Editors' pick: Originally published Oct. 6.
What constitutes "weird" when you're Amazon, an online store selling to the world?
One person's "weird" may be another's fairly routine item, which makes labeling just about anything on that site as "weird and wonderful" seem like an exercise in futility. Fortunately, we aren't the ones tasked with that particular assignment. As it turns out, Amazon has a "Weird and Wonderful Newsletter" that it sends out on a fairly regular basis alerting folks to some of the more... well... esoteric items that are selling in the company's marketplace.
It isn't that "weird" is bad, mind you. We're writing this from a city -- Portland, Ore. -- that regularly demands that newcomers "Keep Portland Weird." Granted, the folks in Austin, Texas, have been making that same request in their city for years, and neither has exactly made either city a Starbucks-free haven of artistic expression, contrary thought or peculiar occurrences.
Like we said, a Naked Bike Ride or alleyway full of amateur murals that would push one city out of joint for being "weird" might just be part of another city's marketing plan. If Amazon can float its own inventory out there as "weird," what qualifies as normal? Does having AmazonNow deliver you toothpaste, because you're too lazy to go to the damned bodega qualify as normal, or is that a little weird for people with working legs and no phobias?
Using Amazon's "Weird and Wonderful" newsletter as a guide, we perused the site's offerings and found 25 items that could fit under that "weird" label. Maybe they're weird because they have a very limited appeal, maybe they're weird because they're items you wouldn't expect to find on an e-commerce site... maybe they're weird because it's outright bizarre that someone would have seen a need in the marketplace for such items to the point that they manufactured them and sold them on Amazon. At any rate, here they are. If they don't strike you as particularly odd, just keep it to yourself. There's no need to make this any weirder than it already is: