The Woodcraft store in Libertyville, IL, closed its doors for good on March 19. Over the previous two weeks, I had received emails from the store announcing huge discounts… 30% off everything, then 50, then 75. While no closing was announced, it was pretty obvious what was coming.
Part of me wanted to make the hour drive and load up my car with half-price lumber and grab whatever tools were left. Part of me felt awful at the thought of picking the bones of a store I didn’t support enough. To be fair to myself, it was an hour away and I’ve only been woodworking for a few months. In the end, I just never got a chance before I got the “we’re closed” email.
I made the trip once, when it was time to buy a good dovetail saw. I’ve bought most of my tools online, but this one I wanted to see and hold before buying, and I wanted to talk to a human who knew something about woodworking. That visit was a great experience, and of course I bought more than I intended to. I never made it back, but I loved knowing that there was a place I could go that catered to a craft that I have grown to care so much about. I looked forward to my next visit.
Woodcraft retail stores are franchises. Each store is independently owned and tied to its local community, and it’s dependent on that local community to support it. For a specialty store, that community has to be geographically larger than the community it takes to support a Home Depot. It’s about a community of interest, not a community of locale. In this case, I guess there just wasn’t enough of a community to support a brick and mortar woodworking shop.
I don’t know the specifics. But I know it’s easier to go online and buy a tool than it is to drive an hour. But I enjoyed my trip to the Libertyville Woodcraft a lot more than hitting “submit” on a website.
Even 50 miles away, I considered myself lucky that I had a “local” woodworking shop. If you’re lucky enough to still have one, be sure to pay it a visit.