5 Tricks & Tips to Buying Clothes Online

There are many advantages to shopping online such as convenience. Other payoffs include an almost unlimited selection and the ability to comparison shop without leaving your desk!

The $avings alone may make you a convert once you master the basics. Here’s 5 tricks to help with your cyber-shopping experience.

1) Know your measurements.

Find your tape measure and scribble down your chest/bust, waist, hips, arm length and inseam. A way to cheat is to measure a piece of clothing that fits you perfectly. Use that for a comparison.

Note there are no universal sizing requirements between manufacturers across the board. Browse through your closet. Your tops may mostly be size small, with an occasional size medium, maybe even one size large in a designer that runs small.

That’s because there are general guidelines in fashion, but the lines between sizing is fuzzy at best. Look for information regarding inches or centimeters, these are universal and make a much better comparison than “small” or “large”.

2) Be flexible, computer monitors vary.

Although monitors have advanced to display millions of colors, the clothing item you see may vary slightly in color than the actual item. Also consider that fabrics fluctuate in color from one dye lot to the next. This is true even with brick and mortar retail stores. If you’re still not sure, contact the seller to find out if their “red” is a “tomato red” or a “red wine”.

3) Understand the shipping charges.

Buy several items at the same time to avoid paying individual shipping charges. Or better yet, look for retailers that offer free shipping!

4) Research the return and exchange policy.

Most online retailers let you return clothes within a designated time frame. You will better understand what you are getting into and if their policy has a satisfaction guarantee or if your purchase is a final sale.

5) Research the seller or site’s reputation.

Check for customer reviews of the retailer you are buying from, and make sure you are satisfied with what you find. Are people generally happy with what they got and when they got it? Do the reviews talk about great customer service or speedy shipping? Take these into account.

Tips for Successfully Selling Your Car Online

  • Selling online is different from selling in the newspaper classifieds
  • Establishing the right price requires research
  • Not responding to every inquiry can prolong the sales process

How to sell a car online quickly while maximizing the transaction price is the question every seller wants answered. It’s really not a mystery. It simply requires some elbow grease, a little computer savvy and a bit of time.

Following a few basics will get your phone ringing and your e-mail box filling with inquiries and offers.

Selling a car online is a different beast than selling it through the newspaper classifieds. Most classified sales are local, allowing the buyer to personally eyeball the vehicle, test drive it and even take it to a mechanic for an inspection.

Many by-owner, online used-car sales are long-distance transactions that are finalized without the buyer seeing or test driving the car. We’ve had one popular online seller tell us that 75 percent of its auto transactions are across state lines. This means the seller must do a little extra work and be more creative to make his vehicle stand out.

Here are 7 tips to get your vehicle noticed and a successful deal done:


Approach selling your car the same way you would a project at work. For a quick, successful sale, you must fully engage in every step of the process. Here’s the dirty little secret about selling a car online: The less effort you make, the less successful you will be.

Successful selling is a process and every part of that process must receive your best effort. Don’t cut corners!


The “right” price isn’t the amount you want out of the sale of the car, but the amount the average buyer thinks is fair and is willing to pay.

Sure, if you have some rare collector car, you may not need worry as much about the market price. Chances are, though, your car will be listed against tens or hundreds of similar vehicles on multiple online sites. That means your vehicle must be priced competitively.

You have to do the research to determine not only how much others are asking for similar cars, but the average transaction price of those recently sold.

Be honest with yourself and objective about the vehicle’s condition when setting a price. An unrealistically high price will scare potential buyers, sending them on to the next ad.

Sites like AutoTrader.com and Kelly Blue Book (KBB.com) are reliable sources in determining a vehicle’s market value.

Write a Compelling Description

If you spend less than an hour writing your car’s description, you probably haven’t done it justice. Be creative; be thorough!

Look at the online ads today; nearly every vehicle has power windows, power door locks and air conditioning. Such routine features should never be the lead in your description. Instead, think about the features you love that attracted you to the car. Get excited.

If it’s a convertible, describe how effortlessly the top operates and the joy of driving with the top down on a sunny Saturday afternoon. If it’s a minivan, enthuse over the convenience and room. Write about being able to bring a ping-pong table home from a yard sale. Itemize the cup holders and storage cubbies. Describe keeping the kids entertained on a long trip.

Personalize the vehicle through your own experiences. What has it meant to you? On some level most vehicle purchases are emotional; play to that.

Load the Headline with Key Words

When advertising on a site that allows you to write your own ad headline or title, the primary goal is to get noticed among the thousands of ads out there. Key words are, well, the key.

When you can, use words in the headline, such as “great fuel economy,” “super-low mileage,” “kicking audio system,” and so forth.

Use Lots of Photos

Because so many vehicles purchased online are bought sight unseen, good photos, and plenty of them, offer potential buyers their only look at the vehicle. Photos are really an online seller’s primary marketing tool. There is no such thing as too many photos.

Don’t be lazy when shooting photos. The vehicle should be clean inside and out. Don’t take the photos in your apartment parking lot or your home’s driveway. On a clear day, drive the vehicle to a well-lighted spot with an attractive background. Position it so the sun is behind you, and take the time to reposition the vehicle as you photograph its various sides.

Be honest with your photos. Don’t try to hide the blemishes or damage, and don’t Photo Shop them. A car doesn’t need to be perfect to sell, but being honest about its warts will save you some grief later on.

In other words, the photos need to tell the truth about the car.

Be Responsive

Whether you have potential buyers respond by phone, e-mail or some other device, take the call and answer the e-mail. Potential buyers have thousands of ads to which they can respond. Allowing a caller to go to voicemail or letting an e-mail sit, unopened for a day, can be all it takes for that interested buyer to move on.

It’s almost always less time consuming to work with the buyer in front of you than to find the next one.

Until your vehicle is sold, selling it is your job. Do your job.

Communicate with the Buyer

This step won’t help you sell, but may well help you avoid buyer issues after the sale.

Vehicles are big-ticket items and buying one online can be stressful. Establishing communication with a buyer can ease his anxiety and reduce the chances he will be unhappy once the vehicle is in his hands.

Call the buyer, thanking him for the sale. Provide a timetable and other details of the delivery. If you are shipping the vehicle, take photos of it once it’s on the truck. This gives you a record of the vehicle’s condition when shipped, as well as photos to e-mail to the buyer to reassure him his purchase is on its way.

Make the extra effort to ensure the transaction is a great experience for the buyer.

7 tips you need to know when shopping with kids.


Whether you are taking a day trip to Ikea or just doing your groceries, when shopping with kids it is so important to be prepared. Today I am going to share a few tips to help those shopping trips be a little less stressful.

1. Always take a list. There is nothing worse than shopping for hours only to get home and realise that you have forgotten essential items. Write your list the day before so you have plenty of time to add anything you have missed.

2. Choose the right time of the day. This refers to the best time of day for your kids and the quietest time at the supermarket. I can almost guarantee that shopping at 5pm on a weekday will result in a temper tantrum, either from you or the kids.

3. Come prepared. Make sure you have supplies packed to keep the kids occupied for your trip. I always pack lots of snacks, drink bottle, wet ones and a small toy or two. Lately I have been taking a cute little clipboard and note pad with us for Hazel to write her ‘shopping list’. My little mini me is always happy if she is doing something just like Mum.

4. Remember your funds. On more than one occasion since becoming a parent I have arrived at the register only to realise that I had forgotten my wallet or bank card. Dragging the kids home to get my wallet then back to the store is the absolute last thing I want to do after a shopping trip. Now before I leave the house, I always make sure I have my American Express card in my wallet.

5. Shopping Treats. Bribery probably isn’t the best way to get your kids to do what you want, but I figure a treat once a week (which just happens to be after your shopping trip) probably isn’t so bad. Hazel now knows that if she is a good girl while we are shopping she will get her favourite treat (a cheese and bacon bread roll) when we are done.

6. Prepare yourself for the ‘Mum can I…’ questions. Decide before your trip if you will be buying anything for your children. Let them know the boundaries before you even step foot in the store. That way they will have time to process it before they try to make a dash for the toy aisle.

7. If all else fails, quit the stores and do your shopping online after the kids have gone to bed. Make yourself a cuppa, bust out your secret stash of chocolate (we all have one!) and do your shopping in peace and quiet.

I hope these tips help to make your shopping trips with kids a little easier, but remember, we have all had one of ‘those’ shopping experiences. Sometimes a hungry baby, a toddler meltdown, a toilet training accident or a candy demanding child are unavoidable however if you are prepared and organised they should be just a little bump in your trip.

So, time to spill… How many times have you left your wallet and bank card at home when out shopping? I think I am up to about 5 or 6 times since my daughter was born 2 years ago!

How to Buy eBay Items From European Sites

Buying on eBay from anywhere in the world is a very simple process. eBay has been a popular online marketplace since 1997 and millions of sales have taken place every year. For those who are new to the eBay experience, it is quite straightforward to purchase items from European sellers as well as the rest of the world.


  • It is important that you set up a PayPal account to secure your details and make online buying a safe form of payment. PayPal protects all its members with buying and selling policies and paying through PayPal means that you do not give your personal details to a seller.

Find the Item

  • Conduct a search on eBay for the item you wish you buy. If you wish to purchase from a European seller you can set the search criteria to cover the rest of the world and find a seller in Europe who is offering the best price for your chosen item. Check the seller’s feedback rating to satisfy yourself that he is of good standing. Check his mailing details to make sure he can send items to your location.

Bid or Buy

  • Auctions will give you the chance to bid on the item or you can choose an item that has a “Buy It Now” option. If you bid and win you will be sent an invoice. Click the “Pay Now” button to be taken to checkout and choose PayPal as your preferred method. You will need to sign into PayPal to complete the purchase. The same applies with “Buy it Now” items but immediate payment is required.

Best Cheap Replica Brands Online Shop

Everyone dreamed of owning designer items but usually, it is out of their budget range and so they opt for quality replica where they can purchase any fashion item they want without spending a fortune. The best brand now has replica versions and they look exactly the same but one can purchase them easily at a fraction of the cost. Here are some reasons why it is a good idea to buy quality replica of branded items.

With any type of replica product such as bag, clothing or watch, they always carry great design. In fact, they stand out from the normal brands in high street stores that you can buy. People will not know the difference that you are wearing a replica of a designer brand and so instead of spending hundreds to thousands of dollars for a single product, why not go for the replica and save money.

The second reason to buy cheap brands is that the quality of these goods always has similar comfort level like the authentic counterparts. Each minor detail is considered such as the materials, color or durability. Sometimes, replica items are not made exactly using the same material but are usually similar to the authentic product. The durability and comfort of the item are two important factors that should be taken into account when it comes to the materials used.

Designers know that people have different preference and tastes when it comes to buying clothes or accessories. Some may prefer the more classic type of look while others found joy and contentment in trendy looks. Fortunately, manufacturers of replica items are making sure they have a variety of colors, designs, shapes, sizes and styles to match the individual taste of buyers. When you shop for these items online, you might even have a difficult time finding the right one for you since there is a wide selection available.

It is then important that you consider your needs, your preference and taste before buying anything online. You also have to do your search prior to shopping. This way, you can avoid having difficulties in choosing exactly the style, design and color of product you are looking to purchase.

The best quality replica items are made of materials that are not jus durable but are also easy to care for and so maintaining their stylish look is never hard. Replica products can offer you with the best choice of materials to select from as manufacturers know that in a modern and busy lifestyle, people simply do not have the time to be spent on maintenance.

Like buying best brand, designer products, you have to make sure you are making the most of your investments by examining the durability and quality of the product. This way, you can be certain that you can use the fashion brands for a long time and that you never wasted your money for something that gets easily damaged after few times of use.

Smell serene flowers available online

Flowers are our best friends forever. We are welcomes to this world with flowers and they accompany us even when we die. In between this birth and death, flowers also remain with us in all our important dates, occasions, and events. Be it a birthday, anniversary, Holi, Diwali, Dusshera, Navratri, Janmaashtami, Christmas, New Years, etc. flowers do not stop coming and beautifying our life. For the girl next door, to the girl seated away from you, flowers has been the easiest gifts for impressing the love. Order flowers online to Bangalore for the friends settled there to wish them on their vital days. Flowers hold an important space in worshipping our deities as well. God invented these flowers, so that we can talk to our Gods through them. Beneficial in every way – flower market is a profitable one in this age also. In fact it has grown leaps and bounds in the past few years since the emergence of e-commerce.


Initially, you yourself carried these flowers towards your loved ones. And now, online portals do that same thing on your behalf as your loved ones are away from you. So, surprise your sweetheart with online flower delivery in Bangalore to make his birthday a special one this year. Online shopping has made so many things easier. The greatest benefit has been received by the relationships we have with our near and dear ones. In case your boyfriend is angry on you, just dial up a few numbers and a bright bouquet of flowers is ready to woo his heart. You cannot be at a function at home, send some flowers and chocolates and you would be spared. There are many such instances when you can use these online shopping portals and help yourself. So, to have an easier approach towards all your relationship problems, online gift shops are the best destination.


Timely arrival of ordering online is the reason behind its success. Flowers will never ever lose their appeal in front of its admirers. With time we are witnessing just rise in sale of flowers. So many people are gaining indirectly out of these apart from me and you. The people who maintain the garden, those who carry them in trucks, florists who design them, to portals who advertise them – are the ones who has found a means of livelihood through these beautiful flowers. So, while placing an order for flowers online to Bangalore, also think of the happiness of all these people whose hard work is going to put a smile on your loved ones face.

Simple, serene, vibrant, and lively flowers know only to spread joy.

Top designer lehengas for party wear

India is a nation where we always like to expand simply on two belongings, ‘tasty food’ and ‘party celebration’. The big fat Indian parties are the special event where all girl desires to dress up traditionally and appear cultural and Indian way. Getting completely dressed up by way of correct jewels and right makeup is the vision. Not need to mention, in today time Lehenga is the mainly desired dress to exhibit. With continue changing time and changing fashion, people have turned out to be style confidence, and there are hundreds of designer lehengas for party wear, for example,Mermaind Cut Lehenga Collection and Fish Cut Lehenga Collection in stores as well as it is very tricky to prefer the right choice.

We all do study for the best types and different styles existing with an outfit earlier than we purchase it, similar ways, earlier than you purchase for your party or any special day or for any particular occasion; here is a helping list to find good royal designer  lehengas for party for you to make your selection procedure easier.

