Chapter 5.2



Section 10. Dairy and Other Farm Produce.

If you live in the country, or if your grounds are large enough, you can add immensely to your profits by keeping a cow, a pig, some poultry, and a few hives of bees. You will now need help—a boy to milk your cow, run on errands, and deliver goods; and a girl to help you in the work-room and to assist in the store.

98, Golden Butter; 99, Fresh Eggs; 100, Sweet Milk; 101, Sparkling Honey; 102, New Cheese; and 103, Clean Lard, are among the attractions and the sources of revenue you can add to your already prosperous business. Churn your butter till it is entirely free of the milk, salt it well and put it up in tempting balls, rolls or pats. A little finely-strained carrot-juice will give it a golden color without any disagreeable taste. For poultry, the Wyandottes and Plymouth Rocks are the best year-round layers. Have a sign “Eggs Laid Yesterday,” or “This Morning’s Eggs.” Sell milk by the glass, pint or quart; only be sure it is always fresh. Get a small cheese-press, and if you find a good sale for your cheese, milk, and butter, add to your stock of cows. Find out which of the three dairy products pays the best, and work accordingly. Invite people to taste your good things, and tell them that everything is homemade and fresh. Bees are perhaps the most profitable things in the world, as they entail no expense after the first outfit. Have honey both strained and in the comb as you learn the wants of your patrons. The pig will keep you in meat a large portion of the year, besides supplying to your store a limited quantity of nice white-leaf lard, which should be sold in little bright tin pails.

  1. White Pork.—If you do not care for swine’s flesh, you can sell it for from twelve to twenty cents a pound. People are glad to buy fresh-killed meat and to pay a good price for it when their ordinary purchases have been many days slaughtered, and often freighted a thousand miles.
  2. Poultry to Order.—Do not keep your hens beyond the second year, as they are not so good layers after that age. Have always a stock of fat fowls ready for market. Spring Chickens. Here is another line in which you can invest. A chick costs in feed about twenty-five cents for the season, and they sell readily for a dollar a pair.

Section 11. Garden Vegetables.

If you have a small garden, you can supply your store with fresh vegetables during the season. It is very important that they should be fresh. Having your own garden, you can guarantee that quality to your customers. Take orders for the following day so that the vegetables may come straight from the garden into the hands of the consumer. Here are the six which grocers say sell for the largest profit.

  1. Cut-to-Order Asparagus.—Asparagus is at least one-half better when newly cut. Choose the white variety, and tie in small bunches. Sell at fifteen cents a bunch.
  2. Quick Market Strawberries.—Pick them fresh every morning. Put them in the usual boxes, and set them on a stand in front of the store. Have one or two large ones on the top of each box, and lay around them two or three strawberry leaves wet with dew.
  3. Round Tomatoes.—If possible, have them so fine and large that five will fill a quart box. Sold even as low as five cents a box they are very profitable. This is at the rate of a penny apiece, and a thrifty tomato plant will bear fifty.
  4. Pint Peas.—Peas in the pod are not attractive, but very young peas when shelled and put in little bright tin pails are irresistible. The very sight of them tickles the palate. Rise early, and pick and shell a pint of peas. If they do not sell, you can have them for your own dinner. Do not keep them overnight, as the succulent quality is soon lost after shelling.
  5. String Beans.—Nothing easier to raise, nothing easier to sell. You can raise a bushel on a square rod if properly managed. Sell at fifteen cents a half-peck.
  6. Green Corn.—Sell at, twenty-five cents a dozen ears. Be careful to pick before the kernels become large. Have a notice, “Corn Picked to Order.”

We have found out from the grocers what garden products sell the best. Now, suppose you have only a single rod of ground (about the size of a large room), and want to know how to plant it to the best advantage. Below will be found a comparative table of what, under generous cultivation, may be expected of each of the above in the way of hard cash from a single rod of soil.

