Port Bolster Woodcrafter Uses E-Commerce To Attract New Buyers
Bill Major—with the help of his wife, Doris Major—started selling handmade wooden charcuterie boards, cheese boards, placemats and other dining accessories 10 years ago. They called their venture Live Edged Woodcraft. What began as selling to friends and family out of Bill’s workshop in Port Bolster, ON, turned into offering their handcrafted goods in retailers all across the province. Then COVID-19 hit. Rolling with the punches the pandemic threw them, Bill and Doris signed up for the virtual One Of A Kind Show, which they had been attending as vendors in-person for the 5 years prior. With the show existing purely online, it required them to have an e-commerce website—something they hadn’t found feasible before. That’s when they were introduced to the ShopHERE Powered by Google Program, which set them up with a coordinator to guide them through the process of launching a Shopify online store.
“As an older person, my computer skills were not well developed, but my wife and I learned a great deal with the help of our coordinator, who was unbelievably able, personable, patient, and understanding of our learning curve challenges.”
Bill and Doris used to rely on attending markets to get the attention of local retailers and customers. While that worked for them for many years—you can find their handmade charcuterie and cheese boards in gift shops located in the laidback cottage town of Port Carling, just off a bustling street in Downtown Toronto, and recently in every province of Canada—the past year made it crucial for this husband-and-wife team to future proof their business. Their new Shopify online store and website allows them to showcase their work to local retailers without having to meet them in person. The ShopHERE team also helped to equip them with the marketing skills to build that digital bridge.
“Our new Shopify site has attracted interest in our work from several new market opportunities, including one major purchasing company that has made our products available to purchase in every province of Canada.”
Bill hired a professional photographer to take pictures of their best-selling products. With his use of premium Ontario hardwoods like black walnut and cherry, he wanted to mimic the in-person experience of appreciating his handmade pieces for all their natural splendor. Not particularly savvy with a camera himself, he recognized this as an important investment. Bill then handed the photographs over to his coordinator, who got to work designing the website.
“Without Digital Main Street, we would not have an e-commerce site today.”
The website created for them places an emphasis on their brand story, including their admirable eco-friendly efforts. Bill only works with reclaimed wood, with the vast majority of his materials sourced from within a 50km radius of his workshop; this includes the use of hemp seed oil from a local farm, and natural beeswax from local apiaries to treat his wood. That, plus the witty touches such as a note on their website that reads “we are open whenever we are home,” the small-town warmth that Live Edged Woodcraft customers have come to know and love for the last 10 years was easily translated into the digital age.
If you’re looking for handmade wood accessories to take your dining experience to the next level, you can purchase directly from Live Edged Woodcraft’s website, or head to their site to see if there’s a vendor selling their products near you. And if you’re interested in tapping into the free digital resources offered by Digital Main Street, you can learn more here.
Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Microsoft, Facebook, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, Yellow Pages and Lightspeed.
A $42.5-million investment from FedDev Ontario brought together the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Communitech, Invest Ottawa and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association to expand the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses going digital as a response to the impacts of COVID-19 in Southern Ontario.