I recently had a customer write me to let me know that spinning tops are dead and that I should figure out a new product idea. Admittedly, I was a touch offended when I first read it but, after some thought, came to the conclusion that this email was well intended. We've had email correspondence before and it was always positive so why would this be any different?
That's when some reflection kicked in. The reality is that my dad didn't start making spinning tops in order to sell them or follow some fad. He'd been making them here and there for years. He enjoyed them and, more importantly, enjoyed giving them to my niece for Christmas. Years later, when we started this business, I thought they would sell like hotcakes if we made them out of brass (instead of Aluminum). At this time, machined spinning tops couldn't be found in this vast treasure trove of online goodies (at least Google couldn't find any) so I figured that it would grab the attention of some folks. It did indeed. I sold every top my dad could make within minutes of adding them to the website. This is when I realized we really had something and I was going to have to start machining if we were going to keep up. I'll never forget my dad saying "you know, it's only a matter of time before other machinists start making these." and my response was "why would a machinist ever waste his time making spinning tops?". Within a couple of years, they were everywhere I looked (slight exaggeration) and the spinning top business was booming. So much so, that the majority of our other products got pushed to the side so we could keep up. This is the fad part that my customer was speaking of and I do agree that the fad has cooled a bit, but here's the deal...
I love making spinning tops. Not only that, spinning tops are a timeless toy that has been around for thousands of years! Not hundreds, thousands! That's about as timeless as it gets in my book. Yes, this recent boom of machined spinning tops might be categorized differently and it could be considered a fad but I never looked at spinning tops as a quick buck and on to the next product. It isn't a fad to me but something I love to do, that my dad taught me to do and hope that you folks collect them as timeless pieces to enjoy and pass along.
There's this guy that makes these folding brass star thingy's. I can't for the life of me remember what they are called or what his name is but he's been making these things since the 60's I believe. I stumbled across this guy in the first year that I started making tops and thought, that's what I want this to be. I want to be 70 years old and still out in that shop turning tops (and other goods of course). Hopefully you'll take that ride with me.
p.s. I'm finally getting good at these things. Can't quit now!