by Daniel McAdam
I'm often asked for statistical information about and demographic breakdowns of persons doing jigsaw puzzles. The fact is, statistics are hard to come by; companies don't like giving out information that could be of benefit to their competitors, and jigsaw puzzles are manufactured in a number of different countries.
What I can offer - and this is based on anecdotal evidence, but years and years of it - is some information on the types of adults who do jigsaw puzzles, and their reasons for being interested in jigsaw puzzles.
The first division that I might draw is one of interest. Looked at from this perspective, there are roughly three groups of jigsaw puzzle enthusiasts. The first, and smallest group, are the Truly Dedicated Jigsaw Puzzle People. I've met them, I've spoken to them on the phone, and they are, as a group, fascinating. These are the people for whom assembling jigsaw puzzles is a serious hobby. When there are jigsaw puzzle competitions, they go, and they compete. Generally, they're lovely folks, but there are a few fanatics out there who take jigsaw puzzles perhaps a bit too seriously. To illustrate, I once took a phone order from a man for an expensive 13,200-piece puzzle. He had to have it shipped to his friend's home, where he was staying temporarily, because he'd just been evicted from his apartment. Personally, if that had happened to me, I don't think buying a jigsaw puzzle would be tops on my priority list; and I always wondered if his friend had the room to accommodate such a large puzzle.
The second group, next in size, are the Regular Jigsaw Puzzle Enthusiasts, and by regular I mean that these persons have a predictable pattern of buying jigsaw puzzles. Puzzles, like most indoor hobbies, are attended to most in cooler weather. Retail sales of jigsaw puzzles slow down quite a bit in the warmer months. Many of the regular jigsaw puzzle makers - including the author of this article - have family jigsaw puzzle traditions, like assembling a puzzle around the Christmas holidays. Puzzles are a great way of getting the family together, and its also fun when two or three of a larger gathering can slip off to the puzzle table to work together in quiet companionship.
The last group, and by far the biggest, are the Casual Jigsaw Puzzle Folks. Unlike the first two groups, these people don't often buy puzzles online. Instead, they're apt to buy a puzzle as a sort of impulse purchase in a gift store or toy and game shop. Most of the time, they're interested in puzzles between 750 and 1,000 pieces, and they're not apt to be as picky about quality as the persons in the other two groups. Not surprisingly, many people who start off in the Casual Group graduate into the Regular - or, occasionally, even Truly Dedicated - groups.
For all of us, whatever our level of interest, jigsaw puzzles offer a pleasant, wholesome way to unwind and relax. The puzzles we put together are attractive, and often make us more familiar with their subject matter, be it a classic work of art or a photo of some place we'd like to visit. Assembling jigsaw puzzles is a nice hobby; not overly taxing, not overly expensive, and easily done as a solitary pursuit or in the company of others.
One last note; it's also great to have a jigsaw puzzle enthusiast as a friend or family member, since you always know what to get him or her as a gift!
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