Chapter 5



How to Make Money at Home—One Hundred Ways to Get Gain in Your Own House—How to Get One Hundred Per Cent. Profit—Make Your Own Goods—Cheaper to Make than to Buy—Anybody Can do It—A Woman as Well as a Man—A Chance for Persons With Small Capital—Three Profits in One Sale.

How? On every article sold there is first of all the profit of the manufacturer, then of the wholesale dealer, and finally of the retailer. There is commonly a fourth, that of the freighter. If you keep a retail store, you must pay the man who makes the goods, the man who transports the goods, and the man who keeps the goods in large stock, and all this leaves you only a small margin of profit. In the following plan you avoid all these costs, pay only for the raw material, and make the four profits yourself.

You may begin your sales in your own home. If you have a large room fronting the street and near it, a little alteration will make it a veritable store. An expenditure of $25 should give you a show window and some nice shelves. Have a workroom in connection with your store. If your sales at first are small, you can put in your spare time in the making of your goods, and afterward as your custom increases you can employ help. The following articles are easily made. Many of them are novel, but all are salable if the store is properly managed.

Section I. Household Ornaments.

A home may be rendered attractive by a few simple ornaments that are very cheap. Vines, grasses, etc., add touches of beauty to a home and cost very little. Few people know how to prepare these little curiosities, and many would esteem it too much trouble to get and arrange the material if they did know. But most of these persons would buy them if the materials were prepared, and the vines, etc., ready to grow. You must have models of each kind in full growth in order to excite their admiration, and then you must have others in the initial stage for sale. Take pains to show the models, and explain the method of treating the plants and vines. The following cost little, and can be sold for from 300 to 500 per cent. profit. Some of your patrons will prefer to buy the models outright, and others to grow them themselves.

  1. Crystallized Grasses.—Put in water as much alum as can be dissolved. Pour into an earthen jar and boil slowly until evaporated nearly one half. Suspend the grasses in such a manner that their tops will be under the solution. Put the whole in a cool place where not the least draught of air will disturb the formation of crystals. In twenty-four to thirty-six hours take out the grasses, and let them harden in a cool room. For blue crystals, prepare blue vitriol or sulphate of copper in the same manner. Gold crystals can be produced by adding tumeric to the alum solution, and purple crystals by a few drops of extract of logwood. Sell them at twenty-five cents a bunch.
  2. Leaf Impressions.—Hold oiled paper in the smoke of a lamp, or of pitch, until it becomes coated with smoke. Then take a perfect leaf, having a pretty outline, and after warming it between the hands, lay the leaf upon the smoked side of the paper, with the under side down, press it evenly upon the paper so that every part may come in contact, go over it lightly with a rolling-pin, then remove the leaf with care to a piece of white paper, and use the rolling-pin again. You will then have a beautiful impression of the delicate veins and outline of the leaf. A sheet containing a dozen such leaves should bring you twenty-five cents; if arranged in a pretty white album, with a different kind of leaf for every page, the selling price should not be less than one dollar.
  3. Vine and Trellis.—Put a sweet potato in a tumbler of water, or any similar glass vessel; let the lower end of the tuber be about two inches from the bottom of the vessel; keep on the mantel shelf, and sun it for an hour or two each day. Soon the “eyes” of the potato will throw up a pretty vine. Now, with some small sticks or coarse splints construct a tiny trellis, which, if placed in the window, will soon find a customer.
  4. The Suspended Acorn.—Suspend an acorn by a piece of thread, within half an inch of the surface of some water contained in a vase, tumbler or saucer, and allow it to remain undisturbed for several weeks. It will soon burst open, and small roots will seek the water; a straight and tapering stem, with beautiful, glossy green leaves, will shoot upward, and present a very pleasing appearance. Supply water of the same warmth once a month, and add bits of charcoal to keep it from souring. If the leaves turn yellow, put a drop of ammonia into the water, and it will renew their luxuriance.
  5. Moss and Cone.—Take a saucer and fill it with fresh green moss. Place in the center a large pine cone, having first wet it thoroughly. Then sprinkle it with grass seed. The moisture will close the cone partially, and in a day or two tiny grass spears will appear in the interstices, and in a week you will have a perfect cone covered with graceful verdure. The advantage of this, as well as of the other pretty things in this section, is that they are fresh and green in the midst of winter, and people are attracted to the slice of spring in your window when the outside world is mantled with snow.
  6. The Tumbler of Peas.—Take a common tumbler or fruit can and fill it nearly full of soft water. Tie a bit of coarse lace or cheese-sacking over it, and covering it with a layer of peas, press down into the water. In a few days the peas will sprout, the little thread-like roots going down through the lace into the water, while the vines can be trained upon a pretty little frame.
  7. The Hanging Turnip.—Take a large turnip and scrape out the inside, leaving a thick wall all around. Fill the cavity with earth, and plant in it some clinging vine or morning glory. Suspend the turnip with cords, and in a little time the vines will twine around the strings, and the turnip, sprouting from below, will put forth leaves and stems that will turn upward and gracefully curl around the base.
  8. Bleached Leaves.—Mix one drachm chloride of lime with one pint of water, and add sufficient acetic acid to liberate the chlorine. Steep the leaves about ten minutes, or until they are whitened. Remove them on a piece of paper and wash them in clean water. They are now ready for sale, and all you need do is to arrange a dozen of them on a sheet of black paper, or in a dark-colored album, and expose them in your show window.
  9. The Artificial Plant.—Take the glossy silk stuff known as taffeta. Dye the piece the proper green color before cutting. After it is dried, prepare with gum arabic on one side to represent the glossy surface of the leaves, and with starch on the other to give the velvety appearance of the under side. Use a fine goffering tool to make the veins and indentations. Glue the leaves to the stem, and place to advantage in your store window, where, if you have been skillful, they can hardly be distinguished from the leaves of a growing plant.

