History in the making – Leldon’s journey to its new location

(Amy Leonard for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – After opening in its original location next to Sips and Strokes in the Warehouse District in August of 2020, Leldon’s outgrew its space, packed up the belongings and moved up the street to its new home at 117 1st Avenue NE, a mere one block north.

“It was destiny that we moved into our new place. I had an art show at the old location and Deborah McAfee, who does glass art along with her husband Danny, was there. We talked then in January. Then, their spot came available in February. I closed down the old store, packed up and opened on March 1 in our new place,” shared owner Leldon Maxcy.

Fate has been at work in Maxcy life since the beginning.

Leldon Maxcy’s calling came in the most peculiar of places but, for anyone who knows Maxcy and his inherent peculiar nature, it’s not very surprising.

“It’s a strange story,” Maxcy began with a laugh, “but, back in 1997, me and my grandfather, Elmo Via, went to Big Lots of all places, and they had a scroll saw there. I thought that it looked interesting, so we got it. That’s what started the journey.”

Maxcy was 13 at the time and that saw only lasted a month. Within that month, he was already hooked and knew he had to get a replacement. This time, his parents stepped in and purchased a new saw for their young craftsman.

Starting off cutting simple shapes, Maxcy would give his family members ornaments for their holiday decorations. Little did he know that the ornaments would be regifted in a way.

He reflected, “When my grandparents passed away, I was able to move into their house and kept a lot of their belongings. The Christmas ornaments that I made for my grandparents that used to go on their tree now get put on my Christmas tree.”

From those rudimentary snowmen, the teen began honing his skills with the help of online resources.

“I found online groups and classes and that really influenced me. Those groups taught me what I needed to know. There’s always a place for practice but to learn from a craftsman for 10 to 20 years is truly priceless. Having them show you and teach you how different cuts are done and things like that really helps. From there, I leveled up,” he chuckled.

Starting off in a shop made from “chicken house wood blown down from a tornado with no window at first.” Maxcy’s dad installed a window and Maxcy thought he was in the big league.

With a shop and growing knowledge, he sold his work at crafts shows throughout high school and worked at the movie theater for 14 years.

In February of 2017, Maxcy did the unthinkable as a newlywed and father of a toddler son and newborn daughter. He quit his day job.

Remembering that leap of faith, he said, “I don’t know what we were thinking but it ended up being one of the best decisions of my life. I took my fate into my own hands and went for it.”

With a free schedule, Maxcy prepared for the Bloomin Festivals in 2017, but faced a new dilemma.

“I knew what to make for customers at Christmastime but now I had shows in the spring and summer. I thought, ‘What the heck am I supposed to do? My ornaments weren’t going to sell in April like they did in November so what was I going to make now?’ That first year was crazy trying to figure it all out,” he laughed.

In 2017, Maxcy began perfecting his popular notebook covers in addition to cutting boards and signs. It was also the year that he first dreamed of opening a store in downtown Cullman.

Three years later, his sales were off the chart, but the shutdown happened making the craft show season obsolete.

Looking back, Maxcy said, “2020, oh what a year. In the beginning of 2020, I was off to a record year. Then, suddenly, everything shuts down. What was I supposed to do? I had online sales, but most of my business was face to face. It’s what I enjoy the most.”

“Then, we were driving through the Warehouse District one night, and I saw an empty storefront. I wondered how much the rent was. I just wondered.”

In August of 2020, the store opened and was successful despite construction along 1st Avenue and the pandemic. So successful that expansion was needed less than two years later.

The new space is roomier and has more work by more local artists including Katie Westmoreland, Laura Walker, Katie Hearn, Mae Dawsey, Karen Steele, Bill Peinhardt and Gary Reid.

“With 70 percent of the stuff in the store, I can tell you who makes it and how it’s made. I know because I’ve worked alongside them at craft shows for years. I’ve heard their stories. I know where they’re from and how they got started. It’s not because I read about it on their website,” Maxcy proudly shared.

He continued his work ethos, “I feel like if it has my name on it, it has to have the majority of the work done by me. I’m picky. It’s hard for me to let go of somethings. I think that holds me back but in a good way. I want quality work out there and mediocre doesn’t cut it if it has my name on it.”

With the front half of his store open for retail sales, Maxcy plans to have the back portion open for additional selling space in the summer. He also plans to have classes later this year for adults and children alike.

As his young son is already showing an interest in Maxcy’s craft, an even bigger and better store might be necessary in the future.

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