Hand Tools Archive

Re: Millenials and craftsmanship

TM Stock
Nostalgia for the things that we grew up with will not change, but each generation sees a change in the nature of those things. Don't expect millenials who grew up with PS3 and Xbox electronic games and toys to show much in the way of interest for our generation's G.I Joe or Rock'em Sock'em Robots.

One of my students - a gent that operates a 'man's antique store' - has observed that the bottom is falling out of the market for old china sets, antique silver, and all the other stuff that used to routinely show up on wedding registries. Why? Because the last generation that was told as children to "...get out the good china, dear - it's Sunday dinner" are dying off, and the market for formal dinnerware and good silver with it. Don't expect a recovery until we see a return to the social and societal values of the 1940's, which is to say never. We have moved on.

Lots of parallels. I cannot recall the last time I saw a commercial for Rogaine targeting men...Vin Diesel and Bruce Willis made bald cool, so baldness has ceased to carry any social stigma (recent surveys show it is perceived as 'more masculine', though still 'less attractive' than a full head of hair...that will change as well). Not sure if we will ever see a wave of nostalgia for hair pieces, but I know I would hate to be sitting on a warehouse full of men's rugs OR hair restoration products right now.

Recognition of quality in durable goods is a very different issue, not to be confused with nostalgia for our lost youth or a desire to acquire an excess of material possessions (aka collecting). Millenials - like every generation before them - will eventually mature to the point where 'good enough to get by for my crash pad' will become 'there's got to be something better than this crap' - so I don't expect the bottom to drop out of the high-end furniture market. Unless VR becomes much, much more popular, we will still want to have quality durable good in our lives, if only because the kids are less likely to destroy them.

Where we can expect to see some marked differences in behavior in something relevant to this forum is in hand tool acquisition. For Boomers like me, the only option to the crap that Stanley, Record and other tool companies produced in the post-WWII period and beyond was older Stanley, et al stuff, so the value proposition was such that we had to buy used/vintage/antique to get the quality we desired - there were no real options in the new tool market.

For those equipping a hand tool shop today - including Gen X and Y woodworkers, there is no real issue beyond cost in finding new tools which - with a few niche exceptions like hand saws - equal or exceed the quality of available used/vintage/antique stuff. I am not certain what this will do to the market for used/vintage/antique tools, but I don't believe that we will see much of an expansion in that market, barring a failure of our millennials to finally move out of our basements/spare bedrooms and become gainfully employed such that trading money for time becomes attractive enough to justify $300 hand plane purchases.

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