“It’s our own personal scavenger hunt,” said Sue Sabari, 38. “The wood almost always comes with a story and we meet lots of interesting characters.”
What began as a basic pine furniture store has evolved through a lot of hard work, a few tears and focused creativity into a full-service artisan woodshop. If you can dream it up, chances are Nate Sabari can build it for you.
“I love custom work because it pushes the envelope, it forces me to try new things and get that creative side going,” said Nate, who’s 37.
Nate’s father, Ron Sabari, started The Pine Shop in the late 1980s, building and distributing pine furniture, including bookshelves, bed frames and cabinets. With the shop always in his peripheral, Nate spent stints working for his father through high school and college at Central Washington University, where he graduated with a degree in biology. During this time he built furniture and tried his hand at custom work; he was often raising funds for travel and adventure.
After several years, a few jobs and many travels, Nate and Sue returned to Yakima in 2003 to work alongside his father in the business. In 2005, Nate and Sue officially bought The Pine Shop. “I think it’s a really unique thing to be able to do this together,” said Sue. “But it works really well for us.”
The couple also unknowingly stepped on a rollercoaster ride.
Not long after purchasing the business, a fire in 2006 nearly destroyed everything at the South First Street building, including all of their inventory, raw lumber and most of the equipment. Not long after recovering from the fire, the recession hit. The Pine Shop’s targeted demographic was holding off on making purchases or going to discount retailers to buy furniture.
“We really had to ask ourselves: Do we get out or do we switch gears?” Nate said. “We knew we didn’t want out.”
The Sabaris reached out to Linda Johnson, a trusted adviser at the Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC), who helped them after the fire. She encouraged them to take some business courses and dream big.
“When we bought the business, about 75 percent of our business was the basic pine and 25 percent was custom work,” Nate said. “Over time that’s switched, where 75 percent of what we do now is custom work.”
For the last two years that’s meant concentrating on the custom, handmade projects they are passionate about and changing the name to Nate Sabari Woodworks to better reflect their products and capabilities.
Stepping into the shop, located in a nearly 100-year-old brick building at 302 S. First Street, Nate and Sue, along with Ron and sometimes their sons, have created a business that relies on building relationships with customers.
Customers can slide up to a bar, designed and built by Nate out of patchwork wood (slats of wood in different sizes and colors or shades, pieced together to form a cohesive look), enjoy a local brew from Yakima Craft Brewery and talk design. The showroom is outfitted with various pieces of furniture and looks into the woodshop where Nate can be seen working away.
Local interior designer Tanna Barnecut, of Tanna By Design, loves working with Nate on projects for her clients. Barnecut and Nate have worked together to design and build live-edge (features a raw section or edge of wood) coffee tables, desks and book shelves as well as dining tables, custom bar tops and even a wood wall for a man cave.
“Furniture and design that is live edge, organic or industrial is very popular right now,” Barnecut said. “There’s a big movement to find and use sustainable goods and even more to buy local. Nate has been able to capture all of this.”
“Anything I can come up with, he can make happen,” Barnecut said. “Nate is also an awesome resource for wood and materials.”
As their business continues to grow and evolve, the Sabaris continue dreaming big. They dabble in commercial projects, undertaking major projects in downtown Yakima’s Liberty building, and continue to build relationships with return customers. Every day is an opportunity for creativity and ingenuity.
“We just really strive to be a business that we would want to visit,” Sue said. “A great little artisan woodshop.”