Dennis "Denny" Brizendine is cutting into his big-box competition by offering a no-nonsense approach to selling and servicing saws and outdoor power equipment at the shop he's owned for 25 years in downtown Kalamazoo.

"About anybody who cuts wood for a living, sooner or later I run across all of them," Brizendine said. "I've got a good name and my business is pretty much word of mouth."

This saves him money on advertising, which is limited to hats and t-shirts with the name of his business - Denny's Saw Crib - printed on them. Some of his more than 200 customers have been recipients of the apparel. 

The entrance to his shop at 646 E. Vine St. contains mowers, blowers and other types of outdoor power equipment as well as an assortment of accessories for the equipment. A wall behind the sales counter toward the rear of the store is covered with more than 50 dfferent models of bars and chains for the chainsaws Brizendine specializes in assembling and servicing.

There are even more types of bars and chains in a storeroom to the rear of the 1,500-square-foot store operated by Brizendine and a part-time employee.

The majority of Brizendine's customers are tree-cutting services, however the lackluster economy is bringing in individuals with wood-bruning stoves who are lookng to save some money by cutting their own wood to heat their homes.

"Sales are steady," Brizendine said. "My business is always about the same."

The route he took to owning his own business was circuitous. After working for the city of Kalamazoo's Parks and Recreation department, Brizendine took a job with another saw shop in town where he sharpened his skills.

As he worked to open his Saw Crib, he also drove a truck.

The same downward-trending economy which has given Brizendine's business a boost also dashed other plans he had to make money.

"I wanted to get into boat storage out in Richland. I was going to buy a piece of property and put up a building and eventually get into also selling boat lifts and docks," Brizendine said. "But then the economy took a big dump."

However, Brizendine isn't complaining. He said he enjoys assembling and servicing the chainsaws and other equipment he sells.

"To me it's not work, it's fun," he said. "I can work without getting filthy dirty."