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2954 Oakwood SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
USA

616.826.3574

Tool Chess sets are 32 handsome, handcrafted chess pieces served in a tool chest carrying case. They are made in beautiful Grand Rapids, Michigan by myself and my father. Tool Chess pieces are handcrafted out of everyday hardware pieces that are powder-coated, giving them a beautiful finish. They're quite hefty.

Tool Chess was invented around the time the family business -- a machine tool business based in Grand Rapids, Michigan called Gallmeyer and Livingston -- was closing down. A couple shop workers replaced a lost chess piece with some hardware pieces and my grandpa thought up the name "Tool Chess."

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April

William Gallmeyer

I have really been appreciating Grand Rapids lately. Just last Saturday I volunteered at the Nest (a project in collaboration with The Alliance for Environmental Sustainability and Homes of Hope), attended an orientation at Well House and volunteered with the GR Makers.

The GR Maker Space is now filled with tables and projects. Photo from Mlive.com.

The GR Maker Space is now filled with tables and projects. Photo from Mlive.com.

I also visited Grand Rapids' Moped Army branch, the Ghost Riders, at their new workshop, which is awesome. I spoke with a friend about a new music project. I went to a workshop at GVSU for small business owners, sponsored by the Michigan SBDC. And this weekend I left it all to go up north and enjoy the spring weather. I really have to put my nose to the grindstone and get working on some new Tool Chess sets.

But the point is, really great stuff is happening right here in Grand Rapids! It's a perfect place to start a little crafty/manufacturing business like Tool Chess. Leave a comment with a link to something cool happening in town that we might not know about!

February

William Gallmeyer

This seems like a risky way to start a blog, but social media gurus are always insisting that we have to be genuine, so here it is: I kind of hate February.

In fact, I think of the last two weeks of February are the worst time of the whole year. The holidays are long gone, the nights are still long and cold and the month still has a winter-sounding name (unlike March... March!)

This picture could be from any of the THREE polar vortexes we've experienced this winter in Grand Rapids, MI. It's actually from the Encyclopedia Britannica Blog.

This picture could be from any of the THREE polar vortexes we've experienced this winter in Grand Rapids, MI. It's actually from the Encyclopedia Britannica Blog.

 

February in Chessland, however, was quite different. February in Chessland began with the recent publication (January 30) of a Tool Chess article in the Etsy Blog's Fresh Shop series, which received almost 500 facebook "likes," got more than 100 comments and helped skyrocket Etsy views and favorites. Articles on design blogs just started like wildfire after that. We also sold two sets. In February!

So not to be all "look at me, look at me!" but this Feburary Tool Chess has received more and better publicity than I could have imagined, and I have continued to learn a ton about small business ownership.

I'm not even really sure what to do with all these mentions; are these really best leveraged by dumping them all over facebook and twitter? I found Tool Chess mentioned on Gizmodo, DudeIWantThat, Adafruit, Novate.ru (in Russian!), Swaggest, Design Fetish, Hi Comsumption, Supercompressor, The Awesomer, Werd.com, Beautifullife.info, Switchedonset.com and many others.

My favorite article comes from the blog of a holiday customer. She posts some really nice photos and explains the New Rules of Chess, written by her daughters.

Not bad for February.