Ever wonder who thought of Crocs? Beanie Babies? The Go Pro? Or the newest trending teenage craze — the Fidget Spinner? Or, what about diaper delivery services, dog walkers, food delivery services?
Many of these products and services began as small businesses. And, I assure you, most of the entrepreneurs who started these businesses and developed the products and services heard many a naysayer claim the ideas were stupid, worthless, and unsustainable.
The truth is, there are many bizarre businesses turning profits as they sell their products and services. When I first thought about this post, I figured I would find a couple that hovered along the bizarre line; however, there were so many, I had trouble narrowing down the list. I chose seven to share with you today. Keep in mind, I am not endorsing any of these products and services.
In Philadelphia we have an Escape Room, where people voluntarily get locked in a room and must work together to find clues to escape. Well, in Texas, they have an Anger RoomTM. There are various packages, but people can pay $25 for 5 minutes to use a bat, golf club, or other blunt instrument to break as much as they can to combat their inner anger issues. The company, started in 2008, notes on its website that it is an “alternative to the ‘head doctor.’” Don’t worry; they offer a variety of packages, such as “Couples Lash Out,” which makes for an interesting date night.
The Something Store
The Something Store is also 9 years old. They specialize in mystery shopping. For $10 (a little more if you are in another country), you can purchase a mystery gift, referred to as a “something.” Past somethings have included a Google Home, necktie, iPod Shuffle, Dachshund salt and pepper shakers, and a digital luggage scale. Some people order a number of somethings for holidays and parties. Regardless of when you order your something or how many somethings you order, your something will be valued at $10 or higher. Customers are so excited about The Something Store that it holds a 4.5/5 star rating.
My Friend Smells
Have a co-worker who has an unusual or unappealing odor about them? Well, turn to Swago, who sells My Friend Smells fragrant wipes, which can be sent anonymously (guaranteed) to someone who needs a little personal hygiene hint.
If you smell good, you might want to try a Cuddle Party — yes, there is such a thing. In fact, the company has been in business for 14 years. These are strictly PG parties, where people learn to draw boundaries and cuddle with strangers. If this sounds fun, there are upcoming Cuddle Parties in Wash., D.C., Calif., Ill., N.Y., Ireland, and Ariz.
And, if you are feeling a little creative, you could even invite a friend with a Potato Parcel. For between $9.99 and $14.99, this company writes on Russet spuds any message you wish. They can even add images. Is the ink edible?
Wiggles Dog Wigs
We can’t discuss the bizarre without looking at some of the pet-friendly options available today. How often have you looked at your dog and said, "Fido needs a wig. A pink wig"? If so, then Wiggles Dog Wigs has just the wig for your dog. Of course, there is no guarantee your dog will still love you once you post those wig-sporting pics on Facebook.
My Pet Chicken
And how many of you have pet chickens? By that I mean, not the chickens who hang out in the coop with their brethren, but the pet chickens you let run around in your house, snuggle with on the couch while watching Chicken Run and noshing on some BK Chicken Fries. As those chicken lovers already know, chickens have no interest in litter boxes, unlike their feline friends, and, while you can buy a harness at My Pet Chicken, they aren’t too keen on potty walks, either. However, thanks to My Pet Chicken, you can purchase chicken diapers — no worries about chicken droppings on your divan.
In all seriousness, these companies are not fly-by-night operations, desperate for their next sale. They live and breathe and enjoy success in an entrepreneurial world. Yes, their products and services may hover along the line of bizarre and strange, but remember that what is bizarre to you, and even to me, is likely mainstream to someone else. Sometimes the bizarre has a much wider appeal.
Think like an entrepreneur. You never know where an idea will lead you.
Anne Converse Willkomm
Director of Graduate Studies