No cuddling, please. We're Wisconsinites
It may be cold in the Upper Midwest, but folks in Madison, Wis., don't feel like cuddling. The Snuggle House has closed its doors, according to its Facebook page.
The business, owned by former health supplements salesman Matthew Hurtado, was only three weeks old. The entire enterprise had a hard time getting off the ground. Its planned opening in October was delayed a month as city officials tried to get their arms around the idea. Some locals were reportedly concerned the business could be a front for prostitution.
During the delay, The Snuggle House put up a website offering "therapeutic cuddling" for $60 an hour.
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It profiled its staff, including one man, Lonnie, a long-maned former camp counselor. Here's his video. "He had 300 to 400 applications before they opened," said Hurtado's attorney, Timothy Casper.
Finally, an occupancy permit was granted, and local Councilman Mike Verveer said he received no complaints. The sudden closing surprised him. "My guess would probably be that they just didn't have the business that they anticipated," he said.
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Not so, said Hurtado's attorney. "He just decided, 'I don't need this grief.' He has two little kids and he didn't need people taking pot shots at him."
Casper said that Hurtado repeatedly met with city officials and gave them all the information they wanted, "But they just couldn't buy into the idea that this was just cuddling." He added that The Snuggle House was doing fine from a business perspective, with more than three dozen sessions so far.
Why did Hurtado open a cuddling business? The idea came about after he was hospitalized for Lyme disease. "He was poked and prodded ... the thing he needed the most was a hug," said Casper.
A lot of people may feel that way. Two weeks ago I profiled Samantha Hess of Portland, Ore., whose "Cuddle Up To Me" business has made her an international star. Hess' business, or at least the buzz about it, continues to grow. "Already done interviews with people in Bucharest and London this morning. This is so awesome!" she tweeted on Friday.
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She continues to spread her vision of platonic love with things like "Sidewalk Affirmations."
Madison, however, is giving the cuddling concept a cold shoulder. Wisconsin is not Oregon. Hurtado is now offering to give away furniture from The Snuggle House to those in need this holiday.
His attorney said the last straw was when "even the local bar downstairs would shut the door when he walked by."
—By CNBC's Jane Wells; Follow her on Twitter: