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Tyler Hays' M. Crow & Company

DESIGN

Tyler Hays' M. Crow & Company

Leather watches, wooden toys, shrunken heads and more in the BDDW founder's creative take on a century-old general store

by Graham Hiemstra
on 05 January 2015
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In a slight departure—at least, geographically speaking—from designing furniture in Philadelphia, BDDW founder Tyler Hays recently acquired a 107-year-old general store located in the notably small town of Lostine, Oregon. Opened by the Crow family, who were among the earliest settlers to reach the remote Wallowa Valley in the late 1800s, the modest shop has served as a community hub for generations. It also inspired creative people like Hayes, who grew up untethered in neighboring Joseph, an equally humble town. So when the shop became susceptible to shuttering two years ago, he decided to step in.

Now running the shop remotely, Hayes still stocks what surrounding farmers are after—fresh local produce, canning supplies and motor oil—only now alongside an array of high-end items like wine and Filson apparel. He's also developed a range of products under the M. Crow & Company moniker, made painstakingly by hand in his Philadelphia studio and sold exclusively online from the line's eponymous website.

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The cohesive collection of apparel, children's toys, homeware and knick-knacks speak to Hays' more playful side, with an experimental design style that begs the question, "Why not?" From Swiss-movement leather watches and clay pottery to wool sweaters and wood furniture, the store is full of wonderfully imaginative creations. And, because it's all for fun, Hays has total creative freedom. "So far—and this is obvious by the weird shit we're selling—everything makes the cut. If I want it for myself then I make several extra and sell them," explains Hays.

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Looking back on a childhood ripe for invention, Hays most fondly remembers his more adventurous creations. "My favorite thing I made as a kid was definitely converting my BB gun into a 12-gauge shotgun. And any of the weird clothes I sewed and painted." This spirit is still evident. "For M. Crow, the blankets and all the knitwear is a blast. I bought my own knitting machine and make these in my studio. It's awesome to control every aspect of the process and spend the money on the materials rather than all the middle men," Hays continues. "Also watchmaking has been crazy fun to get into. I'm using the best movements available but doing some different approaches and methods—I'm an anarchist traditionalist. And the things I make with, and for, my son are probably the most rewarding."

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The brick-and-mortar M. Crow general store is now run by Hays' mother and a close childhood friend, and will continue to serve the local community. The online shop opens the more peculiar items to an international audience. Browse the collection for a better taste of what Hays is up to with his new incarnation of the century-old shop.

Images courtesy of M. Crow & Company

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