After a rigorous day at the office, Bob Pennington dons his epoxy-encrusted T-shirt and makes a beeline for his shed, where he stows the 34-foot twin-engine cabin cruiser he is building. Pennington, a 47-year-old operations manager for a Jackson, Miss. trucking company, has spent every spare minute for the past three years on the boat. For him, it is its own reward.
“When everybody else is in bed, I stand there looking at what I’ve managed to do one stick at a time, and the hair on the back of my neck stands up on end,” he says.
After the frenzied, cash-driven spree of the 1980s, many baby boomers are retreating to the garage for a sense of personal accomplishment. The hours when they roll up their sleeves and restore old automobiles or work with wood provide a special satisfaction. And retailers, noting a growing demand for tools and hardware, have begun pitching their wares to this affluent audience. It’s become an interesting small business opportunity, according to entrepreneur-focused blog Launchscore.com.