By Julia Oller
The Columbus Dispatch
Columbus, OH (AP) – From ketchup for canines to booze-hiding tampons, the internet is stocked with items so over-the-top that they seem thought up in dreams – or perhaps nightmares.
Since April 2012, Drew Fairweather has faithfully documented the weirdest (hamster wheel for dogs), grossest (White Castle scented candle) and most pointless (a sleeping mask with pockets for your keys) online doodads on his website www.theworstthingsforsale.com.
The internet entrepreneur, who also runs two daily comics sites (Toothpaste for Dinner and Married to the Sea) and the popular meme site (Da Share Z0ne), launched his “worst things’’ quest after a casual scroll through Pinterest turned up an abundance of links to bizarre Amazon products.
“I’m really lucky there’s so much bad stuff that once you start digging, you find it,’’ said Fairweather, 39, who lives in Upper Arlington with his wife and 10-year-old daughter. “And there’s always something worse.’’
His first post, about an erotic Kindle book called “Top Chef,’’ offered a brief product description and witticisms about the cooking show of the same name. Nearly every day since, he’s posted a new trinket, suspicious self-help scheme or inappropriate e-book, all available on Amazon for easy shopping.
The Worst Things for Sale Twitter account now has more than 11,000 followers, many of whom comment that, actually, the items he lists are more like the “best’’ thing for sale. (Twitter user (at)kineticharvest approved of a self-twirling pasta fork posted in early November, responding “My wrist is going to die when I’m old so this is good actually.’’)
Despite the fact that his livelihood depends on online interaction, Fairweather sees the site as a warning against internet-driven consumerism.
(People think), `I need fun in my life so I need to buy fun,’’’ he said. “That’s why I’m trying to jab people a little bit. Stop buying so much stuff.’’
Still, his job as an internet hustler demands he spend hours online every day. Three or four of those hours are spent searching Amazon for the most ghastly objects he can find. Which is not the worst job he’s had.
“I used to work in a can factory, so I don’t think looking on Amazon is work,’’ Fairweather said.
Favorite items include a pair of pants with human excrement printed on and a wooden model of a baby’s mouth, complete with indentations on which to place real baby teeth and a spot in the middle for an umbilical cord.
Fairweather has resisted the urge to purchase any of the oddities for himself, save one: a red face mask said to slim the face. (It didn’t work.)
The Worst Things for Sale currently brings in $100 to $200 a month from advertising revenue and from Amazon link referral payments, he said.
While his other sites are more lucrative and attract far more traffic, this is a labor of love, he said. Rarely do the site’s visitors actually purchase what he posts – which would boost his Amazon rates.
He’s certainly out to entertain, but hopes The Worst Things operates at least in part as a cautionary tale.
“It’s really easy to think, `Oh, only rubes buy weight-loss pills, only idiots buy a little thing from China and they think if they clip it on their shoulder it will improve their posture.’ It’s really easy to think they’re dumb like that,’’ he said. “But I’ve bought stupid stuff before. Everybody buys stupid stuff, so I think highlighting this stuff and making people think twice about it is probably good.