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Photos from Maker House's Instagram.

Maker House Co. celebrates its first year of showcasing local makers

By Jordan Duff on January 18, 2017

Maker House Co., a must for those shopping for unique locally made goods, celebrated their first year in business. In true entrepreneurial fashion, the retail business “celebrated” by revamping the store and using their holiday to build new shelves to hold even more Ottawa-crafted goods.

Gareth Davies, the company’s founder, came to Ottawa via his wife and his work at Live 88.5. In our throw-away society of consumerism, Gareth developed an appreciation for the environment and for objects that were made-to-last. He credits visiting the municipal dump near his childhood cottage for opening his eyes to the importance of building quality items that last. Creating a platform like Maker House, to showcase local artisans and makers was always a dream of Gareth.

The retail store at 987 Wellington St W. in Hintonburg showcases creations coming from more than 100 makers. The business is a great place to support local artists and to support local charities, 2% of all sales goes towards #craftchange. The neighbourhood, and the city, have quickly supported the new business and its hand-made goods.The business aims to fill is the post-IKEA market with locally crafted furniture and art that is quality without breaking the bank: Objects that have a story.

As Gareth describes it, “Some people still make things like they used to.” He is certain that this type of business is a perfect fit for Ottawa and its talented, hard-working residents.

Maker House aims to connect makers and buyers.

A fantastic example comes from the connection made between ManMade Art and the Ottawa Champions baseball team. The store was featuring some of ManMade artist Doug Jackson’s work when Champions president David Gourlay was browsing. Gourley was intrigued by some of Jackson’s work. Through Maker House, he was connected with the ManMade art owner to commissioned him to design a print that celebrated the Champions’ 2016 championship. Sales of these limited edition prints support the Ottawa Food Bank.

The artists come from a variety of backgrounds, some are full-time makers, while others create objects as a “side-hustle”. Advantages for the artisans through working with Maker House include access to testing their designs, receiving feedback and gaining experience operating as a business. It’s practically an incubator for makers. It also gives the creators a place they can connect, in a more tangible fashion, with customers beyond what an online store can provide.

In the first week of 2017, Maker House Co. received a late Christmas gift – inclusion on the New York Times’ list of places to visit in Ottawa. It’s a well-deserved nod to the hard work and the unique retail niche they occupy. 

To be sure, blogging about a store that prides itself on providing an analogue alternative to online stores doesn’t do Maker House justice. You have to go old school and actually visit the space.