This week in weird business news…
Flamethrowers are almost never a good idea, but believe it or not they’re completely legal under federal regulation. Only two states, California and Maryland have restrictions on the high-power machines. Now two companies are taking advantage of the law, offering flamethrowers to consumers that retail between $900 and $1600.
One company, Ion Productions Team, used the crowd-funding site Indigogo to raise $157,485 for production of their XM42 flamethrower. That’s about four times more than the $40,000 the company initially asked for.
Now some local politicians want to ban consumer sales of the machines that can shoot flames up to 25 feet long. "My concern is that flamethrowers in the wrong hands could cause catastrophic damage either to the person who is using it or more likely to the person who is being targeted," Mayor Jim Fouts of Warren, Michigan told Ars Technica. A bill in Troy, Michigan has been proposed to ban the "storage, use, and possession of flamethrowers in the city.”
There’s just one small problem: the possibility of a ban has increased sales.
"Business is skyrocketing higher than ever due to the discussion of prohibition," said Chris Byars, CEO of Ion Productions Team, a Michigan-based flame-throwing company. He estimates he’s sold 350 units in the past few weeks at $900 each.
On their website, Ion Productions Team lists possible uses for the flamethrowers. These include:
- clearing snow/ice
- eliminating weeds between pavement cracks
- controlled burns/ground-clearing of foliage/agricultural
- insect control
- pyrotechnic event displays
- bonfire starting
- a fun device to enjoy with friends
Check back Friday for more weird business news.