Gravy Live Shopping Game Reverse Auction and Game App Review

by Becky on March 15, 2018

Have you ever come across a deal site and you had to ask yourself, do I want to tell people and risk that, with others finding out about it, it might make it harder for me to score deals myself?


Well, you’ll probably feel that way after you read through this post. Hear me out.

A little over ten years ago, these two super-smart and -awesome guys named Brian Wiegand and Mark McGuire created a shopping website called Jellyfish.  (Weird name, but the domain was available!) It got amazing reviews from oh, little folks like The Wall Street Journal. Everybody was talking about them – from US News to The New York Times to Reader’s Digest!

It was a cashback shopping website, and a really good one.

Then the guys came up with this idea for a feature to add to the site: they would put up an unknown quantity of a really cool item for sale, and the price would drop until the item sold out. At the end of their “live game show,” they displayed a leaderboard with all the buyers’ usernames and the percentages at which they bought. You could see who got the best deal, and who jumped too soon.

“Smack Shopping” was what they called it, because a smack is the name for a group of jellyfish. “Smack” also described the member chatroom during the game…all in good fun, of course! Members would talk smack about the featured product, about who bought the item first and got the lowest discount, and about each other. Rather strangely, considering the large number of participants, Jellyfish members formed close friendships through the daily chats that last to this day, 12 years after Jellyfish’s launch!

One awesome day in 2007, they actually did a reverse auction on a new Prius! But on a typical day, you could expect anything from a Nikon DSLR camera to a Waring Pro blender to quirky items like a rubber chicken or a bag of “Hot Nuts.”

Then one day, Microsoft came calling.

They wanted Brian and Mark’s “baby” to rebrand it as Live Search Cashback, and they had no apparent interest in that silly little reverse auction feature of the site. The guys ended up with a huge chunk of Bill Gates’ money (some say $50M). Microsoft put its own unique touch on Jellyfish (to put it delicately), and eventually Live Search Cashback, later called Bing Cashback, fizzled out. (If a tree falls in the woods…call it Bing Cashback because nobody noticed when it keeled over, either.)  Our heroes went on to other ventures, and sadly, Jellyfish’s reverse auction Smack Shopping was a thing of the past.

Until last week.

It turns out that, in the decade since Microsoft’s buyout, Brian and Mark continued to mull over that insanely popular reverse auction and all of the fun shopper interaction, and last year they bought another very oddly named domain: They designed an app for it, and in Apple’s App Store you can now download their new Gravy – Live Shopping Game app. On March 8th they began anew, with their app-only (currently iOS only), live-hosted, nightly-except-Saturdays, 7:30pm CT reverse auction/game.

What kind of items do they offer? It can be ANYTHING, but you can rest assured, it’s something cool. So far the items they’ve sold included Apple AirPods, Amazon’s Echo Dots, PlayStation Fours, a fingerprint-ID combination style lock, Keurigs, and a DJI Mavic Air drone.

You never know in advance what the product will be or how many will be available to buy. Are they just selling one item tonight? Or are they selling a dozen? Once the game begins, you can see the price dropping and it’s up to you to decide if you want to hit the buy-now button or wait and see if you can get a better deal.

How do I check this thing out? Here ya go:

1. Download the Gravy Live Shopping app. It is only available for iOS right now, and while there isn’t an iPad-specific app for it, iPad users can download the iPhone app and it works like a charm! (They’re working on an Android app. Patience, my ‘droid friends!)

2. Create an account, selecting your username. That’s the name that will show up on the leaderboard if you buy an item, and it’s the name you’ll use if decide to use the chat area during the game. You’ll have an option to receive a text before the game goes live. You should definitely say yes to this so you don’t miss a game!

3. Enter in your payment information. While you don’t have to do this in advance, because time is of the essence when you’re ready to buy, I highly recommend that you go ahead and put your credit card information in ahead of time! I did!

4. Start checking the app around 7:29 if you didn’t sign up for text notifications. When it’s live, you’ll see a button to click to enter the game. It takes a few minutes before they “drop” the item up for sale and the reverse auction begins! Be ready to hit the Buy button when the price is right for you!

This concludes the basics of Gravy!

That was a lot to take in, I know. Take a breather, and then read on for another fun and free aspect of the game where shrewd deal-hunters may walk away from the evening up to $50 richer!

P A R T   T W O . . . Guru Guessing!

What’s this thing about leaving a shopping app with more money than when you showed up? This is another feature of Gravy: Guru Guessing.

Every night, for a few seconds after the item is announced — but before the price starts dropping — you’ll have the opportunity to enter your guess at what the biggest discount of the night will be on that item. Remember, the price drops until it sells out, so you want to guess what that final, largest discount will be. The five Guru Guessers who are closest to that percentage, without going over, will win cash. Actual, free cash. $50, $25, $10, $10, and $5 for the top five, respectively, to be exact.

How do you have any idea of what to guess? This is where being an avid deal-hunter may give you a little bit of an edge.

For example with the Amazon Echo Dots: bargain-hunters know these went on sale around the holidays, and Amazon is always doing some kind of promo when you buy 2 or 3 at a time. It makes sense that these weren’t going to sell out at 10% off. Would people let them get below 50% off? My gut said no. I think I guessed something like 45.12%. I was not one of the closest 5 without going over, but I was in the ballpark at least!

You do NOT have to place a Guru Guess. This is just a little side fun. It also makes the chat area a bit more lively as people may try to psych other people into buying when the discount starts to approach their Guru Guess. “I just bought it!” (Did you really, or do you just want me to buy now so your guess will be closest and you’ll win a prize?)

P A R T   T H R E E . . . But wait, there’s more!

When you create your account, you’ll be presented with a couple of charities you can choose from.

Every night, a portion of the ultimate selling prices of the item up for grabs will be donated to the buyer’s choice of charity (the one you selected when you signed up). The portion donated varies every night, just depending on the product. For the fingerprint-ID lock auction, 100% of the sales prices went to buyers’ choices of charity!

Different charities will be featured, I’m told, and you can go in and change your selection anytime.

W R A P   U P . . .

If you love deal-hunting, the idea of participating in a live interactive game show, and the potential to win real cash prizes, and honestly, who does some part of this NOT describe… you are going to love the Gravy – Live Shopping Game!

Its founders have a history of creating amazing shopping sites. The game is frenzied and addictive, and it is six. Nights. A week. Forget about whatever comes on TV at 7:30 Central, y’all, you aren’t going to be watching it anymore.

Download the Gravy – Live Shopping app…and then you can decide if you want to tell a friend or keep all this fun to yourself!

Previous post:

Next post: