Give Me Your Odd Pairs

DESCRIPTIONPhoto: Dan Hamermesh

I love to collect examples of bizarre pairs of goods that sellers or buyers apparently believe are complements or substitutes.

Our local, now-defunct Tower Records used to have condoms for sale at the check-out counter, presumably in the probably reasonable belief that they and rock music are complements in students’ consumption.

Near my apartment in Germany this summer, a funeral home has a casket in the window, with seashells on top, sand strewn around, and a seagull perched atop a cross. Do the owners really believe that customers will be consuming funerals and beach vacations together? I wonder.

I disgust my introductory economics students by listing peanut butter and mayonnaise as complements, since I used to make myself sandwiches of these two items when I was in college.

Any other amusingly bizarre real-world examples like these are most welcome, the weirder the better.


A video (yes video, not DVD) rental shop in Inlet NY that has a full pub and restaurant behind the last row of videos.


Chewing gum and peanuts - duh!


Sorry, I also forgot BBQ and foot massage:


@Norm: A similar situation exists at the Pennsylvania/Delaware border. There's a huge liquor store on the DE side (taxes are lower), and a large fireworks stand on the PA side (not legal in DE). Both advertise themselves as being on the border at Exit 1 on I-95...


In one small city in Brazil, you could get a haircut and receive a free rotisserie chicken


There is a gas station in Rock Island, Tennessee that offers beer by the gallon. You bring your own gallon jug (at least they encourage recycling). I imagined a beer pump alongside the gas pump.

In Texas, these places are called "twofers." My favorite was a combination gas station and spider museum.

Some immigrants used to run a restaurant near my office called Donut & Kebab House. It had a very odd sign that looked like a doghouse with a dog inside and had nothing to do with either donuts or kebabs.


In Edina, Missouri (pop. 1,233) there is a combination barber shop and guns and ammunition store.


P.S. I wonder if the Germans who run the shop with the beachy coffin have ever heard the Mafia expression "swim with the fishes."


I used to love reese's peanut butter cups with cool ranch doritos. Put them in your mouth together, enjoy the blast. Now I don't think my metabolism could manage it, but my mouth remembers :)

Sarah H.

Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles in LA serves an unlikely combination, but once you eat there you understand the beauty of fried chicken and waffles with maple syrup united on one glorious platter.

The closest 'convenience store' to me at my previous home in Cupertino, CA was a live bait store/video rental place. It's interesting because usually if you're going fishing in the reservoir, you can't watch videos. I only went there to buy beer...


In Oak Harbor, WA there is an combination animal hospital and laser surgery center.

Rex Hammock

Years ago, I was involved with a research project for a large company that was considering launching a chain of shopping mall-based hearing centers -- like vision centers, but with hearing-aids and other hearing assistive devices (after the test, they decided against it).

As part of the research, we did an inventory of all the businesses in our test-location's metropolitan area.

You'd be amazed at the places that sell hearing aids, but my favorite (however, one I'd never patronize) was a business that offered both dog grooming and hearing-aid services.


Gelato Carina in Squamish, BC sells ice cream and yarn (i.e. for knitting), a sticky proposition at best.


Most college bookstores I have ever been to don't sell many textbooks, but tones of lit-lite and rah-rah paraphanalia, despite the presence of nearby independent book stores and university apparel shops.

Head shops frequently sell 'adult' material, and the connection isn't especially obvious (at least, to me).


Not quite on topic, since they're both types of food, but there's a restaurant here in Toronto called the Hungry Thai.

Not surprisingly, it offers both a Hungarian menu and a Thai menu.


When I was in college, we had a local establishment... the Acme Wood Stove and Video. You could buy a wood burning stove, or rent a video...

Harrisonburg VA is a place like no other.

I have also seen Kem's cleaner and video. Video rentals and dry cleaning, which is actually a brilliant combination.


I had a college roommate who liked to eat applesauce and tuna fish mixed... ugh.

As for weird business combos, there is nothing like a Southeastern US independent quick mart gas station for weird goods sold next to each other. The most recent weird one I saw was a mart selling actual Middle Eastern style glass hookahs along with "redneck" style clothing and other gifty-type items. Of course, the real reason for the hookah is for smoking alternatives to tobacco, but it was disconcerting to see these in a fairly exurban to rural area...

Here in TN, independent retail casket sales are allowed in order to help remove some of the cost to lower income folks. This leads to some weird placements of retail casket stores.

The best inadvertent placement I personally ever saw was at a stripmall in a suburb of Chattanooga, TN that had a Weight Watchers facility next door to a cake /bakery shop. In the industrial area of Chattanooga, TN there was also a BBQ trailer that rented part of a parking lot from a veterinarian pratice- that I saw in person and later in pictures on the internet.



A store nearby seems to only sell pet supplies and cigarettes.


My favorite was a drive-thru strawberry daiquiri place in New Orleans. From a consumer standpoint, the combination of "ease" and alcohol is golden. However, as a business, something tells me that the risk of serving alcohol to drivers far outweighs the reward.


In Kansas City, we have the Westport Flea Market that is mainly a bar, but opens a flea market on the weekend. we also have car wash/Italian drive-thru restaurant named Dominic's.