GARDEN CITY, MI – When Matt Thompson began making wooden chairs shaped like the state of Michigan, he knew he had to solve the question of where to put Upper Peninsula.
At first, the Garden City native made the U.P. as a table to compliment the “mitten” chair.
But in the back of his mind, he had an idea to locate the U.P. in its proper position – above the Lower Peninsula. T
he result is the Michigan Beer Chair, a wooden chair with a can dispenser located next to one of the arm rests. It’s quickly becoming an online sensation.
“It’s ridiculous. But still that’s what’s kinda cool about it,” Thompson said about reaction to the chair. “I had this vision and the cool thing was I have the skills to put it together. It was rewarding to see people think it’s just as cool as I thought it was.”
Since posting the video of the chair on Facebook on Aug. 24, it’s been viewed more than eight million times, while other outlets have received more than four million views of the video, too.
He initially began making the chairs without the beer chute, selling them as a way to raise money for Team World Vision, a charity he and his wife have been involved with for nearly five years. The charity works to bring clean water to Africa. He displayed the creations as Thompson Woodworks.
Once he decided to put his plan into action for the chair with the U.P. component, he slowly but surely worked at making the design functional.
Thompson said he began working on it in February and whenever he had some free time, he plugged away at finishing the chair.
The chair is made of cedar, and Thompson estimates he spent somewhere between $400-500 in wood to create it.
“It’s not very practical to sell this or mass produce this,” Thompson said.
The holding chamber can hold a full six pack of 12-ounce cans. The ice contained will keep the cans chilled for approximately eight hours, Thompson said. There’s a full drainage system that prevents the ice from spilling down the chute.
“Cedar is a good insulator,” Thompson said.
The reaction to the chair’s video has been overwhelmingly positive. Thompson said he’s received messages from people all over the world saying how much they love the video.
“It really went viral in Scandinavia. I think all of Denmark has commented on it,” he joked.
Despite the overwhelming success of the chair video, Thompson said he doesn’t plan on selling them online because of how labor intensive and expensive the pieces are to make. He does plan on using the success of the chairs to continue raising money for the causes that are important to him.
Along with raffling one off for Team World Vision, Thompson said he’s likely going to make another to raffle for Life Remodel, a charity in Detroit.
But as far as turning the chairs into a business, he doesn’t see that as something he’d be able to pull off without some outside help.
“I’m holding out hope that a Michigan brewer might get ahold of me,” Thompson said.