If you are moderately successful, procure a book about household ornaments and artificial plants, and you will learn to make many more designs. We have selected these because they are the cheapest and most easily made. All the above, except the albums, should sell for twenty-five cents. Remember that a great deal depends upon your taste in arranging, your manner of explaining, and your adroitness in recommending. You must be so in love with your plants as to be enthusiastic. In general, a lady succeeds in this work better than a gentleman.

Section 2. Tea Dishes.

At almost no cost, you find yourself established in the midst of dozens of clinging vines and pretty plants. Now for the next step. Have a few appetizing tea-dishes in your window. Put out a sign, telling people that you will have every night certain fine and fresh table delicacies on sale. The effect of dainty dishes in close, proximity to graceful vines is exceedingly tempting to the appetite.

  1. Delicious Ham.—If very neat, you can sell to many families cold boiled ham for supper or lunch. Put the ham in cold water, and simmer gently five hours. Set the kettle aside, and when nearly cold draw off the skin of the ham and cover with cracker crumbs and about three tablespoonfuls of sugar. Place in the oven in a baking pan for thirty or forty minutes. When cold, slice thin and lay temptingly on large white plates. Cost of a ham weighing ten pounds, $1.20. Sales at thirty cents a pound, $3.00. Deduct for shrinkage in boiling and waste in trimming one and one-half pounds, forty-five cents. Profits, $1.35.
  2. Choice Tongue.—If successful with ham, you can try a little tongue. Soak over night and cook for four or five hours. Throw into cold water and peel off the skin. Cut evenly and arrange attractively on plates, garnishing with sprigs of parsley. Cooked meats should be placed in the show window under transparent gauze. In hot weather a cake of ice beneath will greatly tempt the appetite of the passer-by.
  3. Artificial Honey.—Where honey is high priced, make the following: Five pounds white sugar, two pounds water, gradually bring to a boil, and skim well. When cool, add one pound bees’ honey and four drops of peppermint. There is a large profit in this where the customer is not particular about the quality; but if a better article is desired add less water and more real honey.

You can add a number of other tea-dishes as you learn what will sell. A thing that is salable in one community is often not so in another. You must be guided by the taste of the locality, and when a dish does not sell well try another.

Section 3. Pastry.

