On busy Route 6, Scott Dow has carved out a niche business for himself – pardon the pun. With his business, Animalistic Chainsaw Carving, he is showing how arts and business intersect.
Dow’s business, which straddles Elgin Borough and Wayne Township, is immediately recognizable to anyone who has traveled along Route 6. A hulking Bigfoot lumbers through the parking lot. A wizened face emerges from a tree stump. And ghoulish zombies rise from the ground and hang from a roof.
The creations – intricate and whimsical – continue indoors, where Dowd has a gallery of creations, including more fine-arts pieces.
It reflects his artistic training. Dow, who has a master’s in fine arts from Edinboro University, wanted to find a creative outlet when he started his chainsaw carving.
“I wasn’t going to just carve bears,” he says. “I was going to be different from everyone else.”
But, Dow says wryly, it turns out that “people want bears,” and they’ve turned out to be his second-biggest seller (eagles hold the top spot).
Watching Dow carve is observing an artist at work. As his chainsaw cuts and slices, a shape gradually emerges from a towering tree stump. Soon it will be another Bigfoot, this one with arms swinging. Dow occasionally steps back from the spray of wood chips to view the piece from different angles before diving back in, the path of his chainsaw established.
In nice weather, Dow carves his creations in the parking lot outside his workshop, in view of the traffic passing by on Route 6. It’s a prime location that has supported his business, allowing him to dedicate himself full time to the business for the past five years.
On the day we were there, several cars pulled off – either to browse or buy – during our brief visit. One couple, from Florida, had been there before and stopped again to explore.
The traffic on Route 6 was a pleasant surprise for him – a prime location that has supported his business and brought out-of-town visitors past his shop.
“There’s always a lot of campers and kayaks coming by, and these people are always in a good mood,” Dow says.
About Animalistic Chainsaw Carving: Dow uses white pine, mainly sourcing his material from felled trees that loggers don’t want or leave behind. He does some on-site carving work and participates in a few festivals, but he’s mostly content to carve at his workshop and sell from his gallery on Route 6. In general, he prefers to carve a piece first, finding something suitable for the tree, and sell it once complete, rather than taking orders.
Why Erie County: Dow has an easy time accessing quality material – logs and tree stumps – for his pieces, thanks to the plentiful forest land in our area. In addition, he has found that his location along Route 6 has been a boon for his business, as it brings both Erie County residents and out-of-area tourists right past his door. “From Memorial Day to Labor Day, this is an amazing place to be,” he says.
Challenges of Erie County: The seasonal traffic also has a downside, which includes an annual slowdown in the colder weather months. In addition, the job itself has its challenges. Dow must grapple with physical demands of the job – including staying healthy and safe. He also faced a learning curve when he first began his business. Dow had never before used a chainsaw before starting his venture, and says it took years to master the upkeep and use of the equipment.
Fun fact: The biggest piece Dow has created is a 22-foot Tyrannosaurus rex that he installed – emerging from woods into a clearing – for a customer in the Catskills.
Address: 11543 U.S. Route 6, Corry, PA 16407