15 Dec MEET THE MAKER WILD CHERRY SPOON CO
The entrepreneurial journey for Tim McGuire has been filled with exciting moments and has recently come with growth into a retail storefront at The Shoppes on 2nd . Tim’s company, Wild Cherry Spoon Co. is the newest addition to the retail business incubator in downtown Rock Island.
His grand opening celebration was held on Small Business Saturday this November along with a ribbon cutting ceremony to help launch the handcrafted and artisan kitchen and homewares store into its next phase of progress. We stopped by to learn more about Tim and his passion for making products that bring him and his customers joy.
Can you tell us about your background and how you got into woodworking?
My earliest experiences woodworking were pretty typical of most: a couple of shop courses, nothing really major. But once I moved back to the Quad Cities, I had a life-changing conversation with my grandpa, who expressed a strong desire that I “learn a skill” and that if I didn’t, I would be forever poor. I think he meant plumbing, or electrical, but my mind immediately turned to woodworking and crafting things with my hands.
What spurred your interest in opening your own business?
I think I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and that conversation with my grandpa definitely helped. But the business itself didn’t really take off until I developed a little more clarity and a more cohesive vision for what kind of things I wanted to make. After making my first few wooden kitchen utensils and using them in our own home, I saw how much joy they brought to our table. Having a family, I had experienced the meaning of gathering together over food and entertaining, and it meant a lot to have something I crafted at the center of that.
Our pieces have been a part of so many special dinners, anniversaries, holidays, and new homes. Our baby spoons have given first bites. Food connects people and we get to be a part of that connection.
What is the origin of the name Wild Cherry Spoon Co.?
One of my favorite materials to work with in the beginning was cherry wood, so the name “Wild Cherry” reflects that, as well as the uncommon, chiseled nature of our designs.
How do you source your materials that you work with?
We get all of our lumber from Native Woods in Rock Island. Mike gets us exclusively urban yard lumber, which means that most of it is coming to us because it fell in a storm, was diseased, or in the way of a power line, for example. Buying this way is important to us because the wood is local to the Quad Cities, supports another small business, and is an ecologically conscious way to harvest materials.
Is there something that makes your products more unique than others?
Our chiseled handles and appearances really set them apart from your typical spoon. It makes for a unique, comfortable grip. Beyond that, we work with the wood so that some spoons might be slightly larger or smaller or curved a certain way to accommodate some special feature of the wood grain, a cool spot of burl or spalting, etc. This makes every individual spoon its own unique piece.
How has the business evolved since when you first started it to now?
We started out doing indie markets across the Midwest. Those are where we really got our feet wet, but it wasn’t too long after that before things really took off with wholesaling to other businesses, supplying pieces to subscription boxes, and even being featured in a museum. Not to say that it hasn’t been a bit of a rollercoaster ride, but I’m pretty happy to say there have been more ups than downs.
Has there been anyone that has helped you out along the way?
We’ve had tremendous amounts of help from our community. A few years ago, we got a 9,000 piece order from a large company, and though that sounds great, a huge order like that can sink a small business. We grew faster than we had the resources to keep up with and we almost defaulted trying to fill it! If it weren’t for the help of some great friends, family, and even neighbors who turned out to help us sand and oil, feed us while we pulled a few all-nighters, and so much more, I probably wouldn’t be here talking to you today about this. It was a really terrifying, yet heartwarming experience that we will remember for the rest of our lives.
We’ve also been helped a lot from all of the downtown advocates in town (particular shoutout to our Alderman Dylan Parker). Most of all, my wife has been probably the biggest catalyst to my success. She’s there smiling when it’s successful, telling me it’s ok when I get down about it, and as a fellow business owner encouraging me the whole way. There would be no Wild Cherry Spoon Co without any of these people.
Why did downtown Rock Island stand out to you when choosing a spot to open a storefront?
First of all, it’s where we live and we strongly felt that the area needed more retail and shopping experiences. On top of that, the community is great. If you ever need anything other business owners here are very approachable and it gives the sense of a good ole’ fashioned American barn raising.
The Development Association of Rock Island and its partners have also done wonders in making affordable and easy to navigate leases for small business owners to start, grow, and thrive.
What do you see in the future for Wild Cherry?
As we look forward to our one year and five year plan, we definitely see a continued or larger downtown retail space in Rock Island.
We have dreams for a Wild Cherry Spoon Co store #2 and definitely continue to see a strong growth in our wholesale (or sales to other retail stores) sector. There’s a high possibility that you might be able to see our products on the shelves on some national retailers in the next year or so.
Wild Cherry Spoon Co.
1700 2nd Avenue, Suite #6
Rock Island, Illinois 61201