Circular/ Flared Lehenga is One of the very old and, as a rule, traditional style, this lehenga has a broad sparkle and outline a whole circle at the hem, therefore, named. The Lehenga has tremendous volume and begins with frequent pleats at the hem that at last long spread as one go down to the flare. If you are paying attention in custom designing your lehenga, desire fabrics then you can obtain a number of pleats and go for gigantic borders at the hem. Too large amount embroidery on the fabric won’t be an actually good option for this type.
Mermaid/ Fishtail Lehenga emulate the mermaids; these lehengas are fixed at the knees and flash from the calves in the shape of a fishtail. These lehengas are tight at the hips areas and the waists and, for this reason, be obliged to be worn out with a correct body type beneath.
Lehenga along with a Jacket This Lehenga style is encouraged since up to date fashion style. The Lehenga is frequently a complete straight Lehenga or flares Lehenga, as an alternative of the blouse, you will contain a jacket with your lehenga, and the jacket is mainly in fabric like silk, velvet or else georgette and carries serious heavy embroidery work on it. Wearing a lot embroidered choli or else blouse with This style of Lehenga can be worn out by any person. You can carry a lengthy jacket or a short one, depending on your beautiful body type, tough.

Lehenga comes with Crop Top you should have observed Bollywood celebrities exhibit this Lehenga fashion. In this manner, the Lehenga is balancing through a cute crop top, an embroidered individual. This manner is as well encouraged from modern fashion trends. on the other hand, if you appear directly, the choli, or else the blouse within a Lehenga choli combination is also a crop top. As a result, this fashion is purely a modification to the essential Lehenga choli.

To discover top lehenga shops in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata – Visit – http://www.zakoopi.com

5 Tips for Safe Online Shopping

Let’s face it, there’s every reason in the world to shop online. The bargains are there. The selection is mind-boggling. The shopping is secure. Shipping is fast. Even returns are pretty easy, with the right e-tailers. Shopping has never been easier or more convenient for consumers.

But what about the bad guys who lay in wait? IID’s Third Quarter eCrime Report for 2011 indicates that use of phishing attacks (where thieves attempt to swindle you out of your sign-in credentials and even credit card info by pretending to be a real website, or even an online bank) is down, as much as eight percent since the second quarter and 11 percent since the third quarter of last year. That’s great news—except the same report says sites with malware (malicious code aimed at compromising your privacy) has increased by 89 percent since the second quarter.

Stay calm. While somewhat alarming, these stats should not keep you from shopping online. You simply need some common sense and practical advice. Follow these basic guidelines and you can shop online with confidence. Here are 11 tips for staying safe online, so you can start checking off items on that holiday shopping list.

1. Use Familiar Websites
Start at a trusted site rather than shopping with a search engine. Search results can be rigged to lead you astray, especially when you drift past the first few pages of links. If you know the site, chances are it’s less likely to be a rip off. We all know Amazon.com and that it carries everything under the sun; likewise, just about every major retail outlet has an online store, from Target to Best Buy to Home Depot. Beware of misspellings or sites using a different top-level domain (.net instead of .com, for example)—those are the oldest tricks in the book. Yes, the sales on these sites might look enticing, but that’s how they trick you into giving up your info.

2. Look for the Lock
Never ever, ever buy anything online using your credit card from a site that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed—at the very least. You’ll know if the site has SSL because the URL for the site will start with HTTPS:// (instead of just HTTP://). An icon of a locked padlock will appear, typically in the status bar at the bottom of your web browser, or right next to the URL in the address bar. It depends on your browser.

Never, ever give anyone your credit card over email. Ever.

3. Don’t Tell All
No online shopping store needs your social security number or your birthday to do business. However, if crooks get them, combined with your credit card number for purchases, they can do a lot of damage. The more they know, the easier it is to steal your identity. When possible, default to giving up the least amount of information.

4. Check Statements
Don’t wait for your bill to come at the end of the month. Go online regularly during the holiday season and look at electronic statements for your credit card, debit card, and checking accounts. Make sure you don’t see any fraudulent charges, even originating from sites like PayPal. (After all, there’s more than one way to get to your money.)

If you do see something wrong, pick up the phone to address the matter quickly. In the case of credit cards, pay the bill only once you know all your charges are accurate. You have 30 days to notify the bank or card issuer of problems, however; after that, you might be liable for the charges anyway.

5. Inoculate Your PC
Swindlers don’t just sit around waiting for you to give them data; sometimes they give you a little something extra to help things along. You need to protect against malware with regular updates to your anti-virus program. PCMag recommends Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus (4.5 stars, Editors’ Choice, $39.95 direct), which has extras to help fight ID theft, or at the very least the free Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.0 (4.5 stars, Editors’ Choice).

Five shopping myths debunked

Shoppers are rushing to the Christmas sales today – at least online.


Then there’s the post-Christmas rigmarole of returning items and cashing in gift cards from tomorrow. In preparation, we set out the basic rules of buying and returning goods by challenging some common myths.

While some retailers will accept returned goods and refund your money without a quibble, others might be less forthcoming.

Don’t underestimate the effect of knowing your rights. Quoting the 1979 Sale of Goods act, 1974 Consumer Credit act or 2014 Consumer Contracts Regulations can secure a refund victory.

Myth 1. ”I get a two-year warranty under EU rules”

Yes, but the Sale of Goods act trumps this directive as it provides a six-year guarantee (five in Scotland) on faulty goods.

After the first six months and up to six years (five in Scotland) customers are entitled to a repair or replacement if they can prove the item was faulty when they bought it. The retailer should carry this out “within a reasonable time but without causing significant inconvenience.” If the seller can’t do this, it should pay some money back on the original purchase price, minus an amount for the usage they have had of the goods.

The rule covers a fault that was present when you bought the item, or a defect that occurs from a manufacturing problem rather than as the result of usual wear and tear.

Myth 2. ”If I change my mind, I can get a refund

Wrong – if the item is not faulty, you have no rights to a refund or exchange unless you buy online (see below). The same applies if goods are the wrong size, unless they are clearly not the size described. Some shops may offer refunds or a credit note as part of their own in-store policies. Returns within 28 days is the policy at most stories, although for the Christmas period many shops will allow items bought in December to be returned as late as January 31.

Myth 3. ”I am always protected if I pay with a credit card”

Shoppers who pay by credit card do have additional protection, but only if the items cost more than £100 and less than £30,000.

If the shop goes bust before your order is delivered, for example, you are entitled to make a claim against the credit card provider. In practice, card companies often dispute such claims – so it pays to persevere.

Paying with a credit card offers legal protection (not automatically provided by a debit or prepaid card) under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, which makes the credit card company jointly liable with the shop or provider if something is faulty, or not as described – or simply fails to arrive.

Goods valued at less than £100 are protected under a voluntary card scheme called chargeback, which applies if the item is faulty or doesn’t arrive. Your bank asks the seller’s bank to reverse the transaction and refund the money into your account; but this will be difficult if the trader has gone out of business. You can only claim refunds through chargeback, not repairs or replacements.

Myth 4. ”I don’t get as many rights if I shop online”

Actually, buying gifts online gives you more rights that shopping on the high street, as you have a 14-day refund right that begins from the day you receive your goods.

This “cooling off” period is one of a series of new rights for customers buying online, introduced when Distance Selling Regulations were replaced in June.

Under new Consumer Contracts Regulations, buyers also have 14 days to cancel an online contract, such as a gym membership. Sellers also must pay for a refund within 14 days after you have posted back goods.

Sellers are also prohibited from charging customers for an additional item with a pre-ticked box, such as cancellation protection or extra insurance.

Myth 5. ”I can get my money back if a delivery doesn’t arrive on time”

Don’t assume that you’re entitled to a refund if a delivery does not arrive in time for Christmas Day. Unless a retailer has confirmed that your gift is for a Christmas delivery, you are not entitled to a refund (the exception being if the item takes more than 30 days to arrive).

10 Online Apparel Returns Myths Ripped Apart

The ecommerce industry is set to breach $370 billion in sales per year in the U.S. by 2017, according to the most recent social media ecommerce statistics that are setting the benchmark for online shopping trends. One of the most popular items that can be bought online is apparel. But online apparel returns are also the most common of all returns made, too, with about 35% of all clothing items that are ordered online ultimately being returned by the consumer.

Online Apparel Returns Myths and Facts

E-retailers have forever and a day shunned the online apparel returns process because they mistakenly buy into a boatload of myths that convolute the underlying actuality. In truth, returns don’t actually cost you money – they make you money in the form of increased loyalty, enhanced consumer trust and confidence, and long term retention and word-of-mouth as well as social sharing.

To better help you understand why offering hassle-free online apparel returns is no longer a consideration – it’s a must-do element of running any successful online store – we’ve compiled this list of the top ten myths surrounding online apparel returns. Use it to improve your process and attract more customers and conversions.

Myth #1: Returns Cost Me Money

The most common misperception about online apparel returns is that they will cost you money. The truth is that, yes, they will cost you some money upfront in the form of the return shipping cost and restocking cost (if you are offering truly free returns). But in the long run, they make you money.

A CNBC report found that offering free online returns can increase profit by at least 300% or more. The study followed two large online retailers over 49 months, finding that the average spend per consumer increased by $620-$2,500 from offering free online apparel returns.

Myth #2: Returns Are a Hassle for Everyone

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Returns are only a hassle for everyone when there are no logistics involved. In reality, big stores like Amazon, Trunk Club and Zappos have integrated online apparel return systems in place that protects their bottom line. Customers can simply revisit the site and process a return in just a few short steps. The software then provides the logistics, including tracking the package, generating return shipping labels, tracking numbers and more. With synergy, online apparel returns are hassle-free for all parties involved.

Myth #3: Most Customers Don’t Read Our Returns Policy

The reality is that over 60% of online shoppers will take a look at your returns policy before they make a purchasing decision. According to a white paper that was created by Web Marketing Today, over 88% of all U.S. adults that shop online said that a convenient returns policy was “somewhat important,” “important,” or “very important” in them making a buying decision. And 92% said that when convenient returns are offered, they are more likely to shop from that store again in the future.

Myth #4: Returns Are Usually the Customer’s Fault

It’s easy to play the blame game. But it’s a dangerous game to play with your customers, the very backbone of your business model. Most e-retailers are unaware that 65% of the time the return is their fault, according to a report by Internet Retailer.

    • 23% of the time it’s because the wrong item was received.
    • 22% of the time it’s because the item was different than advertised online.
    • 20% of the time it’s because a damaged item was received.

Myth #5: Most Returns Are Made by One-Off Shoppers

Some e-retailer believe that online apparel returns are inconvenient to their bottom line because they think that they are namely made by one-time buyers. But such couldn’t be further from the truth. An ABC News report found that the most loyal buyers make the most returns; not the other way around.

Myth #6: The Returns Policy I Offer Doesn’t Affect Sales

Think that your returns policy barely influences or affects sales? Think again. A UPS study that was conducted by Forrester found quite the opposite. The study concluded that over 80% of online consumers were likelier to make a purchase from an online store that offered convenient and hassle-free returns.

Myth #7: Shoppers Really Don’t Think About the Returns Process

As a matter of fact, most shoppers do ponder what returns policy that you offer. As stated above, over 60% will take the time to read that policy before making a buying decision. A related Washington Post report found that offering convenient online apparel returns improves shopper loyalty exponentially, and can create a spike in sales.

Myth #8: People Don’t Care About Free Return Shipping

Free return shipping plays a large role in attracting more sales and with improving customer confidence. A Fortune 3 study found that 87% of shoppers are more likely to make a purchase at an online store when free return shipping is being offered. Those same shoppers are also likely to make repeat purchases in the future, telling of how an online product returns policy directly influences future sales.

Myth #9: My Returns Policy Doesn’t Influence Future Sales

Your returns policy absolutely influences future sales. Not only does offering free shipping on returns increase conversion rates by a whopping 87%, it also attracts repeat buyers. Given the studies provided above, the simple addition of a free returns policy has the power to supercharge your sales by as much as a staggering 357%.

Myth #10: Plenty of Stores Get Sales with a Bad Returns Policy

A bad returns policy is the same thing as charging too much for your shipping or not offering competitive rates on the products that you market to consumers. The aforementioned UPS study above also found that over 81% of consumers are loyalists to online stores that offer a good returns policy.

The Biggest Myths About Car Dealerships and Car Salesmen

Having worked in dealerships for nearly a decade, I don’t think auto dealers are half as bad as many consumers seem to think they are. Are dealerships perfect? Of course not. Are they paramount examples of ethical business practices? No. But are they any less ethical than most retail businesses? I’d say no.

Myth #1 – Dealers make a lot of money. Of all the myths out there about dealers, I really wish this one was true. But alas, most dealers earn a net margin of something like 1-2% (sometimes more, sometimes less). That works out to about $500 in profit on a $25,000 vehicle (with new cars earning a little less and used cars earning a little more).

To put that 1-2% margin in perspective, Apple, Google, and Microsoft earn about a 20% net margin. Comcast earns about 12%. Exxon-Mobil earned about 8% in 2014. Basically, people pay most of the companies they love (or hate) a multiple of the profits paid to car dealers.

Myth #2 – Dealers are out to screw every customer. This is one of those myths that consumers love to believe, but it’s not based in fact. This is because screwing over a customer inevitably leads to a customer service nightmare, with the consumer screaming to the automaker, the Better Business Bureau, the local media, state regulators, and anyone who will listen about why “dealership X” is the worst on the planet.

From the dealership staff’s perspective, tricking customers just isn’t worth the effort. If it blows up in your face (and it will at some point, guaranteed), you’re likely to get demoted or fired.

From the dealership owner’s perspective, their businesses are closely regulated, easy targets for civil litigation, and targets for the local press. Acting unscrupulously is a formula for losing a business, and at the very least any gains made from tricking customers is quickly lost if there’s a regulatory action, a lawsuit, etc.

Now, can an individual dealership employee act illegally? Yes. But that behavior isn’t trained or condoned at the vast majority of dealerships – the risks to the business and the staff are just too great.

Myth #3 – Consumers would be better off if there were no dealerships. A lot of consumers believe that dealers are an anachronism – a holdover from a time when distributing cars was too difficult to do at a national level. Now, with Internet, many people think dealers are no longer necessary.

The problem with this line of thinking is that it completely overlooks the following facts:

  • Dealers are independent businesses that savagely compete with one another, which is why they earn a measly 1-2% margin. If dealers were replaced with corporate owned stores, it’s hard to imagine the corporate masters settling for the same meager margins.
  • Dealers have leverage over automakers that consumers simply can’t match. They can refuse to buy slow-selling models, forcing automakers to offer incentives and discounts. They can perform repairs free of charge to the consumer and demand the automaker pay for the repairs under warranty. Dealers can sue automakers – and frequently do – to fight rules and restrictions that limit competition and raise prices. Etc. Automakers listen to dealers much more closely than they listen to individual consumers.
  • Dealers facilitate a vibrant secondary market for automobiles. Dealers are a big part of the reason that older cars are in demand. Dealers need to sell cars to make money, so they buy as many cars as they can at auction, via dealer trades, or via consumer trade-in. This strong market for used cars ensures that consumers can quickly and easily sell or trade their old car. If dealers were eliminated, the number of buyers for any given used car would decline dramatically, and that certainly wouldn’t help prices, would it?
  • Dealers are still a logistical necessity. Many people point to Tesla as proof that dealers are no longer necessary, but Elon Musk himself has said that dealers may be needed at some point if Tesla is going to grow (see http://cleantechnica.com/2014/10… for more info ). This is because it’s hard to sell and service millions of cars efficiently without thousands of dealerships to help.

