REAP Women's Business
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,
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
Jeremy is building high computer skills, and designed and
continues to refine the Beaver Buckets website:
www.beaverbuckets.com. 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
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
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.