Just in time for Father’s Day, Wood Thumb — the originator of the reclaimed wood necktie — is celebrating the grand opening of its new factory store in SoMa.
Opened last week at 354 5th St., between Folsom and Harrison, the shop offers handmade wooden accessories largely designed with men in mind, including ties, sunglasses and bottle openers. There's also a selection of grooming products, bar accessories, leather satchels and other products, all made by friends of the company.
Wood Thumb, which also builds custom furniture and accessories, moved to 5th Street a year ago, after its lease in the Dogpatch ended. “It was kind of a ‘stay in SF or leave SF’ situation,” says Chris Steinrueck, one of the company’s founders. While Wood Thumb considered a move to Sonoma or the East Bay, the city’s entrepreneurial spirit and the opportunity to be part of the startup scene enticed them to stay.
As much as Wood Thumb identifies with the city’s startup community, Steinrueck argues they’re also “fighting it,” in a way. Wood Thumb is more interested in the analog than the digital, helping tech workers step away from their computers and build things with their hands. They’ve partnered with Workshop SF to hold weekly woodworking classes in the new shop, giving aspiring woodworkers the opportunity to gain basic skills while recreating popular Wood Thumb products they can take home. For advanced students, they're also teaching custom woodworking skills.
The Wood Thumb space, one of SoMa’s original warehouses, was previously inhabited by a Burning Man community, says Steinrueck. Once they were kicked out, the owners considered gutting the building to create new tech offices, but Steinrueck convinced them to save their money and rent it to Wood Thumb as-is.
While he’s sure it’ll be razed for condos sooner rather than later, he’s pleased to be holding onto the tradition of manufacturing in SoMa for the time being. With that said, he hopes the condos sprouting up all around the shop will bring in more people interested in custom furniture.
Wood Thumb's central location comes with heavy traffic during Giants games and a large homeless population, but as Steinrueck noted, both attributes have proven to be beneficial to the business. When the woodshop's large garage door is open, passersby in vehicles and on foot can get a good look inside. Steinrueck and his staff have also gotten to know many of their transient neighbors, who “hang around” and keep an eye on the shop, deterring break-ins after hours.
The staff currently includes eight people, but Steinrueck plans to hire a handful of extra hands from the neighborhood in the buildup to the holiday season. For now, he says the team is focused on developing new products and classes and building deeper relationships with their customers.
You can browse the selection of manly goods at Wood Thumb's shop Monday through Friday, 10am-5pm. For details on the shop's upcoming woodworking classes, visit the Workshop SF website.
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