While I understand why many people think dealers are unnecessary, there’s ample evidence to suggest they fill an important role in the auto industry. People who think dealers aren’t necessary don’t understand the marketplace.

Myth #4 – Dealership salespeople are master manipulators. With no offense intended to my friends in the car business, it’s a rare salesperson or manager that’s a “master closer.” A lot of dealership staff think they’re amazing, but the truth is that consumers can’t be compelled to buy a car they don’t want.

A lot of consumers say that a salesperson “tricked” or “convinced” them to do something they didn’t want to do, but the reality is that consumers sign on the dotted line of their own free will, usually with a smile on their face.

What’s more, the average dealership has a startling amount of employee turnover, which usually leads to poorly trained managers and salespeople. One dealerships’ “master closer” is just average at a dealership with less turnover and better staff.

Myth #5 – Dealers hate electric cars. This preposterous notion is peddled by one of the world’s greatest marketers, Elon Musk. It’s absurd because:

  1. Dealers are in the business of selling cars to make money. They’ll sell anything with four wheels…if they were picky, we probably wouldn’t have any Nissan Versa’s, Fiat 500s, Smart cars, etc.
  2. Dealers don’t discourage customers from buying anything…ever. If you walk in the dealership with your wallet out, you can have whatever you can afford. No one who works at a dealership is going to say “Hey, don’t buy that $50k electric car! Get outta here!!”

Musk is a smart man worthy of recognition, but his “dealers wouldn’t sell our cars” statement is unadulterated bullshit.

Major Myths About Social Media & Online Automotive Marketing

With Facebook gearing up to hit its one-billionth user and Twitter averaging 400 million tweets per day, it seems those who called social media a “fad” may stand corrected. Social media is here to stay. Still, some car dealerships don’t see how automotive digital marketingwith social mediacan benefit their stores.

Do you believe everything you hear about social media? Let’s bust some social media myths.

Automotive social media marketing

Myth #1: Social Media is for Teenagers

Social media is no longer just for the Gen Yers. According to the Social Skinny, 62% of American adults frequent social media sites, spending 22% of their online time on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Furthermore, a recent Chadwick Martin Bailey study found that 51% of consumers aged 18 or older were more likely to buy from a brand that they’ve ‘liked’ on Facebook. Dealerships, imagine if your online automotive marketing efforts produced a 51% increase in buyers. Can we say game changer?

Myth #2: Social Media is a Waste of Time

Long gone are the days where Farmville dominated most Facebook newsfeeds. Facebook users are getting smarter and they’ve begun utilizing the social media platform to either praise or criticize businesses with which they’ve interacted. Your dealership may not have an official Facebook fan page, but a quick search of your dealership’s name on Facebook will generate several user-created results. Maintaining control over your social media presence can prevent rogue accounts, and assist with your reputation management.

Social Media Marketing

Myth #3: Mobile Apps Aren’t Important

While the whole world may not have made the switch to smartphones, a recent study found 46% of Americans are using them. Custom mobile apps are another way for dealerships to connect with customers on-the-go. With mobile apps, customers can utilize the “Schedule a Service” or the “Click-to-Call” features directly from their phones, eliminating altogether the online scavenger hunt for your sales or service department’s phone numbers.

Custom Mobile Apps

Myth #4: Automotive Social Media Won’t Sell Cars

While theories vary on whether or not automotive social media marketing is a useful sales tactic, sometimes it’s not about the bottom line. Maintaining an engagingly active social media presence helps establish a trusting bond with your customers. Chances are, your sociable nature online will boost your brand and create traffic in the service drive. Additionally, businesses that promote their specials and coupons through Facebook attract customers’ attention, often driving them straight through the front door of your dealership.

Myth #5: Anyone Can Do It

A number of companies underestimate the significance of social media marketing and entrust their social media profiles to staff members devoid of any real experience. Properly implementing and maintaining a corporate social media plan can be a trying task and often is best left to the professionals.

Though it may seem simple, constructing an efficient social media calendar, knowing exactly what to post, and adequately combating negative feedback defines the success of your Facebook and Twitter pages.

Car Buying Myths and Misconceptions

Here, then, is a collection of car-buying myths and dusty old tips you should dump:

1. Buy a car on a rainy day. The idea is that due to bad weather, no one will be on the car lot and the dealer will be desperate to move metal. One problem: Many people have heard this advice, which means the dealership is both wet and crowded. We recently ran this past a car salesman while both of us were standing in the rain. “Actually we’re really busy on rainy days,” he said. “Everyone thinks it’s going to be empty.”

Another variation of this myth is to go to a dealership just before it closes. Then, supposedly, the sales staff will agree to a lower price because they want to go home. In actuality, they’ll work well past closing time to finalize the deal. Here are some actual good times to buy a car.

2. Hide the trade-in until you finalize the price of a new car. Then spring it on the salesperson. Do you really think salespeople haven’t heard of this strategy before? And do you really think it will get you a better price? It doesn’t work.

The best tactic is to compartmentalize the deal. Know the price of your trade-in by using TMV to get its actual worth and get as close to that as possible. If you don’t like the offer for your trade-in, pursue other trade-in options.

3. Don’t reveal that you’re leasing until you negotiate the price of the new car. The assumption is that if you tip your hand early, a salesperson will snow you with leasing jargon and inflate the price of the car. One problem with that thinking: These days, lease specials abound, as shown on Edmunds’ Incentives and Rebates pages and $199 Lease Deals of the Month. The savings on these lease specials are better than you would get by just leasing a car based on a low purchase price.

4. Be prepared to walk out. This is good advice for people who insist on shopping in person at a car lot. But it’s no longer good advice in the Internet age, mainly because we don’t recommend that you ever walk onto a dealership lot cold. Instead, use the Internet department and Price Promise for a hassle-free, low-cost shopping experience.

5. Read every word of the contract. If you follow this advice, you’ll be there all day. Besides, most sales contracts are boilerplate that’s regulated by the state’s motor vehicle registry. It’s not necessary to read all the words in the contract. However, it is absolutely essential to review all the numbers in the contract.

6. Call the sales manager, tell him you’re buying a car in an hour and demand his lowest price. The principle of this “game theory” approach is to pit dealerships against each other. Believe me, they are already well aware of the competition. Furthermore, this confrontational style is harder to pull off than you might think. Maybe it sounds fun to put the salesperson on the spot. But try it and see how far you get.

7. Bring a cashier’s check for exactly the amount you want to pay and say, “Take it or leave it.” We like to imagine how cool and invincible we would feel by doing this. But if you bring a check with a figure you cooked up, you won’t be leaving in a new car. Where did you come up with this price? Did you correctly add fees and taxes for all the options on a specific vehicle? How do you know the dealership wasn’t ready to give you a price lower than the one on your check?

It’s better to solicit Internet quotes, negotiate a good deal on an actual car, get a rundown of all the necessary fees and taxes and then bring a cashier’s check. It’s not a sexy power play, but it works. Better yet? Use Price Promise and skip the haggle.

Internet Auto-Shopping Myths Debunked

Think again if your image of a typical Internet car shopper is someone in the market for a shiny new vehicle.

The chances are more than twice as great such a consumer is looking online for a used car.

So say two industry veterans, Chip Perry and Joe Lescota, citing data they say contradict some popular misconceptions.

Perry is president and CEO of AutoTrader.com. Lescota is a dealership consultant and automotive marketing chairman at Northwood University in Midland, MI.

They play the iconoclastic role of myth busters at a seminar during last month’s 2008 National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention in San Francisco.

The session – “Exposing the Myths of Used-Car Internet Sales” – starts out debunking the notion that tech-savvy, new-car shoppers are surfing the Web for vehicle information and inventory, while their used-car counterparts are offline trudging through pre-owned lots.

In fact, online used-car shoppers outnumber new-car buyers 25.9 million compared with 11.6 million, say Perry and Lescota, referencing J.D. Power and Associates and other research firms.

Joe Lescota (left) and Chip Perry.

Although in 2007 the percentage of new-car shoppers using the Internet was 70%, compared with 61% for used-car buyers, the gap is narrowing. It was a 60%-43% breakdown in 2001.

“The reality is there is a tremendous opportunity to sell used cars via the Internet,” Perry says.

Another cited myth: Car dealers should disregard third-party lead sources and only focus on their websites, because that’s where the best leads come from.

Wrong, says Perry. “Consumers view third-party (automotive) websites as much more influential. Successful dealers are taking advantage of third-party sites.”

Adds Lescota: “The opportunities to sell used vehicles on the Internet are phenomenal, but websites are going to have to get better.”

He and Perry rap dealer websites that tend to be configured in an unintuitive way, often requiring several clicks to get to the used-car listings.

A good dealer website with used-car inventory requires only a few basics, from equipment to personnel. They are:

  • A digital camera for visually depicting cars in stock.
  • A cable to upload those inventory photos.
  • A good used-car manager.
  • Staffers with good phone skills, because most online shoppers switch to the telephone at some point in the process. “Consumers still prefer human interaction,” says Lescota.

He and Perry say modern times have created another Internet car-buying myth: It’s all about “search.”

They say online search sites are good at driving car shoppers to manufacturer, dealer and third-party websites, but not at steering consumers to specific vehicle inventory.

Perry says that is why consumers in one survey gave little credit to general search sites, such as Google, when asked about sites that most influenced them in picking the dealership where they ended up buying a used vehicle.

The study indicated consumers more often relied on automotive-specific websites such as AutoTrader.com (named by 18% of respondents), dealer sites (13%) and Cars.com (11%) to find specific vehicles and dealers.

Asked why they bought a car at a specific dealership, most respondents (26%) said a previous experience at the dealership influenced them the most; followed by 21% who cited family, friends and co-workers; and 17% who said Internet sites swayed them the most.

Lescota, a former dealership manager, says one of the biggest myths is that Internet car shoppers, after doing extensive online research, go to a dealership knowing just what they want and so require little sales consultation.

In reality, most online customers have narrowed their vehicle choices but still want professional sales help in making a final decision, he says. “They need a salesman. (Online) shoppers are open to consultation.”

Accordingly, dealership sales personnel should be more than “lot lizards,” he says. “Sales people need to know how to counsel. They need to know the inventory and the product and be a full-service agent.”

Another myth – one embraced by many dealers – says it’s disadvantageous to include vehicle pricing on the Web. Rather, a dealership should wait until customers call or come in before giving them prices.

“That’s a crock,” Lescota says flatly. It’s ill-advised to withhold such information until the customer shows he or she is “serious.”

Perry advises against dealerships maintaining a floor sales staff exclusively handling walk-in customers and an Internet staff dealing only with online shoppers.

“We need to educate the entire staff about the Web,” he says. “Then we can create specialized teams. But let’s get rid of ‘that Internet customer is mine; that walk-in is yours.’ Internet leads should be distributed to the entire staff.”

Otherwise, Perry fears Internet departments may end up akin to working behind velvet ropes, separated from the rest of the dealership.

“That’s where it’s headed,” he says.

8 tricks up your auto dealer’s sleeve

Auto dealers have lots of ways to make the most off of every sale.

Dollar bill shaped like a car with quarters for wheels

Everything from interest rate markups and dealer add-ons to longer and longer loans can drive up the cost of buying a new car or truck.

If you’re not careful, you can wind up paying more to buy and finance a new car or truck than you really need to.

That’s a total waste of money for anyone trying to build financial security for themselves and their families. Look out for these 8 well-known tricks when you visit the showroom.

Dealer trick 1. Preying on your lack of information.

There’s nothing a salesperson loves more than a clueless car shopper.

You can’t negotiate a fair price for a vehicle when you don’t know what that price should be.

Before taking off for the dealership, go to Edmunds.com and Kelley Blue Book to find the average transaction price for the car or truck you want to buy.

Or add the Edmunds or Kelley app to your smartphone and punch in the model, trim level, equipment packages and other options listed on the window sticker for any car on the lot.

Either way, you’ll know what car buyers are actually paying for the ride you’re considering, and it’s usually hundreds, and often thousands, of dollars less than the suggested retail value posted on the window.

You want to be the smart shopper who pays a little less than the average transaction price.

Dealer trick 2. Making it all about the monthly payment.

Salespeople often ask potential buyers what’s the biggest monthly payment they can afford.

With that number in hand, they’ll calculate the most you can possibly spend and still hit that monthly payment by dragging out the loan for as long as possible.

He or she will then show you cars and trucks in that price range, which is often higher than what you wanted to spend, while reassuring you that a better ride is well within your budget.

Let’s say you came in to buy a compact sedan that cost about $20,000 but let slip that you could afford a payment of $450 a month.

The salesperson immediately recognizes that a 60- or 72-month loan would allow you to buy a $25,000 midsize sedan while keeping your payment at about $450 a month — and that is what he or she will try to sell you.

The bigger sticker price, and longer loan, both mean more money for the dealership.

Use the 20/4/10 rule to see what you can really afford.

It says you should put down at least 20% on a vehicle, finance it for no more than four years and not spend more than 10% of your monthly income on your auto expenses, including your note, maintenance and insurance.

Dealer trick 3. Imposing finance charge markups.

You’ve picked the car you want to buy, and now the finance manager is searching his computer for the best deal on a loan.

But the dealership is not required to tell you the cheapest loan you’ve qualified for and can legally pad the interest rate with a couple percentage points for themselves.

Let’s say the bank or finance company says you’re eligible for a 5% loan, but the finance manager tells you 7%.

On a $22,000 five-year loan, that extra 2% will add an extra $1,277 to your payments.

The lender is in cahoots with the dealer. It collects the extra money, keeps half for itself and sends the other half back to the dealer.

While this is quite legal, the U.S. Justice Department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have been investigating whether dealers and lenders are prone to discriminate against women and minorities by adding markups to their loans more often.

Dealer trick 4. Making deceptive payoff promises.

Let’s say you’re looking to buy a new car but still have a balance on your current car loan.

To close the deal, a salesperson will often promise: “We’ll pay off your loan no matter how much you owe.”

Most dealers will make up for that loss by charging more for your new ride, offering less on your trade-in and imposing a finance charge markup.

But unscrupulous showrooms pay off your old loan, just as they promised, then secretly add that amount to your new loan.

To get away with that, they’re counting on you to focus on the monthly payment and ignore the total amount you’re financing.

Initially you might have been told that your monthly payment would be around $400, which is what it would be if you financed $20,000 over 60 months at 6%.

When you sit down to sign the papers, the finance manager points to the monthly payment line and, sure enough, it’s $397.

What you don’t see is that the dealer added that $4,000 payoff to the balance on your loan and financed that $24,000 over 72 months, committing you to pay on that car for an additional year.

