Art Business

Woodfellas owner lifts fellow artists with new Norfolk store while growing woodworking business

Beau Stephenson looks at a discarded wood pallet and sees what others do not. A state-of-the-art bookcase. A decorative ceiling. Or just a piece of art. To make this magic happen, the 37-year-old Stephenson readily admits to dumpster diving and reclaiming items others put out as trash. "An old girlfriend of mine was like ‘Wow, I’m dating a garbage man,’" recalls the Virginia Beach resident and owner of Woodfellas. But he’s a "garbage man" no more. His woodworking business, Woodfellas, is in such high demand that there is too much work for the three employees. He thinks he might need to hire another person to help with backlog. "I don’t run this business with money as the focus," Stephenson says. "I like helping people and having fun." They call it "upcycling" and "repurposing" — the idea of bringing new life to old items. But even before he began plying his craft, he saw early on how easy it was to make a living. Back in 2015, he sold "as is" welding rods, abandoned at a construction site, for $6,000, and a dresser for $50. "A guy drove from Maryland for the rods, and I didn’t do a thing to […]

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