Opening a side door to The Toolbox in Minden, one is greeted by T-Rex, the German Shepherd, and the smell of wood.
There are trademark Haliburton Garden chairs, a more age-appropriate version of the Muskoka chair. There’s wood everywhere and tools can be heard in the back of the store.
The Toolbox has taken over the former Organic Times building in Minden, just over the main bridge.
Opening over the Victoria Day long weekend, it’s an extension of Lakeland Millwork and Windows, which Andi Schollig has owned and operated for nearly 30 years.
Schollig sits at a wooden table with daughter, Kirsten Schollig, who is handling marketing, and store manager, Krista Hoover. T-Rex circles the table and Mike Thompson operates tools at the back.
Lakeland Millwork and Windows has been around 28 years, doing construction and cabinetry, including millwork at the local hospitals, and pretty much every school from Haliburton County to Cobourg, Schollig said.
“Cabinetry is my forte. Windows, doors and trim is my passion. Stairs and furniture. In all of that, we’ve always needed a place to do it,” she said. “I’ve always had a shop of some sort.”
Schollig moved to Toronto in 2009 with her family while still owning a home and serving loyal customers in Minden while traveling between the two areas before permanently returning home to Minden in 2019. After losing her shop in Oakville, she was looking for new space.
One day in 2019, after tending a public garden her late wife had planted, she was walking down Bobcaygeon Road in front of the former Organic Times which was up for sale.
“I’m sure I’d walked past the sign 100 times but this particular day it was like she [her wife] hit me in the back of the head with a two by four and said ‘buy it’ so in doing that, it just opened the whole idea.”
That idea is that Lakeland Millwork and Windows continues to operate out back while The Toolbox is its own enterprise out front. That storefront will also be a project venture place.
“I love Lee Valley, it’s an impression of mine as to what a good tool store is. Yeah, we rely on hardware stores but this is going to be a different tool store. It’s unique tools for the people in the area, the artisans, the home hobbyists and people who just want to do something different,” she said.
For example, the Bosch tools that they are promoting will be accessible. “You can try them out. We’ll have a full work bench with full access on any tool. So, you can fit yourself to the tool you need.
“If you need extra help with the parts that you need for your project, we can facilitate it in our 1,000 square foot shop at the back.”
She said artisans and others will be welcome to come and use the space, including if they have their own wood but need it milled.
“Anything to do with wood, we can facilitate for the customers.”
She also talked about venue nights.
“We’ll pick a night and say ‘sanding’. Learn how to sand from start to finish. Or, we’ll have finishing if you want to finish what you’ve just sanded. We’ll have finishing products as well, just simple style or suggestions on how to finish your products.”
Schollig believes there is a need in the area with a lot of interest expressed to date.
“A lot of people just want to come and see me work a day in the shop so that they pick up some of the ideas on how to do something. They’re willing to help me a day so that they learn. That experience.”
They also plan to have a display area so artisans can have a storefront for a month and offer their own show and tell evenings.
Other plans include a kitchen, barbecue, living room assembly, full working shower and bathroom for use, but to show off the kind of work they can do.
They will donate money from proceeds of chairs to mental health, no cutoffs are wasted as they are made into garden markers and it is an LGBTQ+ safe space. “Everybody is welcome here,” Schollig said.
Hoover said it’s been a great experience to date for her. “I love everything to do with woodworking. I love that Andi actually shows me how to do everything while we’re making projects, just different things that people have ordered, it’s just been amazing.”
For more information, visit lakelandmillworkandwindows.com or call Schollig at 416-427-9050.