- Associated Press - Monday, March 14, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Like many young couples, Remick and Lisa Albitre were “living on ramen and water” and new furniture seemed out of reach. So, they started making their own to save money.

“It just hasn’t stopped since that first ottoman,” Lisa Albitre said, and they started building furniture for others as a hobby business called Artifex.

Now the two want to share what they’ve learned - in the form of a co-work woodshop, the Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/1RAaTjP ) reported.

Co-working is a shared but independent working environment. Unlike the typical office, co-working space is generally shared by people from different businesses who may not have an office of their own. The Albitres are applying that same idea to woodworking.

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The Albitres realized there was a need for a woodworking space in the community when they started a Facebook page in June.

“It has grown so quickly,” Lisa Albitre said.

Remick Albitre said he doesn’t know of any woodworking classes in the area and people started asking questions on the Facebook page. The Albitres then realized they had the answers and could help.

Professional grade saws and tools are expensive. For a membership fee, Artifex Academy would give members access to top-notch tools and professional guidance. Remick Albitre said, while high-end tools aren’t exactly necessary for the person who just wants to build a birdhouse for the backyard, he certainly understands the value of them and wanted to make them accessible to new professionals and hobbyists.

He equates the co-work woodshop to a gym - people join a gym instead of buying the expensive equipment themselves and they have professionals nearby to show them how to use it.

A professional woodworking school could cost $800 for four days.

“We want ($800) to cover an entire year with us,” he said. “All you have to do is show up with the (wood) stock.”

The Albitres are considering shop space in Mandan. Once they have the space, they plan to offer multiple levels of membership. There will be the professional level, which would give access to the woodshop during normal business hours on weekdays, and a hobby level, which would give hobbyists about 10 hours on the weekends. They’re initial thought is, with the flex schedule, they could handle around 100 members.

They see value to putting a bunch of woodworkers into the same space, giving members the ability to bounce questions and ideas off each other and learn from one another. Remick Albitre grew up around woodworking with his dad, who was a hobbyist. He said he and his wife want to reach the new up-and-coming hobbyist because that’s when he needed the most assistance when he was learning.

“We’ve been lucky in the people we’ve crossed paths with,” Lisa Albitre said. “I don’t think we would be as successful without them.”

“We want to be those people for someone else,” Remick Albitre said.

The co-work space would be organized with machines in a separate shop and a business area, where those selling their products, could make business calls.

There also would be a computer lab with access to 3-D design software. Remick Albitre said quality furniture can built for not too expensive with the software because you go in with a list of how to cut the wood so as not to waste.

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The Albitres moved to Bismarck from a small town in northern Nevada about a year and a half ago.

Lisa Albitre said they believe in being committed to the community in which they’re living. In Nevada, they were involved with foster care but haven’t found a way to give back in Bismarck yet. They see the co-work woodshop as a way to get started.

“We’re really into teaching people,” Lisa Albitre said.

Not only could they teach how to woodwork, Remick Albitre is attending business school, they have multiple friends who own businesses and, because of Artifex, they have their own experience to teach interested members how to start a small business in the woodworking field.

The Albitres say the project could evolve into a woodworkers’ guild that would donate to charity - maybe a bed to someone who wants to be a foster parent but doesn’t have one for a child. They know firsthand how that could be beneficial.

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Growing up in a small town, the Albitres said everyone they knew always seemed to have the same things because there was only a few places to shop.

“We like things that are different,” Lisa Albitre said.

When they started making their own home, they didn’t love what they were finding and thought what better way to fix that then to do it themselves.

Lisa Albitre loves to design and Remick Albitre had always built things with his hands. He was a welder in high school and attended a performance arts school, where he helped build theater sets. He said he has a short attention span and being able to see progress on a project is what makes woodworking fulfilling.

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The Albitres started a GoFundMe page for the project to cover startup costs. The $45,000 would cover the cost of tools for two or three stations. Once the tools are purchased they will last for at least a couple decades, Remick Albitre said.

“We’re basically asking the community, ‘Is this (co-work woodshop) something you want?’ If so, help us out,” he said. They’ll cover the other half of the costs - the building and insurance.

The Albitre’s said, even if they don’t get to their fundraising goal, they still need the space for their own use with Artifex. They’re getting busy enough that the single-car garage they use as a woodshop isn’t large enough.

In six months, if Artifex is making enough to cover a year lease, Remick Albitre said they’ll lease the space and start inviting people to sign up as members and use their tools until enough money is raised to expand.

“We truly believe this is something that will be successful and will grow the woodworking community. We are currently working on a kickback program for people who donate,” the Albitres wrote on their GoFundMe page.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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