May 14, 2008
Something Store: Grab Bag or Gambling?
Posted by Christine Hurt

Sometimes I think while teaching Securities Regulation that I could make an argument that anything is a security, and the same goes with researching gambling.  Here's another gambling candidate that caught my ear on the radio today:  Something Store.

Here's the idea -- you pay $10, and Something Store will send you "something."  You have no idea what until you receive your package.  The store doesn't try to match you with anything, so "[y]ou can be a 25 year-old man and your something maybe a white tank top embroidered with a pink heart."  In fact, the website says shipments are chosen randomly (albeit from their storeroom, which I assume was not stocked randomly).  The concept as sold as a way to suprise yourself.  The website says that your something will probably be brand new (although possibly refurbished) and they "hope you will be pleasantly surprised."  No returns, all sales final; the site suggests regifting, giving away, or selling any "something" you don't need.

Is this gambling?  It seems a little like games at the fair where you could win a big stuffed animal, but odds are you will win a plastic dinosaur the size of a fig newton.  I seem to remember in my past "grab bags" being for sale at stores -- the bags were closed, so you didn't know what you had until you bought the bag.  At Something Store, the experience seems to be what is being sold, not the potential upside of a great something.  (They do not have testimonials from customers who received iPods or flat screen TVs, for example.)  You are buying a surprise, and that's really about all you'll get.

Who would do this?  Well, not many people.  According to the site, less than 6000 somethings have been ordered in the past six months.  Perhaps bringing this idea online during a time of less economic uncertainty when $10 seemed like a good price to throw away on being surprised.

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