13 Oddball Businesses That Actually Exist

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Businesses come and go. In fact, only about a third of small businesses survive for 10 years or more, says the Small Business Administration.

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 chicken rentals to plastic wishbones, take a look at some of the more interesting ventures that seem to have found traction.

1. Alcohol undergarments

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

The Freedom Flask, is a concealable body flask worn around the waist and tucked into the front of your undies. Each has a tube, so you can sip or pour a refill while you watch a movie, enjoy a game or sing along at a concert.

2. Chicken rentals

Chickens outside
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Raising chickens has become increasingly popular in suburban backyards, but you certainly can’t just “wing it.” Chickens require daily attention, including feeding, cleaning and even the occasional medical expense.

If you like the idea of fresh eggs for breakfast but aren’t quite ready for the full responsibility, check out Rent-A-Chicken. The business connects you with a local farm that provides two hens and a coop outfitted with the essentials for this type of urban farming. Come winter, the hens return to the farm, giving you plenty of time to incubate your next move.

3. Rage rooms

Angry man with baseball bat
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Does filing your own taxes make you want to throw your computer through the window? You could follow our last-minute tax-filing advice, or you could check out the nearest rage room. They’ve become all the rage for letting off a little steam.

Two examples:

  • Smash Therapy (“For Everyday People Who Need a Break”), in Spring, Texas, calls its activities therapeutic and cathartic. “You may benefit from channeling your energy in a controlled environment rather than doing something you may regret elsewhere,” the site’s FAQs say.
  • Smash Sacramento, an “anger release room” in Carmichael, California, says customers may bring in items to destroy if they call first for permission. The $20 package includes VHS tapes, plates and bottles, small electronics, safety gear and a bluetooth speaker. The $40 package is similar, with larger destructible items.

4. Steel trees

Steel tree
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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) enhance corporate and residential environments, but they do a great job of hiding many modern elements, such as lighting, surveillance cameras and sprinkler systems.

5. Personalized stars

Falling star
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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 the Star-Name-Registry, pick a star and create a deed. You get access to the registry and an app that lets you view “your” star. According to the company’s website, it never names the same star twice, so you know this is a uniquely personalized gift.

In the “unlikely event” that your star is destroyed by a supernova explosion, the company promises that you’ll get a new star, free of charge.

6. Testicular implants for animals

Woman petting horse
Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com

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.

Neuticles are perfectly safe for pets but cannot legally be used on people,” the company says, in its FAQs.

7. Potato messages

Potato farmer
Visionsi / Shutterstock.com

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.

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. You can also add an image or buy a potato bundle box with a selection of products.

8. Cat cafes

Cat eating food
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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., although they may currently be closed due to the pandemic. 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 (Bustle profiles 11 cafes,) be prepared to pay a fee and make a reservation.

9. Virtual dating assistants

teenager teen boy girl date coffee
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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 99.6% of clients get dates, and 78% of those dates turn into serious relationships within 3½ months. Who knows, the odds may be in your favor.

10. Cremation reef balls

Sunset at sea
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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.”

11. Recycled mannequins

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Think of all the metal racks and mannequins in your favorite clothing store. Now imagine what happens when a store closes its doors. Many of those perfectly good mannequins end up in landfills. The fortunate ones, however, are recycled to Mannequin Madness.

Mannequin Madness receives mannequins from retail stores that are closing or remodeling and sells them at a discount. If you live in the San Francisco Bay area, you can rent from Mannequin Madness as well. They have a wide selection of mannequins, dress forms and “body parts”.

12. Plastic wishbones

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You never know when a business idea might strike. For Ken Ahroni, it was his 47th birthday, which also happened to be Thanksgiving Day. It was then that he realized that the tradition of having just one wishbone was unfair.

He was inspired to create Lucky Break Wishbone Corp. The company produces plastic wishbones, allowing everyone the chance to make a wish — even dinner guests who don’t eat meat. The wishbones are made in America of recyclable plastic.

13. Goat rentals

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If you thought chicken rentals were unusual, that’s because you haven’t seen Rent A Goat. Goats have an affinity for eating unwanted plants and weeds, including poison ivy, kudzu and thistle. This makes them attractive go-getters for clearing land.

Rent A Goat (“cost-effective, eco-friendly, and super cute weed removal”) provides goat-powered brush clearing for homes and businesses throughout California. Because they replace gas-guzzling mowers, goat rentals are considered an eco-friendly, cost-saving alternative.