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When my wife and I were flea market vendors we put stuffed animals in sealed mason jars and labeled them “Canned Critters.” Kids bought them to set them free, but our critters never sold well enough to bother trademarking the name (so feel free to take it).
That’s probably a common story. You can always find some weird things for sale here and there, but they come and go. Even the drive-through strip club in Congruity, Pennsylvania went out of business, and the Alibi Network no longer helps people lie to their spouses.
Let’s face it; it’s rare for an entrepreneur to build and sustain a business selling a crazy product or service. Rare, but not impossible. Here are some examples of some crazy businesses that actually make money — at least at the moment.
1. Parrot Poop Jewelry
ParrotJewelry.com is the home of Alicia’s Creation’s, where you can buy parrot-themed art and jewelry. The most unusual items are the bird poop earrings, pins, charms, and pendants. Each piece is unique, and is “glossed for that fresh and glistening look!”
As I said, uncommon products like these tend to come and go, but I first reported on Alicia’s parrot poop jewelry several years ago, and it’s still for sale. There’s apparently enough demand for this unique jewelry to keep the business going.
2. A Smashing Good Time
Are you frustrated and angry? Do you feel like you’re about to explode? You could visit a psychologist, or you could just go to the Anger Room. Once there you can put on some safety gear, pick up a baseball bat, and blow off steam by destroying “life-like room settings or random stuff…”
The Anger Room has been around for over eight years, so apparently people are willing to pay to smash things, at least in Dallas, Texas.
The cost? That depends on just how strong your destructive impulses are. The “I need a break” package gives you 5 minutes for $25. It’s hard to imagine having enough negative energy to smash things for 25 straight minutes, but that’s exactly what you get with the $75 “Demolition” package.
3. Bacon-Flavored Everything
Maybe you like bacon. Really like bacon. But for the guys at J&D Foods it’s an obsession that doesn’t end with a few strips of meat in a pan.
“Baconaise” sandwich spread is just one of their bacon-themed products. Bacon-flavored salt is perhaps the most popular, and you can also buy bacon-flavored microwave popcorn.
What else? How about bacon-flavored lip balm and (wait for it)… bacon-scented underwear. Really, I did not make that up. It’s $19.99 per pair if you’re interested.
4. Mobile Weddings
What do you do if you just met the man or woman of your dreams in Vegas but you’re too drunk to find a wedding chapel? You call the Las Vegas Wedding Wagon, of course. They’ll come to you, complete with a witness and the necessary legal papers.
The cost? It starts at $129, including photos. And the Wedding Wagon promises no taxes on services, no hidden fees, and no mandatory gratuities.
5. Crazy Taxi Rides
Are you tired of using a taxi simply to get from here to there? Do you want your ride to be more of an adventure? Then try The Ultimate Taxi in Colorado.
Jon Barnes advertises his “world famous” service as a “45 minute concert, magic show, virtual reality experience and 3D laser light show performed in a 1981 Checker Taxicab, while cruising around Aspen Colorado.”
The cost? $220 for your whole group, and that includes rainbow glasses as well as 360 photos on Facebook.
6. Cremation Ash Keepsakes
Not sure what to do with your deceased loved one’s ashes? How about making them into a suncatcher, a pair of earrings, or a paperweight?
Those are just a few of the options you have at Purple Cloud Studio. Founder Michele Palenik doesn’t list her prices on the website, but similar pieces sold by others are typically a few hundred dollars.
If you’re willing to spend a bit more, you can have your loved one’s ashes made into a diamond by Cremation Solutions. Yes, a real diamond, created from human ashes. They start at $3,499 and go as high as $7,899 for a a diamond of about ½ carat.
7. Canine Eyewear
Have you ever worried that your dog could get a bug in the eye while hanging his head out the car window or riding on the back of your motorcycle? Worry no more. Now you can protect him with Doggles eyewear for dogs.
A pair will run you about $20 to $25. While you’re on the Doggles website you can also buy hats, boots, and backpacks for your best friend.
8. Fetal Greeting Cards
Not sure what to buy for your pregnant friend? Why not keep it relevant? Get her a greeting card with a picture of a fetus on it.
When I first reported on fetal greeting cards there was a company that specialized in them. Although they seem to be gone now, FineArtAmerica.com has an extensive line of the cards.
There are hundreds of cards to choose from, and they typically cost $30 for a pack of ten. Some have ultrasound photos, others show fetuses at various stages of development, and a few designs are, well, difficult to explain.
9. The Not-So-Nice Place
There are some businesses you just don’t want to be seen entering or leaving. That probably includes The Lice Place. But where else would you go to take care of those itchy critters?
It might be surprising that a business can succeed with a simple service like lice removal — something that’s normally done at home. But apparently there is plenty of demand; The Lice Place has ten locations in various states.
