Buzz Worthy

At This Auction Site, Prices (on Chickens, iPods, Etc.) Are Going, Going Down

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Sunday, July 1, 2007

So you've just moved into a new apartment. Now you need to fill it with stuff, posthaste. Your typical options might consist of A) submitting to the benevolent and easy-to-assemble grasp of Ikea, B) trying your luck on the Wild West of Craigslist, or C) taking a deep breath and diving into the nearest dumpster. Fortunately, now there's D) Jellyfish.com, whose centerpiece, "The Daily Smack With Smack Daddy," bills itself as "The Internet's Only Live Social Shopping Show."

Basically, "The Daily Smack" works like this: Every weekday at 1 p.m. Eastern time, a limited number of items -- be they digital cameras or blenders -- go up for live auction. Only instead of the cost rising as the minutes tick by, the site lowers the item's price with each passing second. Suddenly those iPods are 20 percent off, then 25 percent off. The trick is to wait until the price drops super-low -- but not so low that the item sells out.

On top of the show hosted by Smack Daddy (a smack is a group of jellyfish), the site also has introduced a 24/7 schedule of Smack Shopping that offers deals on stuff from kids' gear to hunting supplies (the full programming list is on the site). The savings aren't instant. The site's cash-back system means you initially pay full price for, say, that Xbox 360. Jellyfish.com then takes its commission from the seller and places your discount in your account, generally within 60 days of the purchase date.

To participate, you need to sign in as a member (registration is free). If you want to consistently succeed at the Smack auctions, you'll need timing as sharp as Clint Eastwood's in "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" -- especially when that little ticker starts dropping beyond 25 percent. The average site discount currently is 45 percent.

The goods on offer extend beyond music players and appliances. A flock of rubber chickens once sold out with disturbing speed (and at a 31.26 percent discount), earning a certain cult status among site users, who can instant-message one another and customize personal pages.

"Anytime we put [that] up, it sells out faster than even hot products like iPods, digital cameras and flat-panel TVs," says Mark McGuire, 38, president and co-founder of the site. "I think it is a great example of how Smack shows are about social entertainment in addition to great deals."

Jellyfish.com debuted as a shopping search engine in June 2006 and launched Smack Shopping in November. If you ever wanted a portable beer dispenser or floor-washer robot (who wouldn't, really?) for a low, low price, sooner or later the chance will be yours.

-- Nick Kolakowski


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