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Thread: Woodworking for profit: Diversify?

  1. #1

    Woodworking for profit: Diversify?

    My dad recently got into woodworking, and through a heavy budget and a lot of willingness to learn, his woodworking has improved quite a bit. As he has progressed, if he thinks a new tool will give him better results, he just goes out and buys it, and being a workaholic, he spends alot of time out in his shop too. All this has helped him become a decent woodworker fairly quick.

    Now he has some crazy ideas sometimes (I think I got that trait from him)but with Dad, once he is locked onto an idea, no will convince him it won't work. He is convinced that there is profit to be made making and selling wooden caskets for pets. So he has bought the stuff, purchased a bunch of special tooling and supplies from a local 100 year old casket factory here in Maine, and has been making pet caskets.

    But nothing is selling. Several stores he approached won't let him put caskets in their store because its "creepy" and word of mouth just isn't doing much either. Plus we live in Maine. In the winter the ground tends to get VERY hard from the frost so at best he has a 8 month season he can lock in on.

    Now his employer has cut his hours back to 32 hours a week, and at 61 years old, he has another year till retirement. My mom would like him to get into making wooden toys or something else that sells, but my Dad is convinced that there is money to be made in pet caskets. I admire his resolve, but kind of wonder, if things aren't selling, should he diversify some? Its kind of sad to see him pound out casket after casket to a non-existing market, but as he says "you can't sell something that isn't made". I like his conviction, but I wonder if his niche market is too creepy and special to make any money at it?
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  2. #2
    Alan DuBoff is offline Former Member (by the member's request)
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    Last edited by Alan DuBoff; 02-27-2008 at 09:51 AM.

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    There are other people who seem to be making money selling pet caskets (a quick Google for "pet caskets" yielded 101,000 hits), but I think your dad is going to need to reach into markets beyond his back yard. As Alan said, the Internet is probably the fastest way to get exposure outside your local economy. I can imagine selling pet caskets in Maine is about as easy as selling snowshoes in the Bahamas. I'm guessing a lot of rural people just don't need or want them. City folk, though might be a different story.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan View Post
    There are other people who seem to be making money selling pet caskets (a quick Google for "pet caskets" yielded 101,000 hits), but I think your dad is going to need to reach into markets beyond his back yard. As Alan said, the Internet is probably the fastest way to get exposure outside your local economy. I can imagine selling pet caskets in Maine is about as easy as selling snowshoes in the Bahamas. I'm guessing a lot of rural people just don't need or want them. RICH City folk, though might be a different story.


    Good luck to him Travis, but I do think he needs at least one more thing to sell.
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
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  5. #5
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    I agree about the Internet. However, you should not be googling for pet caskets, IMHO. Instead you should be googling for pet cemetery's!!! Since I agree that this is more an urban/city/wealthy person's purchase, these people are also going to need a place to put their pet once they have the casket. So, find the cemetery and try to place some brochures with them. Or, also check with some city/urban vet offices (they're the ones who would be helping folks who need to put down beloved pets) and see if they would like some brochures as well.

    Finally... if you want him to stop, I would take the argument that you only need 2-4 caskets on hand as samples, so maybe he should stop and build something else for a while.

  6. #6
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    Travis, the pet casket business would be a small market. There are pet cemetarys around as Art mentioned, but that's not the route that most people take. If they don't leave the body with the Vet for disposal (usually a mass grave out on the Vet's farm property) they usually go with cremation. Now, that opens up a bigger market. We have several of our personal animals and a few of the rescues that passed while still in foster care that were cremated. Most are simple cedar boxes with a small brass lock on a brass hasp. Tastefully small and fit on a bookshelf or mantel. We do have one early one that is metal, like a small magazine collection holder, say Reader's Digest size. These hold, of course, the ashes. The wood ones have a brass plate attached with the dog's name engraved on it. Might be able to do lettering routed into the box with a small router or Dremel, and a lettering kit. The Vets we use all have several to choose from. I'm sure these are supplied by the company that does the cremation. I haven't persued this yet, but have thought about it some. My idea is to use bandsaw boxes to be different and unique for the upscale owner. Regular boxes (I'll add a couple pictures below) for the normal crowd.
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    Maybe this will give your dad something else to show. He could still have the caskets to show as well. Jim.
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  7. #7
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    Alan - Log Caskets?

    A lot of folks consider us 'left coasters' odd, but out here we either cut 'em up for timber or burn 'em. Seems just wrong to bury 'em.

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    The reminds of the Saturday Night Live skit, the "Scotch Tape Boutique" Shop sold nothing but transparent tape. He kept saying people just aren't used to the idea of buying tape here yet.
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.


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    His idea is good but his approach was backwards. The market should have been identified first. But, as others have said, using the Internet, he will be able to locate cemeteries and offer his products to them. This seems to be a growing market. Meanwhile another product should be considered. I'm out of ideas as I'm looking for something myself. My gunstock idea is bust due to the poor quality of the duplicating machine I bought.
    "Folks is funny critters."

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  10. #10
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    Travis, can you modify your dad's thinking just a little? I belong to a woodworking club here and they make and donate small caskets to a group here that is called Precious
    Angels. This organization lines the boxes and gives them to families to bury their premee baby that can not afford to buy a casket. Also most infant caskets are 24" long at the shortest. These caskets that the culb builds are 12, 14, and 18 inches. I know that your dad wants to make some income but if he is getting an over flow of caskets maybe he could check this out. I don't know if there is an organization like this in your area but it is a great public service. Even by selling them at a low cost would be great. You could also contact local hospitals about the need for premee caskets.

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