Getting Creative at Board and Brush, HanfordFeb 25, 2021 03:35PM ● By Melissa Mendonca
Broad StrokesBy Melissa Mendonca
Photos courtesy of Board and Brush, Hanford
When Hanford’s Board and Brush shop went up for sale last year, it had the potential to be another small business lost during the pandemic. Thankfully, a young couple, tempered with the tenacity of educators, took over in mid-December and is keeping the popular creative gathering space open.
“It’s connected us to our community so much,” says Allyson Sippel, who purchased the business with husband Phil, and says they feel validated by the many times they’ve been told how happy people are that they took it on. “We’re giving people something to do at a time when there’s nothing to do.”
That “something” is an opportunity for people to create a wide variety of wood projects with the support of expert instructors, all materials prepped and supplied. Custom decorative signs are popular, but so too are cornhole games and clocks, as well as trays and boxes.
“People say, ‘I’m not crafty.’ They may come in with a little anxiety,” says Allyson, “but we walk them through every step. We lead them through, but we want them to get their hands dirty.” Each piece is customized by sanding, distressing, painting and stenciling, and the names that a customer may want to use to personalize it. The majority of workshops are called Pick Your Project, so everyone in the room can be working on an entirely different project. “We really make sure to communicate with the customer to make sure they’re getting exactly what they want,” she says.
While a completed projected is certainly an important outcome of a workshop, Allyson says it’s also about connection. “It’s about the experience of the workshop,” she says. “We want people to be able to set everything aside and enjoy the time. When they leave, our goal is that they enjoyed themselves and they connected with whomever they came with.”
The demographic currently skews to women, with many mothers and daughters coming in together and groups of girlfriends, but Phil sees a big potential for men to enjoy themselves just as much. He maintains the day-to-day work of the business while Allyson continues to teach first grade at Pioneer Elementary School in Hanford. When he left his job at a parts department to run this business, his employers told him how much their wives enjoyed creating at Board and Brush. Now he’d like to get them to come in as well.
“We really want to push guys coming in,” says Phil, noting that there are plenty of ideas offered for man cave signs and outdoor games. “We can watch sports,” he says with a laugh, noting that it may be more popular than music that usually plays during workshops.
In regular times, wine and beer is served during the classes. While food and drink currently aren’t allowed, it doesn’t stop the fun. Nor is this the only precaution the business is taking to keep people safe. “We call our workshops small, safe and sanitized,” says Allyson, noting that workshops are now about half of their capacity and tables are small and occupied by people who know each other already.
Both Phil and Allyson grew up in the Hanford/Lemoore areas and say it means the world to them to contribute to the community of Hanford. “The community is really important to us, especially these downtown businesses,” Allyson says. Adds Phil, “There’s a brewery down here and one of the guys came here and bought something for his wife at Christmas. It’s been nothing but positive from everybody.”
That “everybody” includes the couple’s three children: Callie, Parker and Piper. “All three of them love it in a different way,” says Allyson, noting that the family spends a lot of time together at the shop. “It’s a family-run business.” Phil laughs as he notes, “We have walkie talkies set up from top to bottom.” Board and Brush is in an old two-story building that once housed the large office supply store Branch and Chambers. Rounding out the family is Clementine, the Great Dane puppy they adopted in August 2020. They are hoping she will mellow into a shop dog, but is currently a bit too hyper. “Thankfully we have a big backyard,” says Phil.
With three kids, Allyson’s full-time teaching job, a puppy and a new business, the Sippels certainly have their work cut out for them. And they wouldn’t have it any other way. “We love to take on big, crazy projects,” Allyson says. They invite you to choose your own project to work on at Board and Brush. It may be smaller, but it will be just as meaningful. •
Board and Brush Hanford
207 N. Irwin St., Hanford • (559) 530-7933
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