Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - October 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Grapeland Artisan Brings Business into 21st Century
Houston County Courier - October 2008
Thomas DuBourg of Grapeland began his small cottage business 20 years ago providing hand carved wooden fishing lures, folk figurines, ship models, ships-in-bottles, hand carved walking sticks and canes, Santas, and whimsical birds, as Poppa Tom's Woodcraft.
When asked about the origin of the name of his business, Poppa T Products, DuBourg answered, "The name Poppa Tom or Poppa T was given to me by my grandchildren and because I love them more than life itself, I used that name."
The wood carver has been carving wood or whittling since the age of eight. Today DuBourg has moved his business into the 21st century with a website. His hand crafted items will still be offered but new products include his wife Leona's beautifully crafted necklaces and earrings using antique silver, beads and amulets that are hundreds to thousands of years old.
Poppa T, as he likes to be called, has a widely diverse background ranging from teaching art to teaching boat building and building boats himself to also having a career as a licensed nurse.
When he was a young man DuBourg had also "gone down to the sea in ships" by working on large square rigged sailing ships as ships cook and deck hand when he was a young man. Having retired from nursing because of health problems, he now has turned his hand to building a web business and also selling his carvings on an Ebay site poppatomswoodcraft.
He explained, "I cannot do the heavier physical work any longer so this Ebay and website business was a natural for me. It was a rude awakening though, because I was a computer neophyte and was also 'technologically challenged' in an age when technology has taken over."
He went on to say that, "I have had to learn a new language and a whole new set of skills, but the computer is just another tool and by treating it as a tool it became less threatening and I became more comfortable working with it."
DuBourg is hopeful that his wood crafted articles, the diamond jewelry, and other offerings at discount prices will begin to provide a good living for him and his wife now that he is retired.
"I don't recommend e-commerce to everyone, but if you have some skills and are physically unable to do regular work, and really need to continue to make a 'real' living after you retire, this is a great way to make a go of it."
As for the future of Poppa T Products, DuBourg said that eventually his grandchildren will be part of his business and "hopefully inherit it when I pass on."
One can go online to www.PoppaTproducts.com to see what is for sale and to take advantage of the discounts on many of the items in Poppa T's inventory.