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Success Story
REAP Women's Business Center

Gaster’s Turn Coopering Hobby into a New Business Success
“Give credit to the Gaspers for their persistence, vision, openness to learn, and their patience and faith.”

Jim, Marilyn, and son Jeremy Gaster are having the time of their lives assembling, promoting, and marketing authentic coopering products. The Indianola, Nebraska family turned Jim’s hobby of coopering into a highly successful enterprise, Beaver Buckets.

Notable customers include Walt Disney, 20th Century Fox Studios, and the Smithsonian Institution. What’s coopering? It’s the craft of making or repairing wooden barrels, casks etc. Old pioneer flour barrels, water kegs, cracker barrels, and like items are examples.

Jim and Marilyn, members of the Rural Entrepreneurs’ Business Association (REBA) in the McCook, Nebraska area, have credited guidance from God, REAP, and McCook Community College classes for making their business thrive. Give credit also to the Gaspers themselves, for their persistence, vision, openness to learn, and their patience and faith.

A True Family Partnership
Each of the Gaster’s has a unique and important role in the business. Jim, of course, is the cooper, although Jeremy is apprenticing alongside his father. Marilyn is the marketer, bookkeeper, and generally a true support person for the business.

Jeremy is building high computer skills, and designed and continues to refine the Beaver Buckets website: You’ll find an amazing variety of coopered items ranging from an authentic replica of a “War of 1812” canteen to a pioneer era water keg on the site.

E-commerce Vital to Marketing
It was through an email query from a Smithsonian Institute intern that the Gasters made an important inroad into the higher value product pricing that Gasters needed to make the labor intensive hobby a real business opportunity. Disney’s prop department found the Gasters through the Beaver Buckets website.

Networking has been a key component of their marketing success. The Gasters credit REAP for the marketing brainstorming and encouragement It and their personal faith inspired them to persist in seeking high value markets for their handcrafted authentic reproductions.

Willing to Take to the Road
The networking within REBA and local and area media is just part of the marketing package. Jim has also participated in a 140 mile trip from Beacon Rock, Washington to the Pacific Ocean as part of “warm-up” for the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Re-enactors from all kinds of historical venues are an important part of the customer base for Beaver Buckets. Jim has also guest coopered at Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s mansion and Lincoln’s New Salem in Illinois.

Contact: Phil Menke, REAP Business Specialist, for more information, 308.784.4948,
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