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Subscriber Only Winning in E-Commerce With Whimsy

A failed social network’s success with eclecticism prompts a move into branded lines

Bradford Shellhammer (left) and Jason Goldberg
Photograph by Jeremy Liebman for Bloomberg Businessweek

Products on shopping site are often so campy and overstylized that words fail to describe them: They are … fabsurd? Colorfully described in daily e-mails to Fab’s 12 million registered customers are items such as “In the Seam Animal Pals” (pillows molded into shapes of pets) and the “Awmoo Red” (a spherical bong fashioned by designers “after years of hiding their unsightly water pipes”). In mid-March, the site’s supply of dangling, sterling silver earrings in the shape of attacking sharks, priced at $58, sold out in an hour.