Asparagus (40 bunches at 15 cents a bunch), $6.00; strawberries (33 baskets at 15 cents a basket), $4.95; tomatoes (150 quarts at 5 cents a quart), $7.50; peas (16 pints at 25 cents a pint), $4.00; beans (1 bushel at 15 cents half-peck), $1.20; corn (8 dozen ears at 25 cents a dozen), $2.00.

If you have twenty square rods instead of one, your revenue from your garden may be increased by that multiple, and you will have an opportunity to try all the above sources of profit. Find out what fruits and vegetables sell best in your neighborhood, and plant accordingly. And remember that the key to your success in garden produce is the single word fresh.

Section 12. School Supplies.

There are a number of articles in use in our schools which can be made at home. Once let it be known that you can make and sell as good a quality as the imported article, and at a cheaper price, and you will have the patronage of all the schools in your vicinity. Advertise wisely, and in cases where the trustees furnish the things, make a low bid for the entire school supply.

  1. Book Covers.—Save all your paper bags, iron them out smoothly, and make them into book covers. Sell them at three cents apiece, or take the contract to cover all the books in the school at two cents apiece.
  2. Artificial Slates.—Take forty-one parts of sand, four parts of lampblack, four parts of boiled linseed or cottonseed oil. Boil thoroughly, and reduce the mixture by adding spirits of turpentine so that it may be easily applied to a thin piece of pasteboard. Give three coats, drying between each coat. Finish by rubbing smooth with a piece of cotton waste soaked in spirits of turpentine. You have an excellent slate or memorandum book, which may be sold for ten cents. Use a slate pencil. Made in large quantities, these are very profitable.
  3. Cheap Ink.—Boil one and a half pounds of logwood with sufficient residue water to leave a residue of two and a half quarts. When cold, add one and a half drams of yellow bichromate of potash, and stir thoroughly, and the ink is ready for use. The above will fill twenty-five large ink bottles, which, at five cents apiece, come to $1.25. Cost, 25 to 35 cents.
  4. School Bag.—Take a piece of cheap white linen and make it into a pretty bag, with a strap to go over the shoulder. Have a colored stamp to put on the initials of the purchaser. Sell for twenty-five cents.
  5. Pen Wiper.—Take any cheap material, and cut in three circles of different sizes. Scallop the edges, and stitch together at the center. If the circles are of different color as well as size, it will be attractive to the children, and still more so if the smallest circle has an initial letter. Sell for five cents.
  6. Children’s Luncheon.—Thousands of parents would rather pay a trifling sum than be put to the trouble of providing and preparing lunch. Make a little repast cheap and neat. One large or two small sandwiches, a small dish of jelly or a tart, a pickle or a piece of cake. Put in a collapsible paper box, and tie with red or blue ribbon. Cost about six or seven cents. Sell for ten cents.

Section 13. Christmas Presents.

You can do well with these if you are supple with your fingers and nimble with your tongue. Learn what artistic designs are becoming popular, and keep abreast of the latest fads. The fabric called denim is coming more into use every year, and as it is very cheap, and comes in all colors, it is especially suited for making, covering, and adorning, all kinds of household handiwork. A ramble through the large metropolitan stores with a request to see the various lines of goods used for trimming and ornamenting will astonish you. The endless varieties of silks, satins, velvets, plushes, linens, laces, feathers, and so forth, should suggest to a lively mind infinite possibilities in the way of made-up articles of market value. Our list below must be taken only as samples of what a fertile mind and ingenious fingers can accomplish.

