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Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
The Old.... on 03/13/2008 21:31:04 MDT Print View

Saying of "Sure you could make it, but would you?".

Over the years of selling at farmer markets and now online, like Bill, I have gotten some snide comments about how I charged too much and how they could do it for pennies on the dollars.

My reply was and still is the above line ;-) Then you politely ask them if they have the sewing machine and skills. Heh! Or in my previous business it was growing herbs and making candles and soaps and asking them if they had ever rendered tallow or made soap with lye.

Heehee. Shut them right up!

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Re: The Old.... on 03/15/2008 13:39:41 MDT Print View

One of my favorite instances of this comeback is a story about Avant-Garde composer John Cage. He did lots of crazy stuff early in his career... ideas as art... "happenings" as art. He wrote the famous composition 4'33" in which a pianist (usually) just sits at a piano and does nothing (for the most part)... doesn't play a single note... for 4 minutes and 33 seconds. He's also written concertos for car horn. And he did this recital where he had four overhead projectors set up... each with a clear plastic tray holding transparent staff paper (music notation paper) and half an inch of water. Then he put a bug in each tray of water and each of the four musicians would have to play what their bug "notated" as they swam around. LOL. Funny.

Anyway... the story goes that an elderly lady came up to him once after a performance and was very upset... and she said "I could have done that"... and he replied "Yes mam... but you didn't".

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
WHITE BOX STOVE IMPROVED(inc free lunch) on 03/15/2008 17:11:22 MDT Print View

Often people confuse "hobby" and business.
You can make a 'tarptent" for less than $50 if you are prepared to work for 20-50 hours for nothing. ( of course if you need to buy a sawing machine and learn how to use it...)
See the post from Roger Caffin where he stated that he gave up selling tents ( at $500 AU or thereabout) because he did not want to work for $4 an hour.
Having worked in retail for over 30 years, I was always amazed to find so many co-workers that confused net and gross profit. Yet they never wanted to work for nothing, nor offered to pay for wages/rent/advertising/training/electricity/insurance/wastage/pilfering/stationary/kitchen supplies/rates/uniforms.... but always happy to ask for a pay rise.

Arapiles .
(Arapiles) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Re: Unprovoked attack on 03/15/2008 18:08:52 MDT Print View


That's amazingly gratuitous - why would anyone send a message like that?

And don't worry, I see enough "do it yourself" instructions on the website for things like bike lights that actually work out only marginally cheaper than buying from a proper manufacturer to not be under any illusions about the value of a $20 stove.


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: WHITE BOX STOVE IMPROVED(inc free lunch) on 03/16/2008 03:21:59 MDT Print View

> See the post from Roger Caffin where he stated that he gave up selling tents ( at $500 AU or thereabout) because he did not want to work for $4 an hour.

I am sure it worked out at $3 per hour ...

Cheers :-)

Mike Hinsley

Locale: England, UK
White Box Stove Improved on 03/16/2008 04:11:19 MDT Print View

The moment that you start to realistically price the time required it soon adds up if you are trying to earn a living doing it.

Sure, I can make lots of stuff at home for small $ but if I want to earn a living doing it then I have to charge my time at a releastic rate including taxes, trips to stores to buy things (if they cannot deliver), transport costs, packaging costs and so on. Material costs become almost nothing in respect.

That doesn't even begin to cover the cost of product development. To make one decent item I might have to spend time creating 10 rubbish ones. Each one uses materials. Each one takes a lot of time - much more time than would be taken by a production-level manufacture.

When I'm hiring builders for jobs around the house I try and be realistic and when they quote me x I try mentally to work out how much time it would take me to do the job including going to get materials, tidying up and so on and remembering that they need to get here first. If that x is a lot less than the money lost by me not earning money during that time then it makes sense to hire the guy.

Often when I do the sums I work out that he is charging less per hour than I do even if his x seems initially high.

So, maybe $20 is a reasonable amount for a stove. Maybe it isn't. But if he can make one and get a label written and get it shipped in under an hour then he's probably doing well. If he can do it all in under half an hour then fantastic.

Of one thing I can be sure, at $20 he's not going to be the next Donald Trump.

