Of Velocipede Factories and 128 More Great Hipster Business Ideas

Full disclosure: It still feels like summer out here in BC, and I have not been keeping up on my usual law reading. A whimsical mood has set in. While I will try to link this next bit to the practice of law… well, I can’t promise to be convincing.

I’m always very interested to see how different media, such as blogs or Wikipedia articles, find their way as authorities into reasons for judgment. Earlier this year I popped a comment up on CanLII Connects about what might be the first Canadian judgment to cite a law blog for its analysis. Similarly, articles like The Citation of Wikipedia in Judicial Opinions (2009) 12 Yale JL & Tech, (notice that’s already five years old!) fascinate me. Lee F. Peoples found 401 cases in the US that referenced Wikipedia articles. I can’t even imagine what that number is now, but I’m guessing none of the Wikipedia citations were to this article on the contemporary subculture phenomenon. And that’s what I’m really going to riff about here.

“Hipster is a term popularly used to denote an international subculture primarily consisting of white millennials living in urban areas,” reveals Wikipedia. “The subculture has been described as a ‘mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior[s]’ and is broadly associated with indie and alternative music, a varied non-mainstream fashion sensibility (including vintage and thrift store-bought clothes), generally progressive political views, organic and artisanal foods, and alternative lifestyles. Hipsters are typically described as affluent or middle class young Bohemians who reside in gentrifying neighborhoods.”

I especially like this quote about hipsters, attributed to one Rob Horning, that they are “an embodiment of postmodernism as a spent force, revealing what happens when pastiche and irony exhaust themselves as aesthetics,” or “a kind of permanent cultural middleman in hypermediated late capitalism, selling out alternative sources of social power developed by outsider groups”.

In any event, while staring at a schedule to the Ontario Factories Amendment Act, 1889 SO 1889, c. 53 recently, I guess this other idea just hit me. Forget hypermediated late capitalism. Give ironic pastiche a chance to catch its breath. Try cribbing ideas from the late Victorian industrial period of Upper Canada. Talk about artisinal! These folks made their own barrels and wax paper. Now you can too.

This list is so pre-ironic, it’s perfect. For hipster business adventurers, it’s possible that one or more of these already exist in a decommissioned cannery turned vinegar works.

While this abridged list might actually have been extracted verbatim from a bygone piece of legislative history, it’s being re-purposed just as handily as any old umbrella stand, razor strop or kerosene caboose lantern. Please enjoy a new vocation courtesy of my first official list of business ideas for hipsters (and struggling articling students or LLMs):

  • Augur Factories
  • Axle and Spring Factories
  • Baking Powder and Yeast Factories
  • Barb Wire Factories
  • Barrel Factories
  • Billiard Table Factories
  • Bird Cage Factories
  • Biscuit Factories
  • Blacking Factories
  • Book-binding Factories
  • Brass Foundries
  • Breweries
  • Broom Factories
  • Brush Factories
  • Bustle and Hoopskirt Factories
  • Button Factories
  • Canning Factories
  • Cap Factories
  • Carriage Goods (iron) Factories
  • Cheese Box Factories
  • Cider Factories
  • Cigar Box Factories
  • Clay Pipe Factories
  • Clock Factories
  • Coffin Factories
  • Coopers’ Workshops
  • Cork Factories
  • Corset Factories
  • Corset and Hoopskirt Steel Factories
  • Distilleries
  • Domestic Utensils Factories
  • Dress Shield Factories
  • Drop Forging Factories
  • Dye Works
  • Electrotype Foundries
  • Emery Wheel Factories
  • Envelope Factories
  • Extracts and Essential Oil Factories
  • Felt Factories
  • Flax Mills
  • Fringe and Tassel Factories
  • Fruit Desiccating Factories
  • Furriers’ Workshops
  • Galvanized and Pressed Ironwork Factories
  • Glove Factories
  • Hair Cloth Factories
  • Hames Factories
  • Hammer Factories
  • Hat Factories
  • Hinge Factories
  • Horn Comb Factories
  • Hobby Horse Factories
  • Jams, Jellies and Pickle Works
  • Kaoka Factories
  • Knitting Needle Factories
  • Lace Factories
  • Laundry, Bluing and Washing Crystal Factories
  • Lead Pipe and Shot Factories
  • Linen, Cotton and Jute Bag Factories
  • Lithographers’ Workshops
  • Locomotive Works
  • Mantel Piece Factories
  • Match Factories
  • Metallic Shingle Factories
  • Necktie Works
  • Oil Mills: Oil Refineries
  • Organ Factories
  • Organ Reeds Factories
  • Ornamental Moulding Factories
  • Paint Works
  • Paper Bag Factories
  • Paper Collar Factories
  • Parafine Factories
  • Piano and Organ Keyboard Factories
  • Rag-sorting workshops
  • Rattan Goods Factories
  • Reaper Knife Factories
  • Rivet Works
  • Rope Works
  • Saadlery Hardware Factories
  • Safe Works
  • Salt Drying Works
  • Sash and Door Factories
  • Saw Factories
  • Saw Mills
  • Scale Works
  • Sewer Pipe Factories
  • Sewing Machine Works
  • Shirt Factories
  • Shoddy Factories
  • Shovel Factories
  • Show Case Factories
  • Silk Factories
  • Skate Works
  • Soap Works
  • Soda Water Factories
  • Spice and Coffee Mills
  • Spool Factories
  • Stained Glass Factories
  • Starch Factories
  • Stave Factories
  • Stay Factories
  • Steel Wire Factories
  • Straw Works
  • Sugar Refineries
  • Suspender Factories
  • Syrup Factories
  • Tanneries
  • Terra Cotta Works
  • Thread Spooling Factories
  • Tin Stamping Works
  • Tobacco Factories
  • Toy Factories
  • Trunk Factories
  • Tub and Pail Works
  • Type Foundries
  • Varnish Works
  • Velocipedes and Bicycle Factories
  • Vinegar Works
  • Waggon and Sleigh Factories
  • Wall Paper Factories
  • Watch Case Factories
  • Wax Paper Factories
  • Whip Factories
  • Window Shade Factories
  • Wire Goods Factories
  • Woodenware Factories
  • Wood Pulley Factories
  • Wood Screw Factories


  1. Things from the list my hipster friends and family do ourselves at home:
    – Making syrup
    – Desiccating fruit
    – Clock-making
    – Canning fruit, jams, jellies and pickles
    – Making soda water
    – Making laundry detergent and hand soaps
    – Mantel piece construction (a friend is chopping out a slab for us at his mill today…)
    – Roasting and grinding coffee
    – Brewing beer, making wine

    I can’t even decide if we’re doing this ironically or not….

  2. I wonder if the living history group Society for Creative Anachronism would accept hipsters to fill a new niche in the late 1800s.
    Velocipedes are the original fixies.

  3. Well you know what they say. The dream of the 1890s is alive in Portland. http://vimeo.com/44344504

  4. “I’m always very interested to see how different media, such as blogs or Wikipedia articles, find their way as authorities into reasons for judgment. ”

    Do 20-year old slacker movies count as “different media?”: http://www.businessinsider.com/texas-judge-big-lebowski-2014-9