Hobby Takes Flight


How does turning a passionate hobby into a business as a senior make any sense?


Chief “Naturepreneur” and Wildbird Junction owner Lance Raffe of Delmar, New York couldn’t picture himself “doing retirement” as a full-time job.

Besides, the sixty-three year old was a Navy reservist and the idea of being recalled in the middle of a start-up venture during his younger days could have sunk any such business.


Conversely, with many of a family man’s financial burdens now behind him, the timing made sense.


“I’ve served in the military, done hang gliding and rock climbing, so I’m not exactly a risk-adverse person,” he explains. “My work as an accountant allowed me to see things constantly go wrong and gave me the opportunity to overcome those obstacles.”


This is not the logic of a birdbrain. But what about beginning again in your seventh decade working seven days a week?


“I have longevity in my family,” he said. “I thought that if I live another 30 years, why not be productive? I’ve got plenty of energy, a good brain and things to accomplish.”


He jokes that his mostly-retired clientele don’t tell him that they wished they had started a business at their age. Yet, because he did, they reap the reward of what he’s created: a friendly destination store where customers leisurely wander about the aisles, ask questions and often show off pictures of their birds. He calls them his “Wildbird Junction family.”


“Backyard bird feeding relieves stress, not create it,” he said. “And this is the best job I’ve ever had.”


As a backyard enthusiast, he created a habitat that brought birds to his home. Now, he’s attracting bird-lovers to an indoor environment…and it all makes sense.


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