Simple jobs

Here’s another blog post inspired by a discussion with the kids.

Relatively simple things, it appears, can also be quite profitable.

Back when I worked at Hattams as a 16-17 year-old, the alterations for trousers and jackets and things were done by a bloke called Telly who lived up the road. Trouser shortening was $5, in most cases passed-on to the customer. Sometimes I’d be tasked with taking the trousers etc up to Telly. It turned out all those alterations, many at $5 each (and no doubt similar minor jobs from other places) had managed to fund an enormous house (and this was in Elsternwick — even in the late-80s, it was expensive) and a shiny new Mercedes in the driveway.

The barber shop in Glen Huntly where I’ve gone for years is run by a bloke and his two sons. It’s a fairly basic type of haircut you get there — the current going rate is $20. The family lives around the corner in pretty big, very impressive house.

I think the lesson here is that if you can do moderately skilled, even if it’s simple and cheap, do it quickly and efficiently enough and you can still make yourself a lot of dosh.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

6 replies on “Simple jobs”

Houses were cheaper in those days, and a lot of these old tailors and barbers and folks would have bought them in the 60’s, not the 80’s.

A few years back, there was a convenience store near me run by and old dude and his wife, they could not have been making any money from it. When he died it was revealed that they lived in a waterfront house which would be worth about $6 million now. Who knows where the money came from.

About efficiency, you are exactly right. If you can do 4 haircuts an hour, thats $80 an hour, Not hard to do if a lot of the customers are old bald guys with a bit of short hair that they want trimmed little but often.

I don’t think trouser shortening would cost much more than $5 now. In fact it is what a friend who works in a menswear shop charges, even with a mark up on clothes of about 250% of cost. Of course, he would not lose a sale over a customer not wanting to pay another $5.

But I am not so sure you could become very comfortable nowadays with $20 haircuts or clothing alterations.

Yeah I guess.
He might have owned a lot of other property too.
The struggling ethnic greengrocer here who is about 75 years old, he told me he still owns 17 houses he bought in the early 80s

If you are skilled labour whether it is a hairdresser or an IT contractor or anything else, there is an upside limit to what you can earn from your own hours and hourly rate.
The real money is usually made in lucky or prescient timing of the property market.

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