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Old 03-01-2016, 12:00 PM   #1
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2019 27' International
2014 25' International
2006 23' Safari SE
Fort Saunders , Wyoming
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 5,416
Seasonal Workamping... on the road

We frequent Quartzite, Arizona in late January and then to the Tucson Rock & Mineral Show the first of February.

There are hundreds of "dealers". Some are a husband and wife, others hire locals in Tucson to help customers in large tents. You can purchase pearls from China or agates from Oregon. Among the jewelry and lapidary supplies are people who are handy with unique items.

"Mom and Pop" Items: Knives, leather goods, beads, wooden bowls to walking sticks, crates of agates, lapidary jewelry, wire wrapping, tools for rockhounds... and your imagination is the only limitation. Booths are available in any size. Indoors or outdoors.

When one Show is finished, they have another Show scheduled at other venues. Talk with other vendors and combine your goods in one shared booth...

The internet is your beginning point. Craft, Art and Mixed venues. Pick one that fits your merchandise, get an idea of the other vendors that are attending, costs for booth rent, if they provide folding tables, tent... or what do you need to be able to set up.

The venues are usually on a regular annual schedule. Sometimes twice a Season. These usually require a State Tax Number from your residence State. Some are like a Flea Market where you collect the sales tax and submit it with a form to those running the market.

Quartzite, Arizona has hundreds of small independent dealers. Most appear to be a cash business. Some of the vendors appear they are the actual miners bringing in their current finds for sale. Others make things out of anything unusual and put a price on it in front of their camper or trailer. It is a bazaar atmosphere and prices change with the time of day. They can be in town or scattered at the BLM camp sites.

If you have something unusual... business can be brisk. If you have what everyone else is selling... business can be a BUST. If others notice you are selling lots of what you have... they will be back next year with similar merchandise. True capitalism at its best.

Sharpening knives use to be a weekly event in small towns. They came to town, paid a local business to set up shop in the parking lot and the crowd showed up. Times change and so do the ideas.

Collecting elk and deer antler sheds is popular in the Rockies. Buyers will park along a local highway and put out a sign wanting to buy. Locals bring in their finds for that Spring season. Again, the seller and buyer know what they need to get for what they have and the buyers have a market to sell, as well. Often it is by the pound and prices paid can be higher or lower in value, due to the quality and size of antlers.

I know a lady who paints upon smooth river pebbles. Rabbits, frogs, flowers and whatever whim that presents itself... People find them hard to pass up as a small gift to someone. Pretty pebbles in some areas are found by the millions, while other areas you have to bring your own. Artists... need only an idea, brush and enamel paint upon any kind of interesting object. If rabbits or hummingbirds are fast sellers... brush, paint and a blank pebble creates the next sale.

What is the purpose of this thread?

You can supplement your retirement "boondocking" income while on the road by capitalizing upon some skill you have. Some day I might collect quartz crystals in Arkansas, take them to the Black Hills of South Dakota and sell them off of a folding table at a campground. In South Dakota... clear quartz crystals are not common to the area. (Check with the Camp Host, or find a merchant with space on his sidewalk for a price.)

Not all ideas find a market. I know from personal experience. When they do work, you will never have enough to offer.
Human Bean
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Old 03-01-2016, 01:24 PM   #2
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2019 27' International
2014 25' International
2006 23' Safari SE
Fort Saunders , Wyoming
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 5,416
My Summer Workamping in 1972 to 1975.

As a destitute student attending the University of Wyoming in Laramie, I spent three to four months Workamping in my 1967 Ford Bronco 4x4. During the school year I had my GI Bill monthly check of $366.

I would collect fossils on Ranches in Western Nebraska and Eastern Wyoming. By rowing hay I could get meals and gasoline for my truck, a great camping spot in the middle of the Badlands and collect fossils. I became very good at understanding the geology of the area and I knew which places were the best for finding fossils. Some Ranchers wanted a small daily fee to hunt on their ranch.

Many fossils I could prepare with dental tools at camp. Others I kept in the original matrix as that made them very showy as a specimen and a display piece.

I have no artistic talent. But have a very good sense of value, quality and rarity. I should have... I did it all.

There would be a Rock Show in Hot Springs, South Dakota. I would stay at the hotel in the smallest room available. It was more of a large closet, but comfortable for someone traveling solo and stuck in a snowstorm or emergency. Buyers came from around the World to buy from local collectors. I would bring them out to my Bronco, and display my finds, haggle and leave empty.

I did this for three years. I miss those years as I was independent, the Ranchers were glad to see me come to do light chores and I knew where the best water sources were in the region. Young and having a vehicle, large canvas "campaign tent", probably WW2 surplus... it was my home.

I paid for my education and it beat going to Alaska with other geology students for the Salmon fishing jobs or minimum wage in town and spending it all on rent.

I could identify a fossil mammal just by a piece of tooth exposed. Or a small rodent, lizard or snake skull by the shape and size in a small clay nodule. Even an occasional "bird egg" the size of a chicken egg. This cannot be done today as these Ranches are all now Corporate or lease their Badlands to company collectors.

Even the fossil fish quarries of Kemmerer, Wyoming will accept labor for... fossil fish. They keep the higher value, rarer specimens and in your spare time, prepare smaller ones to sell somewhere else. I call this "sitting work" and my Badlands collecting was "walking work". I did not like sitting and splitting limestone... but loved climbing and hiking all day for... Badlands fossils.

So those of you who are scratching your head for an idea... you do what you enjoy. I like finding things. Fossils, coin operated machines and whatever would catch my eye as being marketable. Some can do it... most cannot. Buy junk... sell it as an antique.

It is possible. You might find something you wished you discovered decades ago to do. I miss those years of hunting fossils in Nebraska, Wyoming, Kansas, Missouri and where ever there was an interesting rock outcrop. Would I do it again... you bet.

This year my wife and I will be taking other Trailer owners out to explore the back country. Something might catch someone's attention... a seasonal camp host or work at a Dude Ranch... but it is out there. I have done it all, it seems out of necessity. Today I do it because I still enjoy exploring, but willing to share my experiences that were hard earned.

And... there is no age limit to find your pot at the end of a Rainbow. You have everything it takes... but not taken the effort to trip over what I did. Some are bored their entire life doing what they do not really care to do. Myself... there are more Rainbows and things to entertain me for years. It is just over that next mountain...
Human Bean
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Old 03-01-2016, 02:04 PM   #3
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Ray, I admire your attitude toward life. Worked your way through university, worked hard for what you wanted. I did the same...worked my way through nursing school, 16 hrs/ nursing school and tech to support me and my kids.

You must have been raised by the same type of parents that I had. They taught us that we could make of our life, whatever we wanted...but, must be willing to work hard for it. That was a different time...a simpler time.

The 'mellinials' of recent generations are resistant to working long, hard hours....preferring let Mom and Dad hand out the results of their labor...while said their way through the school ( that parents worked and saved so they could attend). Then, the kids go out and protest about the same philosophy that Mom and Dad lived and worked for! If only they were to put that energy toward their education...they, too, may one day...accomplish something

PS: sorry for the high jack, Ray.
Evelyn & Mikki,(chihuahua) or Nikko (Pomeranian mix) Near Denver, Colorado
TV: 2015 Nissan Pathfinder 2015 BAMBI 16' Sport
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