Bill Major sands black walnut

By: Mike Anderson

York Region’s move to Stage 3 couldn’t come fast enough for Bill Major.

Mr. Major, a wood artisan who specializes in live-edged woodcraft, is one of dozens of local Georgina artists and artisans who have been financially impacted by the pandemic.

Unable to sell their work at local galleries, retail shops, or art and craft shows, they have seen their incomes drop drastically.

“I think the main focus for all of us has been survival,” Mr. Major said. “And when you’re in a survival mode, artistic and creative work can be a kind of an afterthought.”

“We cut costs. We don’t carry the same inventory. But just because you’re not open doesn’t mean you don’t have expenses.”

Mr. Major estimates that he lost upwards of 80 per cent of his local sales, consisting mainly of one-of-a-kind live-edged charcuterie and cheese boards, as well as tables made from reclaimed hardwood.

“As far as local retail, COVID really shut that down. And people aren’t entertaining. This time of year they’d have family and friends over to the cottage. So the cottage market, including Georgina Bay, Kawartha and Muskoka, which is a good market for my products virtually disappeared.”

But every cloud has a silver lining as they say. And, the pandemic is no different.

Faced with a looming disaster, Mr. Major adapted.

He improved his website and took a course offered by the Town on Facebook and Instagram marketing. He also opened an online shop with ArtFest Ontario.

Now, with Stage 3, Mr. Major is hopeful the tide may be turning.

“Stage 3 will bring a little more freedom for people to come to our workshop and studio, still wearing masks and social distancing,” said Mr. Major.

“And I think there will be a little more freedom for people to entertain others, and this may help them be more open to buying our products.”

Mr. Major is also hopeful that the Studio Tour, a big event on the Georgina art calendar, will go forward for the last weekend in September.

You can visit Bill Major’s workshop/studio in Port Bolster, but wear a mask and give him a call first at 289-221-1174. He’s also online at www.liveedgewoodcraft.ca.

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