By Message of the Week
Domenic Mangano, 39, started the Jamaica Cottage Shop 14 years ago, building doghouses in his backyard with a circular saw, a hammer and a little start-up seed money.
Today, the shop is “the leader in the country shipping post and beam shed kits, and anyone close to us is still several years behind where we are,” Mangano said. He employees up to 15 people, and builds and sells some 500 units a year, with a constant inventory of 30 to 50 buildings. He still makes smaller items, like a 2’x4′ garbage bin, but does a major business with his 16’x20′ buildings that can be used as a shed, garage, workshop, studio, storage facility or a live in camp or cabin.
There’s even a fully insulated 2-room-and-bath model that comes with a kitchen and is wood and solar-power ready. An even bigger, 20’x30′ barn is now in the trial stages. There are all sorts of building sizes in between the garbage bin and large cottage. The 16’x20′ Vermont Cottage Kit is under $13,000, and can be used as a three season second home or camp, or insulated and used all year long.
After graduating from Green Mountain College in 1991 with a business degree, Mangano traveled for four years working as a carpenter all over the country, from the East Coast to the West Coast and Alaska.
“I learned all the regional building styles and techniques,” he said. “In Phoenix they build on a slab, in California they build to handle earthquakes. On the East Coast, builders take a project from frame to finish.”
That experience gave Mangano the background to create the Jamaica Cottage Shop, where he is not only the owner, but also the senior designer.
“We have 15 main do-it-yourself kits,” he said, “but with everything we sell here, we have over 100 designs, and thousands of combinations. I took our most popular ones and turned them into kits. We’ve shipped them to 36 states, Canada and the United Kingdom. We do most of our marketing now on the Internet.”
All the structures are made from locally cut, rough-sawn hemlock framing, and rough-sawn Eastern white pine for the siding and trim, and it’s all cut and built on site at Mangano’s new facility at an old lumber mill on Winhall Station Road in South Londonderry that he bought and moved into in 2004. He sells his buildings either fully assembled or in pre-cut kits, both of which are shipped wherever needed. The pre-cut kits have each piece carefully marked, are shipped shrink-wrapped, and the kit includes very detailed assembly instructions with excellent graphics, cut lists and color-coded instructions. The building plans can be bought just by themselves as well, for more adventurous do-it-yourselfers.
“Basically, if someone knows which end of a hammer to hold, they’ll be fine putting together one of these kits,” Mangano said.
Kits and plans are available at www.jamaicacottageshop.com, there are several YouTube videos about the cottages, and the shop can be reached at 866 297-3760.