Via: Vancouver Sun

VANCOUVER — They are known in East Vancouver business circles as the Hobo Boys, two unassuming brothers living their dream in a modest studio that resembles a weathered storage locker outside and a blast from the rustic past inside.

Their beloved cream-coloured truck, a 1979 Ford F-150 loaded last week with discarded wood and the remains of a neighbour’s fence, is parked in front of their Franklin Street digs.

“That’s pure gold, baby,” laughs Sam Clemens, pointing at his sensible pickup. “The Ferrari is parked out back where you can’t see it. In all seriousness, we’d never be able to do our thing if we had to buy all this wood. Fortunately, people are throwing it away all the time. Lenny and I are like super hawks looking for it.”

Their “thing” just happens to be ideal for that hard-to-buy-for person, someone who prefers their possessions to be a conversation starter — original, artsy, trendy, local, practical, fresh, multi-use, environmentally friendly, authentic or one of a kind.

“We like to think what we’re doing is pretty unique,” says the 43-year-old Clemens, who along with his 33-year-old brother, Lenny Hopkins, owns and operates Hobo Woodworks. “Our products are truly made from the heart by hand. And the positive feedback has been encouraging.”

General contractors for the past decade, the B.C.-born brothers took a leap of faith three months ago and decided to put all energies into the business, which launched 2½ years ago on a part-time, hobby-like basis. Demand for their products — which include record crates, tool boxes, wine holders, business carryalls, block stools and growler holders — grew to the point that trying to hold down another job meant sleep wouldn’t fit into the schedule.

“This is what we were born to do,” insists Sam. “We love coming to work. We love bouncing new ideas off of each other. This is a lifestyle choice that works. What’s not to like?”

Their products are made from woods indigenous to B.C., primarily fir and cedar. The wood is reclaimed from the landscape or custom cut at independent local mills. They both excel at turning perceived trash into treasures.

“Everything is sustainable, and mixing the old with new really gives it the desired look we’re after. The products will last forever and you can use them for a zillion different things,” says Lenny. “The record crate, for example, can be used as shelving in your closet, hung on your wall to hold wine, pictures, plants, whatever. And they look hot.”

The brothers received help from a designer who created a signature-branding stamp that brings the finished work to life.
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