Just myself, my wife Jane and a curious young cat named Raleigh, in a well equipped basement workshop. After building bike frames and components, as a hobby, for 22 years, I retired from my day job in 2000. The new commute is 13 stairs.
Over time Bikesmith has gone from doing one-off design and fabrication to focusing on short bicycle cranks and crank tools.
Hiawatha Cyclery for conventional bikes &
Calhoun Cycle for recumbents and folders.
|WWW + USPS = Global Cottage Industries |
Before the Internet, a small business selling inexpensive products that were only needed by a few thousand people, scattered around the world, couldn't exist.
My gross sales may never reach $70,000/year. But in a typical year I'll sell to customers in 35-45 states and 15-20 countries.
Without Google there is no way I could afford to let the few people who need short cranks and cotter presses know where to get them.
The US Postal Service can get a cotter press to Japan in 5 days for $16.95.
There must be hundreds of such businesses but here are a few examples.
Brickmania was started by a life-long Lego addict. Who would have thought there would be a world wide market for historical military vehicle Lego kits?
A schoolbus driver designs custom bicycle chainring guards in his apartment, has them cut by a nearby water-jet outfit and mails them everywhere. Without middlemen, his prices are no more than mass produced guards.
Another gent sells replacement parts for antique kerosene railway lanterns.