Think how difficult it would be to run a store like WC. The one in
town has been open one way or another for about 30 years, and they
have had good guys and bad guys manage it.
A friend of mine wound up managing the one here in town for about 6 or
so years. He was a hobby woodworker, always ready to learn, never
argued with the professionals and always expressed his way of doing
things as his opinion. So he got along well.
However, away from the store and over a beer, he was pretty
frustrated. He loved the serious, hobby guy that wanted to learn
something new and try it out. He hated the guys that thought the
tools they were buying should come with free lessons.
He liked the pros that came into the store as they ran their shops as
a business and expected that from him, too. However, when one of his
assistants goofed up a pro's blade sharpening order, forgot to order a
proprietary part needed for a machine, or didn't get the supplies in
needed to complete a contract, he was floored every time by how badly
the contractors acted.
He liked the interface between like minded people and always tried to
encourage as much coffee drinking and idea swapping as possible. He
hated with a passion the know it all, of which the store had plenty at
all times. He did however, love it when the know it alls would
dispense their vast knowledge (I heard "you know Robert, I've been
doing this as a serious hobby for about five years, now..." ) to the
short on time professionals so we could say all the things he
It was a tough job to get anyone that had serious woodworking
experience to work there as their store economic model only allowed
for slightly more than an hourly wage to be paid for most guys. So
that left their talent pool to be entry level in the job market guys,
or retirees that didn't need but a little bit to make them happy. The
latter camp worked there most often to get their great employee
discount, and regularly quit after they filled their shops.
He had a lot of things to contend with, and I always thought of him as
more of a circus manager than a business manager. Most of the time he
Not the kind of job for everyone.
I googled Woodcraft store closings, and there are apparently a lot of
these stores going under. In particular, check out this:
Pretty good discussion there.
A couple of things they leave off when describing their debt. The
franchise cost is part paid and part financed (if you choose) and the
local franchise for the WC store cost somewhere around $500,000 many
years ago. However, the smaller the town, the smaller the cost.
But then you have to have the inventory they want with only a bit if
discretionary items, so you have to stock the store with products they
supply. No shopping or jobber pricing for the franchisees.
And the items you buy from them are yours. No returns, no credit, no
transfers. When one of the stores in Austin TX closed a few years
ago, I believe they let the local franchise buy some of their
It's a tough business. Like a lot of folks I know, I will pay more if
I get more. So if someone is there (remember their economic model) on
site that could help me with a problem, I would pay more and consider
it a consultation fee. But that means service, service, service.
Besides, supporting a local brick and mortar store is always a good
Since I don't feel like I get my money's worth out of WC, I simply
don't go there.