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.

28 comments:

Andrea C. said...

I love shopping on the internet. I used to feel guilty about taking money from small local stores, but I have lived in a small, rural, Ohio college town for the last 10 years. It is 45 minutes to the nearest "acceptable" mall and 1 hour 15 minutes to a good one - thus, the internet has become my one stop shop - anything you could want is out there. I am a tactile person and like to see and touch the things I buy b/c I can;t visualize size unless I see it - but the joy of door delivery is worth it!

Vicki said...

I love shopping online! Where else can you shop at any time of day, or even in your pj's? (I'm all about comfort!) Amazon has great deals, as does Land's End. I almost always get free shipping from both.

Kaye said...

oh sure, NOW you tell us we can buy phone batteries for $8 after I just spend $25 for one! Sheeesh. The cost is ridiculous. Thanks for the tip.

Dru said...

I love online shopping simply because it's convenient and I know if one site doesn't have what I'm looking for, there are others who may have it and I don't have run from store to store to store.

Shannon said...

We live in a small town where the nearest WalMarts are 23 and 25 minutes away (2 different directions) and we love it. If I need to go there or Target or the mall, I don't mind the drive.
My husband is king of internet deals. He spends weeks doing research and comparative pricing. Always comes back with a great deal. The nice part is that if it is something we want now, we just make the drive in and most big retailers will price match for the same product.
We just lost our only car dealership and a wonderful yarn and scrapbooking shop that was on the square. The car dealership didn't bother me so much because you could always get a better deal somewhere else, but the yarn shop was sad to go. Now we are left with an hour drive in to Dallas or Ft. Worth to a specialty shop or one of the craft chains, each having the same selection.

Elizabeth said...

Battery prices are insane at the stores. My husband found "Battery Bob" online and we have never looked back.

Candace said...

May I comment on the "truth and lie" addendum to this post? Kate, I was there in your young years. You certainly were pretty enough to run for Miss Indiana but you were much too creative to be told how to dress, etc. by pageant directors. You also were my inspiration to learn to play the piano. And I can vouch for the fact that you were abducted by a crazy camel driver..and got away from him! :)

Deb Baker said...

I'm off to find Battery Bob. haha. I don't do a lot of online shopping, but your post has inspired me, Kate. Remember the days when you could walk into Sears and the salesMAN (always men) knew everything there was to know about his area?? Or am I the only one that old?

CindyD said...

Plus if you buy your lamp or whatever at WalMart, Target, etc. it's made in China and maybe will last a year.
We live in a retirement community. So we've gotten a lot of furniture for our house at estate sales. We bought a three piece sectional sofa for one hundred dollars!

Kate Collins said...

Can't you see in the future having a "display" store, where you can go look at, feel, and maybe try on something, then go home and order it online? I, too, like to see the thing before I buy, so I think that would be a cool idea.

Love getting my contact lenses online, too. My eye doc is tres expensive!

I also love those websites that watch for bargains and let you know when a product goes on sale. How fun is that!

Candace, (ahem) you've clearly forgotten that image of me sitting at the piano in front of a room full of parents and other students, shaking and sweating, playing the same opening stanzas five times before giving up and fleeing the room in embarrassment. You were the natural born performer, dahlin.

Jessica said...

After last Christmas I decided that I'm going to do the majority of my shopping this year online. Its just so much more convenient! Plus even know you know its coming, its still so much fun to get deliveries :-)

Jessica said...

Just out of curiosity...since its technically online....does anyone do craigslist? I really love craigslist...you can find some really unique stuff. Plus we have another local site called hoosier topics where I live that is a more personalized version of craiglist basically!

Kate Collins said...

I've used craigslist several times, with great results. Hoosier topics? I'm a Hoosier and I've never heard of it. Tell more!

signlady217 said...

We bought our last three cars online, also our big screen TV. But whatever we are looking for, my husband will do a ton of research first, and then always come up with a great deal! (I should make him start looking for an e-reader for me!)

Jessica said...

Hmmm...well I tried to reply to you Kate on my cell...not sure it went through so if this shows up twice I'm sorry everyone! LOL Go to www.hoosiertopics.com and take a look around. Theres a lil bit of everything on there from stuff for sale to employment ads!

Signlady...if you find a good deal on ereaders let me know...I'm just dying to get one!

Sheery said...

I've only just recently started shopping online. I was scared to do it for a long time. Plus, as others have mentioned, I like to see and touch what I might buy. However, I like that I can almost always get a discount by shopping online. Plus, it's a lot easier than trying to 'shop around' with two small kids in tow. Oh, and I love getting packages at my door. I get so excited when I see the UPS truck. LOL

Anne said...

I love shopping online too, particularly at places like Kohls.com where you can find more stuff in your size and if you need to return stuff you can take it to the store and avoid paying return shipping.

Yeah, I'm another Chicago gal. I want to know why Chicago can farm out it's parking service to a company that manages to make money, but the city couldn't recover it's expenses much less make money and get the Cook County sales tax under 10%. (Another good reason to buy a big ticket item like a tv online from a vendor with no sales tax.)

Anonymous said...

Internet shopping has changed my life! Now I have access to great products I never could have found before in my neck of the woods!

blacksnake@mchsi.com

Debra said...

I am a knitter. Do I love internet shopping? It's dangerous! There are a lot of enablers out there in knitting land like Ravelry.com and Knittersreview.com I have a knitting room in my house and when my sister visits she chants,"no more yarn" until she asks me to make her a new sweater,with yarn I do I don't yet own.
Yes,I buy cell phone batteries,shoes and even special underwear for my football playing son. (Underarmour reduced from $40.00 for one undershirt!)
The shoes are the best. Zappos is great. I hate to shop,but you can get two sizes and send back the ones that don't fit.
I even found our house on the internet.

pennyt said...

I've lived in a series of small towns with very limited shopping, so internet shopping is something I dearly love. I particularly enjoy the price comparison sites since I can often find a great deal on what I'm looking for and more and more online retailers are offering free shipping as well. Even if I buy locally, I do my research online first so I know what I want and what a fair price is.
pennyt@hotmail.com

Kate Collins said...

Debra, your shopping experience takes the cake. A house on line!! That's A.Mazing!

I check out the prices of everything I buy now so I know if I'm being ripped off. And after going to the eye doc today and hearing that new lenses for my glasses (JUST the glass part) will cost $517!!! I'm wondering if there's an eyeglass place online too. Ya think?

signlady217 said...

Kate--here are two websites to check for your new glasses.

http://www.zennioptical.com/cart/home.php

http://www.framesdirect.com/
(This one is cool: Virtual - try on glasses; upload your picture and see how the frames will actually look like on you!)

Good luck finding some you like!

LuAnn said...

I did a lot of my Christmas shopping online this past season. Sure made things a lot easier!

Lover of Books said...

I love internet shopping. I do a lot of book research (seeing if I want to buy the book or not) that way.

I don't buy clothes online only cause I am worried but it might be the only way to get vintage items. We'll see.

Kate Collins said...

There really are websites for glasses!! Cool. I'll check those two out. Thank you so much!

jbstanley said...

I do enjoy Internet shopping. I buy things on eBay and Amazon all the time, even though I was rather mad at Amazon for a wee bit (!)

Jessica said...

hey Kate...if you check out craiglist today in the Indianapolis section there is a women giving away about 200 books. Interested? I would if it weren't an hour and a half away...but with all the snow I just can't get there! Or if anyone else is interested and lives in the area...its a great way to pick up some books!!

Sarah said...

Thanks, Jessica, for the tip about books on Craigslist - I'm always looking for books to trade in!

Sarah