Over 50 percent of the working population in America is employed by small businesses.
In the land of innovation, businesses are coming up with new products and services to entertain and engage consumers each day. The Small Business Administration calls small businesses 'the heart of the American economy'. With this kind of creativity, it’s easy to see why.
Here are 10 small businesses we find inspirational:
1. Big Gay Ice Cream
Where: 125 E. 7th Street and 61 Grove Street, New York, New York.
What: A gay ice cream parlor.
Why: What started as a food truck concept now has permanent roots in the East and West Villages of New York and is a staple for soft serve and shake lovers. Rated last year by USA Today as the #5 best ice cream parlor in the world, it’s also the highest ranked U.S. ice cream parlor on the list. Just as impressive are the names of their concoctions. “Salty Pimp,” anyone?
2. Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-in
Where: 70 NW 29th Street, Miami, Florida.
What: A drive-in movie theater in the middle of a city.
Why: Imagine an intimate, traditional drive-in movie experience in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the country. The country’s only mini urban drive-in movie theatre offers just 18 car slots per movie showing and even has an old 1950s Ford pick-up truck as a movie projector.
3. Brightside Boutique & Tattoo
Where: 1133 South Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland.
What: A fashion boutique and tattoo parlor.
Why: Shop fashionable clothing, shoes and accessories as you pair a different type of accessory with your outfits: ink.
4. Carousel Bar
Where: 214 Royal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana.
What: A bar that revolves around a merry-go-round.
Why: Sip on a classic Sidecar cocktail as you get a 365 degree view of the French Quarter. The Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone is built around a real, working merry-go-round.
5. Casa Diablo
Where: 2839 NW St. Helens Road in Portland, Oregon.
What: America's first vegan strip club.
Why: The strippers themselves don’t have to be vegan but at this club, they can only wear clothing that’s made without animal products. The menu is vegan, too.
6. Echo Park Time Travel Mart
Where: 1714 West Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California.
What: A time travel supply store.
Why: Whether you are traveling back in time or forward into the future, this store has everything you need to survive, from barbarian repellent to anti-cloning fluid. It’s actually a fundraising front for writer Dave Eggers' nonprofit organization 826 National, a writing and tutoring center for kids.
7. Forbes Island
Where: Sea Lion Harbor, "H" Dock between piers 39 and 41 in San Francisco, California.
What: A floating island restaurant.
Why: Forbes Island sits in San Francisco’s harbor and offers prime views of Alcatraz and sunbathing sea lions as guests enjoy waterside cocktails and fine food in underwater dining rooms. Originally built as a private residence, it’s been featured on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”
Where: Online, based in San Francisco, California.
What: An app that pays you for working out and fines you when you don’t.
Why: Set a schedule in GymPact and log your workout hours by checking in at the gym (the app will confirm your location through smartphone GPS tracking). If you don’t meet your goal, you are fined $5 for every missed workout. The money is pooled and paid out to those who meet or exceed their goals. Getting in shape could be costly!
Where: Online, based in Chicago, Illinois.
What: An online marketplace where you can request anything be made.
Why: Need something custom made for you? Put a request in on makeitforus.com and let those who create make it for you. You don’t have to limit your imagination to what’s on the site. Any image you see online can be brought to life and bought or sold.
10. Unclaimed Baggage Center
Where: 509 West Willow Street, Scottsboro, Alabama.
What: A store that sells items left in unclaimed airport luggage.
Why: Most lost baggage on domestic airlines actually finds its way back to the owner within five days. The rest go to Unclaimed Baggage Center, which is under contract with airlines and other transportation companies, and sells the abandoned goods in a retail store.
This list showcases the best and brightest in American small business creativity. Do you know of any businesses that inspire you?
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