspect, but I will buy local if it's not much more. If it's much more, I won't.

Bill Bukovec
01-24-2014, 7:53 PM
My wife says I should buy it.

While I run Woodcraft, she can run a fabric store next door. That way the woodworkers can shop at Woodcraft while the spouse can shop for fabric.

Heck, maybe I can find spot to open a 3D printing store. The only problem will be finding time for my own woodworking.

At least we will be I a warmer climate, without double digit below zero temperatures.

Stay warm everyone

Charles McKinley
01-30-2014, 11:56 PM
Ask how much the rent is first! That big foot print doesn't come cheap. I imagine there is additional insurance cost with the classes as well.

If I remember correctly the rent was around 10K for the store south of Pittsburgh, PA. and that was over 10 years ago. I just couldn't imagine covering that cost up front every month.

Lee Reep
01-31-2014, 1:07 AM
I've never understood how the Woodcraft business model could work well. It's surprising that any of them can compete with the internet stores IMHO. I've never been in one though, so maybe I'm missing something.

Our local Woodcraft seems to do pretty well, but has been under new ownership for about a year. They do a lot to keep customers coming in. The emails from them are always announcing some special or game to give freebies or special discounts. A number of months ago (a nice fall day where you could actually wear a short sleeve shirt, kind of hard to imagine right now ...) they grilled burgers and dogs and had yet another sale going on. They also at least doubled the wood selection they carry compared to previous owner. And I say owner, because it was advertised as a franchise up for sale. Rockler's have store managers and are controlled by corporate HQ. I like both stores but the Woodcraft feels more like a family business. I do try to give them as much business as I can, but certainly order from the internet. I bought my lathe, bandsaw, and cyclone dust collector at this Woodcraft. (And all were bought on sale.).

Paul Brzozowski
01-31-2014, 7:49 AM
New here, been over at Lumberjocks, but recent changes to that site got me looking. Our Woodcraft closed here in the Chattanooga area about a year and a half ago. I managed to get a huge load of wood out of it when the pricing went to 50-70% off, and a couple of great router bits I would have never been able to afford. Still, now I have to travel down to North Atlanta to get exotics, although Chattanooga Hardwoods still carries a decent load of domestics.
As far as finishes, I mostly went to Amazon. I use a lot of Tru-Oil and spray lacquer.

roman fedyk
03-21-2014, 11:21 AM
Woodcraft in Libertyville IL just closed too. There are franchise fees involved that have to be paid to Woodcraft and you can only sell what you buy from WC headquarters. In other words you can't add your own inventory, or buy it at a better price. In addition, 5% of your sales goes back to WC. You also MUST advertise at least 5% of your sales, and there are a few other charges as well.

Take into consideration that WC also sell on line, through catalog and also on Amazon. Yes, the headquarters sells on AMazon. If you buy there, the item will be shipped from the WC distribution center.

So in effect, the local Woodcraft store is competing with on line retailers, and Woodcraft corporate.

Gary Hodgin
03-22-2014, 8:12 PM
Was it the store in Franklin that closed? I was just there a couple of weeks ago.

I'm pretty sure the Franklin store is still open. I receive a sales notice from them every couple of weeks. Store is about 40 miles from me but I haven't been in around a year. Hope it stays, good ownership.

Julie Moriarty
05-05-2014, 3:27 PM
I was online today looking at reviews on a drill press. After I settled on certain one, I checked to see if Woodcraft carried it. I was on their main site and clicked on store locations, because I was too lazy to look up the store closest to me. Then I saw in Illinois they only had one store. I remember when they had three just in my area and more around the state.

When I got there, I met another new employee. New to the store but not to Woodcraft. She had worked at a store that just closed. I just pray they don't close this last store.

The drill press I bought was going on sale at the end of the month - 15% off. They gave me the discount. You can't get that online.

Jerome Stanek
05-05-2014, 4:24 PM
Boy you guys are bringing back memories I spent 6 months in the Johnson City Red Roof inn doing Revco remodels back in 92 did the one in Kingsport, Erwin, Elizbethton, Bristol and some other towns I ended up doing 14 stores down there that year. Met a lot of nice people also.

Wade Lippman
05-05-2014, 4:52 PM
Just be glad you had it as long as you did. I can't get something in a pinch at our local Woodcraft because they are OOS of so many things, and calling them is like calling the IRS.
Enjoy the going out of business sale.

Larry Whitlow
05-05-2014, 5:09 PM
The Woodcraft in Dublin California closed earlier this year. I didn't go there much because it was about 30 minutes and there is a Rocklers near where I live. I did buy stuff from them, including a Nova lathe and a Rikon bandsaw. The folks there were always very friendly and helpful. While I didn't visit the store often, I was sorry to see the place close.

Bruce Page
05-05-2014, 5:18 PM
We had one that opened up around 2006, it lasted about 5 years. I hated to see it go.

Rich Engelhardt
05-06-2014, 6:53 AM
doing Revco remodels back in 92
There's a blast from the past.
@ one time, I repaired all the receipt printers from Revco.
The company I worked for had the sales/repair contract for all the stores.
They used to drop off those little printers by the truck load.

Our Rockler closed years ago.
Our Woodcraft was still open last time I checked ( a few months ago).

David Weaver
05-06-2014, 8:11 AM
Our woodcraft closed years ago. No warning, no fanfare, just closed and we got a letter. Not too long after, maybe a year or two, we got more letters asking if we'd like to start up a franchise.

Rockler is just up the street from me and though they don't have tons of stuff I'd want at prices I'd want to get it, they run the store like a swiss watch and everyone is helpful.

In my opinion, the franchise stores and corporate would be better off separate. The lumber in the woodcraft store was minimal, it washorribly priced and most of the other stuff in the store was at the top end of what you'd find for prices anywhere. It just didn't even make sense driving the 25 minutes it took me to get there, only to come away empty handed.

I just don't think the franchise model makes for a store that's worth visiting on a regular basis, and the prices drive people to shop elsewhere - it's a tough model. I personally wish the stuff that woodcraft has exclusively in the US that's made in the first world would be released to be sold by other retailers, because there are a few things they have that I really like (especially pfeil carving chisels), I just can't find a reason to buy them from them because they are so expensive that it's cheaper to go to a canadian retailer and get them shipped here with international postage added. That just makes absolutely no sense to me.

It's perceived as rude to knock local stores on price, and I don't expect they will match online stuff to the penny, but they have to be somewhere reasonable (price vs. online) for me to support them. The franchise model just doesn't make it very easy to even be reasonable on price. That said, I've always gotten great service from WC corporate, the whole setup (corporate-franchise and the prices needed to support the setup) just makes it not the place you go for anything once you don't need something real bad.

John T Barker
05-07-2014, 12:34 PM
Wow, I had no idea WC was doing so bad. I worked for them in their Bensalem, Pa. store which went out of business years ago. A franchise opened much closer to me and the guys seems to be doing okay though I haven't really checked. As an employee of theirs we got the impression they were the typical corporate minded retail guys who probably had no idea what they were selling. Typically if they had a tool that they could have copied in Asia they would sell the Asian tool because it yielded a higher profit margin. Understandable but when you are a good woodworker and like good tools it is sad to see the better tools pushed aside. The other impression I got was that the store needed to be in a fairly good neighborhood, economics wise. They needed higher dollar people shopping in their stores for their profit expectations to be met, which is why Bensalem failed.