BOSTON (TheStreet) -- In rough economic times, people used to resort to selling blood or apples.
Now, thanks to the Internet, they are selling nail clippings, dead mice and the naming rights to their unborn children to help make ends meet.
It's not just people taking advantage of the Internet's potential as a global flea market who are showing that pretty much anything someone could want -- from the mundane to the bizarre -- can be found online. Companies can now connect directly to buyers of their esoteric and exotic wares.The scientifically minded, for example, can now easily buy skeletons (human, animal or fossilized), owl vomit, snake venom and scorpion poison -- items even the best Wal-Mart can't be expected to keep on its shelves. Looking to intimidate that smug neighbor with a new Prius? Mortar Investments, a Web site based in Prague, lets you add, for example, a $72,000 SU-100 soviet tank destroyer to an online shopping cart (don't count on an Amazon Prime type of shipping discount). The marketplace for unusual items can be separated into two categories: "Huh?" and "Wow!" That Russian tank may fall into the latter category, while a cornflake that looks like Jesus fits with the former. Sites such as DudeIWantThat.com offer a portal for the cool and extravagant. Those looking for the downright strange might find more success hunting on Amazon (AMZN) or Etsy. eBay (EBAY) goes the extra step of categorizing nearly 22,000 head-scratching items as "Weird Stuff," "Slightly Unusual," "Really Weird" and "Totally Bizarre." DudeIWantThat.com is run by the brother and sister team of Ryan and Erin Carstens. It launched last summer with its first featured product, a see-through canoe. Erin Carstens says their hope for the site is to be the "definitive curator of everything from slick gadgets and sick oddities" and highlight "truly innovative designs and ideas that merit making it big." "Or at least [those that] merit a flurry of idle Web chatter," she adds. In choosing what products to feature, Carstens says she and her brother try to achieve "a balance between fads and novelties we're fairly sure people will drool over" and more "inspired, and industrious -- but maybe not so obvious -- needful things we hope they'll take the time to explore." Retro Toys and Games Making a Comeback Among the popular items featured on the site that have an "artful weirdness" to them, Carstens says, are lights designed to look like a skinned codfish, zombie head bowling balls and "anatomical leggings" that create the illusion of visible muscle and bone. We took a look at some of the most unique items -- from one-of-a-kind specialties to the strange and often disturbing -- you can buy online.
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