Country Stuff makes handmade furniture and more for annual Kris Kringle Craft Show
Tom Wilson of Hagerstown just wanted something to keep him busy after retiring from Mack Trucks 15 years ago.
“I had to find something to do, I couldn’t just be sitting around,” Wilson said while standing in his Hagerstown home. “I kind of liked working with wood. So I kind of started tinkering around with wood.”
Even before he retired, Wilson said he’d come home and build things in his basement. He points around the room to show what he’s built for his own home, a cabinet, a bench and more. He thought that maybe other people might want to buy his stuff. He took some pieces to a local show and people did purchase the items.
Wilson, 78, said he got to the point “that I started making some good cabinets, and people liked them.” The result was his business, Country Stuff.
Those who like Wilson’s items can find them at Kris Kringle Craft Show from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17; and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, at Hagerstown Community College’s Athletic Recreational Community Center (ARCC), off Robinwood Drive, east of Hagerstown. The cost is $3, which benefits Parent Child Center of Washington County. Nonpershionable food will also be collected.
Wilson said all of his pieces are made using pine. He creates a variety of useful household objects from bread boxes, shelves and shadow boxes. Wilson also takes old furniture and refurbishes them, like he did with a small desk as well as a side table.
“I like making different stuff. Stuff that people have never seen before,” he said.
Personally, Wilson said, he likes to build the cabinets the most because “they turn out the nicest.”
They are also the most labor-intensive because he puts three layers of paint on the cabinets, then a layer of polyurethane as a protective coat.
“There’s a lot of work going into these things,” he said. “Especially the shadow boxes because you have to give them that old appearance.”
Wilson said he’s constantly thinking up new designs, like the newest addition of a shelf with a print above it. He said he and his wife, Kathy, go to Lancaster, Pa., often and he’s influenced by their craftsmanship. A new double-crossed barn-door cabinet is one example of the Amish influence.
When he first started out with his business, he said he did about 15 craft shows a year, but now he has whittled it down to only three, with Kris Kringle being his last show of the season.
Wilson said he’s been at Kris Kringle for about 10 years. What he likes about it is that it’s indoors.
“I don’t have to set up a tent or set up and tear down outdoors,” he said, crediting his daughter and son-in-law Lisha and Jeff Cunningham for helping him do the tear-down.
Customers can find him this year at spots 101 and 102 inside the ARCC. They’re in the front door, off to the right against the wall.
To get ready for the onslaught of customers, Wilson said he makes things throughout the winter to gear up for the craft show season. However, he gives himself breaks.
“I’m down there, not all the time because it’s boring to be in the basement all the time,” he said.
When shopping at his stand, he said doesn’t look for anything with a holiday theme. Instead, he makes decor and furniture that can be used year round. He said his pieces have given him a loyal fanbase with customers coming specifically to Kris Kringle to buy his items. Especially because he doesn’t have a Facebook page.
Wilson said his pieces range in price from $45 to $200.
He said he wants to build some hall-tree doors but he’s on the search for some solid doors to help make the items.
For Wilson, completing the items are knowing it’s a job well done.
“I feel good about the stuff I’ve made,” he said.
Top photo: Kathy and Tom Wilson of Hagerstown lean on one of the cabinets he has made for his company, Country Stuff. They will be selling their wares this weekend as part of Kris Kringle Craft Show in Hagerstown Community College. The design is new this year. (Photo by Crystal Schelle)