Famous Last Words: Two Businesses to Test
I am a new business ideas junkie—businesses that are proven winners and others maybe worth a test. Here‘s two.
The holiday season in Germany and Austria is wonderfully festive, especially at the open air Christmas markets. Last December, the main Salzburg, outdoor market—with myriad booths dispensing all kinds of merchandise—was a delight. My wife, Peggy, and I found decorations, toys, carvings, clothing, candies, nutcrackers and food that included mulled wine, pastries, wursts and kraut and, of course, beer. Peggy bought a splendid Tyrolean hat adorned with feathers and a pin and looks simply terrific in it.
As we waited at the Salzburg station for the train to Munich, several trains disgorged hundreds of eager shoppers of all ages who headed straight for the action. In Munich, it seemed as though 150,000 people were in the fabled Marienplatz, with all the nearby restaurants and stores mobbed with diners and happy shoppers.
While in Europe, we ran into a slew of Americans on Christmas market tours through Germany and Austria, including one couple on a Danube River cruise. Forget churches and museums; these folks were serious shoppers!
Do such markets exist in the United States? If not, why not? When you enter “Christmas Markets” in Google, the first 100 listings are for markets in Europe. I finally found three big markets in the states—in New York, Denver and Chicago.
The Web site for the Chicago event is a delight: www.christkindlmarket.com.
Chicago’s market started 12 years ago in partnership with the German city of Nuremberg and ran for two weeks, drawing 300,000 people. It was such a success that it was moved to Daley Plaza and expanded to four weeks. It now draws well over 500,000 giddy shoppers and revelers.
If you are you looking for a business that has proven successful worldwide and is a guaranteed draw for local retailers and restaurants—as well as being a lot of fun—go for it!
Whenever Peggy and I travel to a city or country and have a good time, I pick up a souvenir coffee mug and add it to our collection. Every morning I grab a mug from the cupboard for my morning coffee and, for a moment, contemplate the mug. It enables me to start the day with pleasant memories of Gibraltar, Spain, London, Paris, Prague, Egypt, etc. They are also conversation starters with house guests.
I am sure many thousands of travelers would enjoy collecting authentic mugs from places they have visited—as well as places on their wish lists. In prowling the Web, I found coffee mugs from different countries decorated with national flags. These sites also were selling flags on T-shirts and other gewgaws, but no sales pitch to travelers—actual and armchair—to collect mugs and keep their fond memories alive.
The most efficient business model would be to stock blank white mugs and print up authentic decals (not flags!) from different cities, states and countries. Orders could be fired on demand. The customer would not have to know that each mug did not actually come from the country or city printed on it.
This business model would not work for direct mail with the ever-rising costs of paper, printing, lists, lettershop and, above all, postage.
But long live the Internet.
Go for it!
Denny Hatch is a freelance direct marketing consultant and copywriter. Visit him at www.dennyhatch.com, or contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.