New woodworking sales opportunities tend to drive a spike in traffic at One example was a news item on building wooden camping cabins; and another item about a cabinetmaker doing makeovers of aging vacant homes in Las Vegas and reselling them when he finished.

Here are three that have come to our attention, ones big enough for dozens of firms to join:

In-law apartments are back. So are the in-laws. And the interior remodeling and build-outs. But this time around,  it's as likely to be the down-on-the-heels younger generation moving back in with the older one. (When I was kid my grandmother lived in an upstairs apartment my dad had carved out of a dormer in our bungalow.) 

This new iteration of in-law apartments, which can drive demand for reworked home interiors--cabinetry, closets, doors, windows, trim, staircases, furniture--stems from a the 20 percent jump in multigenerational households between 2000 and 2008, to 6.2 million. Almost 70 percent of Coldwell Banker real estate agents expect economic conditions drive demand for this type of housing over the next year.

Build-outs of gas station retail interiors also seem to be on the rise. If you've been driving any interstates, you've noticed the flowering of franchise food outlets paired in the same building as gas stations.

With margins squeezed, sales of food are an
increasingly important part of the mix for Tribune Newspapers reports 11 percent of Chevron's  gas stations (also operated under the Texaco brand) have expanded food offerings, with refrigerated sandwich displays integrated to counter wraps. Hundreds of stations around the country are being updated with expanded food offerings, and instore fixtures custom woodworking potential. (One near my office features crown moulding and a granite-topped cash wrap.)

Another boost to woodworking contracts may come from Walmart: Having won approval for a big expansion in the City of Chicago market, Walmart is expected to make similar pushes into Baltimore, New York City and Detoit. The discount retailer says it will open several dozen stores across the City of Chicago of varying size and format, creating some 2,000  construction jobs over the next few years  -- including interior build-outs and demand for store fixtures, counters and endcaps. You'll want to be alert to opportunities in a big city market near you.

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