Sunday, 5 January 2014

Where Can you Buy Unusual Gifts?

Where can you buy unusual and unique gifts?  Where can you buy a medieval helmet?  Where can you find a onesie pajama for a 15 year old?  Where can you buy a Sonic Screwdriver for the 10th Doctor Who?  Where do you go when you want to find a Jester Car Antenna Topper?  How do I find a replacement for a "lovey"  that was left on a bus?  
My go-to place for buying interesting and unique gifts is the internet.  I have been purchasing products online since 2001.  I started off with Ebay and I would look at Feedback scores and read comments to see if the sellers seemed trustworthy.  I could learn a lot about a seller this way.   In the beginning I only paid for my auctions with money order so there was no chance of having my credit information stolen.  I was a victim of identity theft in 1994 and I never wanted to go through that again.  I was extremely cautious.  As Paypal became more popular sellers stopped accepting money orders, so I started using Paypal regularly in 2007.  I have been pretty lucky because I only had a few transactions go awry.  If an item never arrived and  the seller wouldn't respond to my concerns I would open a dispute.  Paypal worked quickly and would refund my money in a relatively short time.  It has been wonderful because I feel that my credit is secure and if something goes wrong Paypal will work with me.  Feeling secure with online payments has allowed me to branch out from Ebay and start buying directly from online merchants. 

I have poked around on Amazon over the last few years but it was difficult because there weren't many sellers who would ship to Canada without charging exorbitant shipping charges...if they shipped to Canada at all.  Just a few weeks ago I tried to buy a Monty Python watch for my older son, and Amazon said they had several in stock.  When I clicked through none of the store-fronts had any in stock or they wouldn't deliver to Canada. It was very disappointing. 

bobby xmas.jpgOver the last few years I have purchased directly from several online retailers.  Recently I have purchased from Etsy, Best Buy, Future Shop, and a few other online stores.  In general I have had very good experiences.  I make sure to do a bit of research on the companies and read reviews about their customer service.  If people consistently say that they can't get help or make returns, then I don't buy from them.  There was one purchase that I made several years ago where I regretted not doing my research.  The seller took three months to ship it and it arrived a month after Christmas.  The warning signs were there, but I disregarded them because I was desperate for the item.  
My preference is to buy from Canadian retailers because the shipping charges are more reasonable, there are never any extra International charges tacked on, and returns are so much easier.  I also like to buy local and support Canadian artisans and small retailers.  

Buying online can be scary, but if you do your research, and purchase from reputable retailers you should be fine.  And when you get your packages in the mail, it's just like Christmas!

...until you have to rewrap them!