Businesses come and go. In fact, the Small Business Association’s Frequently Asked Questions of 2018 reported that only about half of all establishments survive five years or longer and about one-third survive past the 10-year mark.
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 have found success.
1. Chicken rentals
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.
2. Rage rooms
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, well, all the rage for letting off a little steam.
Walk into The Wrecking Club in New York City, for instance, and they’ll give you up to 30 minutes of smashing fun. With a bat in hand, you can wreck a variety of objects, including televisions, laptops, fax machines, furniture and more.
3. Steel trees
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.
4. Personalized stars
Gift certificates may be a popular last-minute present, but they don’t have the same je ne sais quoi as giving someone a star. That’s right; you can pick a star in the sky and name it after the person you love.
Simply visit the Star-Name-Registry, pick a star and create the deed. According to the company’s website, it never names the same star twice, so you know this is a uniquely personalized gift. Even better, it will deliver the deed to your email address in less than 12 hours. If you prefer something more official, choose from one of their “Name a Star Gift Packages.”
5. Testicular implants for animals
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 produces prosthetic testicles for canines, felines, equines and any pet that is neutered. According to Neuticles.com, the prosthetics “should be implanted when the pet is neutered, but can be implanted years afterwards in most cases.”
6. Potato messages
While many people love getting mail, most wouldn’t consider a fresh spud “mail.” But the people at Potato Parcel beg to differ. Their unique service allows you to send someone a personalized message on an actual potato.
Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, anniversary or simply want to drop a line, you can fit up to 130 characters on one potato. You can also add a full-sized image or create a complete potato bundle box from their selection of products. In case you’re wondering, Potato Parcel does ship internationally to Australia, Canada and parts of Europe.
7. Cat cafes
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 been popping up all across the U.S. They provide a safe haven for rescue cats, while serving up specialty drinks and baked goods. Most charge a fee and require a reservation, giving you a certain amount of time to hang out. Beware: You may walk out with a new pet.
8. Virtual dating assistants
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 percent of their clients get dates, and 78 percent of those dates turn into serious relationships within 3 ½ months. The odds are in your favor.
9. Cremation reef balls
One of the reasons people choose cremation is because it’s a better choice for the planet. Compared to a traditional burial, it saves precious land and resources. Eternal Reefs takes cremation a step further by turning your remains into reef balls.
Reef balls are a mixture of cremated ashes and environmentally safe cast concrete, which are used to create artificial reef formations for fish and other forms of sea life. Eternal Reefs says loved ones “can help mix the remains into the concrete and personalize the memorial with hand prints and written messages.”
10. Recycled mannequins
Think of all the metal racks and mannequins in your favorite clothing store. Now imagine what would happen to those if the store closed its doors. The reality is that many of those perfectly good mannequins end up in landfills. The fortunate ones, however, get sent to Mannequin Madness.
Mannequin Madness recycles mannequins from retail stores that are closing or remodeling, and then 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.
11. Alcohol undergarments
Finally, someone has figured out how to discreetly smuggle alcohol into a ballgame: Just wear it. The Beerbelly and The WineRack are unique drinking systems that you wear under your clothes. Each comes with a tube, so you can sip while you watch a movie, enjoy a game or sing along at a concert.
The WineRack holds one bottle’s worth of wine or a fifth of your favorite hard liquor inside a sports-bra harness. It comes in three sizes: small, medium and large. Meanwhile, The Beerbelly is a one-size-fits-all apparatus that is worn in a harness around your torso.
12. Plastic wishbones
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 he realized that the tradition of having just one wishbone was, at best, unfair.
So, he created Lucky Break Wishbone Corp. They produce plastic wishbones, allowing everyone the chance to make a wish — even the dinner guests who don’t eat meat. You may also be happy to know these wishbones are made in America and the plastic is recyclable.
13. Goat rentals
If you thought chicken rentals were an unusual concept, it’s only 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 has thousands of goats that can help landscape your home or business. Because they replace gas-guzzling mowers, goat rentals are considered an eco-friendly, cost-saving alternative.
Have you seen any other wacky businesses? Share the strange and unusual in the comments below or on our Facebook page.