I recently had the pleasure of visiting our crib manufacturer. I’d heard a lot of stories around the office about El Greco Woodworking, but was reluctant to believe they were totally true. After all, how could ALL of our cribs be HANDMADE by a family run woodworking shop in Jamestown, New York? Surely someone was exaggerating. But I was going to have a chance to find out when we decided to do a feature about them in our March catalog.
So, our photographer and I bought tickets to Buffalo NY, packed our equipment and off we went. If nothing else, we were hoping to get some good buffalo wings (which we did at the Anchor Bar, self-proclaimed home of the Buffalo Wing).
When we arrived at El Greco, we were greeted by Alexis Theofilactidis, daughter of the company’s founder George. She took us on a tour of their new facility, a metal building nestled at the top of a hill in the charming town. The minute we entered the workshop, I was in love. The smell of sawdust filled the air and everything was coated in a thin layer of the aromatic dust. Alexis tried to give us a quick tour, but we were so entranced, we took about 300 pictures within the first 5 feet of the space.
But, who could resist the beauty of spindle upon spindle of solid maple stacked perfectly, waiting to be made into a finished crib. But, Alexis assured us that the real showpiece was at their older location. So we hopped in our rental car and followed her down some REALLY steep hills to the original location of El Greco Woodworking. And, as soon as the building came into view, we knew she was right.
The shop is located in an old wool mill. The 4-story all brick building is located alongside the river, as that’s how the wool was originally transported to and from the mill. And, as it turns out, Jamestown is historically the home to many furniture makers for several reasons. It’s halfway between New York and Chicago, there’s access to a river for transport and the Allegheny forests are flush with American hardwoods. We could feel the history in the air around this building.
So, why did they move into the new space, they couldn’t have possibly out-grown this enormous building. Sadly, several years back there was a fire at the original location, rendering much of the space unusable. Luckily no one was hurt, but the building still bears the scars.
Once inside, it didn’t take us long to realize that all the stories were true. Lead by George Theofilactidis, the family and their small crew of employees, are hand-crafting EVERY crib. Hand-milling, hand-sanding, hand-staining and inspecting each and every components to build cribs that are truly of heirloom quality.
George founded El Greco Woodworking in the mid 70s and has been handcrafting furniture ever since. Alongside his wife and three kids, George crafts cribs he’d be proud to give to his own grandchildren, who can often be found hanging around the shop. His passion for quality has clearly been passed on to the next generation.
Though, he’s not ready to hand over the reigns just yet. On the couple days we were visintg, George was the last to leave the shop. Not until the floor was swept, was George ready to call it a day.
I got home from this whirlwind trip late on a Friday evening. My youngest daughter was already asleep in her crib, a crib from Nod, built by the Theofilactidis Family. I snuck into her room to give her a kiss goodnight, and I have to say, I always knew she was safe in her crib, but I as I looked at my sweet baby fast asleep, I was so grateful to George for keeping her safe, while I got a much-needed good night’s sleep.
By Danielle Kurtz
Danielle is the Creative Director at Nod and an over-protective mother of two. She’s also completely obsessed with Pinterest, Twitter and her Kindle, but not necessarily in that order. Danielle loves to craft, sew and crochet, but all her supplies have a layer of dust on them about 4 ½-years-thick, wonder if it's just a coincidence that her oldest kiddo is 4 1/2 years old?