Dealer trick 5. Pushing you to lease.

Some salespeople may steer you to leasing because it may get you a new vehicle at less than half the monthly payment it would cost to buy.

The problem is, you’ll still be making years of monthly payments at the end of which you will own nothing.

If you need to lease a car to “afford” it, you probably can’t afford it in the first place.

Dealer trick 6. Saying the deal is only good now.

Salespeople love to pressure buyers for quick sales with things like “the deal is only good today.”

It’s a common tactic to prevent you from checking other dealerships or having second thoughts. They’re worried if you leave the lot, you won’t come back.

Chances are you’ll get the same deal if you return.

The one exception would be around the end of the month when incentives provided by the car companies — rebates and discount loans — often expire.

You don’t want to make impulse decisions or be pressured on such a big purchase anyway.

Don’t be scared to sleep on it.

Dealer trick 7. Trotting out the old bait-and-switch.

You see an ad for a great price on a car you’ve been considering.

Then you get to the showroom and find that’s only for a stripped-down model, or trim level in auto lingo, which no one ever buys.

The salesperson is sympathetic. When was the last time you saw a car with crank windows and no air-conditioning?

Over the next hour, he or she shows you better-equipped versions. By the time you finally see the car you thought the ad was touting, you’re paying $4,000 more.

So ignore the prices you see in ads.

Most dealers now have their inventories on their websites, allowing you to find the fully equipped model you’re really interested in buying before leaving home.

Take those VINs (vehicle identification numbers) or stock numbers with you to the showroom.

Not only will you have a more realistic idea of how much the car you want really costs, it shows the salesperson you did some homework.

Dealer trick 8. Selling worthless or overpriced dealer add-ons.

Dealers boost their profits by selling all sorts of accessories, from roof racks to premium sound systems.

Take a careful look at the cost. You can usually get the same thing for half price or less at electronics or auto parts stores.

Be especially alert for surprise add-ons salespeople try to slip in as you’re wrapping up the deal.

VIN-etching is the latest add-on to avoid. Also, be on the lookout for paint protection, fabric protection, rust-proofing and car alarms.

Surprising Tips for Car Shopping in Internet Age

LOS ANGELES — It’s nearly two decades into the age of Internet car shopping, but despite the information explosion, most buyers don’t have a clue.

In fact, at least one shopping expert argues, neither do some of the online services that a lot of people count on to guide them toward the best price for the new cars they crave.

As the Internet has made car shopping seemingly more transparent, the auto industry has moved to change the process to make the waters even muddier.

And as the Web has let people shop nationwide, freed from the tyranny of often-uncompetitive local prices, it also has let dealerships see what rivals everywhere are offering — effectively leveling prices because no dealer is likely to offer much bigger discounts than the competition.

While sharp-minded buyers are likely to feel almost smug nowadays, armed with more inside information than ever, it can be incomplete and misleading. Buyers in some ways are as vulnerable as ever to professionals whose livelihoods depend on making the sale.

To probe the secrets of car buying and data available on the Internet, USA TODAY invited representatives of six shopping services to a roundtable discussion at the Los Angeles auto show. They were candid, even blunt, and what they said sometimes was shocking.

One key point: What once was the holy grail of in-the-know deal-seekers — uncovering the dealer’s “invoice price” (what the dealer paid) for a new car — now is easy to find on the Net.

But at the same time, the industry is making that “price” increasingly meaningless.

Automakers have fattened dealers’ “invoice” or wholesale price so it looks as if they’re paying a lot more than they used to — perhaps 95% of the retail sticker price, vs. 85% before Internet car shopping began in the mid-1990s.

But that modern invoice number now is padded enough to let automakers send significant sums back to dealers in hard-to-track give-backs and bonuses that make the dealers’ real (and well-hidden) wholesale cost for the vehicle well below “invoice.”

How ‘holdbacks’ and other dealer rebates add up

6 experts tell you what to watch out for: Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds.com, James Bragg, Fighting Chance, Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports, Patrick Olsen, Cars.com, Larry Dominique, TrueCar.com and Jared Rowe, Kelley Blue Book.

Such give-backs are beyond the traditional “holdback” by most automakers that has long inflated the invoice price. The holdback is an amount roughly equal to 2% of the sticker price (it varies by automaker, and a few don’t use the practice) that the car companies usually refund to dealers periodically. It also has given automakers leverage over dealers, which are independent franchisees — the car company can withhold the amount if dealers don’t meet automakers’ requirements.

The dealer rebates inflating today’s invoice prices, beyond holdbacks, vary.

• Some rebates to the dealer are variable amounts based on meeting sales quotas — and are sometimes even retroactive to the previous quarter. The quota rebates can mean that even the dealers might be uncertain of their final cost per car until they sell their final car of the period.

• Some rebates are so-called “atta-boy” payments of up to hundreds of thousands of dollars for high scores on the customer satisfaction surveys sent to new-car buyers.

• Some are simply the old-fashioned, direct factory-to-dealer incentives, often unadvertised, that might or might not be passed along to buyers.

Why all the complicated give-backs?

“It tells me that (automakers) and dealers responded to the publishing of invoice pricing online and said, ‘We need to find another way to mask what (dealers) are being paid so that people don’t feel like they’re getting screwed,’ ” says Patrick Olsen, editor-in-chief of Cars.com and a roundtable participant.

Another participant says we shouldn’t be surprised. “The fact is that consumers still think the dealer invoice price has some magic to it. It doesn’t,” emphasizes James Bragg, head of Fighting Chance, a small car-buying advice-giver he founded in 1993. “We let ourselves, over the decades, get conned into believing that a family with a $10 million net worth, of which $7 million is in car stores, is going to let you and me know what they’re paying for their cars. Does that make sense to anybody? That’s nuts.”

But perhaps surprisingly, given how often they use “invoice price” as a touchstone, many brand-name online car shopping sites tend to agree with Bragg’s dismissal of that price.

Exception: Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds.com’s director of pricing and industry analysis. She says the invoice, however true or false, is another data point, and “every piece of data you have out there is helpful and can be critical” as a shopping tool.

In addition to Caldwell, Bragg and Olsen, at the table were: Larry Dominique, executive vice president at TrueCar.com; Jared Rowe, president of Kelley Blue Book, which operates KBB.com, and Jake Fisher, head of auto testing for Consumer Reports, who is involved with the magazine’s pricing data and who buys from dealers the cars the publication tests.

Buyers don’t want a deal?

Bragg, a peppery contrarian, considers the big-name shopping sites no friend of buyers, arguing that they don’t work hard enough to show the lowest prices.

Rowe says that might be so, and — with an attitude likely to stun hard-core horse-traders — explains: “Overwhelmingly, our research shows that consumers ultimately don’t want the best price.”

“We have data to support exactly what he said,” adds Dominique. “We do post-purchase surveys of 100% of our consumers, and the ones who paid the least for their cars are the most dissatisfied with their cars. The ones who paid average or above average are actually the more satisfied.”

How is that possible?

Those who didn’t haggle over the last dollar “spent an average of one to two hours less at the dealership. They feel they got treated fairly on the price, they feel they got treated fairly on” financing and trade-in values, Dominique says.

Adds Olsen, from a personal experience, “I went to buy a car and the dealer sat down and said, ‘I want $300 over invoice,’ and I said, ‘Fine with me. Let’s do that and cut a deal right away.’ It wasn’t rock-bottom price. It wasn’t even the invoice price. And if I really pushed, maybe I could have spent three more hours of my life arguing with this guy,” but it wasn’t worth the hassle.

Bragg finds that hard to accept: “I have customers who will drive 120 miles to save a thousand bucks, and there are more of those than you would believe.”

Rowe does not. “There is a segment who absolutely wants that rock-bottom price and will drive 500 miles to save $50. But overwhelmingly, consumers just want the fair price.”

What is the “fair” price? “I don’t think anybody in this room can tell you what the fair price is on any vehicle for any specific individual,” Rowe says. He says a fair price “means that when I tell my neighbor what I paid for the car, I won’t be embarrassed.”

A look at shopping services

To understand the viewpoints, it’s helpful to know how the shopping services operate.

• Fighting Chance charges customers: $39.95 for help on the first vehicle and $15 for more ordered simultaneously. The price buys advice on “exactly what to do and say each step of the way as you conduct a competitive bidding process from your home or office, without walking into a single car store.”

Bragg says it winds up like this: “Ignore all the (price) advice you find on the Internet. When you decide what you want, get on the phone and call 10 dealers and tell them you’re going to buy where you get the best price.”

In Bragg’s view, the best use for the Internet is to help decide what to buy, not how to buy it or how much to pay.

• TrueCar.com considers itself a buying site, not a shopping site. It costs nothing to use. But once a user prices a vehicle on the site, he or she is encouraged to submit information to the local dealer listed at the end of the pricing exercise for follow-up sales calls.

The site provides a price curve of prices being paid for a specific vehicle, showing the midpoint price, and stretching out to show the best and worst prices.

The site makes money from car ads, and auto dealers pay TrueCar.com $299 for every referral that leads to a sale.

Consumer Reports charges $14 for a pricing report on one vehicle, $12 for each additional report ordered at the same time.

CR provides what it calls a “bottom line price” from which to start negotiating. No advertising is involved, but pricing information is provided by TrueCar.com.

• Edmunds.com, KBB.com and Cars.com consider themselves pure shopping sites. They cost nothing to use.

They provide “market” or “target” prices that take into account what others paid for similar vehicles as advice for negotiating.

Cars.com also offers a list of similar vehicles in stock at dealers within the radius shoppers specify.

The sites’ money comes from advertising, which automakers hope is targeting people at the perfect moment — when they are seriously shopping for cars.

All the online sites foresee fast changes in their businesses, such as providing real-time help for people as they buy, for example.

“I think people are looking for some human touch to tell them this is good, this is bad,” Caldwell says. “We just developed something last year where it’s live advice. So if people are in the car-shopping process, they can now call. They can do a live chat and they can e-mail, too.”

Also emerging: comparison shopping or instant purchasing data via tablet or smartphone. For instance, photograph the vehicle identification number of a car on a dealer lot “and you get a quote from that dealer while you’re standing there. That is the kind of speed expected, especially by the Millennials and Gen-Y’s,” Dominique says.

Some do’s and don’ts

Though they disagree on some important points, the panelists have been in the car-shopping business long enough to have valuable insights. Some of their advice:

Don’t fixate on price. Dealerships make what they need to, or they won’t sell the vehicle. If the price is extraordinarily low, the dealer financing will be at high interest, or you won’t get much for your trade-in, or you’ll pay more for that extended warranty.

You can arrange your own financing in advance, to skip the dealer loan. You can sell your car instead of trading it, to make the new-car deal simpler and thus the true price easier to understand.

Take a test drive. No matter how much research you’ve done, it won’t tell you everything.

Olsen: “You don’t know how you fit; you don’t know the ergonomics; you don’t know if you got the car that went through a bad day on the line, a lemon. Make sure you take a test drive to make sure that things are working.”

Don’t shop and buy the same day. Fisher: “When you go into the dealership the first time, which you’re going to do, just swear to yourself this is not the time to buy. Separate the purchase part of it and the shopping part of it.”

That’s because you’ll be unprepared to make a wise choice until you’ve done a lot of research — and you’re easy to seduce at that point.

Olsen: “When a new-car dealer is smooth-talking you, it’s really easy to get hooked. God knows when I was younger, I did.”

The dealer’s actual cost for a car — which will determine a price you can negotiate — may be much lower than the so-called invoice price because of undisclosed rebates from the maker. This example uses actual sticker, invoice and holdback amounts, but then subtracts hypothetical rebates of the sort often given to dealers, showing how the true cost to dealers might be much less than the invoice price that’s the popular benchmark for car shoppers.

Sticker price — $19,655
Invoice price — $18,869
3% holdback — $590
Bonus for meeting sales goal — $200
Good customer feedback bonus — $300
Bonus for selling this model — $100

Dealer cost — $17,679

10 Tips For Buying A Car Online

Driving Sales Online
This is a bold attempt that’s part of a larger plan aimed at helping the beleaguered car manufacturer successfully emerge from bankruptcy. GM is slashing its total number of dealerships by 40% by the end of next year; this internet-based experiment may provide the company with a valuable (and less expensive) way to reach a larger buying audience.

The company will list more than 20,000 new Buick, Chevrolet, GMC and Pontiac cars on its website, and will feature options enabling consumers to compare prices across models and dealerships, apply for financing and either “buy it now” at the listed price or negotiate with the dealer for a lower price.

The move is a smart one for GM, given that more than 75% of new car buyers went online to do research before buying, according to J.D. Power & Associates, and 30% of all car purchases are now taking place online, according to Edmunds.com. If you are considering buying a car online – from GM through its eBay website or through another seller – here are some tips to help ensure you don’t get taken for a ride:

1 – Verify the Seller’s Credibility
Check the seller’s history with the Better Business Bureau, or read ratings from other sellers to ensure you’re working with someone who will deliver the car according to the terms you are offered.

2 – Get More Information
If you have questions, email the seller for additional information on the listed car including photographs (of the interior and exterior).

3 – Get an Auto History Report
If you’re buying a previously-owned car, get an auto history report through a vendor.

4 Test-Drive the Car
Go out to the lot, or arrange to meet the seller in person at a safe location, to test-drive a model of the car you’re considering to see if it’s really comfortable and drives the way you’d like.

5 – Compare Prices
Research prices on the car you’re considering through other competing online sites. Those sites will give you an idea of the sticker price as compared to the invoice price (the amount that the dealer paid for the car). If you’re buying a used car check the Kelley Blue Book value to know the average price for what consumers are paying for the car you’re considering.

6 – Check for Incentives
Just because you’re buying online, you don’t want to miss out on any potential manufacturer incentives. Call your local dealership for potential dealer-based incentives (in case they’re not advertised online) or visit the manufacturer’s website to learn about national promotions.

7 – Get the Best Financing. If you need a loan to purchase the car, compare the dealer financing you’re offered online with rates and terms available for a car loan through the bank you’re currently using or a local credit union.

8 – Get it Inspected
Have an independent mechanic inspect the car in person (if you’re buying locally) or at least review the pictures and information provided online.

9 – Confirm That the Deposit is Refundable
Find out if the deposit is refundable in the event that the vehicle is sold to another consumer, and print out any online records including emails to verify your transaction.

10 – Make a Secure Online Payment
If you’re buying online, or even just making a deposit, use your credit card to get limited liability in the event of fraud (i.e. the seller doesn’t provide the car you intended to purchase).

Use the internet to your advantage when searching for a new or used car, and save yourself some valuable time – and perhaps money – in the process.

Tuesday Morning {Take Your Kids Shopping Contest}

It is no secret that I am sucker for a good deal and that I have been shopping at Tuesday Morning for years…so you can imagine my excitement when Tuesday Morning asked me to team up with them for a fun giveaway!  When I learned that it involved me and my daughter (aka: my mini-me) going to Tuesday Morning to shop I could not wait to get started!

