There are many online shopping sites. Most people know about the big ones like Amazon, Overstock, Dell, Buy.com, Half.com and the online version of actual stores like Best Buy, Circuit City, Walmart and Sears. Most all of the stores you might visit in person have an online presence. And the store catalogs you get in the mail have online sites too, like Pyramid (unique new age type items), Archie McPhee (extremely hilarious and unusual novelty items) and Chadwicks (women’s clothing).
But there are other, less well known sites that offer good prices as well and are equally trustworthy.
A place I have shopped lately is NewEgg (electronics, which may also be an actual store, but we don’t have one here). We bought computer memory and printer ink at a nice discount. Another place is Deep Discount. They carry items like DVDs and video games. I’ve purchased DVDs for people for Christmas and video games for ourselves. I actually ordered Guitar Hero 3 from them a few weeks ago, but cancelled the order since we are trying to save money and didn’t really need it. But it was cheaper there than anywhere else I could find.
And while you may have heard of Cafepress for a wide variety of interesting t-shirts, mugs and related items, you may not know of Printfection. Printfection has the same sort of shirts, mugs, etc related items, but the prices are cheaper and the quality is better. If you are looking for a unique t-shirt or small gift, I definitely recommend Printfection. The ACPL used a t-shirt design for Library Genius 2.0 as part of their Learning 2.0 program and it is now online at Printfection. I think it is pretty cool 🙂
And speaking of cool t-shirts, I have one that I really like (actually a tank top) that I got from Cafepress. I do aikido and wear tank top under my gi. So I found this one that says “I’m tougher than I look” and has a cute little picture. Since I am somewhat small and non-threatening appearing, this seemed very apropos.
However, Cafepress is very annoying in that it is extremely hard to find anything. I had to go to my last order to find the store I got this from in order to find it. No other searches worked. Seems like a poor shopping website design. Unfortunately, Printfection seems to have gotten big enough that it is getting harder to search too, although if you get more specific in your search (such as “Van Gogh”), you can find items.
And then there are the “One Day, One Deal” or “One Deal at a time until its Gone” type sites. The Big Daddy of the One Day One Deal sites is Woot!. Woot offers one deal at midnight each night and sells it until it is sold out. It is such an institution that there is a whole culture around Woot! such as whenever a bluetooth technology item is sold, the podcast is about Bluetooth the Pirate. The podcasts, contests and product descriptions are well worth a look, regardless of whether or not you are interested in the item. The writers are incredibly innovative and funny. Here is the wikipedia entry about Woot!. And every so often, they have a woot-off which is one deal after another. They frequently have very, very good deals on items you very well might want. I’ve gotten all sorts of things from them such as a Dyson DC07 vacuum cleaner for $299 (the absolute best sweeper, I will never use another kind and I have 2), an Acer 22″ widescreen monitor for $199 and much, much more such as a blood pressure monitor for my mom, a couple of cool flashlights, a wireless router, a travel mug coffee maker, 2-pack wireless controllers for Playstation 2 and more. I check Woot every morning when I get up just to see what they have and if there is a woot-off on I am at my computer checking until it is over.
And for the One Deal at a Time until it is Gone type site, I like Steep and Cheap and Whiskey Militia. Both of these deal with sports/outdoors/recreational related items. Steep and Cheap seems more geared towards outdoor sports and recreation and Whiskey Militia is a little more towards the extreme sports, skateboarding younger generation. Since my husband is very active and likes all kinds of outdoor sports, these sites are great for getting good deals. Both of these are operated by BackCountry.com , an outdoor sports and recreation website. I guess they take certain items that they have overstocked or whatever and put them on their discount sites.
Ebay is another good place for bargains. While you do have to be very careful on Ebay, you can greatly mitigate your risk by checking the rating and reviews of the seller. Here is a seller that I particularly like for cool, arty t-shirts called AlohaVintage. If you click on feedback profile for them you get this page. As of today, they have 5815 reviews and 99.8% positive feedback. In addition, they have had no negative feedback in the last 12 months and only 6 neutral ratings. The rest were a good ratings. You can also read the comments about them on their feedback page. So I can recommend them without any hesitation if you like interesting t-shirts and other items with an art theme. I’ve gotten very nice long sleeve and short sleeve t-shirts with overall prints by Dali, Van Gogh, Klimt and more.
Some other interesting and unusual Ebay sellers that I would recommend as having exceptional items and a good reputation are Chinese Antique Wholesalers who offer an amazing range of authentic chinese items, many of which are antiques. The chinese do not value their antiques and it is good that someone is taking care of them and that they are not just getting destroyed in the wake of “progress”. We got a large carved wooden bin with legs, an old tea caddy, a very intricately carved side of a chinese wedding bed that makes a great archway and more. I love what they have and if I had the money, I’d buy a lot more of their items.
Another ebay seller with unusual and quality items is Aristophanes Murals. When we remodeled our bathroom, I wanted a large japanese art tile mural on the tiled wall. I found Aristophanes and they had just what I wanted. Here is a list of all the japanese/asian themed murals that I had to choose from. The picture on the left is the one we settled on, although it was very, very hard to decide and again, if I had the money I would have these all over.
This picture is actually from our bathroom after we finished the remodel.
Another thing that you should consider doing whenever you make an online purchase is to do a search for the store name and “promo” or “code”. Frequently stores will have some promo code that you can enter to get a certain percentage off or some other savings. You should also check Dealcatcher whenever you are looking for something. Dealcatcher has all sorts of information about sales and coupons and specials listed by store or by item type. You can also do searches or create email alerts on particular keywords. When I was looking for a Garmin GPS, I put a deal alert for Garmin and it emailed me whenever a new deal was added that said Garmin. It also has a weekly newsletter of deals that I highly recommend. And you can also search for prices of items under their “Compare Prices” tab (that uses PriceGrabber). This includes product reviews and very helpful seller ratings and reviews. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the online seller as long as you verify that they have good, recent ratings and reviews.
And last but not least, BizRate is a site that lets you search for good prices on items and also provides a lot of information about an online store. Here is the link to the BizRate Store Ratings. From this page you can also put the online store site (such as amazon.com) in the search box. If I am unsure about an online store, I will search here for information as well as in Dealcatcher/Pricegrabber (if available).
So that’s a little more info for you this shopping season.
Becky Carleton, a librarian at the Johnson County Library in Kansas challenged me to name ten pieces
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