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The owner of a handyman business in Cape Elizabeth will open a small building supply store, called the Lumbery, for do-it-yourselfers and small carpenters at 287 Ocean House Road in Cape Elizabeth.
Yam Yams bought 287 Ocean House Road from 287 Route 77 LLC for $385,000. The property comprises a 1,980-square-foot retail building on slightly less than an acre.
Brandon Mitchell of Malone Commercial Brokers represented the buyer and Mark Sandler of Compass Commercial Brokers represented the seller in the transaction, which closed Dec. 10.
The buyer behind Yam Yams is Michael Friedland, who owns a handyman business in Cape Elizabeth, Willard Square Home Repair, and is now getting ready to open the building supply business, the Lumbery.
Friedland grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. He wanted to be in a small city by the ocean, so he moved to South Portland in 1999.
In 2005, he opened his handyman business, Willard Square Home Repair. Around the same time, he bought 535 Shore Road, a 3,544-square-foot mixed-use commercial building, in the heart Cape Elizabeth's business district. He renovated the building, which dates to 1920, installed his office on the ground floor and brought in residential tenants upstairs.
He also bought next-door 537 Shore Road, fixed it up, and eventually brought in Rosemont Market & Bakery.
For his handyman business, he said, there was no nearby lumberyard to buy wood. And the wood found at big-box stores “may have been sawn within a couple hundred miles of the store, but ends up going two, three or even four states away to a regional distribution hub only to be put back on a truck and shipped back to where it came from,” he said, adding, “Seems foolish.”
He figured that, since he had to stock his own wood, it would also be a great opportunity to open a store to sell wood and related items to other small businesses as well, like do-it-yourselfs and small carpenters.
With Mitchell’s help, he identified 287 Ocean House Road as a great location for the store.
“We looked all over for a space,” said Mitchell. “It’s slim pickings out there.”
The two looked at the property a couple of times before Friedland settled on it. The building was originally owned by Cumberland Farms, which relocated across the street, said Mitchell. The building had been vacant about five years before Friedland bought it, he added.
In addition to wood, plans include offering wood-associated products such as fastenings and hand tools, and in-house creations such as raised cedar beds, crates and freestanding clothes hangers.
“We are definitely not a lumberyard,” he said. “We will not have delivery trucks. We will not sell roofing, trusses, windows, doors, custom molding, etc. And we are not a hardware store. We will not make keys, sell plumbing, electrical, cleaning supplies.”
Instead, he said, he plans to serve other small wood-based operations in a socially, environmental and economically conscious manner.
Eventually, plans include offering classes on topics such as basic tool usage, and, pending city approvals, community events such as live music, food trucks and maybe even a farmers market.
The property itself will reflect his values around sustainability, he said. That includes repurposing an existing building, using reclaimed lumber as part of renovations, installing solar panels, capturing rainwater to be used in toilets and washing of paintbrushes, and burning wood waste for heat.
Friedland’s handyman business currently employs eight and jobs mainly occur within a 10-mile radius of Cape Elizabeth. The jobs are mainly small and cover things like deck repairs, replacement of rotten wood, and installation of siding, doors and air conditioning units.
“We don’t do big stuff,” he said. “Most of our jobs take an hour to two days.”
The name of the new business, the Lumbery, was inspired by microbreweries and micro-roasteries.
“This is like a micro lumber yard,” he said. “The best part is that the wood we’ll be selling will be based on the chain-of-custody model, things like where it was grown, worker conditions, transportation costs and carbon footprint. It’s simple but it’s overlooked.”
Friedland’s goal is to have the store open by mid-June. His crew is doing the building renovations. Investment in renovations, plus buying equipment such as a forklift and inventory is about $250,000. The project is mainly self-financed through other real estate deals. That includes Friedland’s sale, under the LLC name Chuffed to Nuts, of 535 Shore Road to Northern Porpoise for $525,000. Mitchell also brokered that transaction, which closed Dec. 4.
Friedland said he also has two long-time associates who are working their way into partnership through sweat equity.
How did Friedland get the names for his LLCs? Friedland likes to surf with a buddy who is English; when Friedland asks him how he’s doing, he says “chuffed to bits” or “chuffed to nuts,” English slang meaning “well pleased.” Another great friend had the childhood mantra “yam yams,” meaning “you are what you are.”
Mitchell, a Cape Elizabeth resident himself, credited Friedland for helping to revive some of Cape Elizabeth’s older buildings, including 535 and 537 Shore Road.
“He did a nice job helping to revive some of those older buildings that were, at one point, vacant or just sitting idle,” Mitchell said.
535 Shore Road was originally a pharmacy.
“It was a retail presence for a long time,” he said. “I remember there was also a small clothing shop in there at one point. Mike has a very creative eye and he’s also a carpenter, so he can turn these buildings into cool spaces.”
Interest in properties in Cape Elizabeth and South Portland is strong, noted Mitchell.
“Usually there’s zero availability in downtown Portland for these types of businesses,” such as the Lumbery, he said.
As a result, the 535 Shore Road strip has been experiencing something of a revival, he said. Although prices are trending up along the corridor, they’re still far lower than Portland.
“It’s turning into a cool little corridor” with amenities such as the Rosemont, restaurants, a toy tore and a doughnut shop, which in turn have been attracting more foot traffic, he said. “There’s great new life within the last couple of years coming into that little strip,” he said. “It seems like there’s still some availability down there and more to come. People are saying, ‘Let’s look at Cape Elizabeth and South Portland because they have cool things going on.”
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