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Three Fingers Sawmill moves showroom to New London

James Dykema uses slabs of logs with “character” to make handcrafted furniture at his Three Fingers Sawmill workshop on the north edge of Willmar. This month the business opened a retail showroom in downtown New London. (CAROLYN LANGE | TRIBUNE)1 / 3
Three Fingers Sawmill features one-of-a-kind handcrafted furniture made from logs. (CAROLYN LANGE | TRIBUNE)2 / 3
Three fingers sawmill opened a retail showroom in downtown New London this month. (CAROLYN LANGE | TRIBUNE)3 / 3

NEW LONDON — For the last five years James Dykema has been creating one-of-a-kind, handcrafted furniture made from logs with “character.”

He has crafted the pieces at his Three Fingers Sawmill in an industrial area on the north edge of Willmar.

And for two of the five years, he has been trying to find a retail space in New London to showcase his unique furniture.

Mission accomplished.

Dykema and his wife, Lynn, moved into a portion of the former Mord’s Hardware store this month.

Located on Main Street, the space gives the Dykemas what they were missing at their Willmar location — foot traffic in a community that has a growing reputation for hosting artistic businesses and boutiques.

“We wanted to be in New London because we knew it was a good shopping area and a small town,” Lynn Dykema said.

When they heard the hardware store had closed and been purchased by a new owner who intended to renovate the building and rent space for small shops, the Dykemas jumped at the retail opportunity.

Even though the building was not slated to be renovated until this winter, the Dykemas persuaded owner Keith Palmquist to let them rent unrenovated space through the Christmas season as a trial run.

If they have a successful summer, the wintertime renovations will be tailored to meet the needs of Three Fingers Sawmill.

“We wanted to test the waters, but I’ve got high hopes it’ll work,” said James Dykema. “It’s just a neat place. There are people on the streets every day.”

After being open just a couple weeks, the Dykemas said people are coming in the doors at the New London location.

“I think it’s a good fit for us so I believe it’s going to work,” James Dykema said.

At their Willmar facility, the showroom was just a corner in the workshop where “everything was continually dusty,” he said. On top of that, he said the industrial area on Highway 71 isn’t attractive for people looking to buy high-end furniture.

People would drive by and see the logs out front and not realize there was furniture for sale inside, Lynn Dykema said, adding they intend to keep operating their sawmill, kiln and furniture-making shop at the Willmar site even if they permanently move the retail component to New London.

Besides blending his own creative style with the natural beauty and flaws of wood, James Dykema makes custom designs.

Turning a favorite tree — that may have come down in a storm — into a table is one way to preserve a family treasure, he said.

“People bring their logs in from their own property and they furnish their house with those,” he said.

In addition, the New London store will give customers ideas of what can be done with boards made from their own woods.

“People like to have something that’s unique and not something their neighbor might happen to buy too,” he said.


Hardware store to be made into shops

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750