One of the hoariest clich s in business circles posits the buggy whip as a paradigm of obsolescence. In conversation and press reports, buggy whips are a product you don't want to be in. We cite this remark by Leigh Johnson, head of Rochester (Minn.)-based alarm maker Custom Communication: "We watch carefully so we don't become a seller of buggy whips."
Well, the buggy whip industry is thriving, thank you. There are at least two domestic whipmakers, Wonder Whip in Fostoria, Iowa, and Westfield Whip Mfg. in Westfield, Mass., with Taiwanese-made whip rivals coming on strong. Westfield Whip won't release figures, but Wonder Whip's sales have exploded since its founding in 1961 (chart). Whips, which are 5 feet to 6 feet long, cost from $7 to $17.
Why the continued popularity? Harness racing is one market, as are horse-drawn carriages for tourists. And the Amish, who shun cars, need them to get around. Lesson: Avoid this clich like the plague.