The Good Old Days
Nostalgic For a Simpler Time?
Entrepreneurs Get Clients Back to Basics with Fun Retreats.
If you ever miss childhood–those carefree days of climbing trees and building caves out of sofa cushions–you'll be glad to know some entrepreneurs keep that childlike spirit alive.
Everything old becomes new again. In the 1970s, we were reliving the 1950s through movies like Grease. In the 1980s, kids were donning 1960s fashions. In the 1990s, That '70s Show debuted. But who would have thought we would get nostalgic for the Stone Age?
David Provost, 38, has ably tapped the market for those channeling their inner Fred Flinstone. His Napa, California, business, Bacchus Caves, which he bought in 1997, builds actual caverns–underground and in hills. Initially, he was constructing them for wineries that needed climate-stable places to age their stock. But in 1999, he received his first request to build a private home cave, which can range from between $150 to $375 per square foot to create. Private caves now make up approximately 65 percent of his company's market.
This isn't to suggest people are moving their entire homes into caves; Provost has only one client who has elected to do that. "They don't really live in them," explains Provost. "People use them for other things, like a place to store artwork or have friends over. One customer wants to put in a yoga studio; another wants to store his golf cart."
Provost estimates annual sales are between $5 million and $10 million. It's a niche market, but a profitable one, and why not? Who hasn't wanted their own personal den? "One client said it really brings him back to his primal roots," says Provost. " Some of my clients are very busy people, and they describe their caves as the eye of the hurricane. They go in there, and their cell phones don't work. It's a beautiful retreat and a quiet place where they can just get away."