The Beauty of Novelty

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Pet Rock

The year is 1975. Somewhere in Bonny Doon, a man sits in the bar with a few of his friends as they prattle on with complaints about their pets. This gives the man a seemingly innocuous idea that turns into a fortune. The man was Gary Dahl, an advertising executive and owner of Gary Dahl Creative Services. He invented a novelty gift known as the pet rock. He wrote out a 32 page manual of gags and jokes about caring for and raising the pet, and went to market with the smooth googly-eyed stones from Mexico’s Rosarito Beach and over the short course of the product’s run he sold nearly 1.5 million at $4 a piece (the equivalent of a little over 28 million dollars today).

At first glance, many would chuckle to themselves wondering how many people could go out and waste that kind of money on a novelty gag. It’s the same people that wonder how mumble rappers and the like end up becoming millionaires. To me, its part of the beauty of the market. The market allows for fun, silly, and downright unnecessary things to become more and more available (such as just about anything you’ve seen in a 3 am infomercial) and in turn allow those who can create them to profit.

When we think of the advances of the market the things that come to mind are generally the big leaps in technology that either improved our quality of life or reduced the costs of necessities. We think of the refrigerator, or the production line for automobiles as examples of market forces pushing us further along the path of progress. I, however, think that self-curling garden hoses and skull-shaped ice cube makers serve as far better examples.

The market gives both consumers and entrepreneurs the ability to directly voice and profit on fulfilling not just the needs but also the desires of each other. If you don’t like a particular product that’s available on the market then you can choose to not give the maker your money. Just the same if you do support or desire a certain product, regardless of your reasoning to acquire it, then you can simply go a purchase it. If you want something and it doesn’t exist then you have yourself an opportunity my good sir! Craft the product you desire and take it to market!

Novelty items are prime examples of exactly what the market is supposed to embody: People having ideas and bringing them to market in search of fortune, and the consumers being better off for the additional variety available to them. So what if someone spends $26 on a Donald Trump Chia pet (you now know that exists, you’re welcome) or thinks that a set of eyelashes for their car is a great investment? The makers want to profit, the customer wants the product, and jobs were made to manufacture and market all of these wonderful products. That’s the beauty of the market, warty sour patch kids and all.

Read more articles from Killian on Think Liberty here.