The details:
Tuesday Morning decided to put a fun spin on “take your kids to work day”…I mean what kid really wants to go to work when they could go shopping instead?

The best part? Tuesday Morning is giving away a $100 gift card and a Waterford crystal frame to one lucky shopper! Don’t take your kids to work with you, take them shopping! Simply post a picture of you shopping with your kids or parents on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tag #TAMfutureshopper and @tuesdaymorning to be entered to win a $100 gift card and a Waterford crystal digital frame!

How fun is that? Quality time spent with your darling children, shopping at a fabulous store that has something for everyone and a chance to win an awesome prize…yes, please!

The truth is I go to Tuesday Morning at least 4 times a week to shop for clients (and myself, who am I kidding?).  They get new stuff in all the time and I have several locations within an hour from my house so I stop in and see what goodies I can find! I never leave empty handed.  My 6 year old daughter is usually in school when I am on my shopping trips but she was so excited to get to come with me this time!  So off we went….

First stop…super cute cozy heart blanket…and looks at all those other fun patterns and colors!

While we didn’t end up with that one, I did end up finding this fluffy, white throw blanket that finished off my master sitting area…my daughter approves!

Next stop, the furniture and home decor sections…my favorite!  Yes, I avoided the toy section at first because I knew once we hit the toys, there was no turning back!

Loving all these industrial seating options for around $35/each.  You will not find a better deal for the quality of these pieces! My daughter liked the bright yellow stool!

They also had a great selection of accent furniture…

Chevron Bench: $79.99 (total steal)
My daughter loved this chair because it matched her outfit and it was “super comfy”!
Some more great finds…


Dining chair with nail head trim: $99.99
Charcoal Ikat Accent Chair: $99.99
Mirrored Accent Chest…would be great as nightstands!
My daughter loved everything about this display….pink, pink, pink!
They have lots of sweet shabby chic decor. This would be great in a girl’s bedroom!
Distressed frames, galvanized buckets, Parisian inspired accents and an over-sized clock…such fun pieces!
I couldn’t resist these bird cages pictured below! Love the way the add a touch of spring to my mantle!
I was also excited to find these options for a more coastal look.  The striped poufs were only $24.99 (wow!!)! And those linen and jute pillows…only $9.99.  The cute shutter mirror was a bargain for $99.99. The blue storage boxes ranged for $7.99-$9.99.  Awesome deals for such cute decor!  We came home with a few of the linen pillows!
Rugs were up next and they had some great options!  My daughter and I agreed that these were our favorites! These were around $100/each and the quality was great!

We just so happen to have two rugs from Tuesday Morning in our home already.  Here is one in our dining room.  Can you believe I only paid $79.99 for this?
Love the way it ties the room together:
Here is the other one…a gorgeous woven jute rug in our living room, also under $80 for a 6 x 9!
We stopped by the garden/seasonal area next and found some great stuff…
These buckets reminded me of the vintage olive buckets that are so popular right now!  At under $20, these are a great alternative to the expensive version.  They are super cute when used as a planter on the porch!
These bright, colorful lanterns would be the perfect pop of color to a patio for under $13!
By this time I had used up all my “be really good and we will go look in the toy section” pep talks so I had to act fast! Last stop before toys was the housewares section where I found some cute and functional kitchen decor!
How fun are these retro kitchen canisters?  Prices ranged from $7.99-$12.99 and the colors were amazing!
I also adore these numbered dishes….the pitcher made it’s way into my cart!


And then it was time for toys….and they have a great selection for every age!

She was all smiles searching through the goodies!

She loved this little dog/dog house set.  It came with paint to decorate the wooden dog house…we HAD to have it!

They have a lot of great beach/pool toys.  We are heading to the beach this summer so we will be going back to get some of this fun stuff!  She loved this bubble set!
A few other goodies…and cart number 2!
Thank goodness Daddy was with us to carry the rest of the bags, we had our hands full!

And home! She worked on her new dog house while I unloaded our treasures…

A few of our finds:
New linen and jute pillow for the amazing price of just $9.99.
And see that fabulous basket? You can read about it HERE!

I love the dried boxwood wreath we picked up for $19.99…it finished off the spring porch perfectly!
I adore this pitcher and it looks perfect on my kitchen shelf….

And last but not least, we freshened up our bathrooms with new white towels!  Tuesday Morning has a huge selection of towels…all different styles and all different colors!  I love the name brands for such a great price!



How is that for a fun day of shopping? We had a blast!
Now it is your turn!
Click HERE to find a Tuesday Morning near you and follow these easy steps:
-Visit a store near you and snap a picture of you and your kids or parents shopping
-Post it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tag @tuesdaymorning and #TAMfutureshopper
-You will be entered to win a $100 gift card and a Waterford digital frame
-Contest ends May 8th at 11:59 PM CST
Visit Tuesday Morning’s blog for more details about the contest: Tuesday Morning Blog
Don’t forget to follow Tuesday Morning’s Take Your Kids Shopping Board on Pinterest: Click here!
*Disclosure: I partnered up with Tuesday Morning and was compensated for this post.  All opinions and reviews are mine.  I have been a customer of Tuesday Morning for many years and have always loved the selection and quality of the products as well as their reasonable prices.  It was a pleasure working with them!

School Clothes Shopping Check List Saves the Day


I love shopping for school supplies. I love it so much, I like to do it without my kids. It’s pretty sad, but I want to be the one to pick out all the cute things for my kids. I don’t tend to appreciate their tastes. I know I should be encouraging their individuality and all that, but in case you didn’t read my blog banner, I’m a control freak. My poor kids are doomed.
So the school supply shopping is done, the clothes shopping is not. I allow myself quite a bit more time to accomplish this task, as they typically start out the year wearing their summer clothes, or at least some of them, and we can still get away with wearing some of last year’s clothes.

I also like to spread the shopping out for other reasons. Such as:

1) I prefer to shop without my kids (see above)
2) I can be more selective and get good deals when I don’t have a firm deadline
3) I can’t afford to buy an entire wardrobe for each kid all at once
4) Idaho never seems to sell long-sleeved shirts until October. What’s up with that?
The problem with shopping at this leisurely pace, is that I tend to overbuy some things while under buying, or completely forgetting about, others. That’s going to change though, because I now have this handy dandy little checklist to keep me on track.
The list above is the one I’m using for my kids, I’ll just print out one for each kid and go to town. The first step is to assess what they already have and fill in as needed. This means that I have to get the girls to try on all their clothes (which they hate), to see what goes and what stays. Not only does this help me with my list, but it gets the closets cleaned and sorted at the same time. Win, win! Next comes the fun part . . . shopping!
I’ll keep the girls’ lists with me, in my purse, until I know that I’ve found everything I need. That way if I come across a good sale, I won’t buy stuff I don’t need. I hate that.

2014 Holiday Shopping Guide: Top Fifteen Kids’ Picture Book Staff Picks

Day Dreamers, by Emily Martin

“In this charming follow up to 2013’s Dream Animals, children find their imagination taking flight. A boy lies in the grass watching the clouds form into a dragon, only to find himself taking a ride on that very dragon on the next double-page spread. Two friends walk through the halls of a museum past a medieval tapestry of a unicorn, then chase each other on black and white unicorns through the forest. Day Dreamers is a richly illustrated children’s book, and a wonderful ode to the power of children’s fantasies and dreams.” —Jannis Mindel

Have You Seen My Dragon?, by Steve Light

“This picture book has it all. A boy and his dragon! Beautiful splashes of color among black and white pages! Hidden pictures! Counting different items on each page! Follow along and help find the lost dragon. Great fun for everyone! A book to be shared!” —Jen Steele

Quest, by Aaron Becker 

“This fabulous sequel to last year’s Journey, is sure to spark imaginations.  A wonderful rainy day book, the friends made at the end of Journey embark on a quest to save a kingdom. Their mission takes them under the ocean and through Mayan ruins, all the while using quick thinking and imagination to draw their way through the adventure.” —Amie Mechler-Hickson


Winter Is Coming, by Tony Johnston

“From early September through late November, when the snow finally settles on her secret world, a young girl quietly observes and sketches from a special perch in a tree the changing seasons and animals as they prepare for winter. I love this wonderful celebration of the natural world as autumn turns to winter, and the beautiful illustrations by Jim LaMarche that accompany the lyrical text. This book would make a wonderful introduction to the natural world for children, and encourage them to observe and create a record of their own.” —Pam Stilp

Flashlight, by Lizi Boyd

“In this wondrous wordless picture book a young child sets out from a tent with just a flashlight for a little nighttime exploring, while the flashlight illuminates something new on each page, the fun also lies in the many things happening in the dark as well. A gentle nighttime book with a fun twist there is something new to be seen with each viewing.” —Amie Mechler-Hickson

How the Library (Not the Prince) Saved Rapunzel, by Wendy Meddour

“I love this romp of a fairy tale with rhyming text and a refreshing, modern-day twist. The Rapunzel in this picture book pines away in an inner-city high rise where she ignores all visitors including the mailman, baker, and even her aunt who brings her food. Nothing seems to interest her–not even the Prince who shows up bearing flowers and chocolates. But then a letter arrives that brings a smile to her face because it offers her a job at the Library. She is transformed by the stimulating ideas and exciting opportunities she discovers in the books she finds there. The illustrations by Rebecca Ashdown include amusing details to pore over and picture this: Rapunzel with an appealing abundance of unruly auburn locks. I hope you will share this celebration of books and libraries, which includes the portrayal of a smart independent Princess, with all the young ones you know.” —Pam Stilp

I Got the Rhythm, by Connie Schofield-Morrison

“Nothing captures joyous noise like this new picture book about a little girl in the park with her mom. Every one of her senses speaks to the rhythm that she hears from the neighborhood drummers and a nearby boom box. Her infectious happiness leads to a diverse group of neighborhood kids, and even the adults, breaking out in dance. This is a great book for read aloud, both because of its song-like cadence, and because kids can chime along with our young heroine as she blinks, sniffs, claps, and shakes to the music. Oh, and the illustrations are just as happy!” —Daniel Goldin

If Kids Ran the World, by Leo Dillon

“This book presents an ideal world run by kids and contains important lessons for all of us. It discusses kindness, caring for others, bullying and a hope for a peaceful world. Written and illustrated by the award winning team of Leo and Diane Dillon and is, in fact, the last book by them before Leo passed away. I love the multicultural aspect presented here and although some will find it a bit saccharine, it makes an ideal introduction to volunteerism for parents and teachers. The Afterward discusses many ideas for activities where children can work together to improve their world. it also includes ‘The four essential freedoms’ and other ideas from FDR’s Second Bill of Rights.” —Pam Stilp

The Farmer and the Clown, by Marla Frazee

“As a farmer works in his field he watches a circus train going by. Just as the train hits a bump he sees someone fly off the back. When the farmer goes to investigate he finds a small child dressed as a clown sitting in the field. In this beautifully illustrated wordless picture book, Frazee tells the touching story of friendship and kindness as the farmer welcomes the boy into his home to feed and bathe him. All ends well as the boy rejoins his clown family, but not before someone else from the circus is left behind to follow the farmer home!” —Jannis Mindel

Roller Derby Rivals, by Sue Macy

“From the author of Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (with a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) comes Roller Derby Rivals, a classic roller derby story starring babyface Gerry Murray and heel Toughie Brasuhn. It’s 1948 and the New York 69th Regiment Armory is packed with people excited to see how the feud between Murray and Toughie will pan out before them in the banked track’s circular confines. It’s all textbook until Toughie goes for her final point pass against Murray, who sends Toughie sailing over the rail. This upbeat historic picture book is great for kids of all ages and will make you want to lace up your skates and hit the track with your favorite rival!” —Mel Morrow

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

“Sam and Dave decide to dig a hole with their dog alongside them. They won’t stop digging until they find ‘something spectacular.’ Needless to say they tire themselves out and run out of food before they find anything. But their trusty dog doesn’t stop digging and therein lies the adventure. Caldecott award winners Barnett and Klassen have created a deceptively simple book filled with clever clues that children will enjoy discovering as they read this unique adventure story.” —Jannis Mindel

Little Elliot, Big City, by Mike Curato

“Little Elliot—a little polka-dot elephant—will win readers hearts! Being small and overlooked is no fun, and by helping a tiny mouse, Elliot’s life changes. Spectacular illustrations and a heart-warming story make this a book that will be read again and again!” —Barb

Blue on Blue, by Dianne White

“The story opens with a beautiful sunny sky over a house by a lake. But soon a thunderstorm rolls in that doesn’t seem as if it’s ever going to stop until just as suddenly it does, and the sun come beaming out from the clouds. Beth Krommes’ rich, woodcut-like illustrations are a perfect match for the simple rhyming text. This gorgeous book is a great addition for storytime or the classroom.” —Jannis Mindel

President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath, by Mac Barnett

President Taft is Stuck in the Bath, is filled to the rim with Mac Barnett’s comical characters whose suggestions of dairy, diets, and dynamite for removal, are ignored for a more sensible (giggle producing) solution. Presidential modesty is maintained with Chris Van Dusen’s clever illustrations and some very well placed bubbles. A fabulously funny read for all and a few facts to boot!” —Amie Mechler-Hickson

Rhoda’s Rock Hunt, by Molly Beth Griffin

“This is the charming tale of Rhoda—amateur geologist and avid rock hound—on her first field camp! Rhoda finds SO many lovely rocks—and quickly learns that difficult lesson that rocks jocks pay a heavy price when they insist on bringing EVERY rock home with them!” —Mel Morrow

Do you make these mistakes when shopping with kids (and husbands?)

‘We’ll be quick,’ my husband had said. ‘All I need is some soft drink from the store and some new shirts.’
‘You want to take three kids to a department store while you buy shirts?’ I asked incredulously.
He showed me his phone.
‘I have pictures of exactly what I want. Size, brand everything. It’ll be easy,’ he said.
First mistake – believing my husband.
The shop with the shirts didn’t open til 9am yet for some reason we were coasting into the carpark well before 8.30am. My husband slowed in front of the boom gate and took the proffered ticket.
What happened to it after that is anyone’s guess.