  1. Sofa Pillow.—Take a piece of India silk of different colors, and let them all taper to a common center upon which a monogram is worked. Relieve the bareness of the white by a running vine and morning glories. A pillow of this kind which cost $3 sold for $8. The varieties of the sofa pillow are almost endless. Get a book of designs and learn to make the Organdy, Butterfly, Duck, Clover, Daisy, Cretonne, Yacht, Mull, Poppy, and many others.
  2. Jewel Tray.—Cut a circle of delicate écru linen twenty-two inches in circumference, and sew a piece of bonnet wire around it, notching or looping it so as to give an escaloped edge. Have a pretty little motto in the center, and fill the remaining space with snowdrops worked in ivory white, each tiny petal tipped with pale green, and with a long green stem. When properly worked, this is very pretty, and ought to command a good price.
  3. American Flag.—Make it five feet in length by three in width, and smaller flags in the same proportion. There should be seven stripes of red bunting, six of white, and a field of blue. On this field stitch forty-five stars of white. Face the inside of the flag with a piece of strong canvas for the admission of the pole. If the stars are of silk, the price should be at least twice that of linen.
  4. Hair-Pin Case.—Cut a piece of fine white duck in the shape of a square envelope and embroider upon the flap any simple design in wash silk. Close with button and buttonhole. Sell for fifty cents.
  5. Chair Cushion.—Take blue denim with dark and light shades happily combined. Let the tint of pale blue be appliqued on, and then worked in different shades of this color with rope floss in long and short stitch. The back may be of plain denim unadorned.
  6. Lamp Shade.—You can get a dozen skeleton frames for a few cents, and French crêpe paper which costs little, and your own cultivated taste and deft fingers will do the rest. A cheap kaleidoscope will suggest an infinite number of designs. One lady made an elegant shade at a cost of $2.50, and sold it for $6.00.
  7. Book-Mark.—Silk, worsted, and two hours of spare time will give you a pretty book-mark which should sell for fifty cents, at a cost of making (time not reckoned) of only fifteen cents.
  8. Handy Work-Box.—Take a pasteboard box and line with denim. Include a tiny pin-cushion, scissors-case, thimble-holder, needle-book, flap, and spool wires.
  9. Pin-Cushion.—Always popular, but the form changes every season. Cover with silk or satin, and overlay with strips of fine linen embroidered in festoons of tiny blossoms. Border with ruffle of lace, and put small rosettes of baby ribbon at the corners.
  10. Catch-Bag.—A convenient receptacle for laundry, schoolbooks, shoes, and many other articles. It should be in envelope form, the dimensions eighteen by twelve. The material may be white linen, upon which you should work a gold border. Make an attachment for hanging on the wall.
  11. Court-Plaster Case.—Cut two circles of celluloid two inches in diameter, and four other circles of thin drawing-paper for inside leaves. In these little pockets place pieces of court-plaster, pink, white and black, cut into strips or squares, and held flat and stationary by having their comers thrust into slits cut in the paper. Punch holes in the left side of the case, and tie with baby-ribbon. Paint or work on outside cover a design of burrs with “I cling to thee,” or a design of beggar-ticks with “I stick to thee.”
  12. Postage-Stamp Holder.—Same as above except that the shape is square.
  13. Photograph Frame.—Take a piece of stout pasteboard and turn down the corners. Cut the inside to the proper size, and stitch a piece of chamois over the pasteboard. Tie bits of colored ribbon on the corners. Sell for twenty-five cents.
  14. Match-Safe.—Cover a tin box of any shape with one of the lesser inflammable materials such as chamois, and on the front attach a piece of match-paper. Sell for ten or fifteen cents.
  15. Wall-Pocket.—Take bamboo sticks or thin strips of wood, and glue them together in the form of a pocket-frame. The sticks should be about two inches apart and the outer lattice-work a little lower than the inner. Wind colored ribbons around the sticks, and have a circular head-piece for attachment to the wall.
  16. Glove-Box.—(Easter present). Cover a flat pasteboard box with pale gray linen or delicate blue. Work a spray of passion-flowers on the top, inclosing some suitable motto.

