What does it take to build a makerspace? Bucky and Melissa Miller from Millers Rustic Sawmill, are learning what it means as they renovate a 100+ year old building. This fall, September 19th, the residents of King City will have their own community Main Street Makerspace.
“We announced the grand opening, and that is part of the motivation to get it done!” Melissa told me. “We figured if we had a date to work towards then we would have to be ready.”
As COVID19 swept across the world and the country began shutting down, the Millers (with their son Carson and friend) thought they would have time to work on and finish the makerspace by this summer.
“We anticipated having extra time to focus on working in the makerspace because we really thought that our business would slow down and we wouldn’t be as busy as we have been.”
“We had no idea going into March, April and May that it would be the busiest months our business ever had!”
“So instead of being able to focus on that space, we thought, ‘oh well’ we’ll be done by June. Then we’ll be done by July. We really did think that we had the potential to open over the summer.”
Building the makerspace began at the start of 2020. “We had kicked butt on it pretty well before things started happening at the beginning of this year. But as our business picked up, we’re processing pages of orders every day and adding to the stack constantly.”
“The last five months have been the busiest we’ve had in our sawmill business, and it pulled us away from the new space.”
The makerspace is being built in an historic building that used to be known as McCrea’s grocery store. The building was built in the late 1800s and the original owner Dean McCrea, bought the store in 1955 and ran it for 60 years.
“Dean is like WOW. We have transformed this space and it no longer looks like his grocery store. Everyone from this area will know exactly where we’re at, and that’s how it will always stay. We’re on Main Street or in the old McCrea’s building. It’s just iconic.”
The Millers didn’t know, if anything, what to expect when building the makerspace, and so far time has been the only enemy.
“I don’t think any of us knew really what to expect. What’s been nice is ‘knock on wood’, we haven’t found any crazy, awful surprises in the building or the space. I feel like God’s been looking out for us in that way because when you’re doing a renovation, in such an old building, you don’t know what you’re going to run into.”
“That’s what’s special with the makerspace and building it here. We’ve had a lot of people stop in to see what we’re doing. And that turns into sometimes sitting down for 30 minutes, chatting and visiting.”
The Millers makerspace will be adorned with their own lumber, and they’ve made incredible strides to shape the makerspace to hold everything from power tools, 3d printers, classrooms, and more.
“As we’ve been building back and sectioning things off, we’ve tried to keep it fairly open so it’s a workable space. And in all of it, we’re using our wood for show purposes — what it can do, and what it looks like in the design.
You can see some of the wood they’re using here, as Melissa gives a tour of the space on Facebook.
“We’re not only building a makerspace — there’s dual purpose, because we’re also attaching our sales site to it. There’s not a huge expense for lumber. Our wood is what we’re using to build things in here, and in turn, customers can walk in to do a custom order or wall — we can walk them around the space and say, ‘well, this is what this is, and this is what it looks like.”
Melissa has bigger goals for the makerspace and her community.
“I think that we have to keep an open mind about what this space could be used as and for. Moving forward we’re definitely keeping the end goal as a business incubating makerspace, but there may be some other opportunities. Because of where we’re at geographically it may look a little different than even we have in mind.”
An open space is where youths can freely choose their tools, find people and collaborate, especially in the rural communities. As companies move and factories fade, it’s a challenge to keep younger generations in their hometowns.
“That’s the other part of being in a rural community. I’m very anxious to know that down the road if there is a kind of a curriculum, or if we can collaborate with schools to offer programs for their students to come in, to teach or get taught. And get certified on a piece of equipment that they might not otherwise ever had the opportunity to work with, or even know existed.”
“I know that’s down the road, but it’s those things that are in the back of our minds. We have kids and I would like them to know that they have many opportunities. If college isn’t the best fit, maybe you’re able to make something and create your own business.”
Mark your calendar! Saturday, September 19th is the grand opening of the Main Street Makerspace!
But that name may or may not change. “We don’t technically have a name for it” Melissa laughed! “I keep calling it our Main Street Makerspace. It might be the Millers Makerspace, we just don’t know yet.”
One thing that the Makerspace will be known for is being a part of a greater community.
“We want it to be a little bit of a hub for the community, and we want to create things there, and hope that people are going to still associate with that same feeling they did with the grocery store.”