I think it is so unfortunate that the media wasn't alerted to the fact that there was a small, one-man shop operating out of the Gardiner Mill. I would like to thank the Kennebec Journal, and the Hallowell Record for printing the story of my loss. To me, and all the other small shops dotting the Maine map, it's another example of our industry gone unnoticed. This economy is crushing small cabinet shops all over the state. I have received calls and emails from cabinetmakers, and people who know cabinetmakers, all saying the same thing: It is extremely hard to make ends meet these days, and it's not getting any better.
People are looking to save money by purchasing "big box" kitchen cabinets and furniture. What is happening is that the local woodworkers cannot compete with the huge companies using sub-par materials, and out-sourcing their production to other countries. When one cabinet shop closes, it absolutely has a ripple effect in the community. Hardware and lumber stores lose the business. The coffee shops, the grocery stores, the gas stations, the paint stores. All at the "expense" of cheap furniture that starts deteriorating at the first hint of moisture, and more often than not, contains harmful gasses that release when wet.
The Story is about a suffering, if not dying, industry here in Maine. Woodworkers are an overlooked asset to our economy and community. The fire at my shop and the media's omission of Cork Cove Furniture's presence there is a small example of the fact that so many shops are just one disaster away from closing. That disaster could be a lost bid, or a bid too low taken, a finger cut off, a day or week down-time during a critical phase of a project, or even a customer refusing or unable to pay a bill. It's that close for us. Buy locally. Save and spend wisely on things that last. It matters, believe me.
Here are some links to the editors of the papers who ran the story. Please contact them and let them know about a woodworker you know who may be in danger of losing their livelihood. President Obama referred to higher health care costs for the self-employed, but insurance costs across the board for a self-employed cabinetmaker account for 30% (minimum) of their operating costs. I will address this in my next posting. I welcome any and all comments! Thank you.
Kennebec Journal: http://centralmaine.mainetoday.com/readerservices/lettertotheeditor.html
Bangor Daily News; http://www.bangordailynews.com/detail/118788.html
WLBZ2 Bangor: http://www.wlbz2.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=108886&catid=3
WCSH Channel 6 Portland: http://www.wcsh6.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=108733&catid=2
Please take 10 minutes to follow these links to add a comment about a woodworker you know who is hurting in these difficult times. Maine's woodworking community has been such an understated valuable resource to our way of life, and it is deteriorating before our eyes. By supporting your local cabinet shops, you are supporting "green" practices, as well as your local community.