Suppose you now try a little pastry. If you can make a superior article, you will have a ready sale, but it is often difficult to introduce the goods. It is sometimes a good plan to donate a cake to a fair, cutting the loaf into very thin slices, and giving them to leading ladies who may be present, superintending the matter yourself, and advertising that you will take orders.

  1. Angel Cake.—The whites of eleven eggs, one and a half cupfuls of granulated sugar, measured after being sifted four times, one cupful of flour measured after being sifted four times, one teaspoonful of cream tartar, and one of vanilla extract. Beat the whites to a stiff froth and beat the sugar into the eggs. Add the seasoning and flour, stirring quickly and lightly. Beat until ready to put the mixture into the oven. Use a pan that has little legs on the top comers so that when the pan is turned upside down on the table after the baking, a current of air will pass under and over it. Bake for forty minutes in a moderate oven. Do not grease the pan. This cake should sell for $1, or, cut in twenty pieces, at five cents each.
  2. Dominos.—If you are located near a schoolhouse or on a street where many children pass, you can do a big business in dominos. Bake a sponge cake in a rather thin sheet. Cut into small oblong pieces the shape of a domino. Frost the top and sides. When the frosting is hard, draw the black lines and make the dots with a small brush that has been dipped in melted chocolate. They will sell “like hot cakes.”
  3. Soft Gingerbread.—All children like this. Here is an excellent kind: Six cupfuls of flour, three of molasses, one of cream, one of lard or butter, two eggs, one teaspoonful of saleratus, and two of ginger. You can sell this, when light and warm, almost as fast as you can make it.
  4. Doughnuts.—These, too, are tempting to children. Four eggs, one half-pound sugar, two ounces butter, one pound flour, boiled milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a few drops of some essence. Beat the eggs and sugar and melt the butter and stir it in; then add a pound of flour and enough boiled milk to make a rather stiff dough; flavor with nutmeg, cinnamon, and a few drops of some essence; cut into shapes with tumbler or knife, and fry brown in, hot lard. When done, sift on fine sugar. Made fresh every day and placed temptingly in the window, they will sell fast.

After you are well established, you should sell at least two dozen doughtnuts at a profit of a penny apiece, two cards of gingerbread at seven cents profit each, and three dozen dominos at a profit of five cents a dozen. Total profit per day on three last articles in this section, fifty-three cents.

Section 4. Sweetmeats and Confectionery.

If you find that children are your best customers, you may cater yet further to their taste. Remember that your success depends upon your keeping choice articles. It is surprising how children find out the best candy stores, and how quick they are to discern between good and bad stock. By making your own goods, you can sell a little cheaper than the dealers who have to buy.

  1. Walnut Candy.—This is something which all children like. Put the meats of the nuts on the bottom of tins previously greased to the depth of half an inch. Boil two pounds of brown sugar, one half pint of water, and one gill of molasses, until a portion of the mass hardens when it cools. Pour the hot candy on the meats and allow it to remain until hard.
  2. Chocolate Caramels.—A favorite with girls. Boil a quart of best molasses until it hardens when put in water. Before removing from the fire, add four ounces of fine chocolate. Pour a thin layer into tin trays slightly greased. When it hardens a little cut into squares. You can sell these as low as thirty cents a pound, and still make a good profit.
  3. Peppermint Creams.—Take one pound of sugar, seven teaspoonfuls of water, and one teaspoonful of essence of peppermint. Work together into a stiff paste, roll, cut, and stamp with a little wooden stamp such as are bought for individual butter pats.
  4. Molasses Candy (White).—All children want molasses candy. Two pounds of white sugar, one pint of sugar-house syrup, and one pint of best molasses. Boil together until the mass hardens when dropped in cold water, and work in the usual manner. Sell by the stick, or in broken pieces by the pound, half, and quarter.
  5. Blanched Almonds.—Shell the nuts; pour over them boiling water. Let them stand in the water a minute, and then throw them into cold water. Rub between the hands. The nuts will be white as snow, and, if placed prominently in the window, very tempting. Sell by the ounce.
  6. Fig Paste.—This always has a good sale. Chop a pound of figs and boil in a pint of water until reduced to a soft pulp. Strain through a fine sieve, add three pounds of sugar, and evaporate over boiling water until the paste becomes quite stiff. Form the paste into a square mass, and divide in small pieces with a thin-bladed knife. Roll the pieces in fine sugar, and pack in little wooden boxes.
  7. Fig Layer Candy.—One half-pound of drum figs, one pound of finest white sugar, white of one egg, one tablespoonful of cold water. Make sugar, egg, and water into a cream, and mold like bread. After figs are stemmed and chopped, roll a fig to one fourth of an inch in thickness. Place the rolled fig between two layers of cream, pass rolling-pin over lightly, and cut into squares of any desired size. Delicious, if well-made, and always salable.

