Columbus Barrel Co. Building Handcrafted Rustic GoodsBusiness Profiles — By Susan Post on November 8, 2013 at 8:00 am
A new local company is building handcrafted bourbon-barrel furniture and homegoods for the rustic Columbus home. Columbus Barrel Co. transforms Kentucky bourbon barrels into custom pieces ranging from furniture to bottle openers.
Third-generation woodworkers Curt and CJ Shaver got their hands on an often elusive supply of bourbon barrels. The brothers quietly started turning the barrels into wood works of art, but the unique pieces didn’t stay quiet for long. More people became interested in the bourbon-barrel furniture and homegoods they were turning out, prompting the brothers to ask if their work should stay a hobby or become a business. The answer was business.
The Columbus Barrel Co. became official about four months ago. The endeavor suits the brothers well.
“It’s kind of in our blood building things and being creative,” CJ says.
He also says together they have always been entrepreneurs. The duo always looked for creative ways to make money doing all kinds of different things. And they got that entrepreneurial spirit from their dad.
The brothers looked to their family to learn the ins and outs of business. Both Dad and Grandpa owned woodworking shops. CJ describes the process of starting their first business as hectic and they have made mistakes along the way, but kept going.
As for their creations, “The possibilities are endless,” says CJ. Columbus Barrel Co. uses whole bourbon barrels to create furnishings like stools, bars and cabinets. Breaking down the barrels results in various home and bar goods, like bottle openers, clocks or coasters. The current set of offerings is just the beginning.
“We’re always expanding,” CJ says. “Whenever I get a few extra hours, I try to create something new.”
Columbus Barrel Co. also creates custom and one-off pieces for consumers. Each piece is handcrafted by the brothers, with a focus on giving a customer exactly what they want. CJ says he would rather build something to a customer’s specifications to make sure they like it.
With custom pieces, smaller items have a few day turnaround, while a larger handcrafted pieces can take a few weeks.
The brothers recognize the unique niche market that is helping them boom. Rustic country with wood and metal is very popular right now.
The festival scene has proven to be a great market for bourbon-barrel products, with CJ describing the reception as huge. Columbus Barrel Co. has set up shop at Grandview Digfest, The Jazz & Rib Festival as well as other festivals outside of Columbus. Up next is the November and December Moonlight Markets and the North Market Holiday Open House.
A festival isn’t the only way to find them. CJ encourages people to check out the website anytime and contact them about custom pieces. However, the brothers hope this soon won’t be the only way to find their products.
Looking ahead, they are working on an online ordering system for smaller goods. Eventually though, they would have to have a brick-and-mortar store. The custom, handcrafted nature of their work presents an interesting challenge for a storefront, but festival success has given them the itch to move from a garage workshop to brick-and-mortar Columbus Barrel Co.
For more information, visit columbusbarrelco.com.