All five of us stepped out of the car and moved noisily into the shops. It was a Saturday morning: no one had brushed hair. One kid was wearing a floor-length Elsa dress. One was wearing a boys Minion t-shirts (from Despicable Me) that was about 4 sizes too big. It’s possible she had a skirt on underneath, but it didn’t matter because her top was so long. The other had a dirty ex-daycare dress and pair of thongs. We looked like a family of bums.
My husband has a bit of an addiction to a particular sugar-free soft drink, but as it’s locally made, it is only sporadically available for sale. When he sees it at a low price, he turns into a hoarder, which is exactly what he did, grabbing a trolley and filling it with the 13 cases he could find on the shelf.
When I muttered about leaving some for others, he put one box back on the shelf. Reluctantly.
Embarrassed at his trolley load of soda I wandered ahead of the family, pretending not to know them.
Once he had paid and realising we still had time before the shirt shop would open, we decided to take his haul back to the car. At least people would stop staring at us, I thought. My second mistake – shopping with three kids means there is always a reason to be stared at.
It was when we got back to the car that my husband offhandedly mentioned not being able to find the parking ticket. Not actually believing that someone as intelligent as he could actually lose a parking ticket between taking it from the machine and getting out of the car, I dismissed it, and we headed, noisily, back into the shopping centre. The kids began whinging they were thirsty and hungry, and no matter how many times I pointed out that breakfast was literally less than half an hour ago, they all declared they were going to die immediately of starvation and thirst.
We still had time to kill, so we went back to the grocery shop, this time to buy juice for the kids and a packet of mini jam cakes. My husband’s brilliant idea was that the kids and I could sit and eat snacks while he bought his shirts. My third mistake – listening to his ‘good idea’ and agreeing to be left with the kids while he got to shop by himself.
Naturally, it turned out there were not any chairs or benches outside the shop in question. Only a deliciously plush, brand new carpet, and some display cases with mannequins wearing ridiculously expensive outfits. While I was looking around for somewhere bench-like to sit, my husband was encouraging the kids to ‘have a picnic’. On the floor. Of the very flash shopping centre. While we looked like bums. In the middle of a very posh neighbourhood.
Number Three refused to let me put the lid back on her juice, instead she kept running around the run, juice preciously sloshing. As I grabbed her and manhandled her back onto the floor, a shop assistant for one of the obscenely expensive women’s fashion stores arrived to unlock her shop, frowning so intently that her lemon mouth all but disappeared into her botoxed cheeks.
‘This was such a stupid idea of Daddy’s,’ I muttered under my breath as I tried to pick up a stepped-on jam cake from the floor.
‘I’m going to tell him you said that,’’ said the Middle.
Dobber, I thought.
Suddenly the Third’s juice exploded all over her, spraying orange liquid all over the fancy carpet, and her not-so-fancy outfit. She took one look at her dripping t-shirt and ran crying into the shop shrieking ‘Daddy! Daddy!’ The eldest took off after her.
Not sure whether I should follow them or clean up the mess, I stood paralysed for a second. The snobby shop assistant was shaking her head at me through her streak-free glass window. My husband suddenly reappeared holding a bag with his new shirts and a small juice covered girl.
The Mop jumped up and said ‘Mummy said your idea was stupid.’
‘Did she?’ he asked amused.
The eldest had reappeared and tried to grab her juice out of the bag into which I had thrown all the bottles and leftover food. As she pulled it out, the top flew in one direction and the juice flew in another. A second bright orange puddle, but this time on the shiny white tiles.
As I was hissing at my husband to get back into the shop to get them to call the cleaners, and heatedly arguing with the Bombshell over who was to blame I heard a pleasant voice say ‘hello Shannon.’ My new neighbours, appropriately dressed and not covered in any juice, were witnessing my descent into madness. I tried hard to smiled pleasantly, but doubt I succeeded. I was absolutely seething, yet somehow my husband didn’t seem to care or notice that not one, but two of his children were covered in sticky juice.
As we bundled the kids away from the disgraceful mess (the cleaners had been called and were on their way) I recalled my husband’s promise that it would be ‘easy’. I was never going to believe a single word he said ever again.
Back at the car, he absently patted down his pockets and stuck his head under his seat. The parking ticket had disappeared. So to top off our brilliant shopping trip, instead of free parking, his lost ticket meant a $25 fee to get the car out of the carpark. We had to pay for the privilege of ritual humiliation and disgrace.
I will never go shopping with my kids and husband. Ever. Again.

Married to Medicine

  • GET A $20 CREDIT to MyHabit (Amazon’s version of Zulily) if you’re new by clicking HERE to sign up (free) – you have to spend $50 to apply it.  BEST WAY TO SPEND IT:  Get the $90 “Just Pretend Kids” Ice Princess Costume (Elsa) for only $36, and then add a girl or boy pair of Rachel Shoes sandals ($14 – and they hold up better than See Kai Run) so that your order totals $50.  Costume, sandals, and shipping will be only $35 this way!!
    It has a full hoop skirt and trailing cape with snowflake embroidery.
    For more pics, click here.

  • Boden / Mini-Boden Click here and enter “FRND” at checkout for 20% off your first order!  NOW through May 3 you get a $15 voucher for ANY donation to No Kid Hungry – but you do have to sign up and make sure you do your donation through them.  I usually do $20 but I have friends who do $5!


I love shopping on Zulily, but it helps to strategize.  In this post I want to tell you how best to use the site and I also want to have a review of some of the lesser-known brands.  This post is limited to children’s clothing but Zulily also carries adult and home items plus toys (KidKraft kitchens, Melissa & Doug, etc), strollers (Phil & Ted), and much more.

How To Shop It

Zulily can either be a decent deal or an amazing deal, depending on how it’s done, because shipping charges cut into your savings.  Here are a few tips on how get the biggest bang for your buck:

  1. Purchase “staple” items on Zulily so that you can get free shipping on other purchases.  If you know you need a Halo Sleepsack, or Stride Rites or Crocs or Keens, wait and purchase them on Zulily.  On those items, you’ll fare slightly better than you would Amazon, even with shipping charges.  Then you’ll get free shipping on any other Zulily purchase for the rest of that day (or weekend, if it’s Friday).  And those purchases are the ones you’ll really score savings on.
  2. Purchase one item at a time, and purchase your lightest weight item first.  This will minimize your shipping charges.  So if you know you need a Halo Sleepsack and you’re also getting some sort of Thomas Train set, purchase the sleepsack first, pay the shipping on it, and then get free shipping on the heavier item.
  3. Know the brands.  It’s hard to take advantage of your free shipping if you’re totally unfamiliar with the other brands on sale that day.  Some of them are absolutely amazing and others are not worth your money.  I’ve polled my two local list serves for feedback on lesser-known brands and this is what I’ve come up with.  I’ll cover the known brands first just in case you’re really a newbie.  If you’re reading and you’ve tried out a brand not mentioned here, please post a comment and let us know!
  4. “Heart” your favorite brands so that you’re notified when they’re on.  You probably don’t have time to look over everything in your daily Zulily email.  If you “heart” a brand, Zulily will send you a reminder email the day before it’s on so that you don’t miss it (if it’s something like MiniBoden, be sure to check Zulily right at 9 am because stuff sells out quickly).  To “heart” a brand, search Zulily for that brand.  If they carry it, it will come up with a little heart outline icon.  Click the icon to “fill in” the heart and it will be on your “favorites” list.  You might want to start by “hearting” Mini-Boden, UGG Australia, Stride Rite, Tea Collection, Hanna Andersson, See Kai Run, and Keen, to name a few.
  5. Or “like” my Facebook page, Married to Medicine Blog and set notifications to “receive all.”  I constantly scour for sales and I only post the best ones on the best brands (and not just Zulily!).
  6. RESELL!  I can’t say it enough.  Any time you purchase a high-end clothing item, keep it nice and recoup what you can on ebay.  Check out my other blog entries “Designer Baby on a Budget:  10 Steps” and “Ten Tips for Reselling Children’s Clothing on Ebay.”
The Brands – Known Brands
  • Hanna Andersson.  Oh boy, it doesn’t get much better than this.  Heirloom quality knits by a Swedish-American designer.  These are soft and gorgeous, they last forever (fantastic resale value if you keep them nice), and they’re actually pretty practical for playing in.  Hanna Andersson really shines in fall and winter – you just can’t beat their sweaters and sweater dresses.
Hanna Andersson outfit with See Kai Run shoes.   To die for.
  • Halo.  Not sure what people did before sleepsacks.  They come in two types – 100% cotton and “mircro-fleece.”  I always do the micro-fleece in the winter for warmth.  And we used extra-large cotton ones the year my son figured out how to climb out of his crib but wasn’t yet ready for a “big boy bed” – bought us some time.
Love this Halo sleepsack for my little ladybug.
  • Mini Boden.  Ultra high quality duds by British designer Johnnie Boden.  These are gorgeous and all the rage.  I have to be honest and tell you that I don’t find every last Boden item to be drool-worthy.  But when they do hit the mark, it’s ahhhh-mazing.  And they recently used a child with cerebral palsy as a model – how fantastic is that?
Boden:  T. D. F.
Click here for 20% off your first order if you order direct from Boden’s website.
  • Tea Collection.  Super soft “globally inspired” Earthy-but-modern clothing.  The designers actually travel the world twice annually to find inspiration.
Tea is also often featured on GILT, and you can get free shipping on GILT if you pay with a Master Card.
  • Oilily.  If you like bright colors and lots of patterns, this is the designer for you.
  • Carter’s.  Carter’s is not that exciting but it’s high-quality stuff for the price.
  • UGG Australia.  Need I say more?
  • Stride Rite.  The go-to for high-quality kids’ shoes.
  • See Kai Run.  Stride Rite quality but with a more “modern” look.  Less “sneaker-y.”
See Kai Run is also often on GILT and RueLaLa.
GILT gives you free shipping any time you pay with a Master Card.
  • Crocs and Keens.  The summer shoes.  Crocs are easier to keep clean and sometimes Keens get stinky and need to be run through the wash.  But Keens are more attractive and they seem like they’d be more comfortable too.
  • Pediped.  Kind of a cross between Stride Rite and See Kai Run.  They pride themselves on comfort.
  • Primigi.  The luxury version of children’s shoes.  Simply to die for.
Primigi shoes are also often on GILT and RueLaLa.
GILT gives you free shipping any time you pay with a Master Card.

The Brands – Lesser-Known Brands

This, I really think, is where it’s at with Zulily.  The truly “boutique” brands are often the very best deals because they don’t quite have the name power to drive the world’s hardest bargain, but their quality is out of this world.  However, it’s hit or miss if you’re unfamiliar with a brand and sometimes the sizing is off (if it is, by the way, I’ve found that Zulily will take it back in spite of their stated no-return policy).  So in the name of more “hits” and fewer “misses,” here’s what I’ve found and what I’ve been told:

*** lesser-known brands are harder to resell.  Make sure you include the words “boutique” and “designer” in your subject title on Ebay.  Plan to relist several times.

Toffee Moon (0-24 months, boy and girl)
This is an absolutely fabulous brand out of the U.K.  I got the sweetest EVER romper for my daughter, one of my all-time favorite pieces.  Super soft material and I used the heck out of it with no pilling whatsoever.  Consider ordering a size up for the rompers; the dress and cardigan ran true to size.

Best Romper Ever.
Toffee Moon romper.  Wish these pics were better.
Our latest addition.  SO IN LOVE.

Cloud Mine 
Downright divine.  Ethically made in the U.S.A.

She’s 18 months here, wearing 9 month leggings and a 12 month dress – that’s all they had, but it worked.

P’tit Mom
I got this dress and I’m just kind of “meh” about it.  I was really hoping the material would be softer and have better movement 🙁

ELK Shoes
These shoes are gorgeous, and the top ones go perfectly with so many of our outfits.  So far they are holding up really well – LOVE.

Petite Amie
Just gorgeous.  Here’s the mint “lei” dress I got for Claire.

Twirls and Twigs 
I am IN LOVE with this whimsical but still practical brand that is ethically made in the U.S.!  And I see some Ebay listings that appear to be holding their value VERY well – maybe because it’s also found at Nordstrom’s?

We have this dress and I am IN LOVE.
Fabric is soft and quality, dress is lined and divine in every way.  Runs small if anything.

Me Too

I loved this dress by them.  But I haven’t really seen anything as cute as this in awhile.  Boo 🙁

Summer dress by Me Too.

Nanette Baby
Hit or miss, but a hit is a great one.  I absolutely adored this outfit.  Delicate, vintagey, a change from the pink, flattering, easy to wash, soft, and easy to wear anywhere.  Lots of compliments.

Nannette Baby outfit worn for professional photoshoot.
Photo Credit:  Kelly Fitzsimmons Photography (Boston-area) – “like” her on Facebook!
By the way, my son is wearing a Janie & Jack sweater from Ebay and Talbots Kids pants from my local friend Sarah…
I love dressing him too, but we just buy all Sarah’s old stuff since her stuff is so good.

Another great outfit by Nannette Baby

Heaven on Earth.  This is the softest fabric I have ever felt in my life.  LOVE them for infant rompers.  I got no end of compliments on the footless romper my friend gave me for my daughter.  I’m actually not sure if Zulily features these anymore, but GILT definitely does, and shipping is always free on GILT if you pay with a Master Card.

FeatherBaby romper I cannot bring myself to resell.  LOVE.

Ciao Bimbi Shoes 
Okay this brand I’ve only seen on MyHabit (a site just like Zulily – but owned by Amazon!) but I had to update this entry and include it because I just got these boots for Claire and they are to DIE for.  They were $53 … not that much more than Stride Rite and these are $200 dream boots!  Going to try to get them in the charcoal color next time this brand is featured.

Ciao Bimbi boots – this brand is on MyHabit (just like Zulily but owned by Amazon).

Now I’m just sort of adding in my favorite brands from MyHabit and GILT.  Luum is an ultra-high end brand often featured on GILT and these are their “petticoat” dresses.  They retail for something like $90 but are just $43 (or less) when they’re on GILT.

I cannot exaggerate the amazingness of these dresses.  The sash is super long, making for a gorgeous bow in the back.  The petticoat underlay adds not only a new fabric but also a bit of texture to the bottom, for a hint of poof – but not so much that you couldn’t wear it to the park or on a playdate.  It’s a throwback to the 1800s, but with modern patterns, and soft easy-to-wash cotton … simply, *simply* divine.

Petit Lem
Ultra high-end French designer clothing.  Makes my heart flutter just thinking about it.  I don’t own any of their girl stuff but even their little jammies and baby outfits are to die for!  (Lately I’m finding this brand more frequently featured on GILT – not sure if they still do Zulily).

Petit Lem lounging outfit – check out the tiny little cuffs, it’s all in the detail.
Worn with See Kai Run “Smaller” shoes.  LOVE.

Lucky Top
I got these boots, size 4 for my daughter … fantastic price and they make adorable fashion boots!  My daughter can walk with them easily.  Not sure they’d hold up in inclement weather but they are just too cute with dresses and leggings.

Pink Vanilla
Quality seems excellent, I’m loving this dress.  Runs VERY small (at least this dress does) – this is a 24 months and fits perfectly right as she’s turning 18 months.

Sweet Potatoes
Excellent quality and super cute but this brand also runs extremely small.  And I’ve heard from others so I know it’s not just this particular outfit – it runs 1-2 sizes small.

Size 24 months fits my daughter at 18 months.

