Attention, Angry Investors: Here’s A Simply Smashing Business Concept

There’s nothing quite like unbridled destruction to chase the blues away. That’s the philosophy behind Sarah’s Smash Shack, a business in San Diego which provides customers with breakables, such as dishware and glass frames, along with a safe environment to obliterate them. Owner Sarah Lavely first conceived the Smash Shack during her divorce, when she frequently felt compelled to smash things. As quoted in a recent CNN Money article, Lavely says:

"I broke a lot of stuff on my driveway...I wished there was someplace I could go and just [break things], just go nuts. I was sure other people felt like that at times, and I thought I should open a shop where you could do that."

Who knew that being psychotic could lead to pioneering a new service industry? Usually, it just leads to a career in politics.

People have more than marital woes to be angry about these days, and as gas prices rise and markets tumble, the shop has been seeing a steady increase in business. As a service, the Smash Shack seems superfluous—some might say ‘wasteful’, ‘decadent’ and ‘childish’—but maintaining one’s sanity is priceless. Some people are too timid to go to a firing range to blow off steam, but not too timid to lob a few saucers against a stainless steel wall. And besides, if groceries become much more expensive, people won’t need plates, so why not smash them?

Of course, you needn’t bring your own flatware; Lavely has selected only the finest cheap ceramics to deliver the most crack for your buck:

“Ceramic white dinner plates are Lavely's biggest seller, because they require a strong toss and break violently against the wall. Patrons order from a menu that includes items like The House Special (15 plates in 15 minutes for $45), the Six Shooter (six rapid-fire wine glasses for $12) or the Juggernaut (two large jugs for $12.) Value seekers can opt for the Mystery Box: 10 assorted smashables for $25. If you'd like to smash a person, Lavely allows the next best thing - a photo inserted into a very breakable glass frame.”

If they add a Precious Moments Hummel Pummel to their menu, I’m totally there.

Customers can even write messages on the plates before tossing them. This, however, is a tad unsettling because the shards are donated to local schools and art programs, and I dare say that some of those messages will not be appropriate for young eyes. Let’s hope that no more than three letters can fit on most of the remnants.

The Smash Shack is a novel idea, one that may in fact fill a much needed niche, and there is more innovation to be had. After all, maybe some people just want a safe environment to trash their own things (an ex’s record collection, for example, or a mother-in-law’s favorite teapot). Perhaps the management can offer to project the faces of one’s ex or a political figure on the wall. One might even be able to charge one’s HMO for the cost, categorizing it as a form of therapy.

There’s certainly room to expand, and though Lavely isn’t exactly shattering her business goals just yet, the catharsis industry may be a new territory suited for fed-up investors looking to break their own molds. I can’t wait for someone to open an Effigies R’ Us, where you can design your own burnt offerings in the shape of a nemesis and even choose the aromatic wood to be used, be it a Hickory Clinton, a Burning Bush, or even a Balsamic Bin Laden. You just know they’d do gangbusters during barbecue season. In short, when it comes to a new business in your town, rage could be all the rage.

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Investment Riches Offers Free Real Estate Consulting

Investment Riches is part real estate brokerage, part social networking company that offers a free one-on-one consultation on real estate investing. The consultant can help you find the right market to invest in, find the right property or just build your portfolio. They also offer a social networking feature so like-minded investors can join together and, with the help of Investment Riches, get price discounts through bulk negotiation. All services are free for individual investors. There are 6,000 active members, many of whom participate in the forums and blogs. The free membership also grants members access to a real estate database and opportunities listings. Full members get the first look at new opportunities three days before the listing is made available to the general public. In order to gain full member status, you must be approved by the Investment Riches staff based on certain investment criteria.

Investment Riches has done a great job at using the Web to differentiate themselves from traditional real estate brokerages. They have built a community around their business by offering people unique value for free. Investors can utilize their database of statistics, seek advice from other investors in the forums and talk one on one with a consultant at an unbeatable price. One potential drawback is that full membership is limited to qualified investors. To gain access to all the site’s tools, you must apply for admission and wait until someone approves your application. However, casual investors and beginners can still get access as a limited member, which allows use of the forums, access to listings and profiles on the featured cities.

Location: Las Vegas, NV
Type of Business: Real Estate Brokerage
Value for Investors: Free Consultation, Active Community Forums, Assistance in Bulk Negotiation, Social Networking

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Invest In A Lobster Trap Off The Coast Of Maine

Catch a Piece of Maine is a new company with a brilliant idea that allows anyone to make an investment in the lobster industry. For $2,995, you can lease a specific lobster trap off the coast of Maine for one year. A fisherman will harvest the lobsters that are caught in your trap during the 32-week season and FedEx them to you, relatives, customers or anyone you choose. Each package includes fresh mussels and clams, a home-baked dessert, bibs and cooking instructions. You are guaranteed a minimum of 40 lobsters of 1.5 pounds each, which comes to approximately $75 per lobster; this would drop to $60 a lobster if the trap catches 50, which the founders believe is a realistic goal. The idea is similar to a farming co-op where an individual can make a deposit to the farm owner in return for a share of the harvest.

What makes this investment unique is the interactive experience. You can select your own fisherman by viewing their personal profile online and even check the statistics of your trap. It's actually similar to playing fantasy football. The company provides video updates of the fishermen and you can learn how your personal fisherman is faring and hear their thoughts and observations on lobstering. You can even take a trip to Maine and experience a day in the life of your chosen Maine fisherman.

Basically, you own a piece of the business, but unlike stock in Microsoft, you get an immediate return. If you buy stock in General Electric, you won’t be able to spend a day with an engineer. Catch a Piece of Maine takes fractional ownership of a business and adds an experiential element to it, making it much more personal and fun. It is a great business model that could be applied to other businesses to achieve a similar effect. Wouldn’t it be interesting if you could own a table at a restaurant? Your investment would provide the business owner with guaranteed cash flow and in return you would receive all the revenues of people who sit at that table.



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