Every business is based upon a business model, which is tailored toward a certain demographic of consumers. By that logic, we can deduce that a company that combines two formerly distinct business models will appeal to twice as many people as before, making millions and millions of dollars.
This ironclad logic has already been used in countless instances, with varying degrees of success:
- Home Depot combines a hardware store with a place to pick up day laborers.
- Bowling alleys combine the allure of a sport where almost no physical activity is required with a bar, where bowlers can get blindingly drunk afterwards to celebrate.
- Hard labor camps in military prisons combine the necessity of prisons with the high demand for factories that break big rocks into smaller rocks. They also allow Rambo to get in shape for his next mission.
Although the "2fer" business model has been implemented many times in the past, I believe that it has come nowhere near achieving its true potential. Consider the following ideas…
1. Gyms and Tanning Salons
Everyone's going to love your new cancerous love handles!
Let's be honest, the only reason anyone goes to the gym anymore is purely for aesthetics; the health aspect of exercise has completely flown out the proverbial window in the last decade. Guys go to the gym to get ripped, girls go to look good at the beach; that's it. Our generation has grown up in a culture increasingly devoid of substance, one that values looks and materialism over everything else. I wanted to include some examples of "everything else," but my hands are covered in self-tanner and I don't want to get it on my MacBook Pro.
The lack of an authoritative source of fitness information simply adds fuel to the fire. Rather than being informative, health and fitness magazines have become supplement peddlers, devoting six-page spreads to the latest FULL THROTTLE DOUBLE STRENGTH EXPLODE supplement that promises to make your biceps 23 inches and your dick look like an elephant's foot. Guys shovel this down their throats in the vain hope that they will eventually look like the Governator, and girls scarf diet pills after not eating for a week in order to look like Victoria Beckham.
Guys wanna be jacked and tan, girls wanna be lean and tan. But everyone wants to look like they're in shape and tan (sorry gingers). In the Information Age, instant gratification is the name of the game, so combining two time-intensive activities like exercise and tanning would be a real moneymaker. Imagine a place where like-minded people could load up on semi-legal supplements and work out until their organs turn to oatmeal, while tanning until their skin looks like a lampshade in Leatherface's house… together!
- Build a gym with high-emission UV lamps instead of fluorescent light fixtures overhead, and give everyone those don't-get-your-retinas-burned-out goggles people wear when they go in tanning beds. Except these goggles will be shaped like Gucci aviator sunglasses, so they'll look cool.
- Pump a never-ending loop of European electro and dubstep through the PA. The incessant electronic music ensures that the intensity in the gym can only fluctuate from 9.8 to 10 at any given time.
- Give the male customers a non-FDA approved cocktail of protein, meth, and steroids. Give the female customers a similarly ethically questionable mix of fat burners, meth, and low-calorie meal replacement bars.
- Let the customers rotate in and out until they're sufficiently burned and sore.
- Finally respond to the hundreds of emails that the cast of the Jersey Shore has sent you about opening a franchise of this gym in New Jersey, since this is their collective wet dream epitomized.
2. Movie Theaters and Cannabis Clubs
This one is self-explanatory. For those of you who (are lucky enough to) live in one of the 16 states (and the District of Colombia) in the US that have passed legislation to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, you are familiar with the term "cannabis club." For the rest of you, allow me to explain the long and arduous process that has taken marijuana from dime bags in the ghetto to retail stores across the country:
- In 1996 the state of California passed a law that said, "You can smoke weed if you get a note from a doctor that says it's okay." Everyone who has ever smoked weed said "wow" and went to get notes from doctors they found on the internet that exist exclusively for this purpose.
- Other states said, "Wow, this actually works," and 15 other states did the same thing. Cities and states taxed the shit out of it.
- The guy who said "this is your brain on drugs" shit his pants and exploded.
As we learned from Reefer Madness, marijuana is known to decrease motivation, making its users want to just "chill." A popular activity to partake in while chilling is watching movies. And eating your body weight in candy.
- Buy an old movie theater, play some wholesome movies, and establish an upstanding reputation in your community.
- Sell weed until you have enough money to buy a digital projector and an awesome sound system.
