by Scott Baughman

The Christmas season is upon us but amidst the ongoing Coronapocalypse there’s only one thing for certain — this year the yuletide is going to be a holiday like no other. Family gatherings will likely be virtual, Christmas greetings will no doubt be done remotely and even that most time-honored American tradition of Christmas Shopping is going to be different as well. 

Now, if you’re like me, you’ve begun doing a great deal of your Christmas shopping via the Internet for many years now, and the major online retailers like Amazon and eBay have promoted themselves as an integral part of the Christmas shopping season for quite some time. But this year, with many people still wisely avoiding large gatherings and confined spaces open to the public the once landmark American Shopping Mall and anemic downtown shopping areas will likely see their biggest decrease in foot traffic yet. 

So, what’s a 21st century shopper to do? Why fire up the Internet and take a deep dive into some up-and-coming shopping sites and some lesser known but more unique web domains focused on shopping. Here’s a list of a few haunts I frequent online these days and what kinds of things you can sometimes find for sale – and on sale!

Etsy: So, Etsy is a little unlike many of the other big name online retailers you’ve likely heard of before. Etsy is a global marketplace that offers goods from incredibly talented artisans around the world. Anything from homemade soap to crystal necklaces and caramel apples can be found here, and often good deals, too. You won’t find the latest blockbuster movie on Etsy, but you can certainly find innovative crafts made by people in their homes that you can purchase to express your inner geek/fan/artist. Etsy is also a great way for people who craft marketable items to make a little money on the side; setting up your own storefront on Etsy is easy and provides a lot of potential exposure. I’ve found some incredibly unique things on Etsy – from excellently crafted earrings for my beautiful bride to one-of-a-kind miniatures for my Dungeons and Dragons games. And you can get personalized items like pillowcases, candles or even fashion items like dresses or monogrammed handkerchiefs. Just make sure you plan ahead a bit as sometimes shipping can require some time.

Google Shopping: The search engine giant isn’t limited to news or website data these days, you can use Google for shopping as well. One of the most overlooked and quite powerful ways to shop at multiple popular stores at once is with Google Shopping. Just type whatever you’re wanting to order online, and Google will show results from dozens of stores. You can filter the results by category, store, price, brand, type, features, and delivery estimate, and depending on the product, other options like screen size might be another filterable criteria. Google Shopping is also helpful if you want to see only the products that are available near your location. Some items can be bought directly from Google, too, and might support Quick checkout for speedy purchases. So, this one is a pretty deep dive for the web – it’s a discount shopping site that ships directly from China. Now, I know there’s a lot of concern out there about Chinese goods these days, but keep in mind that a lot of the stuff you’re going to buy elsewhere was made in China already. The folks at just cut out the middleman. Known by many as a cheap online shopping website, Wish is the place to go if you’re looking for extraordinary deals and interesting finds. If you can deal with the occasional long waits to get your item, the deals might be worth it. Some of the categories you can browse through include hobbies, toys, gadgets, home decor, fashion, bottoms, shoes, and phone upgrades. Blitz Buy is a section of this online shopping website where you can spin a wheel to get money off your purchase. Also, be sure to see the Express page for items that ship faster than the rest. Due to its cheap prices, you’ll quickly find that Wish is an online shopping website that’s easy to spend loads of time on. Grab the Wish app for an even easier time shopping. But DEFINITELY plan ahead as sometimes their shipping policies leave a lot to be desired and certainly take a long time to arrive in some cases. There’s a reason that expression goes “That thing took so long to get here it’s like it was on a slow boat from China.”

So, with the pandemic keeping you at home you don’t have to give up on your plans to buy great gifts for your friends and family. Just continue to shop ‘til you drop…back onto your couch!

Until next time, download complete!