04 Aug Sometimes You Just Have to Do It Yourself
A couple of years ago, film photographer Erich McVey set out to find wood boxes for presenting prints to clients. Something solid, timeless. Elegant but simple, and affordable enough to be included as gifts in his wedding packages.
You wouldn’t think it would be that difficult. Wrong. There really was nothing out there.
So Erich did the natural thing…he called his dad. It would be fun; a little project they could work on together. Dave McVey owns picture framing stores in Oregon, so he knows his way around saws and sanders and wood.
Erich designed a few box styles, holding from 300 to 1,500 prints, and Dave built them out of solid walnut, and Erich sanded and stained them. His clients loved them.
Other photographers started noticing the boxes, and several inquired about ordering a few for themselves. And then a few more. And pretty soon, Make & Stow was born. And the little side project turned into a business that has shipped over seven thousand boxes around the world. Dave added a second huge workshop, and a lot of nice equipment, and most of the family got involved in the endeavor.
The nice thing about an organically grown business is that it’s directed by the customer. While some business models rely on planning and analysis, Make & Stow added new products and services in response to suggestions and requests –– mainly from professional photographers. They added engraving, and boxes to hold 5×7 prints, keepsake boxes, shallow boxes to hold fewer prints, and boxes with a slot for a flash drive. Then came boxes of hard maple and smooth alder, and new finishes like sable and slate.
The McVeys all like to entertain often, and everything is served on a walnut board. Charcuterie, salads, hors d’oeuvres, and meats hot off the grill. It’s not worth serving if it can’t be on a thick slab of walnut. So, of course, they started selling walnut boards through Make & Stow, and soon they were selling a lot. An awesome gift box company emailed them a rough sketch of a little board with a handle they wanted to add to their gift box collections, and Make & Stow ended-up building hundreds of them. They recently shipped 250 engraved custom trivets to a company for a special event. And again, Make & Stow benefitted from listening to the dreams and ideas of their customers.
And their own dream is to continue evolving and learning and responding to their base, and to never lose that small town, family feel, or that Pacific Northwest love of all things natural and simple and beautiful.
Thank you for reading their story.