Unusual Businesses: Some Case Studies

Since childhood I've had an interest in unusual businesses. I grew up with four brothers, and when it was time to vote
for which television show we would watch, I sold my vote to the highest bidder. You could call that the business of
politics. I collected the paper-wads that fell all over when my brothers had their wars, and then sold them back to
them for a couple cents each. I was a war profiteer in the paper-wad wars. I also sold candy out of a hollow book in
school.

My business activities were more conventional as an adult, but I still loved to hear about and read about the more
unusual businesses. Sitting around a fire in an Arizona desert, I once talked to a man who sold used stuffed animals on
the side of the highway. He claimed he sold $3000 worth his first month.

The Most Unusual Businesses

Then there was the guy I talked to in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who collected the bodies of dead deer. The county needed
the deer carcasses off the roadsides for health reasons. They contracted with this guy for $25 per body. I'm not sure
how he disposed of them, but maybe his other business was providing meat to dog food companies.

When I was living in Traverse City, Michigan, someone started a dog poop cleaning business. Want the dog without the
responsibility of cleaning the yard? Call A-1 Pooper Scooper. I'm not sure if this would be better or worse than the
dead deer collecting business.

In my hometown of Tucson, Arizona, there is a man who takes leaves from palm trees and twists and turns them into
amazing animal sculptures. He sells these for anywhere from $2 to $12 in the street. The palm-leaf scorpions are the
best. He just grabs leaves from the nearest palm tree and he can sell dozens of these in a day.

Unusual Online Businesses

Maybe you remember a few weird businesses from back before eBay got all their rules. One woman made thousands per
month selling used panties to fetishists. She bought new panties for her friends, who got them for free as long as they
returned them to her unwashed, trading them in for the next new pair. The used and unwashed panties sold for $10 or
more on eBay auctions and they sold fast.

Perhaps you have heard about the online fantasy role-playing game called "Runescape." It has four million players now.
What you might not know is that in addition to buying "virtual real estate" in the game, and earning online gold
pieces, you can buy these game things for real cash. There are Runescape entrepreneurs who sell their online houses in
the game for hundreds of real U.S. dollars. I think it would start to get confusing -- what is real here and what isn't?

Then there was the guy in who decided last year to finance college by selling one million pixels of advertising space
on his web page for a dollar per pixel. You had to buy a minimum of 100 pixels and you could have any image you wanted
linking to anywhere you wanted. He succeeded in selling all one million within a few months. Maybe it's time for me to
get back into unusual businesses.