Who wants a Woodcraft?

How many other Tucson or Phoenix Woodcraft customers got a letter in the mail today offering the Tucson and Phoenix franchises for sale?
Seems that if they are soliciting their customer list, people aren't exactly beating down the door for franchise opportunities.
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Sounds reasonable to me. I'm sure there's a number of well off woodworkers who dream of owning a woodworking store. I've frequently fantasized about talking Robin into funding me to open a Lee Valley tools franchise.
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Same thing happened around here when the Latham, NY store closed. I think they overextended. Some areas just don't have the population to support a store like that.
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On Sat, 31 Mar 2007 00:19:13 -0700, Mark & Juanita

on the guy who's running the operation. There are two within 50 miles of each other in Virginia and they are a success because the franchisee is a savvy businessman and seems to have the basic good sense to realize he has to please his customers. One of the franchisees stores was operated by Woodcraft, itself, before he bought it. After he took over it improved immeasurably. The other store he opened after his success with the one he bought from Woodcraft.
I remember going into a few other Woodcrafts when I visited different places. I walked into one and said to myself "This place won't make it." It didn't. It was not well stocked. It was poorly lighted. It was not that clean and there was minimum stock and selection. There were three salesmen sitting down chewing the fat. I was left with the feeling that they resented being disturbed.
I wish all woodworking storesl well. I like having being able to go in a store and handle the tool rather than read often inadequate descriptions in catalogs like Rockler. I do take my hat off to the people at Lee Valley. Their catalog, unlike Rockler's, shows that they are really interested in woodworking. Lee Valley, while sometimes introducing tools that make us all laugh a bit, seems to very innovative. They actually solicit ideas from their customers on tools they would like to see. They then develop those tools themselves.
I think we are living in a Golden Age of woodworking tools and machinery. There is absolutely no comparison to what was available when I started woodworking many years ago. And while there is less iron in some of the professional machinery this has been more than offset by other improvements, viz, the t-square fence.
Joe
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I think success of any retail operation depends on the people on the sales floor. I went into a KC Woodcraft about 6 years ago and asked some very basic questions about a Unisaw sitting on the showroom floor. The salesman who greeted us could not answer questions - OK. But I was amazed that no one else in the store seemed able, or interested in finding the info.
I had a pickup sitting in front of the store and was prepared to haul a machine back to Wichita, about 180 miles south. Fortunately, this experience, and my lonesome examination of the machine on their floor, lengthened my research process. I have thoroughtly enjoyed my Grizzly 1023S.
RonB
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I simply do not understand franchise owners who allow problems to develop. The basic nut going into one of these things is on the order of a half million bucks, not something most of us can toss in the trash because we're too lazy to pay attention to training and too goofy to train staff.
As some of you may recall, I don't much care for Woodcraft, but I know they train their franchisees well, and are generally quite careful about siting the stores.
Part of the problem with smaller stores may well be market size. The problems really arise when a woodworker goes into the store and finds about a tenth the selection her or she expects. There is then no return trip. We've got a similar company store (I think) in Roanoke. I went in there twice, buying some lumber once, but finding absolutely nothing I wanted otherwise. And the store is tucked into a corner in a strip mall next to a huge store and a couple larger ones. Not great siting from a visual standpoint, but a site with a huge amount of traffic. I haven't been there in about 18 months, so it may now be gone.
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Charles, thanks for that bit of information, I was wondering what the going in cost would be.
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Forbes has an issue on franchises each year. See if your local library has a copy: their information is more current, and probably more accurate, than mine. Woodcraft lists somewhere in the top 500 franchises.
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:> RonB : I simply do not understand franchise owners who allow problems to : develop. The basic nut going into one of these things is on the order : of a half million bucks, not something most of us can toss in the : trash because we're too lazy to pay attention to training and too : goofy to train staff.
The Tucson store has always seemed pretty well run, and very well stocked.
I got a letter, probably the same one Mark did. The letter is from corporate, and says that the owner is relocating for personal reasons to Oregon, where he/they have another Woodcraft. It's not clear anything is wrong with the operation successwise.
    -- Andy Barss
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On Sun, 1 Apr 2007 02:31:42 +0000 (UTC), Andrew Barss

I certainly did not intend to imply that in my posting. The one thing I have noticed is that they don't seem to be very busy most of the time. That may be a function of the times I choose to go there vs. low volume traffic in general. Just found it curious that they were soliciting the customer base for a buyer -- typically highly successful businesses that come up for sale come up quietly and are snapped up by someone who is properly networked before anybody else even realizes the opportunity is there.
Really hope that there is nothing wrong with operational success; it would be a real shame to lose them. The only other local source here in Tucson (Woodworker's Source) has never impressed me, either in their tool display and selection, nor in the friendliness of their help. The Phoenix Woodworker Source seems to run a much tighter and neater operation (at lease the last time I visited either of those two businesses -- it's been several years)
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I sometimes wonder about their solicitations. Shortly after I got let go, they solicited me for a job, IIRC, a product manager. I called the then manager of that department and asked about it. The list went out widely, and, to me, stupidly, but I did give him the word that I might consider going back if they fired my former boss and his boss. Since then, I think something like 50% of the top personnel have changed, maybe more, but that's more related to the president's retiring and a replacement being hire than anything else.
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Heh. Anyone interested in a 6-in-1 chuck for an AMT lathe?
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On Sat, 31 Mar 2007 00:19:13 -0700, Mark & Juanita

I'd love one. But there's 2 problems. First, I don't have a half a million dollars. Plus there's already one around here, with a Rockler only a couple of miles away. I'm not sure there'd be enough business for another store like them.
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