D.L. STEWART: Museum aims for success with failures

Encouraged by Erma Bombeck, several years ago I produced a calendar based on columns I had written featuring my stepcat. Erma assured me it would be an easy money-maker. And why not? Lots of people love felines, which is just about the only explanation why “Cats” lasted all those years on Broadway and refused to just curl up and die elsewhere. There probably are 50 million cat lovers in this country, and if only 10 percent of them paid $4.95 for one of my calendars, that would be $5 million in my pocket.

Unfortunately, sales fell a little short of that and all that wound up in my pocket was a bill for the printing costs of the stack of unsold cat calendars in my attic.

Maybe I should donate one of them to the Museum of Failure.

The Museum of Failure is an actual thing, the latest in what is estimated to be 55,000 museums worldwide, including art museums, natural history museums, science museums, a toilet museum, a Pez museum and a Parasitological museum. Eventually there probably will be a museum museum.

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The Museum of Failure is scheduled to open this week in Sweden and will showcase some of history’s monumental flops, of which there have been plenty. According to its founder, a Swedish organizational psychologist, “80 to 90 percent of innovations actually will fail.” The purpose of the museum is to show that innovation requires failure,” Dr. Samuel West said in a New York Times interview. “If we’re afraid of failure, then we can’t innovate.”

Among his exhibits will be Bic pens that were marketed as being made specifically for women, a Harley-Davidson fragrance for people who wanted to smell like a motorcycle, a Zippo fragrance for people who wanted to smell like a cigarette lighter and the Segway, which was supposed to revolutionize the world but now is “a silly device for kids or for company team-building activities,” according to Dr. West. But then, Segway’s image wasn’t helped any when the man who bought out the company died in 2010 by falling off a cliff – while riding a Segway.

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Probably the most recognizable fizzle is the Edsel, which sent buyers screaming away from showrooms all over America from 1958 through 1960. As one critic noted, the car’s grill resembled “an Oldsmobile sucking a lemon.”

Others with mercifully short shelf lives may include:

— Bottled water for dogs and cats.

— Lifesavers soda.

— Clairol shampoo made with yogurt.

— Frozen foods marketed by Colgate.

— Bic disposable underwear.

— A Santa Claus dreidel.

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— The United States Football League (among its backers was Donald Trump, who hardly ever mentions that in his tweets, possibly because it lost $163 million).

And while all of these are long gone, at least their memory will be preserved by the Museum of Failure.

Which, I predict, will be a flop.

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