I can see great potential in this
idea. While walking sticks sound like a perfect match for aging
Boomers, that's not the only possible market. Dual walking sticks
are gaining popularity amongst the exercise set- you know, a stick in
each hand for a great upper body work-out during a walk around the
neighborhood. Great idea!
Walking Sticks - A Money Making Hobby
by Steve Gillman
Carving walking sticks wasn't meant to be a money-making hobby for me.
I sometimes made them when backpacking, and I had always enjoyed taking
my pocket knife to a piece of wood to see what I could make. I just
hadn't thought of doing anything more with the hobby.
One summer, when my wife Ana and I briefly got into the flea market
business, I noticed the occasional vendor selling walking sticks. If
the event was more of an arts and crafts show than a flea market, they
sold for as much as $50 each. Ana suggested that we could sell them
too, so I went to work.
I could cut 20 or young poplars in an hour with my "shortcut" saw, and
get two sticks out of half of them. My favorite wood, however, was
white cedar. In the Cedar swamps near home, it grew straight and died
young from overcrowding. Cedar wood remains solid for many years after
dying, so I could quickly cut many straight and perfectly dried sticks.
There was soon a pile of wood shavings behind the house, as I cut the
bark off and carved each stick into various forms. Many were just
rounded off on top. Others I cut into a spiral, or pyramidal shape. I
put padding and leather covers on some, and drilled out the tops to
inset nice stones on others. This is a hobby that lets you really
exercise your imagination.
I wrapped the walking sticks with leather near the bottom, to prevent
splitting, and most also had leather handgrips. The leather came from
old leather coats I bought at thrift stores for $5 each and cut into
strips. It was attached with glue and small nails. Each stick had about
fifty cents in materials in it at most.
A Money Making Hobby
They sold for as little as $6 each to as much as $24.
This was less than others sold walking sticks for, but then we were
mostly selling them at flea markets, rather than arts and crafts shows,
where they would get a higher price. I also wholesaled them to a vendor
who sold them at gun-and-knife shows, and to a friend who sold them at
Native American pow-wows.
How much could you make selling walking sticks? Who knows. I sold about
$1200 in walking sticks that summer, before we moved on to try an
internet business. They were a nice addition to our other crafts and
the stuffed animals we sold at various flea markets. My advantage was
that I was very efficient in making them, spending less than an hour
even on the most elaborate ones.
The most I sold was $250 in walking sticks in a day. However, I saw
vendors who paid $300 to rent a space for the weekend (we typically
paid $10/day for a flea market space), and sold only walking sticks.
They were undoubtedly selling much more than I, but in any case, doing
something you enjoy AND making a profit is a nice advantage of any
Steve Gillman has been studying money for thirty years (and sometimes
making a little). For interesting and useful information, visit his
website, Unusual Ways To Make Money;