- Apply for a license to sell medical marijuana legally (the process differs by state, but it's fairly straightforward and there are several companies that will complete the process for you for a few hundred dollars).
- Crush the competition overnight when people realize that they don't have to smoke weed in their cars three minutes before a movie starts anymore.
- Reshape the entire movie industry, as Hollywood producers would realize that everyone would be watching movies stoned. All new movies would either be a sequel or prequel to Inception.
- Sell so much weed that you need to cut down the rain forest to make room for more marijuana plants.
P.S. Do you have any idea how much money you would make off snacks alone in a movie theater that sold weed?
I'll have one of everything, please.
3. Hair Salons and Strip Clubs
I cut my own hair and wrote the book "Microwave Cooking for One."
For most men, getting a haircut falls somewhere between shoving an ice pick up his urethra and watching Gigli on the list of "fun ways to spend a Saturday." Why is this? The surly receptionist behind the desk? Because the ambiance in most hair salons can be likened to the waiting room in a Laotian brothel? Or simply the fact that you're forced to trust your appearance for the next month to a "stylist" who looks like an ex-con recently paroled from a women's prison?
Whatever the reason, the fact remains that most men have a certain aversion to hair salons and haircuts in general. Much of their frustration stems from the fact that they're being forced to pay for something that they would do themselves if not for the risk of ending up looking like a teenage meth head from Arkansas.
If businesses could find a way to take advantage of this dissatisfied niche market, the financial rewards would be huge. One way to accomplish this would be to combine hair salons and strip clubs, allowing men to turn the unavoidable burden of getting a haircut into an enjoyable outing with their friends. With strippers and alcohol.
Becoming a hair stylist requires two things: two hands and an IQ above 70. Since (some) strippers meet those qualifications, one could quickly amass a qualified workforce by recruiting dancers from local gentlemen's clubs and groups of women crying outside high school guidance counselors' offices. To ensure that only the highest possible quality strippers are hired, they would be put through a rigorous vetting process to determine a) whether they are attractive or not and b) how many usable hands they have.
One of the worst parts of getting a haircut is being forced to read a 4-month old issue of Conservative Teen, or another literary abortion while waiting. No more! At this hair salon, clients could order a drink at the bar from the bartender (who is a stripper) and get a lap dance while waiting.
Instead of overwhelming clients with hundreds of haircut options, this establishment would simplify the choices and offer only one type of haircut: the BOWL CUT. This is necessary for several reasons:
- Strippers don't know how to cut hair. Shaving around a bowl on someone's head with a pair of buzzers while giving an aggressive lap dance is about as much as you can expect from a drunk stripper.
- Giving the aforementioned stripper a pair of razor sharp scissors and expecting her NOT to slice the client's carotid artery seems unrealistic.
- Ten buzzers operating simultaneously can only be tolerated if they're drowned out by Motley Crüe and Poison on repeat, which is the type of music most strip clubs play anyway.
- Go to a bank and ask for a large loan to open this business. Once they reject it and call the police, decide to finance it yourself.
- Get ten credit cards with no limit and buy a hair salon that went bankrupt in the recession.
- Order Motley Crüe's and Poison's discographies, ten punch bowls, ten buzz trimmers, and a lot of alcohol.
- Look at the recommendations Amazon gives you based on these purchases. Either laugh or cry.
- Come up with a catchy name for your salon. HairSluts (instead of haircuts) is one option.
- Cater to businessmen, because they give the best tips.
- Eventually the boardrooms at all the local companies will be full of hungover men with lopsided bowl cuts.
- Become the only hair salon in history where customers come in for 20+ haircuts a month.
- Make as much money as possible before the salon is shut down. A married man can only come home drunk with the worst haircut of his life so many times before you get some complaints.
4. Prisons and UFC
It's not gay if you have 2mm of Lycra separating your penis from another man's face.
The idea of a bare-knuckle, no-holds-barred fight between two men at their physical peak is about as awesome as it gets. Because of liability concerns, however, no such fight will ever grace our televisions. Instead, we're forced to sit through the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC): an adulterated, sub-par substitute.