Christmas presents should be in the store at least three weeks before the holidays. As many donors like to attach the initials of the recipient to the present, have prettily worked letters for that purpose, and charge ten cents a letter. Be careful to inform all possible customers of this arrangement, as many will be attracted by that feature. Call attention to this class of goods when your patrons are buying other kinds of your wares, and be always eager to show your latest designs. Remember that taste in this department is as important as the word fresh in Section 10.

Section 14. Miscellaneous Articles.

Here are a few other things to complete the list of one hundred which you can make in your own home. You will discover many others for yourself as your trade increases, and your friends make suggestions. The secret of success is to find out what people want, and then give them a better and cheaper article than they can get elsewhere. You will find your customers’ wants changing according to the season or the newest fad. Things which you expected to sell will often be left on your hands. You must be prepared to take advantage of this. Drop the price when the demand falls, and always have in your mind some new article of home manufacture to take the place of that whose popularity is waning. Keep eyes and ears strained for the newest thing. As it was said of a certain burglar that he never saw a lock without the thought, “How can I pick it?” so you should never witness the sale of any article without the query, “How can I make it?” The following are easily made, and some of them very profitable:

  1. Hot Gems.—If you can work up a demand for hot gems, you can make a good profit. Take a pint each of flour and milk, an egg, and half a teaspoonful of salt. Beat the egg until light, add the milk and salt to it, and beat gradually into the flour. Bake twenty minutes in hot gem-pans. The quantities given will make a dozen gems. Notice should be given of the hour of the day when they may be expected to be fresh from the oven. Charge twenty-five cents a dozen.
  2. Sliced Watermelon.—Nothing so delights the heart of a boy. Cut a large ripe melon into half-slices, rather thick, and lay them on ice in the show window. Cost of melon and ice, fifty cents. Twenty slices at five cents each, $1. Profit, one-half.
  3. Toothsome Pies.—Roll two strips of paste for the upper and lower crusts. Place the latter in position after moistening the plate, and fill with the prepared material already sweetened and seasoned. Lay on the upper crust, and make a little slit in the center. Put in hot oven, close draft after fifteen minutes, and bake from fifty minutes to one hour. Charge twenty-five cents for good deep pies.
  4. Ice Cream.—You can do well with this in warm weather, if you have a room suitable for serving. One pint of sugar, one of water, and three of cream, the yolks of five eggs and a large tablespoonful of the flavoring extract. Boil the sugar and water, twenty-five minutes. Beat the eggs with one fourth of a teaspoonful of salt. Place the basin of boiling syrup in another of boiling water, and, stirring the yolks of the eggs into the syrup, beat rapidly for three minutes. Take the basin from the fire, place it in a pan of ice water, and beat until cold. Add the cream and extract, and, placing the mixture in the freezer, pack around with ice, alternating with thin layers of salt. Turn the crank until the cream is frozen hard.
  5. Pork and Beans.—You can make a large profit on pork and beans in places where there is a demand for them. Both are cheap, and you can make a handsome profit on a dish selling for thirty-five cents, the dish to be returned. It is well if you can to make a bargain to supply families once a week on particular days. This dish takes well in all parts of New England.
  6. Tomato Ketchup.—Raising your own tomatoes, you can make it at a trifling cost, and reap a profit at ten cents for small bottles. For twelve ripe, peeled tomatoes, take two large onions, four green peppers, and chop fine. Add two tablespoonfuls of salt, two of brown sugar, two of ginger, one of cinnamon, one of mustard, a nutmeg, grated; and four cupfuls of vinegar. Boil all together for three hours, stirring frequently, and bottle while hot.
  7. Mince Meat.—Many housekeepers prefer to buy the preparation rather than to be at the trouble of making it. Lean beef, two pounds; beef suet, one pound; apples, five pounds; seeded raisins, two pounds; currants, two pounds; citron, three-fourths of a pound; pounded mace and pounded cinnamon, two tablespoonfuls each; one of grated nutmeg; one each of cloves and allspice; brown sugar two and one-half pounds; sherry wine, one quart; brandy, one pint. Put up in three-pound cans. The compound should make six cans, and you should charge seventy-five cents a can for so choice a product. You can reduce the expense, if your customers wish a cheaper article.
  8. Dried Apples.—If you have a few apple trees, you will often find it more profitable to dry for future sale than to sell the green fruit. Pare, core, and slice. Lay the slices in shallow pans or on clean boards, and expose to the air until thoroughly dried. Then pack and store for the winter market. You should get at least ten cents a pound.
  9. Peanuts.—No risk of loss on these for they will always sell. Buy from a shipper or wholesale grocer a bag of peanuts and roast them in the oven until they are a fine brown, taking care not to burn. Profits in a bag of peanuts selling at five cents, one-half pint, 100 per cent.
  10. Cigarettes.—Roll a pinch of tobacco in a piece of white paper and scent with any agreeable perfume. More profit than in cigars.
  11. Tallow Candles.—Still used in the country, and to some extent by poor people in the city. Take beef and mutton suet in the proportion of one to two. Melt, and fill tin molds in which the wick has been previously inserted. The cost is little beyond the work. Charge twenty-five cents per dozen.
  12. Lung Preserver.—(Rock and Rye). Here is the secret of this popular remedy for coughs, colds and lung troubles. Rye whisky, three gallons; syrup, made of rock candy, one gallon. Cost of whiskey and syrup, $3.50. Put up in pint bottles at fifty cents each, $16. Profits, $12.50, or nearly 300 per cent.
  13. Poison Killer.—You may not sell much of this, but it is a useful article to have in the house, and will keep indefinitely. Buy a quantity of powder of aristol, and put it in small pepper-boxes, or in any box with a perforated lid, holding a few ounces. Dust the affected part freely with this, and the effect on the poisoned flesh will be magical. Use for any inflammation. Advertise it in placards.
  14. Mucilage.—Dissolve gum-arabic in water until the whole is of the consistency of cream, and keep it from contact with the air. Add a few drops of sweet oil to prevent it from souring. The cost is almost nothing. You can sell it at five cents a, bottle.
  15. Pop Corn.—Use a large popper, and when the corn comes out white and hot, add a little molasses to make it adhere, and flavor with some popular extract. Mold it in balls, rectangles, or in any other fancy shape. A bushel of shelled corn which costs a dollar will make 125 balls. These at five cents apiece come to $6.25.

