The Far Side of E-Commerce 2000

If you want Harry Potter, you can get him on the Internet. But if you are in the market for the blood of a real live wizard, guess what? You can get that on the Internet too.

Let your fingers do the clicking and you can find just about anything you can imagine online. E-commerce may be the hot topic in investor circles, but the industry has a lesser known cousin that thrills, chills and bemuses. Let’s call it “Odd-commerce.”

Planes, Goats and Brains

Odd-commerce offers strange, weird and hardly ever useful items that run the gamut from A to Z. If you want an albatross, for example, surf over to Wings Online. You won’t find the giant sea bird there, but you can order a genuine 1954 Navy HU16C Albatross airplane for $275,000 (US$) — paint, interior and avionics extra.

On the other hand, if you are interested in adding a zebra to the family, you can purchase the real thing at the Raz Livestock Sale auction site, which also offers watusi, watusi cross, longhorn cattle, buffalo, auodad, blackbuck, addax, oryx, llamas, elk, red deer, nilgai, waterbuck, gazelle, zoney, eland, fallow, axis, Sika deer, Ibex goats, and much more. You can get Sicilian donkeys, ponies, mules, miniature horses, Boer goats, fourhorn sheep, Catalina goats, fainting goats, pigmy goats, white Texas Dall sheep, and black Corsican Sheep. And the list goes on.

If you would rather eat your critters than clean up after them, hop on over to Fluker Farms and check out the chocolate covered crickets. “Our crickets are oven roasted to perfection, then covered with the finest chocolate available to create one truly unforgettable exotic snack,” the site promises. “Each individually wrapped, chocolate covered cricket comes with our exclusive ‘I ATE A BUG CLUB’ button.”

In the mood for more fun with food? At the Mad Martian site, you will find pictorial suggestions for edible treats to thoroughly gross out the guests at your next party. Things like 3-D eyeball cakes, Pillsbury dead boys, and a really horrible jello molded to look exactly like your brain.

The site also includes a page depicting your brain on mugs, on slugs, and… you get the idea. The e-commerce angle is a gift shop that offers about a million different eyeball novelties — candles, key chains, an ash tray. (The high-bounce eyeballs are sold out.)

What the Heck?

For an overview of some very weird items offered for sale via Internet auctions, take a tour of WhatTheHeck.com, a Web site that focuses on things “half-baked, meritless, thoughtless, or just plain dumb.” In addition to the site’s fringe-worthy economic, political and social commentaries, you will find an entire section devoted to odd-commerce auctions. While most of the auctions have long been over, some of the postings are well worth checking out for sheer entertainment value.

For example, had you drifted over to eBay in January, you could have gotten a great deal on some North Carolina snow.

The auctioneer wrote: “So far, we’ve got over a foot, and it’s still coming down. We really don’t need more than a few inches here, so we’re making the rest available to the highest bidder. Due to the perishable nature of snow, and because not even 4WD vehicles are having much luck on our local roads, the winning bidder must make arrangements for pickup. This snow doesn’t pack very well, so you’ll have to make your own packing arrangements as well.”

The auctioneer included several nice pictures of the product offering and some amusing responses to buyer inquiries, such as “Yes, we’ll consider a trade for older, dirtier snow — as long as we get to tell you where to put the dirty snow,” and “We’ll be more than happy to barter boxes of snow for boxes of warm Florida sunshine — mainly because I’m eager to see how you package the sunshine!”

While the snow sale was clearly tongue-in-cheek, a March offering for the partially eaten breakfast of teen idol Justin Timberlake may have been on the level.

“This is Justin Timberlake of N*SYNC’s leftover french toast as eaten live on Z100!!!” the posting said. “The entire group was on the Z-Morning Zoo this morning, March 9th, and Justin only ate one bite of his french toast! You’ll get his half-eaten french toast, fork he used, and the plate… complete with extra syrup! Proceeds from this sale will go to a Z100 charity. We’ll even pay shipping! Good luck!!!” The minimum bid was set at $3,204.00.

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