Do people want yet another flash sale site? The founders of Fab.com think the answer is yes.
Fab sells design goods — widely defined as everything from handmade dining room tables to art to dishes — in limited-time sales.
Design junkies have plenty of other options, like Gilt Home and One Kings Lane. But Fab is aimed at a younger, more modern set of shoppers, say its founders, Jason Goldberg and Bradford Shellhammer.
Though it might seem like retailers would be getting flash sale fatigue because of all the options, Fab has become a new retail outlet and marketing vehicle for small designers that do not sell widely, the founders said. Unlike most flash sale sites, Fab does not sell retailers’ excess inventory, but rather sells new, in-season items at discount prices.
On Wednesday, Fab will introduce a new way for retailers to get their name out, when it posts its first online, month-long pop-up shop and introduces an iPad app. The pop-up shop will feature 76 designers from Fast Company’s design issue.
Fab has raised $10 million from investors including First Round Capital and Ashton Kutcher, who is a modernist design lover and whose wife, Demi Moore, is an avid online shopper, the founders said.
It eventually wants to sell many varieties of things with one common theme — high design. “The idea is when someone really embraces design, it influences everything in life, from their toothbrush to their pencil to their car to their hotel,” Mr. Shellhammer said.
One Kings Lane, perhaps the most well-known of the home design flash sale sites, is “too traditional, not modern enough,” said Mr. Shellhammer, who previously worked at modern meccas like Design Within Reach, Blu Dot and Dwell. Other designers, he said, “have resisted Gilt because they don’t want to be next to a brocade sofa or a fake Eames chair.”
The duo previously ran Fabulis, a social network for gay men, but it didn’t get much traction. “Everyone I know wishes Bradford would decorate their house,” Mr. Goldberg said, so they decided to sell design products instead.
Fab also has a section on the site called “inspiration,” where its users can upload design photos they like, such as an antique pink typewriter or a bright yellow car, though it is less robust than similar sites like Pinterest.
Like other sites, Fab wants to meld commerce and content, and about a fifth of its 600,000 subscribers open its e-mail messages each day, according to the company, which is high for the e-commerce industry.
“It’s almost like a design magazine is coming everyday,” Mr. Goldberg said. Mr. Shellhammer added, “Except you click on a button and you can buy it.”