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April 03, 2017

If you thought owning a Veg-O-Matic was the ultimate in ironic hipster cool, get ready for a rude awakening: Ronco Brands – the company behind one of the infomercial world’s most infamously-named product, as well as plenty of other gadgets you may recognize from your insomnia days – is about to go public, meaning soon you’ll be able to own stock in the people behind your favorite infomercials. Talk about an investment! 

According to the Wall Street Journal, Ronco Brands – whose other kitchen appliances include the Beef Jerky Machine and Showtime Rotisseries – is issuing an IPO and, unsurprisingly, is up to some of its old tricks to move its own stock. The company is hoping to raise $30 million by selling five million shares of stock at $6 a pop. The minimum investment is 20 shares, or a $120… but why stop there! According to Ronco’s website, you can get yourself all sorts of deals by buying into a bigger chunk of the company. For instance, invest over $1,000 and you’ll score a one-time 20 percent discount on Ronco.com. Looking to make an even bigger investment? Invest over $5,000 and you’ll get the one-time discount plus a free Ronco Rotisserie! Did Apple give you a free iPhone when you bought their stock? I don’t think so. Sure, they might have given you dividends, but good luck cooking chicken with dividends.

Much like when watching a late-night infomercial, however, prospective buyers may want to consider doing their due diligence before making a purchase. The WSJ states that though Ronco claims it’s done over $2 billion in business since launching in the 1960s, a lot has changed in the ensuing decades: The company filed for bankruptcy in 2007 and has gone through two owners since then. In addition, in 2015, Ronco only generated $9 million in revenue, and in the first half of 2016, had a net loss of $2.7 million, according to reports. At this point, the business is said to be about $17 million in debt.

Probably also worth mentioning: Ronco admits, “While we intend to apply for our shares to be traded on either the OTCQC market or the NASDAQ or NYSE, those applications have not yet been accepted, and therefore we do not yet know which market, if any, will be available for purchases and sales of our shares.” Hey, much like that Veg-O-Matic you bought, you can always try selling it at a flea market.