M. CROW & COMPANY GENERAL STORE
M. Crow & Co. is the 107 year old general store in Lostine, Oregon, population 200. It’s nestled in the remote Wallowa valley in northeastern Oregon, where I grew up. Wallowa county is made up of only six thousand people and has no stoplights. M. Crow was opened by the Crow family who, along with my great great grandparents, were among the first few dozen families to settle the valley in the late 1800’s.
The Crow family tenaciously ran the store for 107 years. In 2012, I purchased the store to prevent its closure and the loss of an iconic memory of my childhood. I was raised in the very rural northeastern corner of Oregon. When I was five years old, my grandmother gave me her sewing machine for my birthday – a shiny black Singer. I made bad pants and stuffed animals and my mom taught me to sew a blind stitch by hand to close the stuffing holes. It was probably only one or two summers, but I feel like I spent years following my mom around sewing, canning, stripping furniture, digging behind old homesteads looking for antique bottles, making pottery, candles and even learning how to sweep. By 10, I ran a trap line and tanned mink and raccoon fur, built go-carts, bombs and even unsuccessfully tried to steam-bend homemade snow shoes. My brother and I turned our BB guns into 12 gauge shotguns using an adaptor we made out of simple pipe fittings (instructions available on the web store). Making things blew my mind; materials, shapes, colors and mechanics. Back then I had this recurring fantasy of wanting to make everything in my life that I used or needed. I mean everything… from toothpaste, to furniture and clothing, to plates and record players. As an adult, I became a painter and sculptor and then eventually a furniture designer and builder, founding BDDW in the late 90’s. Along the way, I dabbled in music, fashion, metal-smithing, ceramics, carpentry and architecture – along with dozens of side interests like bee-keeping and micro-brewing. M. Crow is an awkward collision of all my hobbies and interests and an outlet for fulfilling that childhood fantasy. I am basically making from scratch the things I want or need and making extras and trying to sell them.
M. Crow is also interesting to me on more pragmatic levels; rural economic development is a passion of mine as is the heritage of my hometown. I have designed many of the products around locally gathered materials because my ultimate goal is to make the products there (currently, I make the products in my Philadelphia studio). I would like to thank the generations of the Crow family for keeping the store alive for over a hundred years and giving me this opportunity. I hope to do you proud.