These sandals are to DIE for and they go well with so many things!  Quality seems excellent.  BUT BUT BUT be very careful when you order.  I ordered a “Toddler 5” and it was huge.  It measured 6 inches and had a Euro 23 marked on the bottom – making it really a 7.5 in US sizes.  I complained and Zulily made it right – LOVE their customer service.  If you’re going to order this brand, I guess be sure you look at the actual measurements box.  Apparently that box would have told me that a “5” was 6 inches.  Even though every other such box I’ve seen, including others on Zulily, measure a toddler 5 as 4.75 inches.

P’tit Mom
I’ve only tried one dress by them, and it’s very pretty and fits nicely but the material isn’t as soft as I was hoping for.  It’s fine… not excessively stiff or anything, but I was hoping for soft with some degree of stretch.

Rachel Shoes
LOVING these.  Got a pair of white sandals with bright flourishes on consignment and they are holding up spectacularly well.  Super cute stuff – some of it is very “Livie & Luca” but WAY cheaper – these were $16 on Zulily.

Like Livie & Luca but WAY cheaper – $16 for these on Zulily!

Classy Couture
This romper is super cute in real life and so far washes very well.  I love the ribbons.  I’m not a big fan of this fabric, but this is whatever the classic fabric is for all those smocked outfits.  Runs true to size.

Mole Little Norway
I’m OBSESSED.  I love nordic stuff and this is just divine.  This sweater is smooth and soft with amazing detail.  I definitely want to try more of their stuff this fall/winter.

The Silly Sissy
They have some cute stuff but I’ve tried two dresses and neither was my absolute favorite.  Fabric on the dress pictured here is simple cotton, wrinkles easily, no stretch or give.  Runs true to size.

Sweet Charlotte
I purchased this dress for my daughter.  I *love* the design (retro and Parisian) and it’s lined so that’s nice, but the fabric feels like very cheap cotton.  Not soft at all, and seems like it would be very difficult to get a stain out of.  Still, it’s very cute.

Leveret French 
A friend loves their fleece, footed pajamas.  Reports that they are super soft and have a very nice fit and weight.

Nohi by Nktoo
A friend loves the material of this loungewear – reports it’s soft, stretchy, and holds it shape.  She also appreciates the cute, modern, different designs.

Truffles Ruffles
A lister tried this brand but it was a bust, which is good to know since it appears SO adorable in Zulily’s pics.  She ordered black and white striped pants only to discover that the stripe was printed on rather than being part of the fabric.  Thus it wore horribly in all the places where the fabric needed to stretch.

Sage Creek Organics
A lister tried this brand and got a pair of leggings that were fantastic.

A lister loves this brand for swimming gear and hats.  She reports that the swimming attire is soft, true to size, and has simpler and classier designs than a lot of other brands.  She says their hats are “the best” – thin enough that they’re not at all hot, and they dry quickly so they work great in a pool, and the only hat her son doesn’t try to pull off (possibly because it has a little elastic around it).

Nui Organics
Very soft and comfortable, runs a little small.  Watch for lots of buttons during diaper changes.

Kickee Pants
A fantastically soft brand using fabric made from bamboo viscose.  Super silky, especially great for summer, and lovely mod prints.

Sweet Peanut (babies) and Peanut Buttons (toddlers)
Another favorite.  Well made, cute patterns.  Runs small.

Lazy One
Very cute but sizing seems erratic.  Jammies seem very tall and skinny, hoping that they will stretch some.

Vitamins Baby
In my humble opinion… don’t waste your money.  Quality is lacking and sizing seems completely erratic.

Silkberry Baby
Amazing thin fabric, awesome for summer, and very soft and smooth.  “I just want to hug my baby non-stop when he’s wearing the romper.”  Be sure to wash on gentle cycle though – fabric is so thin it did start ripping around the snaps.  Runs true to size.

Petite Pomme
Runs small but is super cute, durable, and comfortable.

Frangipangi Kids
Adorable and great quality.

Parade Organics
Runs slightly big, if anything.  Quality seems all right.

City Threads
One lister’s all-time favorite brand.  Adorable and the knit pants fit over cloth diapers.  Be sure to price check on diapers.com before ordering on Zulily.

Awesome footed pants for infants – the 0-3 months size fit a newborn and still fit well at 4+ months, somehow.

Bambino Land
Fabric was not soft – felt like slightly-scratchy muslin.  Disappointment.

John Deere
Cute, durable, runs small.

Little Traveler
“One of my favorite boy brands, the quality and fit are great and it runs true to size.”  Machine and vehicle themes for boys.

Jelly the Pug
I’ve heard mixed things about this brand.  One friend got a dress she is head over heels for, the other said that her outfit was cute but fell apart in the wash.

Max & Ella
I haven’t tried them myself but a lister responded that this is her all-time favorite stuff she’s ever gotten from Zulily.  She reports that it wears extremely well and that it runs slightly small.

Excellent quality, true to size, very attractive attire.  More of a solid-colors type theme.

And there you have it.  All the information I could compile about Zulily.  If you have additional knowledge or brand reviews, please share it with me and I can add it to this blog entry!  I can be reached at lisa dot murakami at gmail dot com.

Adventures in Grocery Shopping

I’m reprinting the auction here before Ebay takes it down.

I’m selling a bunch of Pokemon cards. Why? Because my kids sneaked them into my shopping cart while at the grocery store and I ended up buying them because I didn’t notice they were there until we got home. How could I have possibly not noticed they were in my cart, you ask? Let me explain.

You haven’t lived until you’ve gone grocery shopping with six kids in tow. I would rather swim, covered in bait, through the English Channel, be a contestant on Fear Factor when they’re having pig brains for lunch, or do fourth grade math than to take my six kids to the grocery store. Because I absolutely detest grocery shopping, I tend to put it off as long as possible. There comes a time, however, when you’re peering into your fridge and thinking, ‘Hmmm, what can I make with ketchup, Italian dressing, and half an onion,’ that you decide you cannot avoid going to the grocery store any longer. Before beginning this most treacherous mission, I gather all the kids together and give them “The Lecture“.

“The Lecture“ goes like this…
MOM: “We have to go to the grocery store.”
KIDS: “Whine whine whine whine whine.“
MOM: “Hey, I don’t want to go either, but it’s either that or we’re eating cream of onion-ketchup soup and drinking Italian dressing for dinner tonight.”
KIDS: “Whine whine whine whine whine.“
MOM: “Now here are the rules: do not ask me for anything, do not poke the packages of meat in the butcher section, do not test the laws of physics and try to take out the bottom can in the pyramid shaped display, do not play baseball with oranges in the produce section, and most importantly, do not try to leave your brother at the store. Again.”

OK, the kids have been briefed. Time to go.

Once at the store, we grab not one, but two shopping carts. I wear the baby in a sling and the two little children sit in the carts while I push one cart and my oldest son pushes the other one. My oldest daughter is not allowed to push a cart. Ever. Why? Because the last time I let her push the cart, she smashed into my ankles so many times, my feet had to be amputated by the end of our shopping trip. This is not a good thing. You try running after a toddler with no feet sometime.

At this point, a woman looks at our two carts and asks me, “Are they all yours?” I answer good naturedly, “Yep!

“Oh my, you have your hands full.”

“Yes, I do, but it‘s fun!” I say smiling. I’ve heard all this before. In fact, I hear it every time I go anywhere with my brood.

We begin in the produce section where all these wonderfully, artistically arranged pyramids of fruit stand. There is something so irresistibly appealing about the apple on the bottom of the pile, that a child cannot help but try to touch it. Much like a bug to a zapper, the child is drawn to this piece of fruit. I turn around to the sounds of apples cascading down the display and onto the floor. Like Indiana Jones, there stands my son holding the all-consuming treasure that he just HAD to get and gazing at me with this dumbfounded look as if to say, “Did you see that??? Wow! I never thought that would happen!”

I give the offending child an exasperated sigh and say, “Didn’t I tell you, before we left, that I didn’t want you taking stuff from the bottom of the pile???”

“No. You said that you didn’t want us to take a can from the bottom of the pile. You didn’t say anything about apples.”

With superhuman effort, I resist the urge to send my child to the moon and instead focus on the positive – my child actually listened to me and remembered what I said!!! I make a mental note to be a little more specific the next time I give the kids The Grocery Store Lecture.

A little old man looks at all of us and says, “Are all of those your kids?”

Thinking about the apple incident, I reply, “Nope. They just started following me. I’ve never seen them before in my life.”

OK, now onto the bakery section where everything smells so good, I’m tempted to fill my cart with cookies and call it a day. Being on a perpetual diet, I try to hurry past the assortment of pies, cakes, breads, and pastries that have my children drooling. At this point the chorus of “Can we gets” begins.

“Can we get donuts?”
“Can we get cupcakes?”
“Can we get muffins?”
“Can we get pie?”

You’d think they’d catch on by this point, but no, they’re just getting started.

In the bakery, they’re giving away free samples of coffee cake and of course, my kids all take one. The toddler decides he doesn’t like it and proceeds to spit it out in my hand. (That’s what moms do. We put our hands in front of our children’s mouths so they can spit stuff into them. We’d rather carry around a handful of chewed up coffee cake, than to have the child spit it out onto the floor. I’m not sure why this is, but ask any mom and she’ll tell you the same.) Of course, there’s no garbage can around, so I continue shopping one-handed while searching for someplace to dispose of the regurgitated mess in my hand.

In the meat department, a mother with one small baby asks me, “Wow! Are all six yours?”
I answer her, “Yes, but I’m thinking of selling a couple of them.”

(Still searching for a garbage can at this point.)

Ok, after the meat department, my kids’ attention spans are spent. They’re done shopping at this point, but we aren’t even halfway through the store. This is about the time they like to start having shopping cart races. And who may I thank for teaching them this fun pastime? My seventh “child”, also known as my husband. While I’m picking out loaves of bread, the kids are running down the aisle behind the carts in an effort to get us kicked out of the store. I put to stop to that just as my son is about to crash head on into a giant cardboard cut-out of a Keebler elf stacked with packages of cookies.

Ah! Yes! I find a small trash can by the coffee machine in the cereal aisle and finally dump out the squishy contents of my hand. After standing in the cereal aisle for an hour and a half while the kids perused the various cereals, comparing the marshmallow and cheap, plastic toy content of each box, I broke down and let them each pick out a box. At any given time, we have twenty open boxes of cereal in my house.

As this is going on, my toddler is playing Houdini and maneuvering his little body out of the seat belt in an attempt to stand up in the cart. I’m amazed the kid made it to his second birthday without suffering a brain damaging head injury. In between trying to flip himself out of the cart, he sucks on the metal bars of the shopping cart. Mmmm, can you say “influenza”?

The shopping trip continues much like this. I break up fights between the kids now and then and stoop down to pick up items that the toddler has flung out of the cart. I desperately try to get everything on my list without adding too many other goodies to the carts.

Somehow I manage to complete my shopping in under four hours and head for the check-outs where my kids start in on a chorus of, “Can we have candy?” What evil minded person decided it would be a good idea to put a display of candy in the check-out lanes, right at a child’s eye level? Obviously someone who has never been shopping with children.

As I unload the carts, I notice many extra items that my kids have sneaked in the carts unbeknownst to me. I remove a box of Twinkies, a package of cupcakes, a bag of candy, and a can of cat food (we don’t even have a cat!). I somehow missed the box of Pokemon cards however and ended up purchasing them unbeknownst to me. As I pay for my purchases, the clerk looks at me, indicates my kids, and asks, “Are they all yours?”

Frustrated, exhausted from my trip, sick to my stomach from writing out a check for $289.53, dreading unloading all the groceries and putting them away and tired of hearing that question, I look at the clerk and answer her in my most sarcastic voice, “No. They’re not mine. I just go around the neighborhood gathering up kids to take to the grocery store because it’s so much more fun that way.”

So, up for auction is an opened (they ripped open the box on the way home from the store) package of Pokemon cards. There are 44 cards total. They’re in perfect condition, as I took them away from the kiddos as soon as we got home from the store. Many of them say “Energy”. I tried carrying them around with me, but they didn’t work. I definitely didn’t have any more energy than usual. One of them is shiny. There are a few creature-like things on many of them. One is called Pupitar. Hee hee hee Pupitar! (Oh no! My kids’ sense of humor is rubbing off on me!) Anyway, I don’t think there’s anything special about any of these cards, but I’m very much not an authority on Pokemon cards. I just know that I’m not letting my kids keep these as a reward for their sneakiness.

Shipping is FREE on this item. Insurance is optional, but once I drop the package at the post office, it is no longer my responsibility. For example, if my son decides to pour a bottle of glue into the envelope, or my daughter spills a glass of juice on the package, that’s my responsibility and I will fully refund your money. If, however, I take the envelope to the post office and a disgruntled mail carrier sets fire to it, a pack of wild dogs rip into it, or a mail sorting machine shreds it, it’s out of my hands, so you may want to add insurance. I will leave feedback for you as soon as I’ve received your payment. I will be happy to combine shipping on multiple items won within three days. This comes from a smoke-free, pet-free, child-filled home. Please ask me any questions before placing your bid. Happy bidding! 🙂

Online Shopping for Kids Is So Easy Now

Kids online shopping India has become easier, faster, and reliable. You do not have to waste time, drive to the shopping mall, look for parking space, drag a screaming toddler around shops, or manage your irritating kid who has got exhausted by wandering from shop to shop. Instead, online shopping has become so convenient that you can save a lot of time and money.

Save Money While Online Shopping for Kids

These days, you can get the best price while purchasing products online than in real stores because many retailers offer discounts to beat the market competition and suit everyone’s budget. You can also get coupon codes from many coupon sites that offer more discounts on the price the online store is offering. Cashback site in India is also getting very popular as they are providing users a good discount as cashback when the users purchase product online. This not only helps you save more money while online shopping, but also allows you to enjoy extra referral earnings by referring your friends, colleagues, relatives, etc. to the cashback sites.

Choose the Right Item for Your Kid

There are numerous online shopping stores to choose clothes, shoes, and other things for your kid. You must check the size of the thing you are buying; that shall not be tight-fit for your kid. Also, analyze the fabric of the clothes be it swimwear, t-shirt, dresses, baby outfits, etc. as your kid’s skin is precious. Buy the dress that is suitable for the weather that would be comforting for your kid’s body. Embrace the ease of online shopping for kids as it has become so economical, time-saving, and dead-easy.

