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People Pay for That? 10 Weird Businesses That Actually Make Money
Once in a while, I like to report on some really strange ways to make money. When I looked at weird businesses, I found 10 real companies that sold everything from alibis to bacon-flavored lip balm. When I wrote about the weirdest things ever sold, I learned about sales of maggots, brains and the moon. I've even looked into bird poop earrings and other odd jewelry.
Well, it's time once again to entertain you and, if you're feeling the entrepreneurial urge, perhaps inspire you. Here are ten more weird businesses that actually make money.
1. Fetal Greeting Cards
What could be cuter than having a fetus on your pregnancy announcement cards? Well, OK, plenty of things.
But if you want the most unique pregnancy announcement cards around, consider the fetal greeting line from FineArtAmerica.com. You can choose cards illustrating a fetus at 51 days, ones with ultrasound photos, or a variety of other, uh, interesting designs.
One card will run you about $8, or you can buy in bulk to reduce the cost-per-card. And by the way, this is not the only business selling fetal greeting cards, so there is apparently a market for this unique product.
2. Cremation Jewelry
Michele Palenik of Purple Cloud Studio offers “custom cremation keepsakes,” which you might think are fancy urns for your loved one's ashes, and sure enough, she has those.
But if you like, she'll also make the ashes themselves into jewelry or cremation sun catchers. She makes paperweights and sculptures from them, too. Palenik can make all of these products from human or pet ashes, and each one comes with a certificate of authenticity.
Palenik doesn't advertise prices on her website, but other businesses offering similar products list them at prices of at least a few hundred dollars. Cremation Solutions will make a real diamond with the ashes of your loved one, charging from $3,500 to almost $8,000 depending on the size.
3. Irish Dirt
The Irish Independent says the Auld Sod Exporting Company sells canisters of Irish dirt to customers in the U.S. and Canada for about $15 per pound. It's sanitized to prevent foreign microbes from being sent across borders.
Who buys all that dirt? It isn't gardeners. Funeral directors are the best customers. The nostalgic Irish-American tradition of sprinkling some Irish soil on a departed person's casket created the demand, and now many funeral directors offer the dirt as part of their service.
This little market niche isn't as small as you might think. Auld Sod has sold tens of thousands of canisters of Irish dirt.
Have you renewed your sock subscription? What — you don't have one? Well maybe it's time to sign up.
A company called BlackSocks has sold “sockscriptions” in 70 countries, according to one recent article. Customers get socks shipped to them at regular intervals. They never again have to go shopping for socks, and the pairs will always match. The company estimates that this can save a customer 27 days in a lifetime. Who wants to spend almost a month of their life shopping for socks?
What's the price for this service? There are options, but if you want three pairs delivered three times per year, it will run you 66 Euros annually (about $80).
5. Star Names
Yes, you can have a star named for someone (or yourself) by the International Star Registry. Sadly, scientists won't officially recognize the name, although it will be copyrighted and published, along with the coordinates of the star, in a directory titled, “Your Place in the Cosmos.” You'll also get a framed certificate.
Prices start at $54 for the “Custom” package, and go as high as $154 for the “Ultimate.” The company has been around for 35 years now, so apparently there are some customers.
6. Voodoo Spells
What can you do if you want to get back together with your ex, find a better job, or win big at the casino? Just buy the appropriate voodoo spell from Doktor Snake.
A spell to make your ex come back will run you 170 British Pounds (about $265), and you get a complete “conjure box” with all the necessary magic ingredients. A spell to help you find a good job is the same price. And all the spells seem to have generated testimonials from satisfied customers.
It isn't clear how many people are buying, but the website has been around for almost 15 years.
What are Doggles? They're protective goggles for dogs, of course. Now when your pooch hangs his head out the car window at 60 miles-per-hour he'll be safe (well, sort of).
Do they sell? According to Real Business, the maker does $5 million in sales annually.
8. Celebrity Experience
Want to know what it's like to be famous? The people at Celeb4aday.com will, “show you the ultimate celebrity experience with your very own personal paparazzi!” That's right, you can be hounded and photographed just like the all those harassed movie stars, if you live in (or can travel to) one of the select cities where the service is offered.
What will you pay for this fake fame? The “A-List Package” gets you four paparazzi who will follow you around for 30 minutes asking you questions, shouting your name and more, and this service is priced at just $549.99.
Apparently there are enough customers to inspire other fake paparazzi, because Celeb4aDay.com warns visitors to their website: “Don’t be fooled by the copycats.”
9. Human Urine
Why would anyone want a bottle of urine from BuyCleanUrine.com? Because their “samples are all natural, lab tested, alcohol, drug and nicotine free.”
In other words, customers buy this product in order to pass drug tests. Let's hope they don't sell their urine to many pilots. And what's up with the video testimonials from customers? Doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of paying for this deception?
How much do people pay? At the moment a “pocket size bottle” is on sale for $87.38. Not a bad markup for well-used water.
10. Hangover Helpers
The party was fun, but the house is a disaster in the morning and your head is pounding, so what can you do? If you live anywhere near Boulder, Longmont, or Fort Collins, Colorado you call Hangover Helpers. Their crew will rush right over with Gatorade and breakfast burritos for you, and then clean up the house while you recover. They claim “Your house will look cleaner than it has all semester.”
What do they charge? Just $20 per roommate! Hmm… That doesn't seem like enough, especially after they've appeared on Fox News, CBS News, and in a dozen newspapers. But maybe they get to keep the leftover beer.
Your Turn: Do you know of any other crazy businesses to add to the list? Please share.