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Jewish Journal

Surf Your Way to Bargains

by Laura Stampler

July 29, 2009 | 11:46 am

The Internet has brought us many wonderful things. Twitter has given oppressed people a political voice on the international stage. Blogs allow emerging artists, writers and pundits to express themselves in the public forum. YouTube brought us the sneezing baby panda. But this all pales in comparison to one thing the Internet has truly revolutionized: discount shopping.

Shopping online removes the walk of shame to the back of the store, where rummaging through sale rack after sale rack in search of the right size can sometimes yield only frustration. The Internet allows people to dress in their favorite bathrobe and enjoy a reasonable shopping spree from the comfort of their own home. Whether it’s looking for a summer sundress or a new pair of Ferragamos, the Internet is a haven for such-a-deal discounts.

The best place to start is with the basics—eBay. The granddaddy of auction sites sells almost everything (someone in Florida once tried to auction his kidney ... a major eBay no-no). If it’s clothing you’re after, visit a department store and write down your size in your favorite designer. It’s possible to get the same items for a dramatically reduced price, and in many cases without having to pay sales tax.

Listings on eBay often feature acronyms—LN (like new), NBW (never been worn), NWT (new with tag)/NWOT (new without tag)—as well as eBay-specific terms, like “sniping” (last-minute-bidding). For help with acronyms and to find a glossary of terms, visit: pages.ebay.com/help. And to avoid scams on eBay, check out the seller’s user info. Past customers rate and review sellers, and anyone who doesn’t have positive feedback in the high 90th percentile should be approached with caution.

While eBay and similar sites host charitable auctions and feature opportunities for buyers and sellers to make charitable contributions part of everyday auctions, charitable giving is the core mission of BiddingForGood.com. The site hosts charity auctions for a variety of causes, including Jewish nonprofits, and provides bidders with an item’s estimated value. BiddingForGood offers a wide array of products, from clothing and jewelry to travel packages, and proceeds go to schools and nonprofit causes nationwide.

One of the biggest turn-offs in online shopping is the cost of shipping. Sites like Amazon.com offer free shipping once a customer has reached a certain dollar limit. But when it comes discounted, buy-it-now online shopping, Overstock’s $2.95 flat-rate shipping is difficult to beat. Want a $10 CD? Shipping is $2.95. Eyeing a loveseat and an Anne Klein suit that’s 30 percent off? Purchase both from Overstock, and shipping is $2.95 for the entire order. (Overstock also features online auctions, like eBay, but shipping costs vary.)

When it comes to children’s clothes, many wardrobes have been done in by growth spurts and grass stains. With back-to-school shopping around the corner, consider Cheapkidsclothes.com, which features an assortment of new and used children’s clothing, some featuring designer labels. Get a cute new pink jumper for as little as $7.49—a typical average price for many of its items.

Metrosexuals on a budget can look for clothing at Mensredtag.com, and fashionistas everywhere can rejoice at Bluefly.com, which provides a plethora of designer discounts. Although with Furla bags reduced to $450 from $780, get ready to be pinching silver dollars as opposed to pennies.

The new rage, however, is Web sites that send daily e-mail updates about online designer sales. After providing the site with a name and e-mail address, shoppers are invited to exclusive online sales every two days. Favorite sites include Topbutton.com, Giltgroup.com and Hautelook.com, which feature clocks that count down the time left to buy those 60 percent-off Judith Leiber sunglasses, Seven jeans and Stila lip gloss.

Also, it can never hurt to check the official Web site of favorite stores. Many chichi brands and designers have Web-exclusive deals, and others list when they offer in-store clearance sales.

Coupon sites like Savings.com provide an extensive collection of saving opportunities, from product discounts to free shipping offers. Type in “GAP” at Savings.com and dozens of coupons appear—recent selections included 10 to 50 percent off or $15 off a purchase of $75 or more at Baby Gap. The sites provide shoppers with coupon codes, and most online retailers request this code during checkout to redeem the advertised discount or special.

For shoppers still unsure as to whether they are receiving the best deal possible, visit pricingcentral.com or pricegrabber.com to comparison shop a variety of sites at once.

All dressed up with nowhere to go? Goldstar.com features half-price tickets for different events, from opera and ballet to baseball games and romantic weekend getaways. Want to see “Spamalot” for as little as $20? Hurry, because hot tickets go fast.

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