Borrowing from an old adage, the Murnans of Chillicothe are finding that the family that tinkers together, stays together.
After making and repairing furniture for friends for years in his garage, Kainon Murnan has opened the Tinker Shack in downtown Chillicothe with his wife, Alison, and his parents, Kim and Greg Murnan.
Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, the shop is located at 1016 N. Second St. and features a variety of handmade or refurbished furniture and wooden crafts, including signs and home décor.
“We called it the Tinker Shack because we dabble in a lot of things,” Kainon Murnan said. “A lot of times people will find something on Pinterest and ask us if we can make it, and we usually can. I’ve also done some welding work and metal work and plasma cutting.”
Kainon and Greg do most of the woodworking, though Kim is learning how to use some of the saws and other tools. Kim, Alison and Kainon all make candles that are sold in the shop.
“We make almost everything we sell, but some are antiques that we pick up and recondition or refurbish. We do a lot of custom orders,” Kainon added.
Among items currently available in the shop are handmade wine racks, cutting boards, Christmas and home décor, as well as refurbished writing desks, rocking chairs, end tables and dressers. Recently, the Murnans built custom-made coffee tables and a shot glass display for customers.
Kainon learned woodworking at a young age from both his dad and his grandmother, the late Virginia Staker.
“She refinished furniture, and I used to help her with that. I had uncles who do a lot of woodworking, too. So I’ve learned a lot from all of them and my dad,” he said.
The timing for a family-owned venture was right because Greg recently retired after a career working for Komatsu, and Kim retired from her job with an insurance company.
“My dad has done woodworking for years, and my mom was big into crafting, so we just decided to go in together and see what we could make of it,” said Kainon, who still works full-time for the Illinois Department of Transportation but works at the Tinker Shack a few nights a week and on Saturdays.
“We had talked about it for quite awhile before we bought the building. It kind of came down to necessity from needing more room to work in,” he added with a chuckle. “It’s been nice to get the equipment out of my garage, but I’ll just fill it up with something else.”
The shop features a showroom in the front and a workshop in the back.
“I’d like to get to a point down the road where we could offer some classes if someone was interested in learning how to make something or we could do demonstrations” Kainon added.
Downtown Chillicothe was the only location the family wanted to be, and they’ve been happy with that decision. “My wife grew up in Chillicothe, and I grew up in Hopewell just outside of Chillicothe,” Kainon said. “We love being downtown. It’s a good tight-knit community.”
The couple also have five children, ranging in age from 5 to 18, some who like to help at the shop by cutting and painting small projects. The Tinker Shack offers Tinker Sacks for kids or adults that contain three wooden cut-out ornaments, paints, a brush and string to hang them.
Kainon said working together as a family has been even better than expected, adding, “We all get along pretty well, so we try to have fun with it and make it enjoyable. We bounce ideas off each other and work pretty well together.”
His favorite thing to make currently is signs. He created the Tinker Shack sign and has made a few signs for area businesses, as well.
Troy Mitchell of Chillicothe praised the business for a “Barks and Bubbles” sign they made for his wife’s new dog grooming business in downtown Chillicothe.
“My wife, Andrea, groomed dogs with a local established groomer for about nine years. When her boss decided to retire, she decided to start her own business,” Mitchell said. “We knew that Kainon was also getting started around the same time, so we wanted to collaborate with him. I’m a firm believer in keeping business local, so it was a no-brainer to ask for his help.”
Michelle Bonnette of Peoria visited the Tinker Shack with her sister, who lives in Chillicothe, while shopping downtown. Bonnette liked what she saw in the new shop and talked to the Murnans about making a sign that she had seen on the internet.
“It reads: ‘Raise your hands and touch your toes; if anything shows…go change your clothes.’ It’s a great saying in a home that’s trying to instill modesty,” Bonnett said. “I’ve had loads of compliments on it.”
She since has commissioned the Murnans to make other one-of-a-kind items for her family for Christmas. “They’re just very genuine, friendly people willing to accommodate any requests you have,” Bonnette said.
Kainon Murnan said about half the shop’s business comes from custom orders and the rest is customers stopping in to see what’s available. “We try to be creative and make things to put out there in the storefront. We’ve had a pretty good flow of people coming in to check things out,” he said.
For more information about the Tinker Shack, visit the shop at 1016 N. Second St. or call (309) 270-4178.