Tacky Never Looked So Good

They're a little offbeat. They sell weird stuff on the Web. This is their story.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the December 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Steve and Sally Colby didn't invent the that shares their name, but everything they sell is cheesy. As in tacky. Silly. As in the kinds of products you laugh at and wonder, "Who buys this stuff?" Quite a few people, actually-to the tune of an estimated $200,000 in 2000 . Steve, 50, and Sally, 46, are the sole owners and employees at the Hagerstown, Maryland-based e-store OfftheDeepEnd.Com. They sell household must-haves like flamingo lawn statues, a battery-operated fan shaped like a sumo wrestler and a skeleton toilet-brush holder.

On your , you have the warning, "All text and images are protected by an old gypsy curse that will cause your legs to grow together should you use such without permission." that brings me to ask: Who's the funnier of you two?

Sally: He is, definitely. He's funny all the time. Of course my son, who's a teenager, says that what Steve says isn't really that funny-it's just so stupid that you have to laugh.

And how did your business begin?

Steve: We're an extension of our old business, a store called Off the Deep End, which we started in 1990. We started with items with a '50s flavor to them-flamingo stuff. And then we kind of went into goofy, novelty stuff that I remembered as a kid-like X-ray specs. And we'd bring them in at for stocking stuffers-things like plastic doggie poop and plastic cockroaches.

The Web site came about because we were at a flea market, and there was this guy there hot sauces. The labels on the bottles were so cool, so we said, "Hey, let's start selling hot sauces [because hot sauces were an underserved niche on the Web at the time]." And we liked the name of the sauces. [pause] Oh, and the product was OK, too.

So who buys this stuff . . . like your skeleton stuff?

Steve: It's hard to classify people. We have friends who, I guess, are Gen Xers, but a lot of people just do what they like; they buy what they like. With our island things [grass skirts, luau supplies, etc.] and party lights, we're actively going after the Jimmy Buffett crowd. They're in their 30s to 50s and economically probably in a good position. And they're silly; I like that.

Sally: I have to say, the skull things have more to do with Steve [than with the customers]. He wants to be a pirate.

Geoff Williams would have been a great pirate, if he weren't afraid of the water, sharp weapons, parrots, being surrounded by men who haven't seen any women for months, and getting scurvy.


More from Entrepreneur

Get heaping discounts to books you love delivered straight to your inbox. We’ll feature a different book each week and share exclusive deals you won’t find anywhere else.
Jumpstart Your Business. Entrepreneur Insider is your all-access pass to the skills, experts, and network you need to get your business off the ground—or take it to the next level.
Create your business plan in half the time with twice the impact using Entrepreneur's BIZ PLANNING PLUS powered by LivePlan. Try risk free for 60 days.

Latest on Entrepreneur