Make and sell toy cars, wagons, wooden puzzle and hobby horses. retail them at flea markets, fairs, through national ads, direct from your shop or yard and/or wholesale them to stores or catalog sales companies.
Wooden toys have a special appeal that most other types of toys do not-- nostalgia and parent confidence. Parents remember wooden toys they had as children lasted a long time and that they were safe. Wooden toys like hobby horses or stick horses are so old, they are "new"!
For past few years, wooden items have become more and more scarce as they have been replaced by plastic and wood filled plastics that can be molded. Many items are advertised these days as "genuine wood" to inform buyer they are nor plastic or laminated sawdust, and infer that they are therefore worth more.
The overall result is that an item made of "genuine wood" is now considered more valuable than substitutes that just a few years ago were considered an "improvement" over wood.
In wooden toy business, you have option of making variety of things or specializing in one item or series of items.
You also have luxury of being able to use what other industries would call scraps -- because not many of your toys will require 8, 6 or even four foot pieces of wood.
This means that you can use materials that others can't -- and that if you can locate a good source, your materials should be half or less of going rate. As a result, you will be able to offer finished toys of good quality wood at excellent prices and still make a very nice profit.
This type of business will appeal to wood enthusiast, or anyone who enjoys shop work; variety of possible toy products is endless -- limited only by toy maker's imagination and facilities.
If you specialize in larger items such as hobby horses, one well-placed ad for genuine, old-fashioned hardwood horses could keep you busy!
The only "secret" to this business is to have a plan for getting your materials at a good price, a procedure to fabricate and finish toys efficiently and professionally, and effective means of letting right prospective customers know where they can be found and how much they cost.
Most wooden toy makers limit their output to models they can build with tools and equipment on hand. They set up a procedure, as close to assembly line as possible to allow high quality items to be produced efficiently: jigs for cutting, clamps for gluing, patterns for drilling, stencils for painting -- with designated areas for operations like sanding or painting that require them to be separated.
Although finished items are all made by hand, there is no need to completely finish one item before starting on next -- it is much "smarter" to cut out two dozen horse heads at once; to sand them all while area is set up for that operation, and to give them all their first coat of paint at same time.. The items are still hand made, only a lot more efficiently.
The bottom line is that quality is just as high (perhaps even higher as you perfect each step), but price is lower because you can produce them cheaper.
One inexpensive way to advertise is to rent a display window in a store (even a vacant store -- see real estate agent about renting just window until store is leased).
Set up a nice looking display of your products --several models, a variety of items (or your "pride and joy") in an attractive display - one that is calculated to interest children as a toy, as well as parents as a good investment.
Tip: "Eye level" for a child is 3 to 4 feet, so place items you want to see at their level!
Put price tags on items. or a placard (about 8 x 10) in or near items, along with a couple of lines about their quality and,of course, where they can be purchased.
If you are willing to make alterations, indicate that custom items are available (but leave price open until you find out what they have in mind).
Plan your production schedule to peak about 30 days before holidays -- seasonal sales you lose because you ran out of items sell are GONE!
In beginning, you will probably want to try several different products -- and procedures. You need to learn which things you can make best and which ones will sell best.
Once you have settled on a line of products (if you do), it would be wise to gear your "assembly line" to those products.
Use a piece of tin or masonite for a cutout pattern; holes in it to mark places to drill. Work out a production schedule for steps that take time, such as glue setting and paint drying -- where you take an item from clamps, sand it lightly, lay it out for painting phase and immediately place another item (or sets of items) available glue clamps.
If you glue, setting time is one hour (temperature regulation may speed this step) and you have 5 sets of glue clamps, you can set aside 5 or 10 minutes per hour for this phase to produce 5 items per hour or 40 per day (the last set is left overnight to be changed first thing in morning).