For more than 30 years, Gary worked as a contracted aircraft builder and rebuilder, traveling from job to job across the United States. He was paid well. But then the industry started steadily declining, and work got sent overseas. Finally, he said, contract work just disappeared.
As work started drying up five years ago, Gary slowly turned his hobby and passion for attending motorcycle events into a business.
“Basically, it was out of desperation to find something to do to sustain myself,” Gary said. “I’ve always gone to motorcycle events, but never as a vendor. But I had seen people doing it and knew it was something I could do.”
At first, Gary sold just a few hats at a time, using a friend’s table, and discovered that the “Made in America” label drew customers to his hats.
Gary recently officially opened a full-time business, doing business as Bud’s Emporium and also as Daddy BUD’s DooRags. He travels the Southern part of the nation, going to motorcycle events and music festivals, selling doorags – motorcycle riders’ head coverings, and welder’s style hats, face coverings, neck coolers, highway and motorcycle-related vintage-style signs, jewelry, as well as Android phones and computer tablets. He doesn’t have a website, but he has a Facebook page where people can keep track of his locations: https://www.facebook.com/DaddyBUDsDooRags
Gary took his first spin on a motorcycle when he was five years old, when a teen-aged neighbor was offering kids rides on his Cushman Eagle. That first ride turned a fascination into a passion and a lifestyle for Gary, who is riding the same Harley Davidson Shovelhead that he bought in 1973.
Gary was in South Texas, working the motorcycle shows during the winter months this year, when it became clear that his truck needed to be replaced. He learned about Accion Texas through a news report with Bill Clinton announcing the Kiva-Accion Texas partnership in Little Rock this March.
“I’ve always been a fan of Bill Clinton and even worked on some of his campaigns,” Gary said. “When I saw this announcement, it caught my interest.”
He decided to apply for a loan to buy a used, 17-foot U-Haul box truck to replace his truck and to take his business to the next level. The larger truck enables him to create a store display area within the truck, in addition to his tented table arrangement.
Gary said that over time he has been able to build up friends and clients as a business. “Usually I am at an event and if some people know where I am, other people will find me,” Gary said.
Gary said if the aircraft industry picked up and job recruiters called to put him back to work, he would say he was ready and available. But, he said, his focus right now is building his business and to “whittle out a niche.”
LiftFund. (www.liftfund.com) is an award-winning nonprofit organization (previously known as Accion Texas) with a mission to provide credit and loans to small and start-up businesses that have limited or no access to credit from commercial sources. Established in 1994 in San Antonio, LiftFund has helped Texas and Louisiana entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses, stabilize and increase their incomes, create employment, and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. Learn more at www.liftfund.com.