4 of 6
A mailed surprise for $10
A mailed surprise for $10
Sami Bayrakci

Huntington, N.Y.

Back in the summer of 2007, Sami Bayrakci was surfing the Internet looking for a birthday present for a friend. After an hour of browsing, he decided it would be much nicer if somebody would just make the decision for him. The idea for SomethingStore.com was born: a customer would pay a flat price for an unknown item.

"I shared my idea with my friends," says Bayrakci, now 34. "Most of them thought it wouldn't work out -- nobody would pay for something they don't know."

But Bayrakci wanted to give it a try. After all, it wouldn't cost him a whole lot to get started. He invested $3,000 for supplies, designed his own simple website, and started off selling small, lightweight items, in order to keep shipping costs down. Fashion accessories available at liquidation prices were Bayrakci's best bet.

But he also threw in some expensive goods, like a digital camera and an iPod shuffle. The average price of all the goods had to be under $5, but Bayrakci needed to keep his customers curious and coming back for the thrill of the hunt.

Bayrakci sold about 1,000 "somethings" in each of his first few months. In its first full year, 2008, SomethingStore was profitable -- but demand fell during the recession, and 2009 wasn't so lucky. By 2010, SomethingStore was back in the black.

The key is that people are suckers for a surprise. "Curiosity gets the best of them," Bayrakci says. He keeps some pricey items in the mix: iPod touches, a Wii system, and even a Dell laptop that retails for $600.

"There is an anticipation of getting a really good bargain for $10," he says. There's that, plus -- who doesn't like getting a surprise in the mail?

NEXT: Subterranean signs to hang over your couch
LAST UPDATE: Feb 18 2011 | 11:53 AM ET
142 years old and still hot The McIlhenny Company's sixth-generation CEO made his family's Tabasco hot pepper sauce worldly. More
How failure led to Rock BandHarmonix revolutionized the gaming industry -- but first, it nearly went broke. More
The Wiggles empire What began as an Australian rock band is now a $45 million global kids' brand. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.