CULLMAN, Ala. – After opening in its original location next to Sips and Strokes in the Warehouse District in August 2020, Leldon’s outgrew its space, packed up its belongings and moved up the street to its new home at 117 1St Avenue NE, just one block north.
“It was destiny that we moved into our new apartment. I had an art show at the old location and Deborah McAfee, who makes glass art with her husband Danny, was there. Then we talked in January. Then her place became vacant in February. I closed the old shop, packed up and opened in our new location on March 1st,” shared owner Leldon Maxcy.
Destiny was at work in Maxcy’s life from the very beginning.
Leldon Maxcy’s calling came in the strangest of places, but it’s not very surprising to anyone who knows Maxcy and his inherent idiosyncratic nature.
“It’s a strange story,” Maxcy began, laughing, “but in 1997, me and my grandfather, Elmo Via, went to Big Lots of all places, and they had a scroll saw there. I thought it looked interesting so we got it. That was the beginning of the journey.”
Maxcy was 13 at the time and this saw only lasted a month. Within that month he was already hooked and knew he had to get a replacement. This time his parents intervened and bought their young handyman a new saw.
Beginning with cutting simple shapes, Maxcy gifted his family members ornaments for their Christmas decorations. Little did he know that the ornaments would be given away in a new way.
He reflected: “When my grandparents died, I was able to move into their house and keep most of their possessions. The Christmas decorations I made for my grandparents that used to hang on their tree are now hanging on my Christmas tree.”
From these rudimentary snowmen, the teenager began to hone his skills using online resources.
“I found online groups and classes and that really impacted me. These groups taught me what I needed to know. There’s always a place to practice, but learning from a craftsman for 10-20 years is truly invaluable. When they show you and teach you how to do different cuts and things like that really help. I climbed up from there,” he chuckled.
Start in a shop made out of “chicken coop wood blown down by a tornado, initially with no windows”. Maxcy’s father installed a window and Maxcy thought he was in the big league.
With a business and growing knowledge, he sold his work at craft fairs during high school and worked in cinema for 14 years.
In February 2017, as a newlywed and father of a toddler son and newborn daughter, Maxcy did the unthinkable. He quit his day job.
Recalling that leap of faith, he said, “I don’t know what we thought, but it ended up being one of the best decisions of my life. I took my destiny into my own hands and embarked on it.”
With a free schedule, Maxcy prepared for the 2017 Bloomin Festivals, but faced a new dilemma.
“I knew what I had to do for clients at Christmas time, but now I had spring and summer shows. I thought, ‘What the hell am I supposed to do? My ornaments wouldn’t sell as well in April as they did in November, so what should I do now?’ The first year was crazy trying to figure everything out,” he laughed.
In 2017, Maxcy began perfecting his popular notebook covers alongside cutting boards and signs. It was also the year he first dreamed of opening a store in downtown Cullman.
Three years later, its sales were off the charts, but the closure rendered the craft show season obsolete.
Looking back, Maxcy said: “2020, oh what a year. At the beginning of 2020 I had a record year behind me. Then suddenly everything shuts down. What should I do then? I had online sales but most of my business was face to face. That’s what I enjoy the most.”
“Then one night we were driving through the Warehouse District and I saw an empty storefront. I wondered how much the rent was. I was just wondering.”
The shop opened in August 2020 and was closed on August 1st despite construction workSt Avenue and the Pandemic. So successful that an expansion was required less than two years later.
The new space is more spacious and has more works by more local artists including Katie Westmoreland, Laura Walker, Katie Hearn, Mae Dawsey, Karen Steele, Bill Peinhardt and Gary Reid.
“70 percent of the stuff in the store I can tell you who makes it and how it’s made. I know because I’ve worked with them at craft fairs for years. I heard their stories. I know where they come from and how they started. It’s not because I read about it on their website,” Maxcy proudly shared.
He continued his work ethic: “I feel like if my name is on it, most of the work has to be done by me. i am picky I have a hard time letting go. I think that’s holding me back, but in a good way. I want to do quality work out there, and mediocre isn’t with my name on it.”
With the front half of his store open for retail, Maxcy plans to open the back for additional retail space in the summer. He also plans to offer classes for adults and children later this year.
With his young son already showing an interest in Maxcy’s craft, an even bigger and better shop may be needed in the future.
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