Manassas is what some may call an all-American town: It has the history, the farms, the quaint downtown, the friendly next-door neighbors.
Knock on Wood, a home goods store in downtown Manassas that opened last year, has a similar ambiance to it. Walking in, you half expect the owners, husband-and-wife duo Dennis (who goes by Denny) and Kathleen Vorbau, to already know your name. And if they don’t, they shortly will after the door’s bell rings.
“We have people come in all the time, who just want to look around and chat,” says Denny, “And that’s what we want it to be. We want it to be a place where people are comfortable and feel like they can come in and don’t have to buy anything.”
But once customers do look around, it’s hard for them to walk away without a purchase. The store focuses on a wide range of laser-printed items, handmade wood products, furniture, decor and other artwork.
The Vorbaus’ work with a set of 14 (and counting) local artisans to fill the store with customizable goods—“The small batches give our items more of a home feeling,” says Kathleen—including engraved drinkware, repurposed furniture, handmade pens, photography of Northern Virginia, birdhouses, wine racks, stringed nail art and so much more.
Kathleen does the furniture refurbishing, and Denny the laser engraving and etching, as well as some of the woodwork. “We both were first responders; retired after 28 years,” says Denny, a former police officer. “We had always had an interest in, and dabbled in, arts and crafts, woodworking. We did the crafts show circuit for a while, but always had this dream of opening up a store like this in a quaint, little, historic area.”
Before retirement, Kathleen served as a firefighter in Fairfax County, where Denny worked for the police department, as well. So, it’s not surprising that the store actively celebrates police officers, firefighters, the military and all others that serve to protect the country.
The couple also donates several items from the store to fundraisers and nonprofits for service men and women, and also donates to Making Everything Good (M.E.G.), a Haymarket-based nonprofit assisting and supporting the needs of individuals, families and organizations associated with public safety, the military and veterans. “We’re very big supporters of first responders and military,” says Kathleen. “Police officers are in here frequently,” adds Denny, “A lot of our business comes from first responders and military.”
From taking a look around the store, and by talking to the Vorbaus, it’s clear that, for them, Knock on Wood is about much more than being a home goods store. It’s a place for them to be a part of the community, to invest in the community and to support their neighbors. And really, what’s more all-American than that? // 9082 Center St., Manassas
The Red, White and Blue
Ring in Independence Day with four Knock on Wood products sure to keep you in the patriotic spirit year-round.
Protect and Serve
All string art at Knock on Wood is customizable, and many displayed in the shop pay homage to police officers, firefighters and the military. Sports team memorabilia, hometown pride, the American flag and other designs are available, too. // Creative String Art; $25-$85
Write it Down
Feel like a Founding Father every time you write a note with this pen, laser printed by Denny, featuring the flag and a noble eagle. // Hand Inlay Custom Pen; $85
Any design you want can be printed on Knock on Wood’s Plinko boards, which also serve as bottle openers. When used, the bottle cap falls on an action phrase (take a shot, dance around, etc.) to help take your party to the next level. // Drinko Plinko; $89
Keepin’ it Cool
Upgrade your cooler game with this handcrafted, weather-protected container that holds a cooler inside of it with plenty of room for beer, sodas, water and all other sips. // Custom Rustic Cooler; $199-$249