This completes the list of one hundred articles for your store. Observe that they are all made at home, and for that reason the profits are from 50 to 500 per cent., while in the ordinary way of buying from the wholesaler the storekeeper has to be satisfied with from 10 to 20 per cent. You will discover for yourself many other articles which can be made at home and sold at a profit, and you will not confine yourself to homemade goods, but will handle anything for which there is a demand whether you can make it yourself or not. Of course, if you make all the above goods, you will need much help, the cost of which will diminish somewhat the profits, but the design is that you begin on a modest scale, at first doing all the manufacturing yourself, and call in assistance as your business and capital grow. In writing this chapter the author has contemplated a lady as keeping a store of this kind, but a gentleman can do much of the work as well, and some sections of it better. Perhaps the ideal store would be that kept by husband and wife with growing children to assist. Now let us have the experience of a lady who has tried our plan.

Mrs. J—— G—— says: “By the death of my husband I was left alone with three children, Wilhelm fifteen, Gertrude thirteen, and Egbert ten. I had no means, though, fortunately, my little place in the suburban town of T—— was free of debt. It consisted of a neat house and three acres of land. Having a fondness for plants, I cultivated them in curious ways, while keeping my little family together by taking in sewing. One day a lady who was spending the summer in T—— called and inquired what I would take for a pea vine which was growing in a tumbler of water. I was surprised, as I had not thought of making merchandise of my plant pets. She purchased a number of pretty little odd things of vegetable life with which I had amused myself, and suggested that I might earn something by cultivating rare forms of plants. It was a new idea to me. I had not thought there was any money in what had been to me only a pastime, but I increased the number of my plant curiosities, and the lady and her friends bought them all.

