Michael Belardes and Melissa Feldman hold the sign to their new Hammer & Stain woodworking studio on Winnie Lane.
Photo by Faith Evans.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated from its original version to correctly report the new Carson City branch is not the first Hammer & Stain franchise in Nevada; the company previously operated a branch in Sparks, which was relaunched this year as Hammer & Stain Sierra Nevada. The mistake was made in the editing process; the NNBW apologizes for the error.
Melissa Feldman and Michael Belardes spent the summer of 2020 cultivating a new passion: woodworking. Now that they’ve opened their own Hammer & Stain franchise in Carson City, they’re hoping to share their enthusiasm for do-it-yourself wood projects with residents.
It started with a three-hour drive to Lodi, Calif.
“That was our closest Hammer & Stain at the time. We bought a bunch of take-home kits from them and had a lot of fun,” Feldman said. “We ended up looking into how to open our own.”
She and Belardes are both Northern Nevada natives currently living in Sparks. They’re engaged and planning a wedding for next year.
Belardes has a second job at FedEx, and prior to opening Hammer & Stain at 208 E. Winnie Lane, Feldman was working with preschoolers.
Feldman has enjoyed the transition into teaching wood and paint classes and running a business.
“We still teach people, and they can have something to share in their home,” she said.
Belardes agreed. He operates the vinyl cutter and likes to see how folks personalize their wood. He said that lots of kids in their winter programs go overboard with the paint, but their projects always turn out surprisingly well.
“Everyone does such completely different things,” Feldman said. “Honestly, the hardest part is picking your colors.”
That’s not to say it’s been a cake walk for the couple.
Studio rent, utilities, cost of materials and labor, paying their own bills — Feldman said that she was initially surprised at how pricey it was to stay open.
Michael Belardes and Melissa Feldman have a special visitor for some of their classes. Santa Claus has been dropping by to see the kids in Hammer & Stain’s winter break programs. Photo: Faith Evans / Nevada Appeal“I’d never thought about that when I shop somewhere. … But now as a business owner, there are those small prices that you just wouldn’t think about,” she said.
When she and Belardes take their products to craft fairs, sometimes folks try to haggle over the cost.
Belardes sometimes has to explain, “Our prices are our prices because we do good work and we’re not trying to sell ourselves short.”
The marketing aspect of business has also posed a learning curve for him and Feldman. They’re trying to build a social media presence and encourage more people to join their wood and paint classes.
Feldman said that she’s been grateful toward her family — they’ve filled seats in several of her classes. Her mother is even helping her teach children in their winter break program.
Belardes is grateful for good neighbors. He said that being next door to Flavors of India has been wonderful, adding that he’s struck up a friendship with owner Dolly Kaur.
“She came in the night before (our grand opening) and said, ‘I’m here to help you.’”
They spend almost two and a half hours cleaning and rearranging to get everything ready for customers.
They’re creating a sign for the Flavors of India buffet area now. Beyond just serving as a thank you, Belardes is hoping that it will lead to Hammer & Stain selling more business signage to supplement their personalized home products.
He and Feldman are hoping that 2022 brings them more customers and more success, but even more than that, they want to share the joys of woodworking and make Hammer & Stain a Carson City staple.
After all, that’s what sold them on the business during the trip to Lodi.Established in 2016, Hammer & Stain has 85 locations in 33 U.S. states. The Carson City studio is currently the only brick-and-mortar location in Nevada. Previously, there was a branch in Sparks at 1287 Baring Blvd. but that location closed in 2020.Earlier this year, however, Hammer & Stain Sparks re-launched as Hammer & Stain Sierra Nevada with new owners Jennifer Teston and Lythia Hawkins.They are in the process of seeking a full-time location in the Sparks area, though their products have been featured at 39 North Pole Village in Sparks and regional farmers markets this year. Go to its Facebook page here to learn more.