Detroit’s Corktown Draws Reclaimed Woodworking Start-up

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Woodward Throwbacks, a reclaimed woodworking start-up in Detroit’s Corktown, has purchased a vacant building at 3511 Michigan Ave., between 24th and 25th streets, with plans to take its furniture and home décor goods distribution nationwide.  

“While the interest (in our products) is there, we haven’t had the space to store things,” says Kyle Dubay, founder and owner of the business that makes furniture and home decor products using reclaimed materials found in Detroit. “We’ve been taking it really slow, but now we’re ready to start wholesaling and launching everything nationally.”

Since launching last year, Woodward Throwbacks was based out of the home of Dubay’s business partner, Bozenka Shepherd. In a given month, they make about 30 to 40 beer carriers and at least 100 signs that they sell online and at Eastern Market, in addition to custom jobs for tables and bars.

Most of the wood comes from illegal dumping sites that Dubay and Shepherd learn about through various contractors and residents as well as biking around the city. “We try to keep our materials as raw as possible. We want the wood to tell its original story,” says Shepherd in a video promoting the business’ current Kickstarter campaign.

In hopes of opening a new workshop/storage space in the 4,000-square-foot building by spring, Dubay began demolition within an hour of closing on the property last week. “It’s been abandoned for about 10 years, so it needs a lot of work.”

The site, of the former home of Hi-Grade Restaurant, has been stripped of all of its electrical and plumbing, has a slight structural problem along one wall, and has a hole in the roof. But considering his woodworking background, Dubay and his team plan to handle about 90 percent of the work themselves, he says.

Dubay says he’s confident that there’s an out-of-state market for their products, which include Detroit-themed signs, ranging from $6 to $30, and serving boards, priced from $15 to $75.

“I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that there’s this great feeling that Detroit is coming back around, and people want to be a part of that in some way,” he says. “It’s a way for them to contribute to the revival of the city.”

For more information about Woodward Throwbacks, visit woodwardthrowbacks.com.

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