“Then my friend said to me, ‘Why don’t you keep a Home Store? You have so much taste I think you would do nicely?’ ‘And pray what is a Home Store?’ I inquired. ‘Oh, it’s a store where the things are all made at home.’ ‘But I have no capital.’ ‘You need no capital. See, the things are all made at home. Begin with a few tea dishes.’ So I bought a ham, sliced it thin, and laid some sprigs of parsley around it. I also made some artificial honey from a recipe in an old cook book. With the money I thus earned, I had my window enlarged into a show-window, and put in a variety of vegetables from my garden, taking care they should be strictly fresh every day. I had such success that, at the suggestion of my lady patron, I began to make a great many other things—pastry, preserves, sweetmeats, and toilet articles. I also purchased one hundred fowls, and served my customers with fresh eggs. My trade grew so that I decided to have a real store, and so, at an expense of about $50, I had my two front rooms made into one and fitted up with shelves and counters. I purchased a cow and a pig on credit, and also two or three hives of bees. The people seemed to appreciate my fresh eggs, milk, butter and honey, and I soon paid all my debts and branched out in several other directions in the way of homemade goods. Hitherto, my three children had afforded me all the help I needed, but now I found it necessary to employ a cheap male laborer to look after my garden, orchard, cow, pig, and poultry, as well as to assist in making some of my goods. I made a great variety of things as new suggestions came to me almost daily, and also, as my customers called for them, I bought what I could not well make myself. Now, after three years’ experience, I think I have the most profitable store of its size that can be found anywhere. Here is my account for last year:

ARTICLES. COST.SALES.PROFITS.Household plantsSeeds$ .90$15.25$14.35Table dishesMeats, etc.12.5936.9424.35PastryMaterials53.36166.05112.69Nuts and candy”61.66379.22317.56Preserves, etc”12.1049.7537.65Toilet articles”9.0519.0510.00Varnishes and soaps”3.1815.5012.32Soft drinks”5.1531.5526.40VegetablesSeeds2.5037.2734.77School suppliesMaterials3.7013.7110.01Christmas presents”5.2548.1342.88Eggs, honey and the dairy Keeping stock75.50217.00141.50Miscellaneous articlesMaterials55.05291.15236.10Goods boughtPrice paid473.02551.1078.08 $773.01$1,871.67$1,098.66

“Deduct from the above the wages of laborer at $20 per month, $240, and I have left $858.66 as net profit for my year’s work. The fruit for the preserves and pies was raised on the place, and I was under no expense for tin and paper boxes, these being collected from the houses of my friends. It will be seen that nearly one-third of the sales of my ‘Home Store’ were of purchased goods on which the profit were only 15 per cent., but so large was the profit on the homemade goods that the total sales were at the gratifying advance of 80 per cent. Besides, I have had the living of my family and hired help. The expense for meats not furnished on the place, and for groceries not kept in the store, together with that for clothes, taxes, and sundries, was $316.05. Thus, I have paid all my expenses, and saved $540 for a rainy day. Pretty good, don’t you think, for a woman, and a novice at that? Of course, I have worked hard, sometimes as many as fifteen hours a day, but I have enjoyed it, and think I am on the way to a snug little fortune. Others with more talents, and under more favorable circumstances, I have no doubt could do much better.

“The secrets of my success, if you ask me, are: First, the trading instinct, or the knowing what, where, and when to buy. (I never let myself get out of a stock article). Second, courtesy to all—to the little barefoot colored boy just the same as to the grand madam. Third, economy, both in my family expenses, buying only what I need, and in my store, using in other ways that which will not sell in the original form, throwing nothing away unless it is spoiled and even that giving, as a last resort, to my pig and poultry; and fourth, hard work, making and selling with my own hands everything I can, and carefully superintending everything I cannot.”

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