HomeFeasterville-TrevoseFeasterville’s Lumber Lovin’ is a small business success story

Feasterville’s Lumber Lovin’ is a small business success story

Andrew Barbaro launched an Etsy shop on a whim in 2016, and it has rapidly expanded ever since

Woodworking wonderland: The Feasterville- and Etsy-based Lumber Lovin’ offers a range of barn doors, gates, home decor and more. Submitted Photo

Andrew Barbaro has always boasted an entrepreneurial spirit. He fondly remembers being 13 years old and setting up a booth at farmers markets, where he would regularly sell out of then-trending items, like clip-on LED lights.

“I always loved engaging with customers, trying to make a sale,” he said. “It always brought me quite a bit of pleasure.”

Now, Barbaro has taken his knack for entrepreneurship to the next level as the founder of the Feasterville-based Lumber Lovin’, a woodworking shop that offers barn doors, baby and pet gates, home decor and more. Since its inception in 2016 on Etsy, the company has made over 1,700 sales and counting.

However, Barbaro, whose career was largely in metal fabrication, never envisioned himself as a full-time woodworker.

This surprise journey all started when he gutted his daughter’s bedroom, which had thick, cedar panels covering the walls. Barbaro threw the panels outside, intending to simply cut them up and throw them away. Yet upon closer inspection, he realized they were actually quite pretty and stored them in the basement for a future, undetermined use.

It wasn’t long before the panels became needed. The family had recently acquired a dog, but their resident cat wasn’t thrilled about the extra company. “Those two just went at it all the time,” said Barbaro. “It was friendly, but it was chaotic.” Barbaro was commissioned by his wife to build a gate to separate the two. Despite having little to no experience in woodworking, the quality, detail and beauty of the piece stunned his wife, who encouraged him to build more and start selling them.

At the time, Barbaro was working a dead-end job in property inspections, which he loathed. But after being laid off from his previous metal fabrication job, he needed to make ends meet. If this small business endeavor could allow him to do something he felt passionate about and bring in some extra income, what did he have to lose?

Barbaro signed up for a free shop account on Etsy and listed the pet gate for sale, not really expecting anything to come of it. But within about a week, Lumber Lovin’ secured its first sale. In fact, the buyer requested a custom design, which Barbaro happily obliged. As someone who always enjoyed building things and seeing projects come together, Barbaro’s lack of woodworking experience didn’t hold him back. He learned as he went and, before he knew it, had dozens upon dozens of happy customers.

The pieces were created in Barbaro’s basement, where he could usually be found at night and on weekends after working eight hours at his loathsome property inspection gig. Extra income from Lumber Lovin’ was utilized to outfit the space and make it more builder-friendly. Finally, after about a year and a half, the business took off so much that Barbaro was able to quit his job and dedicate himself full-time to woodworking.

His biggest challenge came when a California-based customer requested three custom barn doors. Barbaro didn’t hesitate to take the project on. It took a long time to finish, especially given his meticulous nature. But the doors made it to the west coast, where Barbaro earned another pleased buyer. In 2018, Lumber Lovin’ began offering barn doors on a permanent basis, with them taking off just as quickly as the inaugural gate.

Lumber Lovin’ is ever expanding, and recently opened a retail storefront in Feasterville. For Barbaro, this is truly a dream come true. As a child, his mother — an employee of Trading Post — would often bring him to work, where he was mesmerized by the idea of building things and interacting with customers in the same space. “That’s what I have now,” he said with pride.

At the moment, until he can expand his staff, Barbaro isn’t promoting the exact address of the store due to a continued influx of orders via Etsy. The current staff of Lumber Lovin’ is comprised of Barbaro and his brother-in-law, whom he described as a “lifesaver.”

“He is my main guy, head guy, lead fabricator. He also helps me design, and he’s been my right-hand man for the last four or five years,” said Barbaro. “He’s just as meticulous as I am, and we’ve built equally some pretty awesome stuff.”

Additionally, Barbaro’s wife cut down her hours as a NICU nurse at Abington Memorial Hospital to part-time last year, and serves as the business’ secretary and CFO. “She’s supported me 100 percent the whole way,” said Barbaro.

The store, which Barbaro hinted is located on a busy road, is a 2,600-square-foot facility with an 800-square-foot retail section that features big windows and displays of doors, tables, gates and more.

Lumber Lovin’ has been working with SCORE Bucks County, which offers free small business mentoring services, to help with marketing strategies, and increase traffic to the company’s Google page and social media. The goal is to, in the near future, have lumberlovin.com direct to an official website, not the Etsy shop. While a number of customers do shop on Etsy, Barbaro explained that many would rather conduct business through a website.

Looking ahead, in addition to expanding his staff and possibly opening more facilities, Barbaro has big plans for the company’s future.

“I want to be the biggest barn door fabricator in the country. Does that sound too far-fetched? That’s my goal,” he said, adding that he’s in the process of designing a Lumber Lovin’-exclusive line of barn doors, ranging from budget-friendly to high-end. “I’m nowhere near there, but I feel like the way we drive, the way we work and just the motivation we have here to see this be as big as it can be, I think we can get there.”

Barbaro admitted that, along the way of becoming a successful entrepreneur, things weren’t always so easy. However, he urges those with a small business dream to not give up.

“Don’t be afraid to jump in, and don’t let the downs discourage you by any means. I’ve had some really, really rough times throughout this process, very low times where it was just, ‘How am I going to make this work?.’ Anxiety through the roof, stress through the roof, working 17, 18 hours a day just to keep up, every day of the week, and just fighting through those seasons to see what the outcome is,” said Barbaro. “If you can fight through those seasons, you’re going to come out on top. If you’re passionate about what you do, just stick with it and ride that roller coaster until the finish line.”

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com

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