I also know that my first can stove took an hour and was a failure. A 50c failure is still a failure.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
WHITE BOX STOVE IMPROVED on 03/16/2008 11:02:06 MDT Print View

Bill has sold hundreds of these stoves on eBay so people obviously want them. I've met Bill in person on the trail in the middle of some great wilderness so I can personally attest to the fact he is a tried and true backpacker. And I've held a White Box Stove in my hand and seen the precision craftsmanship of them.

If someone wants to bad mouth him about the cost of his stove and the fact that they have one that weighs less they should probably just keep their mouth shut, build their own stoves and leave people who's time is better spent cooking on a stove than building one to themselves.

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Re: White Box Stove Improved on 03/17/2008 09:42:28 MDT Print View

"The moment that you start to realistically price the time required it soon adds up if you are trying to earn a living doing it..."


Your post is much of why I've yet to make a lot of my own gear, and prefer cottage made stuff. Now, don't get me wrong I want to make my own gear, but it's not about cost it's about a sense of accomplishment. When comparing $$, it's makes a lot more sense for me to devote that time to advancing my career (by working a bit more or taking a class... or getting my MBA, like I'm doing now). That or it makes more emotional sense to devote that time to playing with my son, or taking my wife to dinner (two things that, right now, I don't seem to have much time for and are far more important to me than any sense of accomplishment in making my own gear).

Now, were I not in a decent job, where I can afford to spend some money on myself, I might see things differently.

PS - It's also why I don't change my own oil. I don't actually save money doing it (though would like to one day for therapeutic value - aka I like tinkering)

(billinmt) - F - MLife

Thanks for the support. on 06/24/2008 21:20:10 MDT Print View

To all who have chipped in their support for me I do appreciate that. Building stoves was never meant to be nor will it ever be a "get rich quick" scheme.

With that said we are taking the next step. In a few days you will see the stove for sale at Backpacking Light. That's right, Ryan Jordan just placed an order and the first stoves have been shipped today. It may be about a week before it is on BPL's web site but it will be there really soon.

Thanks again for your support,

Bill in MT

Abraham Schlossberg
(ernda) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Small size to replace the gram weenie? on 06/24/2008 22:41:31 MDT Print View

Do you think you might consider coming out with a small version to replace the gram weenie (which does not appear to be available any longer) for those of us who must need to boil 1-1 1/2 cups of water in our Firelite 500's?

(billinmt) - F - MLife

Re: Small size to replace the gram weenie? on 06/24/2008 23:05:39 MDT Print View

Right now I don't have any plans to make a smaller version. With the lack of spare time and business going good I just don't have the desire to make a smaller version.

I was asked by Gossamer Gear to develop a smaller aluminum bottle stove a year ago. I made quite a few different models but was never really satisfied with the results. Others, like the Gram Weenie, have copied this stove but none seem to be very successful marketing them or else they finally found out is wasn't worth their time to continue making stoves.

Also I would have to upgrade some of my tools to accommodate the different size bottles and that just doesn't seem worth it.

Another reason I'm not interested in making a smaller version is that the White Box Stove uses a recycled bottle. Any other size bottle will have to be bought from new stock from some foreign importer. Kind of defeats the purpose of using recycled materials.

Thanks for asking,

Bill in MT

mark henley
(flash582) - F
Don't feed the Trolls on 06/25/2008 05:30:53 MDT Print View

As my dad, god rest his soul, used to say ..... "Opinions are like A__holes. Everybody's got one ..... the real trick is not to BE one".

I've had your whitebox stove ever since Sarbar first started talking about them on ..... and I must say that I'm thrilled. What a great product.

I've MELTED windscreens with the whitebox stove from getting them too close. Tell me another Alcohol stove that does that.

With that said, I've also ordered a Packafeather and several stoves from Tinny. I also have a Jetboil ..... they all have different purposes, they all have a different place in my pack for different style trips.

Hanging out by a Lake in Glacier for three days, cooking trout each day .... Packafeather or Jetboil, depending on how many people are going.

Solo trips where I want to cover some miles ... whitebox stove.

Sub 2 lb trips ... Tinny's elite 2 or a tea light stove. Tinny makes a great product too ..... always a value for your dollar.

I can make any of them work in each case, but I pick the stove for the style trip.

$20? ... you're not charging enough Bill. Not when I gave $80 for a jet boil.

If they don't like the price .... then they can make their own. No one's stopping them ..... just save the rest of us from their complaints .... cause I hear enough of that every time I turn on the TV.