Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Deep fried dandelions

Ya, there is such a thing. Google it.

In my spare time, of which I have an ample supply, I been casting about for something an old retired guy could do that might be at least marginally useful and perhaps make a few dollars.

I've had all kinds of thoughts on the topic.


Been awhile since I sat down and hoisted a few with my old pal Don Gregory, but his family used to be one of the prime bootlegging clans in one of the maritime provinces. I won't tell you which one, because hey, maybe they're still at it, and I wouldn't want to spoil the fun.

Here's one thought I had; you know how thirty seconds after closing time there's always folks who rip into the beer store/liquor store parking lot and get all overwrought when they find out they were thirty seconds late? Well, that's a prime customer base that is vastly under-served.

Now, imagine you had your pick-up parked in the corner of that parking lot, with the back piled high with cases of Coors and so on. Those folks who pull in thirty seconds late would far rather pay two times the official price than go home empty handed, don't you think?

Got a couple more angles on the bootlegger theme. Been checking out these home distillery kits you can get on the internet. For a few hundred dollars you can get a rig that'll convert a five pound bag of potatoes into a gallon of vodka.

In 24 hours.

A gallon of vodka translates into 128 fluid ounces. A one ounce shot runs you four or five bucks, most places. That's the key; you can't just turn your gallon a day over to some shady barkeep for twenty or thirty dollars. You gotta get the retail customer who's gonna fork over the five dollars an ounce.

So you open up a little greasy spoon in the low-rent thirsty side of town, and you give the clientèle really good value for the dollar, like a two ounce shot in your Bloody Caesar for five bucks. Suddenly that gallon of vodka is worth what, $300 or so? And like I said, that kit will brew you a gallon a day outta five pounds of potatoes.

Problem with these plans is they are, technically speaking, illegal, although if you're a older white dude who owns a suit you'd probably avoid real time. All I'd have to do is get a suit and tie and I'd be OK. Nevertheless, I've been considering some options that don't run afoul of the law.

The landscaping business. Like roofing, anybody with a pick-up can go into landscaping with an investment of a few hundred dollars. Wanna be a roofer? Buy a ladder and put a sign on the side of your truck. Wanna be a landscaper? Hell, you don't even need the ladder!

And here's my special angle. Since they've been cutting back on support programs and "sheltered workshops" for your folks with "challenges," there's a lot of folks around who get a monthly disability cheque but basically have nothing to do. Hire them for the landscaping crew!

Like, how much brain-power does it require to work a rake or a lawnmower or a Whipper-Snipper? This is a win-win and win again. Your challenged folks will have something to do with their day, plus they won't even notice you forgot to pay their wages!

The only fly in that ointment is the quality of the tools out there today. Time was, you could get a hand-me-down lawnmower for nothing from a relative, put in a new spark-plug, sharpen the blade, and be good to go for another ten years.

Those days are gone. Everything is made to break these days. Back in olden times, some guy would invent something, build it, sell it, and take pride in the fact that it would last a lifetime. He staked his name on building quality shit.

Now all the brands are owned by weenies who don't know shit about how anything works but they got a MBA from Wharton and their hedge fund just bought the company that other guy spent a life-time building up. Before you can say "executive bonus," the manufacturing has been outsourced to China, the pension plan has been looted, the brand has been larded up with debt, and that life-time lawnmower is lucky to last two years.

That's because today, the important thing is no longer how long the tool lasts; it's how much free cash flow it sends up the value chain to some shit-bag chilling out on his Connecticut estate or on his yacht in Palm Beach or Monaco.

Or Montenegro if Peter Munk has his way.

That casts a serious pall over my landscaping plans. Even if you can get the labour for free, it ain't gonna work if you have to replace your equipment every year or two.

So I'm kinda leaning towards borrowing a page out of the playbook of my old pal Amanda Rabinovitch down there in Germantown. She's got her Bite-me Bagels brand franchised across sixteen states and three provinces by now, and she's just bought an estate in Connecticut.

Obviously I'm not gonna cut her grass with another bagel brand, but I detect a huge yawning gap in the market for deep fried dandelions...

Oh ya!

Dieter's Deep Fried Dandelions, here we come!

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