Years ago Dennis Miller roasted the relentless expansion of Starbucks, joking that “in my neighborhood they just opened a Starbucks…inside a Starbucks!” The health of Starbucks is not so perky these days but coffee franchises in general are doing well, according to a new study by Franchise Direct. The reason, they say, is the world’s undiminished thirst for the beverage. Franchise Direct claims 2008 coffee consumption was up among the pivotal 25-39 age group and that coffee drinking remained consistent in the 40-59 age group. If you’re considering a career at the bean counter, Franchise Direct suggests starting out with an affordable kiosk or van.
You can’t take it with you (so why not spend it on a franchise?). If you’re one of the lucky few who have anything at all left in their 401(k) accounts, franchise guru John Hayes says you can invest it in a franchise, despite what you may have heard from the IRS. The process involves some legal calisthenics but Hayes (who has a Ph.D.) says there are a number of firms around the country that will do all the hard stuff for you — for a fee of $4,500 to $7,500. That should leave plenty to risk on your new franchise. (Beats risking it in the stock market.)
Franchise of the week: Air4Zero. Back in 1981 a fellow named Wiley Brooks appeared on “That’s Incredible” and introduced the world to breatharianism. Breatharians, he boasted, did not need food or water to live. They subsisted on air. Later, Brooks was spotted exiting a 7-Eleven with hot dog and Slurpee. We’re reminded of this tale because we just heard about a company in Australia called Air4Zero. It says it’s developed a kit to convert any internal-combustion engine to run on air. If you’re interested, you can buy a franchise. If you think it’s all hot air…well, so did we. But Popular Mechanics reported last week that there are three air cars rolling toward the market. They’re not magic. They run on compressed air. They don’t go far and they don’t go fast and they’re not zero-pollution vehicles. But they are for real.
And Wiley Brooks? He’s off his diet. At the Breatharian Institute of America website, he now advises aspiring breatharians to meditate half an hour a day with the “five magical 5th dimensional words,” then “drink lots of Diet Coke in the 20-ounce and 1-liter sizes (with caffeine) in the plastic bottles only, along with a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese from McDonald’s only.” (No pizza? We’d never cut it as breatharians.)