Couple Turns Shared Hobby Into Store

Posted

“Take me to a lumber section with the smell of wood permeating the air; that’s my Zen place,” said Don Davidson, owner of D&M Country Crafts in Fillmore. “There is just something about taking a piece of wood and creating something new with nothing more than a few tools and your own hands. I have enjoyed woodworking my entire life and Michelle has always liked crafting. I don’t have the finesse or artistic ability to paint the items, so I build them and she makes them look good.”

A lifelong woodworker, Mr. Davidson decided to turn his hobby into a small business after he retired from the Department of Corrections last year. Doubly retired, Davidson retired from a 20 year career with the United States Air Force years prior to retiring from his job as a correctional officer in September 2019. Davidson did not take any leisure time and quickly pulled his brother into helping him remodel his three car garage into a workshop where he could easily mass produce the items he had been making for family and friends, in his spare time, over the years.

D&M Country Crafts sells handcrafted home, yard and seasonal decorations, wall hangings and bird houses, as well as larger items like benches, shelves and decorative wishing wells. Every item is made by the couple’s hands. Mr. Davidson builds the items and Michelle (his wife) is in charge of aesthetics, painting and adding the finishing details. Mrs. Davidson also takes the helm of coming up with new products, garnering ideas from Pinterest and their frequent trips to antique markets and craft fairs. The  Davidsons are more than happy to make custom items, and encourage potential patrons to give them suggestions. 

“I don’t think there is anything that he can’t make. Anytime I even mention that I might like something, he figures out how to build it.”

“Sometimes I’ll be thinking, ‘yeah, sure you can,’ but he always does it,” Mrs. Davidson said with a laugh, adding that she suspects his most recent productivity (ornamental Christmas stockings and gingerbread men) is a ploy to keep her occupied so that she doesn’t complain about the amount of time he spends in his deer stand.

Mr. and Mrs. Davidson grew up next door to each other in East Alton, and though the two didn’t marry until later in life they were both drawn to creative outlets at an early age. Mrs. Davidson to painting and crafting and Mr. Davidson discovered woodworking as a child, during the weekends and summers he spent on his family’s farm in Fillmore. Self taught, Davidson has honed the rudimentary skills he gleaned in childhood though he never uses plans when tackling a new project, preferring to rely on his own highly technical nature. He attributes his ability to blindly replicate items to both his roots as a country boy and his 20 year stint in the airforce, both lifestyles that limited his access to equipment and forced him to come up with creative alternatives.

“I have been woodworking for decades but I am still learning. I have made a couple of little tables for my kids and benches for my sister-in-law, but I haven’t ventured into making furniture yet,” Mr. Davidson stated. “It’s something that I wouldn’t mind trying in the future and I have plans to make my own bedroom set. Right now I’m just focusing on building up D&M Country Crafts. Eventually, I would like to add a little storefront to the workshop.”

The then-unforeseen COVID-19 pandemic put a wrench in the business plans the Davidsons had mapped out in the early fall of 2019. It took approximately a year to build Mr. Davidson’s workshop, after which the couple planned to begin selling their handmade items at local markets and craft fairs, as well as setting up displays at consignment shops, such as the Alton Exchange. Among the unexpected obstacles are the rising lumber prices, which have been driven up by the recent onslaught of tropical storms.

The Davidsons soldiered on and recently opened a page on Facebook (D&M Country Crafts) to showcase and sell their wares. The online store currently has a large selection of fall items. The couple plans to start rolling out their Christmas inventory soon, for those that want to get a head start on their holiday shopping and decorating. All items can be customized. 

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here