It all started with a Christmas present.
“Two Christmases ago, I decided to make a toy box for my grandson,” said Tim Fallon of Tremont.
A mason and owner of Coastal Masonry, Fallon had very little experience working with wood.
“I didn’t know anything about carpentry,” he said. “For me, a saw was a chain saw.”
That toy box for Jordan Paul, who is now four, turned out so well that Fallon couldn’t resist making some wooden toys to go along with the present.
“I couldn’t see filling it with toys that came from Wal-Mart,” he explained.
The toys were a hit, and encouraged by family and friends, Fallon continued to build his playful creations, all the time learning from books and refining his techniques. Before long, Gump’s Toys became a business.
Looking back, Gump – Jordan Paul’s nickname for Fallon – is surprised that by the turn of events.
“I never eyed this to produce any kind of income at all,” he said.
Fallon said he spent considerable time thinking about the number of toys he would have to sell in order to make a living and other aspects of making his hobby a successful business. In the end, he decided to “just do it” and see what happened.
While Gump’s Toys remains a part-time job for Fallon – he continues to work as a mason and does some caretaking – the business has been growing. Along with selling his toys at craft fairs, Fallon said they are being sold at several retail locations in the county. In addition, he finds himself filling custom orders, such as replicating in wood a specific model of antique car.
Fallon credits some of his success to his grandson.
“He’s my quality control person,” Fallon joked.
Jordan Paul rigorously tests each new product and often discovers design flaws that lead to breakage.
“These aren’t models,” Fallon said. “They’re toys, and they’re meant to be played with.”
With the recent addition of granddaughter Adrianna Skye to the family, Fallon has set his sights on some new products.
“Now I have to start making some girls’ toys,” he said.
Gump’s Toys are mostly constructed with hardwoods, including tropical woods like teak and mahogany. He does use some cedar. He said he’s fortunate to have boat builders and other woodworkers drop off boxes of scrap wood. These small pieces are useless to these carpenters but perfect for toy making, Fallon said.
Gump’s Toys might never rival Santa’s workshop at the North Pole. Still, Fallon said he takes considerable pride in knowing his toys will be under the trees of many local children on Christmas morning. It’s something he couldn’t imagine when he began building that toy chest for Jordan Paul.
“I’m not a carpenter. I’m not an artist,” he said. “I’m just a grandfather.”