Despite this fact, UFC is one of the most popular sports in the world, with viewership rising to nearly ten million for some fights. In the ring, fighters try to live up to the "ultimate" name of their sport, but consistently fall short due to the strict set of puritanical rules that include:
- No eye gouging
- No spiking an opponent to the canvas on his head or neck
- No striking to the spine or the back of the head
- No performance-enhancing drug use
- No abusive language
- No weapons (edged or otherwise)
- Mandatory gloves
How can we expect these helplessly repressed athletes to become "ultimate" if they can't poke each other's eyes out? If they can't punch their opponents in the spine? If they can't bring switchblades into the ring in the event of a draw or split decision?
The reality: they can't.
The solution: establish a More Ultimate Fighting Championship (MUFC) in a privately run prison, where prisoners on death row fight to the death.
The United States has the highest rate of per-capita incarceration in the world, with 0.7% of the adults in the US population in 2009 (about 2.2 million people) behind bars. That number doesn't include those on probation or parole, which brings the number up to about 3.1% (7.2 million) of adults. The most violent and heinous of these offenders are condemned to death, deemed too dangerous to be released back into society. Because the process of enacting the death penalty is expensive and time-consuming, however, many of these offenders spend years on death row awaiting their execution.
In a country where political correctness often trumps rationality, the only way an event of this nature would be allowed to take place would be if it were housed somewhere where the rule of law isn't enforced. Inside prisons, there is practically a "rule of law vacuum." This is particularly true in private prisons, which are essentially concrete anything-goes zones for "do it yourself" tattooing and shower-related crime.
"I fight to postpone my death sentence. And to avoid shower rape."
In the MUFC, prisoners on death row would be arranged into a tournament-style bracket, pitted against each other one-by-one until a winner is crowned. Since there are currently 3,170 prisoners on death row, we could watch 1,585 fights before running out of contestants. Once this happens, we could simply lower the requirements for a death sentence.
One of the most significant aspects of the MUFC would be its positive effects on society.
First, the revenue accrued from MUFC fights could be used to benefit society. In 2010, the UFC made at least $465 million from Pay-Per-View alone (they haven't released the official figures). If you were to include revenue from ticket sales, advertising, and merchandizing, that figure would rise substantially. For the sake of argument, let's assume that they generated $500 million in 2010 (a conservative estimate). Since we can also assume that all of the aforementioned revenue streams would grow as rules decreased and badassness increased, the MUFC figure would be substantially larger.
This revenue could be used to fund national health care, improve public education, increase renewable energy spending, or bolster any other cause worthy of investment. In a stunning display of irony, the most violent and immoral sport in history could solve some of the nation's biggest problems.
Or it could be used to buy 500 million lottery tickets, with a chance of multiplying the earnings several times over!
Second, in addition to the financial benefits, the MUFC would have a tangible effect on crime rates. Whether or not you believe that the death penalty deters crime, the possibility of being forced to fight the biggest, scariest, tattoo-covered murderer in the Western Hemisphere would certainly have a strong psychological effect. Violent crime would drop overnight.
Find a prison recently shut down due to overcrowding or budget constraints and transform the yard into a cage fighting arena.
Transfer all death row inmates in the US to this prison. Try to avoid a Fugitive-like escape attempt en route.
Participants: convicted prisoners on death row. You cannot just "sign up" for MUFC; fighters must be violent criminals, because we only want to watch people fight who have had practice.
Rules: same as in all Steven Seagal movies (no rules).
No featherweight or lightweight divisions. No one wants to see a malnourished 23-pound long-distance runner try to muster up enough strength to throw a punch. ONLY middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight divisions.
Performance-enhancing drug use would not be punished, it would be encouraged. How do you think home run records are set? In order to push fighters to the limits of human capability, steroid use would be supported.
When the Geneva Convention tried to prevent President Bush from torturing unconvicted prisoners, he acted as any true patriot would: he moved the torture centers offshore. It is in this same spirit that the MUFC would be established: by eliminating impotent rules and raising the stakes, we would finally be able to watch a fight worthy of the obscene UFC Pay-Per-View prices.