There are always limits but one of the odder ones is the wall around wierd. Ripley's Believe It or Not, believe it or not, has strict standards on the oddities that can be displayed: in a brand protection exercise.
Mr. Meyer spends much of his time pining for objects like Mr. Weaver's
toothpick sculpture. These are what in Ripley's parlance are called "A
exhibits" -- those odd, one-of-a-kind, often interactive items that can
anchor the rest of a museum collection...
Over the past four years, Ripley's Believe It or Not!, a unit of Jim Pattison Group's Ripley Entertainment Inc., has been on an expansion binge. It opened big new museums in New York, London, San Antonio and Bangalore, India. Four more are to open by mid-2010, in Veracruz, Mexico; Bahrain; Jeju, South Korea; and Surfer's Paradise, Australia.
As a result, the company says, it is for the first time in its history facing a shortage of A-list oddities on par with the portrait of Barack Obama made of 12,000 gum balls in New York, the three shrunken heads on display in London and the vampire-killing kit from the mid-1800s at the Tennessee museum.
"We have 10% of what we had just two years ago" because the company's stockpile has been nearly emptied to fill the new museums, says Tim O'Brien, vice president of communications at Ripley Entertainment. "We are in search for at least 200 A exhibits to replenish our supply and meet our current needs," he says.
This is a self-imposed market, in a sense, as the company sets the bar and then explores the globe attempting to find objects that fit the requirement. After all the price of shrunken heads is rising as they are no longer 'manufactured' by Amazonian tribes. Would it not also be cheating if the company started to make odd rather than purchasing what is emergent on this small market? And if the company has expanded so far, will people now make oddness such to sell to Ripleys?
Expansion and a monopoly buyer (apart from some fringe activity) set this up as one of the stranger markets around. Are there people who 'spot' for Ripley, buying up to sell on to the monopoly? Or manufacturing oddities to the grade required? Shortages bring opportunities.