Metal vs Wood for Walking Sticks

Interview with Steve Walsh of Brazos Walking Sticks

Brazos Walking Sticks
Brazos Walking Sticks. Brazos Walking Sticks

Why buy a wooden walking stick instead of a metal walking stick? Trekking poles and folding metal walking sticks are popular, but many people still choose wood. Steve Walsh of Brazos Walking Sticks tells why his customers prefer wood.

One appeal is that it is a local product, handmade by artisans. Brazos Walking Sticks are labeled "Made in the USA," which is rare with metal walking sticks. This would be true in many countries around the world -- wooden walking sticks can be made locally, often use the varieties of trees that grow there.

1. How does a wooden walking stick compare with a metal or collapsible walking stick?

A: Wooden walking sticks tend to have a natural feel and holistic appeal that metal walking sticks and canes simply can't replicate. Aesthetically, wood trumps metal because artisans are able to create designs and patterns that simply are not possible to replicate with metal or mass-produced walking sticks. Wooden sticks offer the best of both worlds: beauty and utility. Metal sticks only offer utility.

2. Have you had customers who avoided using a metal stick because of the stigma they perceived in using it, who were more likely to walk for fitness if they had a wooden walking stick?

A: Absolutely. It's not uncommon for us to get calls from customers who are looking to distance themselves from the stigma of walking with a metal cane or stick.

3. Do you see a regional or urban vs. non-urban trend between your customers?

A: We are in natural areas with trails, like in National and State Parks, from Yosemite and Grand Canyon to Colorado Bend State Park in Texas and Lost River State Park in West Virginia. However, many neighborhood hardware stores successfully carry our wide assortment walking stick line in suburbia, and sporting good outfits along with gift shops and health food stores offer the Brazos Walking Sticks and Canes in the cities.

With walking coming on strong as a non-impact way to exercise, we are strong supporters of walking sport folks like the American Volkssport Association and health folks like the American Heart Association, who walk in all venues. Our wide stick assortment, as well as the Garden Yard Stick and the Snow Stick, meets many needs in many venues.

4. Do you think more of your customers use sticks for hiking or for fitness/lifestyle walking?

A: We see a real diversity in the way our products are used. We do sell quite a few to hikers, backpackers, and campers, but we also sell a large amount of sticks every year to fitness walkers and people just wanting to get back into shape. Our walking sticks are very versatile, while being National Sponsors of the American Hiking Society.

5. Do any of your customers comment on the self-defense possibilities of using a walking stick?

A: We do have customers who want to use their walking sticks or canes for self defense, but we make every effort to communicate that our sticks and canes are not designed for that purpose.

6. Do you see differences between men and women in buying a walking stick?

A: Men tend to go for taller sticks with a bit more "beef" on them; for example, a 58-inch hickory. Women usually choose woods that are lighter in weight, but still versatile, like sassafras, aspen, or even bamboo. Colors and colorwood sometimes differentiate between the genders.

7. Are there walking stick collectors who are looking for something in exotic woods, etc.?

A: We definitely cater to the needs of collectors. We have so many styles and wood choices, that even top-of-the-line collectors can stay pretty busy accumulating our merchandise, as with our Exotic line. We had one collector, a nice lady in a neighboring state, who bought a cane a week for several months!

8. What should someone consider in making a gift of a walking stick? Is it such a personal item that it might be better to give a gift certificate so a person can choose their own style?

A: Walking sticks make great gifts! Some of the primary things to consider are stick height, weight, and aesthetics. While choosing a walking stick can be a very personal choice, we find that most people who receive them as gifts really do come to love the stick that was given to them. Our laser engraving (for personalization) and gift notes really come in handy when buying a stick as a gift.

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