Monday, February 15, 2010

Internet Shopping Has Changed My Life

The other day I looked around my hometown and started counting the businesses that had gone under since the big box retailers moved in. With Wal-Mart especially, our local shops just can’t compete. And, sadly, the loss of those homegrown businesses also means the loss of the uniqueness of their products.

Want to buy a lamp now? Go to Target, Kohls, Home Depot, Wal-mart, Menards, it doesn’t make much difference. You’re going to get the same lamp that’s sold by the thousands everywhere in the country. Unless...... you look online. That’s where the unique businesses have gone. That’s also where some fantastic bargains are, too. I love hunting for both.

I used to go into Chicago and shop for shoes at Marshall Fields. But then Fields was gobbled up by Macys, and they carry the same shoes that Nordstrom’s and Bloomingdales and all the mega-department stores carry, so what’s the point of making the trip into the city? I can find those shoes online.

And not only can I find them IN my size, but also I can get them overnight, return them for free, and don’t have to waste my gas doing so. Another plus: I don’t have to pay Chicago’s exorbitant sales taxes or outrageous parking fees (thanks to Mayor Daley’s brilliant plan to privatize the parking meters. And by the way, Michigan Avenue’s sidewalks are snow-covered, slippery and treacherous. Hello! This is the Mag Mile. Maybe they could privatize the sidewalks, too?)

Another great find: those expensive little batteries for my cordless phones! I have three phone stations and each one needs a battery that lasts a year. Those suckers cost upwards of $35 each at a phone store. But online? I found them for $8.00 each! I bought half a dozen. I still get excited when I think about it. (Clearly, it doesn’t take much to excite me.)

Also electronics. Oh, the TV deals out there! And here’s where our local business is doing itself serious harm. My husband wanted to patronize the electronics store in town, so he went there first when he was looking for a flat panel TV. There was one salesman on the floor and he was talking to a customer. My husband stood there for ten minutes before he was even acknowledged with a nod, and wandered around looking at the televisions himself for another ten before he got fed up and walked out. That is poor service! It’s happened to us before there. Now we won’t go back. Plus we found out later they charge for delivery. In town!

So guess who got our business instead? Amazon. Not only did we get free shipping, and no payments for a year, but they also offer white glove treatment, so someone not only delivered it to our door, but also set it up for us. Amazing!

Okay, I just read that paragraph and realize I sound like an infomercial. I sincerely apologize.

There are great deals to be found on the ‘net. What kinds of bargains have you found?

**As for the truth and lie. It’s true I was abducted by a crazy camel driver. (See my post from October) but I would never have had the courage to try out for any pageant, let alone Miss Indiana. I never even made it through a piano recital without freezing up.