Business Startups: River Inner Tube Rentals and Craft Fair Concessions

In this installment of an ongoing business startups feature, one reader descirbes her river inner tube rentals business and another her craft fair concessions business.

| March/April 1983

  • business startups - river inner tube rentals
    The river inner tube rentals business was profitable in the summer AND winter, with the tubes performing double duty as sleds.
    Photo by Mary Hagemann

  • business startups - river inner tube rentals

The following are business startups readers established after reading articles in MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

River Inner Tube Rentals

Last spring, as I was eagerly searching through the pages of various copies of MOTHER EARTH NEWS in hopes of finding a venture that would help me bring in some extra cash, I came across Mary B. Bowling's Take Advantage of Summer Tourism With an Inner Tube Business and decided to give that enterprise a try.

Since I'm fortunate enough to live near a river (and a few other water-recreation spots), I knew there would be a demand for floats. I opted to rent my tubes out on a daily basis rather than sell them in order to limit the labor and time involved in locating and patching used castoffs. I found that this moneymaker isn't limited to warm weather, either. During the winter, when snow covered the nearby hills, I was able to rent my inflatable rafts as sleds!

I began my business by gathering a supply of inner tubes, purchasing some at flea markets and garage sales, and getting others from local tire stores and service stations. (Most of the latter businesses were happy to give me their punctured discards.)

With the help of an air compressor belonging to a neighbor, my husband Al and I blew up all our round rafts and marked any leaks with yellow crayon. After repairing the holes, we reinflated the floats and spray painted an identifying "tattoo" on each of them.

In all, I spent only about $15 getting my new business going, and my operating expenses are minimal as well. I shelled out a grand total of $5.00 for tubes (they ranged in price from 25¢ to 50 ¢). A tire-patching kit and a can of bright spray paint set me back $2.98 and $1.19, respectively, and I spent $1.50 for photocopies of a list of safety rules and tubing tips that I hand out to my customers. Though I do occasionally need to replace tubes and replenish my other supplies, my steadiest continuing expense is the $4.00 I spend each week for a small ad in our local newspaper.

However, as Mary Bowling pointed out in her article, the tubes do an excellent job of advertising themselves. Stacked in the yard with a chain through their centers, the oversized airfilled doughnuts are real eye-catchers. And I back them up with a large sign.

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