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Small Talk: Business News You Missed

Labor-intensive…Discretion may be the better part of valor, but it’s not so great for generating publicity. That must have been the thinking of the Rockford [Illinois] Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, which this week launched a clever ad campaign called Hideaway In Rockford insinuating that Wisconsin legislators who have refused to go home to avoid a vote on organized labor’s collective bargaining rights have been hiding out at the town’s Clock Tower Resort. Rockford native and Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen even contributed a promotional video to the campaign. The press release does not reveal for how long the legislators have made reservations.

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Girl Talk…This won’t be a newsflash to parents…girls like to be in charge. That’s the word from research consultants the Doneger Group, which says teen girls like to have power over their shopping experience. To give these demanding darlings what they want, retailers should make online shopping more of an experience rather than simply a retail transaction. Doneger’s Catherine Moellering suggests retailers go beyond sales promotions and coupons by offering online tutorials for teen girls. For example, she suggests, videos can be used to demonstrate how to apply liquid eyeliner for the perfect cat eye; how to wear boots in the summer or how to wear denim shorts in the winter. And you thought Justin Bieber was your worst nightmare.

Revolutionary idea…Where there’s a will (of the people) there’s a way.  Beginning last week, Pennsylvania-based e-commerce retailer The United States Flag Store began selling the retired Libyan flag, which has become the symbol of Libya’s opposition movement. The flag image is also  available on custom products and T-shirts, the company said. Presumably low-priced knockoffs of Moammar Gadafi’s ever-present military uniform are currently on rush order from China.

Flipping Out…Job hunters who aren’t having any luck in their traditional fields may want to consider embarking on a career at the ABC Dolphin Trainer Academy in Mexico. The program offers workshops that make it possible for aspiring dolphin trainers to learn everything from preparing fish for the dolphins’ meals to “training the animals for voluntary medical procedures.” The dolphin academy does not explain exactly how the dolphins volunteer for the medical procedures.

Bowled Over…You might need to sit down for this. Necessity has, yet again, proved to be the mother of invention for a 75-year-old, 285-pound man who just couldn’t quite find a comfortable seat, as it were. Hence, this potty-minded entrepreneur invented the Adjust for Comfort Toilet Seat, which uses expandable seat arms to change the shape of the toilet seat to meet the user’s individual needs. Designed to fit both round and elongated toilet bowls, it is capable of supporting up to 1,000 pounds, according to the company.

Eggs-ceptionally profitable…Having trouble pumping up the bottom line. Maybe you should consider adding the All American Chicken Vending Machine, which its Oceanside, N.Y.-based manufacturer claims is the latest innovation in theme vending machines. The chicken in this arcade attraction plays popular American sports while he perches proudly atop hundreds of toy-filled eggs. “This machine will be at the forefront of a series of top-notch technologically driven machines that will be launched to both the national and international markets,” its maker says. And, best of all, it’s American made. Who says we’re lagging behind in innovation?


Jeanette Mulvey

Jeanette has been writing about business for more than 20 years. She has written about every kind of entrepreneur from hardware store owners to fashion designers. Previously she was a manager of internal communications for Home Depot. Her journalism career began in local newspapers. She has a degree in American Studies from Rutgers University. Follow her on Twitter @jeanettebnd.