West Virginia boasts a population of more than 1.8 million people as of 2009. In 2008, travelers spend over $4 billion to visit West Virginia.This many people creates a viable market for entrepreneurs seeking a new business opportunity. With some creative thinking, entrepreneurs can find some unusual ways to make money in West Virginia.
Black Bear Impersonation
The black bear received the honor of becoming the official state animal in 1973. Children enjoy learning about wildlife and experiencing interactive demonstrations. One way to educate children about the black bear involves performing black bear impersonations for parties or youth groups. The entrepreneur needs to design or purchase a black bear costume, study black bear facts and let adults know he’s open for business. A typical presentation by the entrepreneur includes sharing facts about the black bear, such as its true color being a deep brown, creating bear crafts with the children -- such as a mask -- and role-playing bear safety with the children.
The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad represents the oldest train line in the United States. Most of its track runs within the borders of West Virginia. Tourists ride the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad searching for bald eagles or embark on a New River Train Excursion to enjoy the scenery of the New River Gorge. An entrepreneur who loves trains could build a racetrack specifically for model train races. Train enthusiasts could bring their own trains to enter into the races. The entrepreneur would charge admission for each participant in the train race. The entrepreneur may also consider selling model trains to customers to participate. The entrepreneur needs to collaborate with a model train supplier, such as Walthers or Hobbylink, to bring supply model trains to the area for sale to participants.
Many casual motorcyclists desire to ride the open roads or fellowship with other bikers when the weather turns sunny. The West Virginia H.O.G. Rally in Charleston and the Wild & Wonderful Mountainfest Motorcycle Rally of Morgantown both occur during July. While these enthusiasts might cruise around on their own, they might want to know which roads provide the best scenery or what towns welcome casual riders at their rallies. The bike-riding entrepreneur can sell her expertise and serve as a guide to these casual bikers.
Geocaching provides participants with the ability to search for hidden treasure using a GPS satellite. West Virginia has seen the popularity of geocaching grow in recent years with hunters searching for treasure at Cabela’s Travel Bug Motel or at the Mud River Covered Bridge of Milton. While the popularity of this activity continues to increase, many people still look on curiously, wondering how it all works. The experienced geocacher can become a geocaching trainer. As a trainer, the entrepreneur meets with small groups of potential geocachers and teaches them how to navigate through this activity. The trainer may create notes for each student, discuss how the process works and lead the team on a geocaching treasure hunt. As a final activity, the trainer might send each student on an individual treasure hunt.