For every wizard there's a wand: short, long, flexible, rigid, filled with bits of unicorn, phoenix and dragon (referring to the wands here, not the wizards and their diets); one wizard, one wand. Going by a variety of sources (pictures, the movies) Ollivander sells a staggering amount of wands of all variations: he's got hundreds, if not thousands of them on his shelves, each of them waiting patiently for their owner. Given all the variables in wand making there are 19.152 possible different wands, discounting physical differences.

But I wonder how he choses what kind of wand to make. Does he just one day go "I feel like making a 12" springy hawthorn wand with a dragon heartstring core" and make one of those? Does he look at his stock to determine what he's running short on and fill the gaps? Is it because Wandlore works in mysterious ways? Or is it something that has just not been mentioned?

  • The man's family have been making wands for the past 2000 years. I'd guess that it's a mixture of available materials and what sells well. – Valorum Sep 18 '15 at 13:25
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    Alternately, given that there is only a limited number of wands he'll make, it's possible that he has one of each and replaces them as they're sold. The odds of needing two the same are vanishingly low. – Valorum Sep 18 '15 at 13:28
  • @Richard Yes, it's an estimate that Olliver sells around 160 wands per year, but he still needs to make them to fill up the gaps. Plus, it's not certain that the replacements look the same as the ones sold. – Thomas Jacobs Sep 18 '15 at 13:38
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    So, according to Pottermore, wandmakers used to make wands with whatever magical core a wizard brought to them. Ollivander felt this changed the wands temperament, however, so he started making wands that would later be matched with their optimal user. With this information I'm led to infer that Ollivander just goes with the flow (he wakes up and makes whatever he wants) and whatever he makes will someday be paired with the right wizard. – milk Sep 18 '15 at 14:03
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    My dad is a semi-professional cabinetmaker (retirement career). He'll get a deal on a piece of furniture-quality wood (decent wood is quite expensive), look at it and think "What can I make this into?" I imagine it's the same with a magic-wand craftsman. It's as much play as work. – Joe L. Sep 18 '15 at 14:58

The canon quote is that Ollivander's store contains:

thousands of narrow boxes piled neatly right up to the ceiling.

It's vanishingly unlikely that this is his entire stock, nor that every wand is on display. Given that there are only 19,000 potential combinations of wands, it's not an unreasonable guess that he simply has one of each kind that are common and sufficient materials to make any kinds that are uncommon.

Given how dusty the store is, it seems probable that he only sells a few wands each day and is presumably able to replenish his stock at much the same rate, relying on his reputation for producing the highest quality (and most expensive) wands to keep him in business rather than producing bulk.

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    he probably only has "new" customers at the start of the school year, and then its just broken or replacement wands the rest of the year, which may mean little to no sales from September till July – Himarm Sep 18 '15 at 13:54
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    @himarm - The remainder of the year is probably spent restocking and making special orders. – Valorum Sep 18 '15 at 15:07
  • Indeed. Don't forget that most wizards in his area end up going to Hogwarts, and that Hogwarts doesn't get that many students. It's possible he's also involved in making wand-accessories, such as Lucius Malfoy's Cane-Wand – Oak Dec 15 '15 at 3:58

Based on the fact that Ollivander says (quote from movie as I don't have the book):

I remember every wand I've ever sold, Mr. Potter. It so happens that the phoenix whose tailfeather resides in your wand gave another feather... just one other. It is curious that you should be destined for this wand when its brother gave you that scar.

... I always thought that Ollivander created wands as sufficiently magical materials become available to him: an evening shipment containing two of Fawkes' feathers resulted in two wands, which would eventually choose the two most famous wizards in the land. As Richard pointed out, Ollivander has dozens of thousands of wands in his inventory and probably only needs to replenish them pretty slowly.

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