9 Oddball Businesses That Actually Exist

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People standing in line to purchase tickets from a woman with a credit card at the sales counter
BlueSkyImage / Shutterstock.com

Businesses come and go. In fact, half of small businesses are 10 years old or less, JP Morgan Chase says, and about half fail within five years.

You’ve probably seen it in your own backyard: A budding entrepreneur comes to town and opens a tea cafe that also sells antique furniture. You expect a niche shop like this to fail hard and fast. But that’s not always the case.

The following oddball businesses are proof that you can defy statistics — and even common logic. From metal trees to professional line sitters, take a look at some of the more interesting ventures that seem to have found traction.

1. Alcohol undergarments

Man with a beer
Aleksandr Lupin / Shutterstock.com

What this type of product or service typically costs: $21

Finally, someone has figured out how to discreetly smuggle alcohol into a ballgame: Just wear it.

Sneaky Booze is a concealable body flask worn by men and women for bringing alcohol into concerts, festivals and other travel situations.

Each has a detachable tube, so you can sip or refill while you watch a movie, enjoy a game or sing along at a concert.

2. Steel trees

Steel tree
six / Shutterstock.com

What this type of product or service typically costs: Varies; each work is custom

If you’ve walked through an airport, museum, amusement park or shopping plaza, you may have been fooled by the nature-scape around you. Though seemingly lifelike, all those oak trees and booming banyans could very well be steel structures.

NatureMaker, a California-based design company, turns steel into works of art. Not only do these “Artisan Crafted Steel Art Trees” (much more lifelike than the illustration above — see their pictures) enhance corporate and residential environments, but they do a great job of hiding many modern elements, such as lighting, surveillance cameras and sprinkler systems.

3. Personalized stars

Falling star
Yuganov Konstantin / Shutterstock.com

What this type of product or service typically costs: $20+

Gift certificates may be a popular last-minute present, but they don’t have the same panache as giving someone a star. That’s right; you can pick a star in the sky and name it for someone you love.

Visit any number of star-naming services and create a deed. You get access to the registry and an app that lets you view “your” star. You should know, however, that these naming services aren’t official and can’t really name a star on your behalf.

4. Testicular implants for animals

Woman petting horse
Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com

What this type of product or service typically costs: $179

Neutering your pet helps manage the number of stray animals on the streets. Some animal lovers, however, have a strong opinion against the complete and permanent removal of their pet’s testicles.

Enter Neuticles, the company that makes prosthetic testicles for canines, felines, equines and any pet that is neutered.

“Perfectly safe and complication free for over twenty-five years,” the company says.

5. Potato messages

Potato farmer
Visionsi / Shutterstock.com

What this type of product or service typically costs: $20-30

While many people love getting mail, most wouldn’t consider a fresh spud “mail.” The people at Potato Parcel beg to differ. Their unique service allows you to send someone a personalized message on a fresh potato — or even a picture of someone’s face.

Whether you’re commemorating a birthday, anniversary or simply want to drop someone a line, you can fit up to 130 characters on one potato.

6. Cat cafes

Cat eating food
Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com

What this type of product or service typically costs: $25-$40 per visit

Numerous studies have pointed out the benefits of owning a pet. And several others have touted the health-promoting properties of your morning coffee. Combine the two and, apparently, you have a recipe for the purr-fect business.

Cat cafes, such as Crumbs & Whiskers, have popped up across the U.S.. These businesses provide a safe haven for rescue cats while serving up specialty drinks and baked goods.

The idea is for human visitors to enjoy the cafe, get to know and enjoy the resident cats and perhaps even adopt a new pet. When visiting a cat cafe, be prepared to pay a fee and make a reservation, as demand can be high and party size may be limited to avoid overstressing the kitties.

7. Virtual dating assistants

teenager teen boy girl date coffee
By GaudiLab / Shutterstock.com

What this type of product or service typically costs: Varies

Dating can drain the life out of you, especially if you’re new to the scene after years in a long-term relationship. Luckily, you’re living in the 21st century and have the benefit of advanced technology.

Companies like VIDA Select work as your virtual dating assistant. The company’s first order of business is to help you choose which dating site suits you best. Then, it creates an online dating profile, sparks conversations with potential dates and even plans the date on your behalf.

Is it worth it? VIDA says “79% of the women who work with us stop because they’ve met someone with whom they wish to pursue a serious relationship. We’ve also heard about dozens of marriages that our service made possible.”

8. Cremation reef balls

Sunset at sea
LGieger / Shutterstock.com

What this type of product or service typically costs: $3,500 to $9,000

Eternal Reefs takes cremation a step further by turning your remains into reef balls. The process combines cremation ashes with a type of concrete that has “a neutral pH content” to construct a reef ball with a good surface to which sea life can attach, says the company.

The balls are used to build artificial reef formations for fish and other forms of sea life. Eternal Reefs offers customers the chance to “help mix the remains into the concrete and personalize the memorial with handprints and written messages.”

9. Line sitters

Young woman waiting in line
LStockStudio / Shutterstock.com

What this type of product or service typically costs: $50 minimum

Most friends wouldn’t think twice about holding your place in the grocery store checkout line. But would they wait hours in your place so you can purchase a new iPhone? That’s another story.

With Same Ole Line Dudes, you hire out this time-intensive task. The dudes and dudettes are based in New York City, where they’ll wait in line at retail stores, busy restaurants and Broadway box offices. There is a two-hour minimum, and additional fees apply for some services, including same-day jobs, inclement weather and delivery of tickets or items.

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