by Philo Hagen
The other day I was listening to a hooper rant that all hoops should be free for everyone, that those who make and sell them for $40 are ripping people off. It’s not the first time I’ve heard such a thing. While my first hoop was given to me for fun and for free by a happy hooping hippie on a hoop love spreading mission, not all of us can afford to be so financially feckless with our favorite avocation, at least for the long term. After making and giving away scores and scores of hoops myself in my attempt to pay it forward, it dawned on me one day that gifting hoops was making quite a serious dent in my already thin wallet.
Inevitably I decided, as so many of us do, that perhaps hoop making itself could be a smart way to supplement my otherwise meager income. I was making hoops anyway, why not get paid for it? And I thought of a sure fire way to get a jump on the competition too. I would sell my hoops for less. After all, who doesn’t want to spend less? The thing I never really took into consideration though was how much it actually costs to make a hoop.
While there are those out there, like my ranting friend, who figure the cost of a hoop to be somewhere around a buck, the real price tag for making a hoop can be quite a different story. For starters, standard polyethylene tubing comes in cumbersome and rather heavy 100 foot rolls, or larger. You have to get somewhere that you can buy the stuff to begin with, and you need to pull into the parking lot in a roomy enough vehicle to bring a few of those routinely dirty rolls back with you, or the price of the gas it took to get there is hardly worth it.
During my brief stint as a hoop making entrepreneur I regularly drove 45 miles each way, from San Francisco to Livermore, just to scores some pipe. Chances are you’re going to have to travel too since most cities don’t make a habit of selling farming irrigation tubing where there aren’t, y’know, farms. And while you might be able to score a roll online for $30, if you wind up paying $35 to have it shipped to you, that’s hardly a bargain either. While connectors aren’t terribly expensive, a sander to grind off the edges can be. A good PVC pipe cutter will also set you back another $20. Anyone who has ever purchased hoop tape knows how quickly a few rolls can really add up there too. If you want to have a good selection of colors and styles and sparkles for people to choose from, then you’re definitely making an investment – and you haven’t even started selling them yet.