Country Wood Furniture owners turn love of fine craftsmanship into career
October 23, 2013
All it took was one wood shop class in the seventh grade, and Tom Doan was hooked. By the time he was in college in Texas, he was already working in construction and production. So when his uncle asked him if he'd like to move to Capitola to work at his unfinished wood furniture store, he jumped at the chance.
"That was in 1977 and I wanted to start making furniture," said Tom. "At the time, there was a big demand for beds with drawers, also known as captain's beds."
Tom's timing was just right — when a nearby bed manufacturer wanted to sell his captain's bed business a year later, he handed Tom a "big stack of accounts." He also had the good fortune of meeting a woman named Shoshana, who was to become his wife.
In 1978, Tom built a 2,000-square-foot manufacturing space in the small town of San Martin to build furniture and was soon joined by two brothers, his parents and ultimately 25 employees. Shoshana worked in the office.
Known for their fine craftsmanship, the Santa Clara County company expanded to include drawers, bookcases, desks, entertainment furniture and more. But after weathering the recession, Tom and Shoshana were ready to move to a more affordable area and relocated to Grass Valley in 1990.
"We moved here with the intention of doing solely wood manufacturing," said Tom. "But three years later, we had an opportunity to buy Country Wood Furniture. It was a good fit for me because I had both a retail and manufacturing background."
They've never looked back.
Celebrating 20 years in business, the Doans still enjoy sharing with customers their appreciation for well-made wood furniture, finished and unfinished.
Their retail space on West Main Street in Grass Valley boasts tables, chairs, dressers, chests, night stands, stools, hutches, buffets, desks and cabinets — and that's just what's on the floor.
"We special-order much of what we sell," said Shoshana. "That's an important part of our business because our square footage is limited."
The fresh smell of wood is what customers notice when they first walk through the door. Scattered about are pieces made from alder, maple, elm, cherry, hickory, walnut, quarter sawn oak and three kinds of pine.
"The unfinished furniture industry has changed since the 1960s," said Tom. "Now it's a lot more about quality — real wood. Since the recession, more people are focusing on buying American — they want to invest in something that will last and is made in the U.S. Most of our inventory is made by companies in the United States."
More recently, Country Wood Furniture began carrying an expanded line of popular Amish furniture, mostly handmade by woodworkers with skills passed down in the Amish community for generations. Long admired for their fine craftsmanship, the Amish are known for their minimal use of power tools, resulting in meticulously made "green" furniture, created from hand-picked wood.
While the Shaker and Mission styles are well known, the Amish produce other styles, such as Southwestern, rustic, cottage and beach front.
"Our Amish furniture is definitely something you'll have the rest of your life and pass on to your kids," said Shoshana. "A true work of art and a family heirloom."
Recently, Country Wood Furniture has been ordering from an authentic Amish company that has expanded to offer leather sofas, recliners, swivel rocking chairs, entertainment furniture and more — all with high quality hardware.
While the solid wood industry has remained the core of the Doans' business, they have expanded to include a broad range of accessories, including stained glass, mirrors, clocks, iron wine racks, pictures, lamps and more.
Custom paint and stain finishes are also available for the "do-it-yourselfers."
In addition to furniture, a popular conversation piece is the Doans' 15-year-old dog, Shanea, who has been coming to the store every day since she was just 8 weeks old.
"This is not a business to get rich in, but we're proud of our inventory," said Tom.
"We want to make sure people know there is no need to run down the hill."
Despite much of the modern metal and synthetic furniture in the market today, there is something timeless and classic about wood, said Shoshana.
"People have always loved wood," she said.
"There is a warmth to it, and a connection to earth and nature. Unlike other types of furniture, every piece is unique."
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com or call 530-477-4203.
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