Hammer and Stain adapts to pandemic by remaking live “Do-It-Yourself” workshops into “Do-It-To-Go” kits

Hammer and Stain: Come in. We’re open!

Native West Virginians Holley Odle and Lisa Christian wanted to bring some fun and excitement to their small town in Mercer County. They hit on the idea of Hammer and Stain, a do-it-yourself creative wood craft enterprise.

The Hammer and Stain franchise supplies wood products, project patterns and instructions. Crafters tackle projects on their own or attend live workshops. Odle and Christian opened their Hammer and Stain Princeton in September 2018.

“The workshops allow people of all ages to engage in their creative side and express themselves. We offer numerous themed workshops as well as private parties, birthdays and corporate events,” said Odle.

Hammer and Stain: Come in. We’re open!

Building a bridge over pandemic obstacles

Then the COVID-19 pandemic spread worldwide. In March 2020, states including West Virginia mandated public safety measures including masking, social distancing, and closure or restriction of non-essential businesses.

“Because we are a socially interactive business, we thrive on attendance. When things shut down, we had to close our doors to workshops,” Odle said. “We had to pivot immediately.”

The partners quickly nailed down a solution: make kits to pick up and go. Odle and Christian assembled project kits with wood, stencils, paint and other materials a crafter might need to do the project at home. Customers can view a range of Order to Go kits at a special tab on the website hammerandstainpriceton.com. Kits range from corn hole game sets to holiday decor. The customer can order the kit online for pickup at the shop on 851 Mercer Street, Princeton.

“We created the kits so that families could still be creative and spend time together away from the TV,” said Odle. “We included everything needed to complete a project in one inclusive kit. We called it Hammer at Home during the lock down. Once that was lifted, we noticed people didn’t want to stay home anymore and changed the name to Hammer to Go. We have since kept the option to do most of our projects to GO. Not everyone wants a public workshop option yet.”

Supporting small business supports the community

One reason Odle and Christian opened their business in Princeton was to stay close to family and to add something of value to their community. Especially in West Virginia where small businesses play a big role in the state’s economy, communities support local businesses and businesses support the local community.

“We not only provide entertainment to our small community, but more of a small local business’ dollars go right back into the community,” said Odle. “It supports kids’ sports teams, schools, churches and other small businesses and organizations.”

Hammer and Stain: Come in. We’re open!

Come In, We’re Open campaign

The idea of mutual support attracted Hammer and Stain to the “Come In, We’re Open” campaign, led by the West Virginia Small Business Development Center (WV SBDC).

The WV SBDC “Come In, We’re Open” (#WeAreOpenWV) campaign aims to help entrepreneurs spread awareness that they are still here and ready to do business.

“We think it’s important to support other local business, so we thought this was a great idea to come together in one initiative,” Odle said.

Odle summed up Hammer and Stain’s goals for the future with an adaptation of a country expression: “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, to just be alive after all the chaos has settled!”

Hammer and Stain: Come in. We’re open!