One of the best parts of heading to the beach here in Oregon is walking through the ‘Mom and Pop’ shops. Little art galleries, home-made crafts and unique items flavored for the coast. It doesnt matter if it’s the beach or the mountain, Central Oregon, or the little town I live in, you are sure to find that store that just has that touch that makes you feel at home.
Cottage Industries have long been a tradition in America. The “Mom and Pop” shop whether it is a local hardware store or nick nacks people are out there and have talent and skill and have turned those talents and skills into a business. Often times these cottage industries are over looked unless you are in a touristy section of an attraction destination, like the coast.
The internet has become a wonderful place to see the American cottage industry at it’s finest. You can buy and sell almost anything on the internet and if you are one of those that have the skill and talent and know how… well your cottage store can do well… once again though, most of these internet cottage outlets are also overlooked by people afraid to shop online or the limited advertising inherent in the internet.
Lately I have been turned on to a hand full of great cottage industry outlets on the net. Specific to the world of backpacking and in particular hammock camping. And by the nature of most hammock campers.. lighter weight camping.
What I have found is that the customer service is 100% better than what you get in the big ‘chain’ stores and while I may pay just a tad bit more, the quality is second to none.
Two years ago I bought my hammock from a fellow in Boulder Colorado. He has made his niche in the internet cottage industry with a company called Warbonnet Outdoors. They handcraft a number of hammocks, tarps, top and bottom quilts, and other accessories for hammock camping. The guys name is Brandon, and he actually answers the phone when you call with a question.
After my purchase from Warbonnet, I started looking into other backpacking business’s on the net. I came across a great site of multiple cottage industry stores that specialize in backpacking. Outdoor Trail gear.com is the host to a couple really neat online stores. There is a guy named Dutch there that sells ultra lightweight hammock and tarp suspension hardware and accessories. Then there is Butt in a sling, they make light weight hammocks and accessories. If you are looking for a good alcohol stove, Smokeeatter908 has machine tooled stoves that really do the job. He also has cook gear for the backpacker looking to shave weight.
Jacks R Better is an online store for shelter, quilts, and other essentials. They are a great company started by two retired Army guys… so they must be good.
If you are really looking for the ultimate weight savings you need to visit zpacks.com. They are there to help you shave grams from your pack and they do it with high quality, state of the art, super light materials.
I just got an order in from them today and I can’t wait to see the weight savings in my pack. Once again when you are looking for quality craftsmanship and outstanding customer service these online stores are the place to shop.
Recently I placed an order for an underquilt for my hammock. I went to a site called Hammockgear.com. I had some questions so I called the phone number listed on the web site. A man named Adam answered the phone. Him and his wife own, operate, sew, take orders, raise kids, answer the phones, emails, and maintain the web site. And they turn out one of the leading quilts in the industry. Adam spent about a 1/2 hour on the phone with me, first we talked a bit about my order, then we spent the rest of the time talking about backpacking in the Northwest. I really felt great about spending my money with him.
I guess the point of all of this is like I discussed in yesterday’s post on Scouting Blogs. There are people out there with talent, skill, and passion for what they do and we need to support them.
My need to seek information, skills, and gear for backpacking has led me to the cottage industries on the internet where I am finding great products and outstanding people who provide customer service. I could just head to the nearest REI and hope they have what I want, or I can get exactly what I want from people the make it, test it, use it, and sell it.
Find your niche and see if there is an online resource for it by way of a cottage store.. the online ‘Mom and Pop’ shop.
I am sure you will find that they will not disappoint.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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