Sunday, January 3, 2010


Here is a brief description of the current, local woodworking scene from my perspective here in Port Moody. I have not conducted a proper study on this topic but these are some of my observations.
In the early 1980’s there was a deep recession that killed most of the large unionized woodworking operations. Many of these were re-born as smaller non-union shops. The general impact of this is that it lowered wages and generally loosened things up. I think it made it easier for smaller artisan / artist shops to get a start as suppliers could not discriminate to the same extent who they would sell to. Now most suppliers don’t care if you are a twenty five person shop in an industrial complex or one guy working out of his garage.
It is also much less expensive to set up a small woodworking operation in the Vancouver area now. This is the up side of Chinese imports, reasonable quality machinery is plentiful and affordable. For example, in the ‘80s most of the machinery available for small shops was either General, made in Quebec or American products such as Rockwell / Delta. Choice was limited and costs were high. Now there is a huge proliferation of cheap imports. Many companies like General, import cheaper lines, theirs is called General International. Their domestic line has hardly changed in the last half century while their import line includes many innovations of quality products suitable for the small shop.
Although gentrification has had a big impact on the availability of shop space, municipalities like Vancouver, Richmond, North Vancouver and Burnaby have retained a large amount of light industrial areas for small shops. Many of the larger shops have moved to industrial complexes in the suburbs. East Vancouver has a very vibrant artisan / artist based woodworking scene with many practitioners living and working in that area. Vancouver continues to grow, and the powers that be continue to pursue population growth as the driving force of the economy. It would seem inevitable that this strategy will lead to further gentrification and the re-development of older light industrial property.
In summary, at this time, I think that it has never been easier to set up a small woodworking business in this area and more people than ever are doing it.

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