Selling top hats on eBay

Got the hat. Time to feed the pigs...
It sounds like a joke - Did you hear the one about someone selling top hats on eBay? - But it isn't, it's a demonstration of how flexible and innovative our farmers can be.

Many farmers have had to diversify. These days, with a relatively small farm, it's difficult to make a living from agriculture alone. So, for example, some good friends of mine who farm cattle now also have a successful microlight airfield and skydiving school operating from their farmland.

When I was running a creativity session for the CIME Project in Wales the other day, I came across another example of diversification at its best from a farmer. In this case he's selling things on eBay. Specifically he's apparently now one of the country's biggest seller of top hats. This, was, I hasten to add, not one of your gentleman farmer types, all Barbour and Range Rover, but a proper, hands dirty farmer.

More than that he imports and sells hat adjusters - on the whole these hats don't fit very well. A cheap little plastic add-on makes for a perfect snug top hat. And apparently sales of them are booming. They're more popular than ever for weddings and such.

I thought this was wonderful. The need to diversify coupled with real imagination coming up with something highly unlikely but profitable. A lot of our businesses could learn a thing or two from farmers.

Image from Wikipedia


  1. Excellent blog, Brian, and sort of a pet topic of mine. I've long noticed how farmers in my native Cornwall do a great job of diversifying - wonderful farm shops where they sell their own produce and that of other local producers direct to the public, alpaca trails, educational activities for kids (run in collusion with schools), foraging weekends, you name it. It's interesting stuff, and just goes to show how wrong the rather stuffy image of farmers can be.


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