The business may sound more interesting when you hear what they charge. Basic service is $99 per hour. In case you’re interested, they are looking for franchisees.
10. Something for Sale
I first reported on The Something Store years ago, and to be honest, I’m surprised to see that they’re still in business. What do they sell? Well, something.
More specifically, the website says, “It may be something you need, something you want or something you desire.” You don’t really know more than that.
They do suggest some possibilities, such as, “a cool shiny gadget, rare book, party game, handmade necklace, reverse clock, box of gourmet chocolates, popular video game, portable table tennis set, pashmina scarf ” — the list goes on.
You just pay them $10 and they send you something. Shipping is free.
11. Sock Triplets
Ever lose one sock from a good pair? Who hasn’t, right? What can you do to prevent this all-too-common disaster? Buy socks in sets of three, so you’ll still be good when the washing machine eats one.
That’s the idea behind Throx. They’ve been around for years, and they have a variety of unique designs. But given the price of $18.33 per set, it might be cheaper to simply buy a regular pair of socks and replace it when one is lost.
12. Subscription Socks
Okay, maybe the socks from Throx were too colorful for your taste. And maybe sock shopping just isn’t your thing at all. In that case consider a sock subscription, so you never have to go to the store or sock website again.
“Sockscriptions” from BlackSocks have been around since 1999. When you subscribe you get socks by mail at regular intervals so you never have to go sock shopping again. The company claims you’ll “Save 12.8 hours of your precious time a year by taking out a sockscription.”
Hmm… I’m not sure if I’ve spent 12.8 hours shopping for socks in my entire life, let alone in a year. And what about the time spent earning the money to pay for the socks? The starting price of about $10/pair is more than I’ve ever paid for socks.
This is another business I didn’t expect to last, after first reporting on it years ago. But Doktor Snake is still around, and has added new voodoo spells to the product line. Now, in addition to the long-standing “get your ex back” and remove a curse” spells you can get spells to stop your significant other from flirting on FaceBook or to turn yourself into a winning gambler.
Prices, quoted in British pounds, start at about $250 U.S..Prices vary because each spell is unique.
For example, for the curse-breaking spell Doktor Snake says, “I leave four DarkStones and a FireWand overnight in the grounds of the 1,000-year-old cathedral in the city where I live,” and then he performs a ritual involving lwa Zaka, the agriculture god. The spell will “heal you and protect you from all evil” for just $400.
Short on cash? You can buy some lucky pennies from Doktor Snake for about $40.
14. Star Naming Service
The International Star Registry lets you name a star for yourself or as a gift for someone else. The company says they’ve named over 2 million stars for people since 1979. There are a lot of stars out there, so they can keep this up for a while.
A basic “Star Naming Kit” costs $54 plus shipping and handling. For that you get a parchment certificate, the coordinates of the star, and a detailed chart with your newly-named star circled in red.
Now for the bad news. Searching through the website FAQs I found this: “This is not a scientific listing of the stars and the scientific community will not use these star names.” Apparently your star will be listed in the company’s astronomical compendium, but it won’t be any more “official” than that.
15. A Dirty Business
Why do people in the U.S. and Canada buy dirt from Ireland? To sprinkle on caskets at Irish funerals, and sometimes to sprinkle on the foundations of new houses. That’s why the Auld Sod Exporting Company has sold tens of thousands of canisters of Irish dirt according to the Irish Independent.
The “presentation canisters” contain a pound of soil and sell for $15 each. The dirt has to be sanitized to come into the U.S. because of concerns about foreign soil microbes.
Crazy and Gone
Although I’m surprised at the number of crazy businesses that have survived since I first wrote about them, there are plenty of interesting ones that have failed. I already mentioned the closing of the drive-through strip club and the company that provided alibis. Here are a few more that didn’t last…
Celeb 4 a Day – This company gave you the celebrity experience, with a limo ride and paparazzi following you around so you could live the life of the famous for a few hours. Like many other dormant pieces of internet real estate, their FaceBook page is still there (latest post 2011), but Celeb4aday.com is no longer an active website.
You’ve Been Left Behind – This company promised to deliver messages for you after you were taken up to heaven in the rapture. In other words you got to thumb your nose at those left behind. Perhaps all the people running YouveBeenLeftBehind.com/ have been raptured, but whatever the reason, the website is no longer functioning.
Buy Clean Urine – I was surprised that BuyCleanUrine.com was no longer around. But drug testing is here to stay, and some people would rather pass the tests fraudulently than quit their favorite drugs, so there will always be some place to buy clean human urine.
Hangover Helpers – Two guys in started a service helping people clean up after parties in the Boulder, Longmont, and Fort Collins, Colorado area. Alas, their website no longer loads, so they must have closed down. But the concept is apparently workable; if you live in Perth or Melbourne, Australia you can use Hangover Helpers there.
If you know of a crazy business that actually makes money, tell us about it.