It is astonishing what vast sums accumulate from the children’s pennies spent for candy and sweetmeats. Many cases could be given of persons who have kept small stores, and been supported solely by the little streams of coppers and nickels. Get the children’s confidence, learn their names, always have a bright, kind word for them, and bait your hook occasionally with little gifts of sweets. They will flock to you like bees to a flower-garden.

Section 5. Preserves, Pickles, and Jellies.

We put these sweets and sours into one group because they sell best when in proximity. Almost everything depends upon the way they are put up. If the fruit shows artistically through the glass jars, or the pickles are put up attractively in cute, little bottles with fresh-painted labels, he must be a stoic indeed who can pass your show-window without a coveting glance. Here are a few of the most popular things in this line:

  1. Orange Marmalade.—Take equal weights of sour oranges and sugar. Grate the yellow rind from one fourth of the oranges. Cut all the fruit in halves, pick out the pulp and free it of seeds. Drain off the juice and put it on to boil with the sugar. When it comes to a boil, skim it, and let it simmer for about fifteen minutes; then put in the pulp and grated rind, and boil fifteen minutes longer. Put away in jelly tumblers. Sell large glasses for twenty-five cents; small, for fifteen.
  2. Brandied Peach.—The Morris whites are the best. Take off the skins with boiling water. To each pound of fruit allow one pound of sugar, and a half-pint of water to three pounds of sugar. When the syrup is boiling hot put in the peaches, and as fast as they cook take them out carefully and spread on platters. When cool put them in jars and fill up these with syrup, using one-half syrup and one-half pale brandy. This is a very choice brand, and will only pay you where you have customers who are not sparing of their money.
  3. Ox-heart Cherry.—Of showy fruits, none can excel this. To each pound of cherries, allow one-third of a pound of sugar. Put the sugar in the kettle with half a pint of water to three pounds of sugar. Stir it until it is dissolved. When boiling, add the cherries, and cook three minutes. Put up in jars that can be sold for from twenty-five to fifty cents.
  4. Pound Pear.—They hardly weigh a pound a piece, but they look as if they do with their great white bulks pressed up against the sides of the transparent glass. Take the largest kind, Bartlett, Seckel, or any that have a delicious flavor. Pare the fruit, cut in halves, and throw in cold water. Use one pound of sugar for three of fruit, and one quart of water for three pounds of sugar. When the syrup is boiling take the pears from the water and drop into the syrup. Cook until they can be pierced easily with a silver fork. Fill the jars with fruit, and fill up to the brim with syrup, using a small strainer in the funnel, in order that the syrup may look clear. Sell good-sized jars for fifty cents.
  5. Grape Jelly.—Jellies in little tumblers take up small room, and they can be grouped in artistic shapes. Here is a good grape: Mash fruit in a kettle, put over the fire, and cook until thoroughly done. Drain through a sieve, but do not press through. To each pint of juice, allow one pound of sugar. Boil rapidly for five minutes. Add the sugar, and boil rapidly three minutes more.
  6. Sweet Pickles—(Apple, Pear, or Peach). For six pounds of fruit, use three of sugar, five dozen cloves and a pint of vinegar. Into each apple, pear, or peach, stick two cloves. Have the syrup hot, and cook until tender. Put up in attractive little jars with colored labels. Jars should sell for twenty-five cents.
  7. Chow-Chow.—Here is a very taking kind: Take large red-peppers, remove the contents, and fill them with chopped pickles. The red of the peppers against the white of the glass gives a very pretty appearance. Small bottles that can be sold cheap will be the most popular.
  8. Pickled Walnuts.—Pick out the nuts as nearly whole as possible, and steep in strong brine for a week, then bottle, add spice, and fill with vinegar boiling hot. Put up in very small jars. Have a jar from which to give samples if the dish is not common in the place.

