Handmade: Couple realizes dream in old post office
As business and life partners, Wayne Maki and Clare Fox shared a dream — to someday open a retail store where everything they sold would be handmade.
Thanks to being among winners of Motor City Match, described on its website as “a unique partnership between the City of Detroit, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), the Economic Development Corporation of the City of Detroit (EDC), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD),” the couple is now living their dream.
Owners of Mutual Adoration, a 5-year-old woodworking company that, until recently, had a showroom of only about 200 square feet in Detroit’s Milwaukee-Junction neighborhood near the New Center area, Maki and Fox were able to move their growing business to a 10,000-square-foot building in April. It’s there where they’ve opened a retail shop filled with all things handmade by a host of hand-picked artists and crafters. They also rent studio space to three local companies — Tait Design Co., LeadHead Glass, and Scarlet Crane Creations.
Maki said, “We got a list of available properties from Motor City Match, and won a grant to help us move in.” And, because the 77-year-old building once served as a U.S. Post Office, they named their new business venture Post, and celebrated its grand opening in early October. The store is at 14500 Kercheval, on Detroit’s east side, near the Jefferson-Chalmers area, and along the edge of Grosse Pointe Park. The post office closed in the early ’70s, and was later used as a Baptist church until the mid 2000s.
When they acquired the building, Maki said, “It was pretty much empty, but there were a couple church pews left, and we’ve used one as our display to retain the memory of the church. We (also) have all the original light fixtures from the old post office. We didn’t have to do any structural work, but we built out our wood shop here. So, we have a full wood shop, and we built three other studio spaces, and we built all the displays and fixtures. We’re the very definition of handmade.”
Maki, 40, and Fox, 42, live in Detroit, just a couple blocks away from Post, and they’re “manning” the spacious store themselves, which includes selling more than 100 brands of handmade products.
“We sell our own goods, Mutual Adoration, and everything here is handmade, and about 80 percent Michigan made — mostly Detroit. We’ve also scoured handmade companies around the Midwest and around the country. It’s kind of a collection of our favorite things here,” continued Maki. “(We have) everything from home goods to bath and body to jewelry, decor, fine art, even greeting cards, screened prints, paintings, pillows and our furniture, as well. We buy items wholesale with companies we know. We do a combination of consignment and wholesale.”
Most prices range from $4 for a greeting card to $200 for a piece of jewelry. A much more expensive item would be a piece of Mutual Adoration furniture (for instance, a large dining room table could fetch as much as $3,500). To help with production of their customized wood pieces — furniture, picture frames and housewares — the business duo employs three individuals.
Although Post has been open only a couple months, it’s been well-received by those living in and around the community. “We’ve been surprised at how busy we’ve been,” said Maki. “We are a destination store, and really grateful that so many people have made us their destination. It seems to be about half from the nearby suburbs here, and (half) from the city of Detroit.”
A holiday open house with food and drinks is set for Saturday, from noon-7 p.m. A couple artists and all the company owners will be on hand doing demonstrations and talks. Maki and Fox will conduct tours of the shop and talk about where they get the reclaimed wood for their Mutual Adoration products.
Regular business hours are noon-7 p.m. Wed.-Fri., and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat. “We’re closed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday because we make things here, and the work gets loud,” explained Maki.
Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.
Contact Post at (313) 939-2172 or post-detroit.com. Email: email@example.com.