Leslie Starr O’Hara is a human who lives on a mini-farm in the mountains of North Carolina (Planet Earth) and the author of "The Doublespeak Dictionary."
In this feature, O'Hara looks at some of the items already for sale on the recently launched bitcoin-based online market OpenBazaar.
You may have heard of OpenBazaar. It’s a new peer-to-peer marketplace where there are no rules or transaction fees, and all payments are made in bitcoin.
Sounds cool, right? But wait. Isn’t this like an underground black market enclave where drug kingpins do business with black-hat hackers and murderers for hire? Or, failing that, maybe it’s just full of over-your-head, techie stuff for basement-dwelling neckbeards? What can you actually buy there?
Turns out, quite a lot. And while there are a few listings on OpenBazaar for things like cannabis seeds and peyote buttons, most of the offerings are quite tame – the kind of stuff you might buy at the big-box store in town, but first you’d have to put on pants, and then you’d have to use inflationary fiat currency to pay for it.
Then you'll pay the consumer’s portion of the big box store’s tax-and-regulations bill. And who wants to do that?
As an added plus, hidden among the useful but ordinary items like cooking ingredients, T-shirts and cycling gear, there are a few unique gems that you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world.
This list attempts to spotlight examples of both types of listings – the items you probably already use, as well as the stuff you may have never heard of before.
To give the new OpenBazaar user a small taste of what this amazing market has to offer, only items priced at or below .02 bitcoins ($10) have been included.
1. Yummy caramel waffles
One of the most wonderful things about a worldwide, peer-to-peer market is that you get to taste deliciousness from kitchens around the world. These traditional Dutch-recipe caramel waffles are shipped to Europe and North America by Croatian vendor Sweet Express.
The listing says the treats are baked fresh as soon as you order. You get 10 pieces for 0.0078 BTC (or a little over $3) plus shipping.
2. A night’s stay in Taiwan
Within days after OpenBazaar’s launch, the first vacation rental listing went up. For the traveler on a budget, what could be better than the rental of a safe, secure sleeping capsule (with kitchen and bathroom privileges) in the heart of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, for just 0.0231 bitcoins ($10) per night? Enter Bitcoin House Taiwan.
According to the vendor, a “capsule” consists of a single, curtained bed with power outlet, USB charger, LED light and clothes hangers. The best part, though? The cool people who stay at the Bitcoin House.
3. Super Hot Chili Seeds
If you love digging in the soil, you’ll definitely want to check out OpenBazaar. For a trade network in its infancy, OB has an astonishing number of vendors offering garden seeds and home-grown produce.
The photo above is of Bhut Jolokia (aka Nepalese Ghost Pepper), and is sold by Tygg’s Seedery of the Netherlands.
The seeds come 10 to a pack at 0.0078 bitcoins (about $3), and, although this is one of the hottest peppers in the world, the seller tells us the fruits have a "nice taste of fruity papaya".
4. Handcrafted Lip Balm
Another category of items that seems to abound on OpenBazaar is personal care products. Most of these are all-natural and handcrafted.
For instance, this lip balm by US vendor Virus Media contains rich beeswax, coconut and other oils, and comes in three natural flavors: sweet orange, lemon, and peppermint.
At 0.0116 bitcoins($5), this lip balm makes an affordable and useful first purchase to test the waters on OpenBazaar.
5. Cute Dress
This super-cute dress is only 0.0179 bitcoins (about $8) from US vendor Vintage Fashion. This seller has several other vintage dress listings as well.
In addition to Vintage Fashion, there are several t-shirt companies on OpenBazaar, as well as stores selling leather goods, hand-knit hats, and the latest in fashionable footwear.
6. A Vintage Greeting Card From a Fictional Character
This listing is offered by what is probably one of the most eccentric stores on OpenBazaar thus far. Madam Macadam’s Curiosities specializes in “Mystery Boxes”, but the coolest thing about this vendor is that the listings form a sort of ongoing narrative of the life of Irma May Willikins, a fictional character from Victorian times.
For 0.0069 bitcoins ($3), Irma will send you a personalized vintage greeting card. After shopping with this OpenBazaar store, you’ll be wanting fascinating fiction with all of your purchases!
7. This Awesome Angel Wings Silicone Mold
For cake decorating! Yes, there is actually a cake supply store on OpenBazaar. It’s practically like going to the mall already. Except you can shop naked. And pay in Bitcoin.
So, basically like the mall but a million times better. This mold runs .02 bitcoins (about $9) and is sold by US vendor Cake Supply World.
8. Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness Patch
Prepping can be emotionally difficult, because here you are buying all this cool stuff that’s going to save everybody’s ass during the zombie apocalypse/nuclear winter/supervolcano explosion/civil unrest/hyperinflation/gray goo scenario…but you can’t show any of it to anyone, because they might try to steal it from you when the stuff, or they might report you to the government. So frustrating.
Well, this is one item that you can proudly display in public. And it’s only .01 bitcoins ($5). You can get it from U.S. vendor shinybadges.com.
9. Citrus-Mint Beard Oil
The supply of beard oil has proliferated in the western market over the past year or so, with a variety of products for the discerning beard owner on display in supermarkets, apparel shops, and auto parts stores everywhere.
But, inexplicably, for the first few days after OpenBazaar went live, the marketplace suffered a dearth of fine beard products. No longer! Swedish vendor Hidden Road came to the rescue with this all-natural, organic beard oil. Men and bearded ladies across the network rejoiced. And you will, too.
This luxuriant oil will keep your facial hair looking dapper and smelling nice, and it’s only .02 bitcoins ($10) for a 1 oz bottle.
10. OpenBazaar Pin
Your first trip to the world’s first international, decentralized marketplace would hardly be complete without the purchase of a piece of OpenBazaar memorabilia.
This set of two pins is only 0.0208 bitcoins ($9), and it’s a great way to show your support for the project and its developers.
What are you waiting for?
If you’re not already on OpenBazaar, you can download it here. (It’s a very quick download followed by a painless onboarding process, and then you’re free to begin perusing listings, or you can create a store and post your own items for sale with no rules or fees.)
Images via OpenBazaar
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.