I'd expect that to be a re-occurring cost.
I suppose it may be out of the norm of some people, especially the HN crowd, but this kind of thing isn't really unusual.
Brick and mortar stores have VIP programs all the time.
Yes. But you can also show up and buy a pair of shoes. I don't believe what you are describing is a fair analogy.
When I order a pair of shoes I expect a pair of shoes. I don't expect a hat, jacket, or a personalized VIP shopper.
On this website if I pretend to order a pair of shoes there isn't anything to indicate (aside from the fine print) that I'll be receiving more than a pair of shoes.
I'd expect this place to suffer a pretty serious class-action lawsuit soon. If I was an investor I'd run as far away as possible.
Honestly, I'd have to click around a little bit to even figure out how to just search something without first joining them and going through the VIP program upsales processs.