There are a vast number of other fruits, vegetables, and nuts, which you can use as custom shall demand. If you grow your own fruit and do your own work, the result is nearly all profit. If you have to buy the fruit, the selling-price should be such as to give one third profit. This is the per cent. which all manufacturers expect.

Section 6. Toilet Articles.

These have a perennial sale. They are not confined to any season or age. Most of them, especially the French, makes, come high, but they are composed of a few simple ingredients, and can be made by any person of ordinary skill. Here are a few of the best selling:

  1. Rose Oil.—Heat dried rose-leaves in an earthenware pipkin, the leaves being covered with olive-oil, and keep hot for several hours. The oil will extract both odor and color. Strain, and put in little cut-glass bottles.
  2. Cologne Water.—Take one pint of alcohol, twelve drops each of bergamot, lemon, neroli, sixty drops of lavender, sixty drops of bergamot, sixty drops of essence of lemon, and sixty drops of orange-water, shake well and cork.
  3. French Face Powder.—Poudre de chipre one and one-half pounds, eau (water) of millefleurs one and one-half drachms. Put up in small cut-glass bottles and give it a French name. Poudre de Millefleurs will do.
  4. Night-Blooming Cereus.—This is a very delicate and fragrant perfume. Spirit of rose 4 ounces, essence of jasmine 4 ounces, tincture of tonka 2 ounces, tincture of civet 2 ounces, tincture of benzoin 4 ounces. Cost $1.65 per pint. Put up in half-gill bottles at fifty cents each, $4.00. Profit, $2.35.

In selling expensive perfumery, remember that the glass is cheaper than the contents, and you should therefore select thick bottles with small cubical space. Tie pretty colored ribbons around the necks of the bottles, and put them, four or six together, in attractive boxes with the lids removed. You must in every way court the patronage of the ladies, and you can in some cases well afford to give a bottle to the leader of a social set with the understanding that she recommend it to her friends.

Section 7. Varnishes and Polishes.

With your plants, meats, preserves, candies, and perfumery, you have already got much beyond your show-window. You now have a “department store” on a small scale, and as you make the goods yourself you ought to be making money. There are some things you can add for which the demand will not be great, but then the cost of making is small. Besides, the goods, put up in bright tin boxes with colored labels and built up in pyramids on your shelves, will give your store an artistic and attractive appearance. Here are a few things that might profitably occupy your spare moments:

  1. Stove Blacking.—Take half a pound of black lead finely powdered, and mix with the whites of three eggs well-beaten; then dilute it with sour beer or porter till it becomes as thin as shoe-blacking; after stirring it, set it over hot coals to simmer for twenty minutes; then, after it has become cold, box and label.
  2. Shoe Blacking.—Mix six parts of fine bone-black, twenty-eight of syrup or four of sugar, three of train-oil, and one of sulphuric acid. Let the mixture stand for eight hours, then add with vigorous and constant stirring four parts of the decoction of tan, eighteen of bone-black, and three of sulphuric acid, and pour the compound into a little tin boxes. Cost, one cent per box; sell for five cents.
  3. Furniture Cream.—Take eight parts of white wax, two of resin, and one pint of true Venice turpentine. Melt at a gentle heat, and pour the warm mass into a stone jar with six parts of rectified oil of turpentine. After twenty-four hours it should have the consistency of soft butter. Sell in small ten-cent boxes.
  4. Leather Polish.—Beat the yolks of two eggs and the white of one; mix a tablespoonful of gin and a teaspoonful of sugar; thicken it with ivory black, add it to the eggs, and use as common blacking. This will give a fine polish to harnesses and leather cushions, and also may be used as a dressing for ladies’ shoes.

