About Us - The Woodsman Story
Thank you for stopping by and taking a moment out of your busy day to find out a little more about The Woodsman Toys and how it all began. It won't take long and I will try to keep it fun and interesting.
||Doug and Bobbie
I am one of four siblings and we were born and raised in beautiful Southern California. Throughout my school years during class instead of taking notes and paying attention I would draw and daydream. I was bored and it was obvious to my parents that something had to be done so when high school arrived they found the solution.
I was accepted to attend The Orme School in Mayer, Arizona, a small town south of Sedona. There lies a ranch which in 1929 transformed it's buildings and barns into working classrooms and dormitories. It stretches across the beautiful countryside as far as the eye can see and it is truly a paradise.
During my years there the school had grown to accommodate some 200 students who traveled from around the USA and various parts of the world to study, explore and to experience the freedom to find one's creativity and imagination. There my art teacher Dot Lewis encouraged me to strive for a life of creativity no matter what challenges may come. She was also an integral part of my being granted a scholarship to attend USC School of the Arts in Idyllwild, California.
My first job out of school was finishing and delivering furniture for a major chain store. I spent two years there and my boss Wally Smith and I became good friends. He knew that I was studying and practicing my art and would eventually go on to explore new avenues. My body was honed and my wallet was happy but my brain was lacking the creativity that it needed.
Wally was a very talented man himself and every holiday we would change things up and paint the storefront windows together with the appropriate holiday themes, Happy Easter, Merry Christmas and such and to my surprise it was very exciting. Passers by would honk and smile and when we were done it left me wanting more. Wally also allowed me to paint murals throughout the showroom floor and I was hooked. I painted my apartment walls, friends walls and even painted a sign or two on the walls and windows of various businesses.
Then one day Wally took me aside and said that he was being promoted to area manager and would be leaving. He told me in no uncertain terms that I was to get the heck out of there before it was too late. I handed in my two week notice the very next day.
At the age of twenty my father being an architect introduced me to various contractors that he worked with and I was given the opportunity to reveal my abilities as a sign painter and muralist. At the time I was living in Newport Beach and I ended up painting signs, murals and walls graphic on almost every business in town.
Through eyewitness encounters and word of mouth I was able continue that lifestyle for many years. My exposure to the furniture world must have made an impact on me because I started designing and creating various pieces to enhance my murals and graphics.
In 1982 I met a beautiful, bubbly clothing designer named Bobbie who would eventually become my wife of 30 years. Life has not been without the challenges along the way that raising our daughter and having two demanding careers require. We learned to help one another to make it work but when the Holiday season in 1985 arrived everything changed.
I fell from a ladder while on a job and injured my back. While healing I took the extra wood that I had laying around and made some toys for family and friends.
Among those friends were Mark and Amy who owned Chad's Rainbow, a children's book store in Mission Viejo Mall that they had named after their son. When they found out what I was doing they used some of the toys to set up a display in their storefront window depicting Santa's Workshop. Holiday shoppers enjoyed the display and inquired about the toys and all of a sudden we were working day and night to fill the orders. It really did feel like we were Santa's helpers.
During that time the buyer for Ringling Brothers Circus had a child who received one of our toys as a gift. She watched him in amazement as he played with our truck and ignored all of his other presents. In January she called and asked if I would be interested in making a limited edition line of toys for Ringling Brothers corporate office to give to their special clients. One of those client's was Sea World of California and soon after The Woodsman was born I guess you could say "The rest is history". Of course I still have a love of painting and creating custom furniture but nothing is more satisfying than seeing the smile on a child's face as they get lost in wonderland.
We have enjoyed generations of loyal customers and just a few years ago we had a beaming mother to be drop by to visit. While rubbing her tummy and viewing our toys she said that her favorite toys to play with while growing up were the ones that her parents bought from us. She was excited that we were still there for her so that she could buy our toys for her new babies.
Our two grandsons played with our toys throughout their toddler years and now they like to come by the shop and play in the saw dust and help make the toys.
Our toys have always been made from California Farmed Sugar Pine. The glues and finishes that we use are all made in the USA and are non-toxic. I am proud to say that we have been "Earth Friendly and Baby-Safe" since the beginning!
So if you are ever passing thru the beautiful countryside of California's Central coast and find yourself in need of a Handmade Wooden Toy that is 100% Baby-Safe and made in the USA you are welcome to stop by. Our only warning is that if you stay too long we might put you to work. If you prefer you can place your order today online or feel free to give us a call at (805) 461-0019.
Doug and Bobbie Gold