When money is tight, everyone looks for ways to curtail expenses. But few of us want to eliminate gifts to friends and loved ones because it’s such a fulfilling experience for both giver and recipient. Fortunately, there are many ways to continue to give high-quality gifts that don’t require skipping lunch for a week to pay for them.
Thanks to Amazon, eBay, and other online shopping venues, prices for even once high-ticket items have plummeted compared to those of the pre-Internet era. But there are lots of other, smaller sites that provide alternatives. Looking for that special scarf or collectible music DVD? Start with Craigslist and work your way down to the more out of the way sites and you will quickly come on just the right item.
One way to expand on that idea is to look for a site that offers custom-made Figgle-Doojits. Yes, that’s a made-up gift. In days past, custom-made items were much more expensive than those from off the shelf. If you wanted a hand-made piece of furniture it would invariably cost you more than the mass-produced item sitting on the floor at the local store.
Today, with so many hobbyists and craftspeople trying to find customers online because having a retail store is far out of reach, they will often make just what you want for a modest sum and good word of mouth. Online merchants have taken advantage of ‘the long tail’ – the many, many sales to be had from extremely small niches and low-volume items – to make a profit online.
Another good way to take advantage of Internet shopping and save big is to consider buying second-hand. eBay is the Queen of auction sites, to be sure. But there are tons of ways to buy used items and save a bundle.
Amazon, of course, offers long lists of vendors offering all kinds of used items at discount prices. But there are thousands of other sites that sell everything from used robotic lawnmowers to second-hand clothing.
The other way to benefit financially from the recent Internet merchandising revolution is to look to supply and demand to work in your favor. That means, in this case, to look for things that few others will want, because (for a fixed supply) low demand means low prices.
Look for that unusual item that you might not have considered before. Consider the individual for whom you’re shopping and look for things that match their taste and style. But instead of jumping for the iPod that costs several hundred dollars and takes no thought, do some online searching for that unique gift duplicated nowhere else. That might be a classic 1940s dress or a collectible baseball card. It could be a one-of-a-kind serving dish or a great film that no one but serious movie buffs has ever heard of.
The idea is to get out of a rut, look for something in a small corner, and use the Internet to help you find that something different at a low, low price. The bargains are out there. And the hunt is sometimes even more fun than the capture.