These are the varnishes and polishes that sell the most readily, but you must not think they will sell without advertisement, recommendation, and display. Label them attractively, and tell just what they will do. It is well to have a little hand press so that you can print your own labels, and also some marking-ink for posters. Use ink freely; and, if you can get the recommendation of, some townsman who has tried one of your varnishes or polishes, give it a large display.

Section 8. Soaps and Starches.

Soaps are easily made and very profitable. Several firms have made fortunes in soap during the last few years. You can make just as good an article in your own home and reap all the profits. With starches, take pains to let your customers know that you have different ones for different kinds of goods. Many use the same starch for all kinds of washing. You must show people that your starches are made especially for various kinds of garments, and that the effect will not be so good if the wrong starch is used, or one kind applied indiscriminately to all kinds of goods.

  1. Poland Starch.—Mix flour and cold water until the mass will pour easily, then stir it into a pot of boiling water, and let it boil five or six minutes, stirring frequently. A little spermaceti will make it smoother. When cold, put in pasteboard boxes and sell cheap.
  2. Glue Starch.—(For calicoes.) Boil a piece of glue, four inches square, in three quarts of water. Put it in a well-corked bottle, and sell for a little more than Poland.
  3. Gum Arabic Starch.—(For lawns and white muslin.) Pound to a powder two ounces of fine, white gum-arabic; put it into a pitcher, and pour a pint or more of boiling water upon it, and cover it well. Let it stand all night, and in the morning pour it carefully from the dregs into a clean bottle, and cork it tight. Recommend this to your customers, and tell them that a tablespoonful of this stirred into a pint of starch made in the ordinary manner will restore lawns to almost their original freshness.
  4. Starch Luster.—This is a substance which, when added to starch, gives the cloth not only a high polish, but a dazzling whiteness. To produce this result, a little piece the size of a copper cent is added to half a pound of starch and boiled with it for two or three minutes. Now we will give you the whole secret. The substance is nothing more than stearine, paraffine, or wax, sometimes colored by a slight admixture of ultramarine blue. You can buy it in quantities for a trifle, and sell it in little balls or wafers at a profit of 500 per cent.
  5. Hard Soap.—Five pails of soft soap, two pounds of salt and one pound of resin. Simmer together and when thoroughly fused turn out in shallow pans so as to be easily cut. This costs little more than the labor and by being able to undersell rivals you should have a monopoly in soap.
  6. Savon d’Amande.—This is a celebrated French toilet soap. The recipe is French suet nine parts, olive oil one part, saponified by caustic soda. Toilet soaps are also made of white tallow, olive, almond and palm-oil, soaps either alone or combined in various proportions and scented. The perfume is melted in a bright copper pan by the heat of a water bath.

Section 9. Soft Drinks.

You may now if you have a counter try a few soft drinks. A soda fountain is expensive and perhaps would not pay at this stage, but you might try it when you have more capital and customers. First try.—

  1. Root Beer.—Get a bottle of the extract, and make it according to the directions. Cost of ten gallons extract and sugar, $1. Put up in pint bottles at five cents a bottle $4. Profit, $3.
  2. Ginger Pop.—Put into an earthen pot two pounds of loaf sugar, two ounces of cream tartar, two ounces of best ginger bruised, and two lemons cut into slices. Pour over them three gallons of boiling water, when lukewarm, toast a slice of bread, spread it thickly with yeast and put it into the liquor. Mix with it also the whites of two eggs and their crushed shells. Let it stand till next morning. Then strain and bottle. It will be ready for use in three or four days. Profits about the same as the last.
  3. Lemonade and Orangeade.—Get juicy fruit, and allow one orange or lemon to a glass. The tumblers for orangeade should be smaller than those for lemonade. Profits about two and one-half cents a glass.

Have your, counter for drinks as near the door as you can. Keep your bottles on ice. Make your lemonade to order, and let it be known that all your beer is home-brewed. Ask your patrons if they like it, and take kindly any suggestions they may make. Let them know you want to please them.

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