Small Biz Saturday: Ann Arbor-based The Wood Garage experiences growth

The Wood Garage is an Ann Arbor-based e-commerce business. (Pamela Stom/ The Wood Garage)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – When they first started in 2015, the owners of The Wood Garage had no plan and no idea of what their at-home business would grow into. 

Co-owned by sister-brother team Pamela Stom, Jason Schaufele and Randy Schaufele, the Ann Arbor-based business makes handcrafted furniture and customized signs, among other things.

Stom, who manages the company’s communications and design elements, said that things just took off after she helped one of her brothers sell a few things on Etsy, an e-commerce website for handmade items. 

Once the brand and business was created, Stom convinced her other brother to join. Then, The Wood Garage quickly started selling items across the United States and internationally, but at an exhausting pace.

With all three siblings working for the company fulltime, they noticed they were burning out. They decided to scale back the business and focused on providing services locally.

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Now, the Ann Arbor business takes on anywhere from five to 15 orders per week. While that may not seem like a lot, Stom said, The Wood Garage crafts items from start to finish. The process for each piece is given a lot of time and attention.

The e-commerce business has seen growth since the start of 2020. (Pamela Stom/ The Wood Garage)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many brick-and-mortar businesses have struggled. Since it is predominately online, The Wood Garage has actually experienced the opposite.

“But what we have seen this year is growth. This has been a fantastic year for us,” said Stom, attributing increased orders both the rebranding she did earlier in the year and to community support for local businesses.

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Aside from its growth over the past few months, Stom said The Wood Garage was lucky. It had a surplus of supplies so the business was able to continually fulfill orders when supply shops were closed.

 According to Stom, there has only been one recent order that she couldn’t complete right away simply because she couldn’t access a particular wood. 

Referring to the business as “small and mighty” Stom said she there is still more room to grow. “And that is exactly what we are excited for and are seeing, which is a very cool thing. We’ve never had so much engagement before on social media.”

The sister-brother business builds custom furniture, signs and other handcrafted items. (Pamela Stom/ The Wood Garage)

Known for the sassy sayings or motivational messages on its signs, which Stom said come from having a sarcastic family, sibling rivalry and her background in athletics, The Wood Garage doesn’t plan to expand right now despite the uptick in sales. 

“I feel like that there are too many changes and unknowns with how things are going to forward,” said Stom.  She would like to have a brick-and-mortar store one day but there is too much risk involved in making that kind of move right now.

Currently, pieces and custom items from The Wood Garage are either made in Stom’s garage in Ann Arbor or out of her brother’s shop in Belleville. Local customers can pick up their items or have them shipped.

Visit the business’ website here.

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.