The team at Milwaukee Blacksmith has exceeded its $25,000 Kickstarter fundraising goal with a little more than 24 hours to go.
[caption id="attachment_165442" align="alignright" width="391"] Milwaukee developer Robert Joseph has the Milwaukee Blacksmith building under contract.[/caption]
Milwaukee Blacksmith is currently located in a 7,950-square-foot building at 518 E. Erie St. in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward, but learned last month it would need to move out because the building is being sold and will eventually be torn down to be replaced by an apartment development.
Kent Knapp, owner of the blacksmith shop, and his family were the stars of a reality TV show that aired on the History channel last fall. The family told BizTimes in December it was seeking a new location, but with the sale of the building, the timeline was accelerated and they did not have sufficient funds to make the move.
The Kickstarter campaign helped bridge the gap. The Knapps will use the funds to haul the company's extensive inventory and 10 large machines by forklift and truck to the new location, and to modify the electric system in the space to fit the business’ needs, said Shannon Knapp, operations manager.
“It’s going to be a huge undertaking to get all of our machines moved into the new space,” she said.
The Knapps are currently choosing between two approximately 10,000-square-foot spaces for rent, one in Bay View and one in the Menomonee Valley, Shannon Knapp said.
[caption id="attachment_147171" align="alignright" width="354"] Kent Knapp (left) works at the forge in his shop in the Third Ward. Photo Credit: History channel.[/caption]
“The Valley is getting really exciting, I think,” Knapp said. “There’s a lot going on down there, there’s a lot of craftsmen like ourselves and we really like the building, so it’s going to come down to whether we can nail out an agreement with the owner. The one is Bay View is slightly smaller, it would require a little more work from us.”
Kent and Shannon Knapp and their four children work at Milwaukee Blacksmith. The shop also has five regular apprentices. With the additional space, the Knapps hope to hire on some of the apprentices and grow the business.
The family is grateful for the outpouring of support from more than 300 contributors.
“The move is monumental. There’s no way that we could do it without funding and moving into a new space is going to change everything,” Knapp said.