Shop local kid’s stores this holiday season

I used to enjoy the fun and excitement of going to stand in line at 6am on Black Friday for some cool deals. But when it became 3am, then midnight, and now Thanksgiving, I pretty much checked out of any shopping at big chain stores on the weekend after Thanksgiving. Consumerism has become such a priority in our country, that people have even been trampled in the process. It’s a mess and not one that I want to have a part in. So this year, I decided it would be fun to team up with some of the top local small businesses that only sell kid’s items and promote their love for kids, great products, and building a strong community here in Pittsburgh. I have been to each of these stores and they are fantastic, not only in their creative product lines, but in cleanliness and wonderful customer service. We all know that small businesses usually come out on top in the customer service departments, and these stores are no exception! Every single one of these stores will be closed on Thanksgiving Day as they will be home celebrating with their families. But come Black Friday & Small Business Saturday, they have some amazing deals set to launch and are ready for YOU! So as you start checking off your gift list, please make these local Pittsburgh stores a must-stop for any kids on your list!

Snapology (1699 Washington Road / Bethel Park, opened in 2010)

Snapology offers creative play great for kids of all ages and includes Lego® Building Station, Lego® Minecraft® Station, Lego® Slot Car Racing, Giant Soft Blocks®, Zoobs®, Lego® Duplo® Blocks + much more! They also offer birthday parties, classes, camps, workshops, parent’s nights out, scouting events, field trips, playdates and special events in their Discovery Center in Bethel Park as well as in schools, recreation centers, libraries and other facilities in North, South, East and West Pittsburgh. Their programs focus on educational play using Lego bricks and other building toys.  They also have some retail building sets for sale at their Discovery Center. Their most popular classes, camps and birthday party themes are Lego Minecraft, Lego Animation, Lego Robotics and Lego Superheroes.  Their most popular building sets are sports-themed OYO sets and mini-figures.

Black Friday Specials: offering creative play as well as both half-day and full-day camps on Black Friday.  Drop the kids off (ages 5+) and get some serious shopping done. How cool is that?!
Small Business Saturday specials: 10% off all building sets.  BOGO creative play [Pay for one hour of Lego Lab, get the second hour free…per child.] A great deal for a lot of fun!

Learning Express of Robinson (290 Settlers Ridge Center Drive, opened November 2009)

Learning Express of Bakery Square (172 Bakery Square Blvd., opened November 2010)

(Please note: there are other Learning Express stores, but they will not have the same products/specials as these listed.)
The Learning Express product mix is carefully selected from manufacturers around the world that produce toys with exceptional play value. Among these distinguished affiliates are Alex, American Girl, Blue Orange, Calico Critters, Choon’s Design LLC / Rainbow Loom, Cloud B, Creativity for Kids, International Playthings, Klutz, Learning Resources, LEGO, Mattel, Melissa & Doug, Playmobil, Schylling, Scientific Explorer, Small World Toys, Sticky Mosaics, ThinkFun, Three Cheers for Girls, Toysmith, Ty, and Workman Publishing. “We are really excited about a lot of great new products on our shelves this year. Some of our hottest toys are a throwback to toys from our own childhood; Simon, Lite Brite, Booby Trap, Spirograph and Fashion Plates. Of course we have the classic favorites too; Lego, Calico Critters, Elf on the Shelf, and Magnatiles. And we will also be featuring a lot of great promotions and special prices throughout the season!”
Black Friday Specials: 20% OFF Storewide Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Early Bird Special – Extra 10% OFF on Friday from 6AM-9AM! $5 in Bonus Bucks for every $50 spent.
Small Business Saturday specials: customers will be eligible for the $10 credit through AMEX when they shop on Saturday and the storewide sale of 20% off will continue through the weekend!
We also have Complimentary Gift Wrapping, Free Personalization, and Expert Gift Advice!  

Kidz & Company (5815 Forbes Avenue/Squirrel Hill, opened in 2012)

Kidz & Company specializes in carrying fun, unique children’s clothing, toys, gifts, and activities, for newborns – Size 12 for girls / Size 10 for boys.  They will begin carrying size 14’s for girls starting this spring. Some of their current best-selling products for girls includes their collection from Mayoral, Lemon Loves Lime, and Biscotti. For boys, Kapital K and Bitz Kids have been very popular. Some of their most popular toys are anything from Hape Toys as well as activities and puzzles from Djeco.
Black Friday Specials: We will be kicking off our sale season in general, and always pick things to mark down more significantly!
Small Business Saturday specials: Our Black Friday Specials will carry on into Small Business Saturday assuming they’re still available.  If we actually sell out of everything we had put on special, we’ll make new specials!


E2 Toys to Try (426 James Street/Bridgeville, opened six years ago)

E2 is a wonderful indoor playspace combined with a unique toy store. Owner Meredyth has a background in Speech, Language Pathology and Early Intervention with an emphasis on Social Communication so their toys are geared toward enhancing social communication. They choose toys that encourage cognitive development and social play over toys that do the work of play for kids. E2 has made the indoor picnic space larger during the cold months. They’ve also added a new morning tot-time from 9-10am which is a special play time for kids 3 and under. E2 has created a special time for younger kids, who can sometimes feel intimidated by older ones, to really use and explore the playground. During this time the bubble machine will be turned on, there will be younger-themed art activities and a parachute is available as well!  Cost is $5.00 (kids can stay and play after that too).

One of their best-selling toys is the Name Train line. Meredyth says, I love Name Trains because they teach reading in a social way. You can make up all kinds of adventures for the train to find the missing letter to turn “at” into “cat” or “in” into “win”. Teaching reading in a social way makes it more fun and actually helps kids remember better because it uses more of their brain to process the language associated with reading. They also make great stocking suffers! :)Their Ravensburger puzzles and Haba teethers are also very popular.
Black Friday Specials: spend $40.00 or more and you’ll get a pass for a free playground entry (good anytime). Don’t have kids of your own? Can be given as a gift!
Small Business Saturday Specials: spend $40.00 or more and you’ll get a pass for a free playground entry (good anytime).
Play passes for the indoor playspace make great gifts for kids!!

Happy Baby Company (558 Lincoln Avenue/Bellevue, opened 5 years ago.)

Happy Baby Company carries a wide range of natural parenting products. Cloth diapers and accessories, baby carriers of all kinds, amber teething necklaces and lots of great teethers, extended rear facing car seats, body care products for baby and mom, eco-friendly and wooden toys, a small bit of furniture and clothing, blankets & bibs, and much more! The current owners first started a diaper service, Green Cheeks, about 4 years ago, and took over Happy Baby about a year and a half ago, when the store moved to Bellevue. Owner Judy says, We have been selling a lot of Munchie Mugs lately, which are wonderful snack cups for toddlers.  Sakura Bloom ring slings (for wearing your baby) have also been selling quickly, as have many of our toys and teethers.  Amber teething necklaces are always a big seller as well.
Black Friday Specials:  They are still in the works, but we always have great specials online and in store.  We’ll have some fantastic gifts with purchase at different levels, and we’ll definitely have some in store only specials as well. They’ll all be announced on our facebook page as soon as we have them finalized.
Small Business Saturday specials: Many Black Friday specials will carry through the weekend, but there will also be an in store giveaway and a few extra specials for Saturday, so stop by! Judy says,We really appreciate the community coming out to support us on SBS and throughout the year.  We love our loyal customers! 🙂

Love these great stores and that each of them are run by hard-working moms & dads right here in Pittsburgh.  I hope you’ll be able to stock up on some great gifts from their stores this Christmas season! If you are an American Express cardholder, be sure to register your card online here and on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 29, Spend $10+, Get $10 Back. Up to 3X!!

Christmas Shopping With Kids

Did you read the title of this chapter correctly? You might want to go back and double check to make sure you understand what this chapter is going to be about. The most significant word in this title is the word with.

Had we used the word for in the title instead this would be a completely different chapter but the use of the word with indicates this chapter will be about shopping while your children accompany you to the stores which is a totally different subject.
A chapter on shopping for children would cover subjects such as buying age appropriate toys and choosing toys which will meet the parent’s approval.
This chapter, however, will focus on how to have a successful shopping trip with children in tow. While it is certainly true that Christmas shopping with kids can be difficult at times, it is also possible to have an effective, efficient and fun shopping expedition with children.
It does take a little advanced planning and cooperation on the children’s’ behalf but it can be done. This chapter will cover a few of the basic tips for having a successful Christmas shopping trip with kids. Some of these tips include ensuring the children are well rested, taking frequent breaks, incorporating activities appropriate for children into the adventure and being prepared for any situation.
Depending on the age of the children, it might be critical to ensure the children are well rested at the start of the shopping trip and that the trip does not last so long that the child will be tired out before the end of the trip. This is very important especially in the case of young children who still take daily naps.

If you plan on Christmas shopping with a child who still takes daily naps, it might be worthwhile to plan your shopping trip after the child’s nap. This will ensure the child has had sufficient rest and will not run out of energy or become cranky during the shopping trip as a result of exhaustion.
It might be possible to plan a shopping trip for the time before a child’s nap if the child takes an afternoon late in the day but in this case care should be taken to end the Christmas shopping trip well before the regularly schedule nap time. It is also important to take frequent breaks when Christmas shopping with a child. This is important because children categorically have short attention spans and are not likely to be able to be able to shop for hours on end without short diversions. A few examples of breaks which may be appropriate may include stopping for a small snack, taking a lunch break or visiting a play area in the mall or shopping center.
Each of these breaks will give the child an opportunity to enjoy a break from the monotony of shopping and will also help to distract the child if they become frustrated with the shopping. Christmas shopping with children can also be made easier by incorporating activities appropriate for children into the schedule of the shopping trip. This may include visiting stores which may be of interest to the child.
For example a trip to a toy store or a store which offers the opportunity to test out gadgets might be interesting for a child. It might even be worthwhile to promise the child a small toy as a reward for cooperating during the trip. This would be most effective if you schedule this trip for late in the shopping trip. This will help to ensure the child behaves for the majority of the trip. It will also help to make the remainder of the trip easier because the child will be interested in his new toy and too distracted to complain about visiting more stores.
Finally, it is important to be prepared for a variety of situations when Christmas shopping with kids. If your children are not yet potty trained, be sure to bring a supply of diapers and a change of clothes. Bringing along small toys and snacks is also helpful. The toys can be used to distract the child while standing in lines. Snacks will be helpful if the child complains of hunger or as a distraction if the child starts to become bored with the shopping trip.

– See more at: http://www.christmas-shopping-survival-guide.com/2014/10/christmas-shopping-with-kids.html#sthash.VUD9ImrK.dpuf

Kids Shopping Day At Kiwanis

A Special Shopping Day for Kids Only!
The Kiwanis Club of LaBelle proudly presents: A Shopping Day for Kids Only in the Thrift Store on Saturday, December 6th, 2014.

What: A Shopping event for kids from 3 to 12 years old!
Kids can Christmas Shop!
Where: The Kiwanis Thrift Store, 155 S. Bridge Street, LaBelle
When: Saturday, December 6th
Time: 8:30am to 10:00am

The kids can buy quality gifts for their immediate family members on a “friendly budget”. Parents/Grandparents—Please give the kids a small allowance and then Kiwanis members will help the kids shop while the adults wait patiently outside.

Kiwanis Key Club students from LaBelle High School will wrap presents for the kids so they can surprise their family members with a nice gift! You might even see one of Santa’s elves! This is an annual event sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of LaBelle and the kids really love it! We hope to see you there!

Tips for shopping on board when you’re traveling with kids

Shopping while you’re on the plane can be a lot of fun: there are some great deals to be had (especially if you’re on an international flight where the goods are truly tax-free), and it can be a nice way to buy presents for people you know or yourself. However, when you’re traveling with kids it’s not always easy to find the time for shopping (or anything else), with the frequent bathroom trips, boredom, potential tantrums, sibling fights, kids experiencing ear-pain from the cabin pressure, and so on.

These days, most airlines let you browse their sales catalog online, and that can definitely be a big help. Another great service provided by several airlines is on-board delivery: you can shop online for the items available in the on-board shop, and then have those items delivered to your seat during your flight. This makes the shopping experience a lot more convenient for parents. A sample of airlines that provide this service is:

  • Iceland Air’s SagaShop  – also has some great items for sale that are made in Iceland, and feel kind of exotic to anyone who isn’t from that country.
  • KLM’s Shop@KLM – offers on-board delivery if you’re flying out of Amsterdam
  • Lufthansa’s WorldShop – offers airport delivery at Frankfurt airport, rather than on-board delivery.

Shopping at the airport can be one way to pass the time, but parents traveling with small children might not feel that comfortable browsing in a fancy airport shop with lots of expensive and fragile items on display. Still, those airport shops can look pretty enticing, and again, if the deals are truly tax/duty free then it can be a very good buy.

However, even if you do find a good deal, there are some things to think about when you purchase things on board or at the airport.

Do you have space in your bags?
If you’re traveling with kids, your hand-luggage might already be rather full and heavy. Adding extra items, even if they’re a good deal, might make your load even harder to carry to the next gate. Also consider how much your hand-luggage weighs: airlines don’t usually weigh your carry-on (a lucky thing for me when my kids were babies!), but it does happen. And if you’re over the limit, those new purchases could be a real problem.

Will you be able to bring it on your flight/s?
If you buy any kind of liquid products on board or at the airport, and are planning to bring them on your flight, you have to consider the airlines’ rules about liquids on board. A container of liquid – for example lotion, perfume, wine, or beer – usually has to be 3 ounces/100 ml or smaller to be allowed in your hand-luggage. Sometimes, airlines do make exceptions for products bought on board, or at the airport of departure if the purchases are in a sealed plastic bag. However, if you have other connecting flights later on in your travels, you might have to put larger containers in your checked luggage.

This did happen to me once: I bought a bottle of body lotion in Amsterdam and was allowed to bring it on my flight from Amsterdam to Stockholm. But: when we went through security for our domestic Swedish flight with SAS, I was not allowed to bring the lotion (in a sealed plastic bag) in my hand-luggage on my next flight Luckily I was able to put the bottle in a bag and check that bag as an extra piece of luggage; otherwise I would have had to simply leave the gift at the security checkpoint.

Ways to avoid this problem:

  • Purchase items on your last flight/last airport stop.
  • Ask about the policies before you buy.
  • Put the item in your checked luggage.
  • Buy products that are no larger than 100 ml/3 ounces each.


Are there any customs restrictions?
Depending on where you’re traveling, customs might have something to say about your purchase. This is especially true for alcohol: many countries restrict how much alcohol you are allowed to bring with you across the border. Check the rules before buying too many bottles of wine!

Online Stores: Websites to Shop Maternity and Baby Products in Nigeria

If you are pregnant and wondering how to go about buying everything you have listed on your newborn baby shopping list and maternity wears, this article is for you. More so, if you are a mother who newly delivered or have a toddler(s) and are searching for an online shop in Nigeria where you can get all the items you need for your baby in on place like clothes toys and accessories, you need not bother yourself going from one shop to another looking for what to buy.  There are many websites where you can shop quality online baby clothes, maternity dresses, baby nursery, toys, gift items and accessories and kids wear and lots more at affordable prices without leaving your house. In this article you will find out Nigerian sites you can shop online.Read on
Online shopping gives you an opportunity to carefully pick varieties of items from one shop. Most of these stores allow you to pay on delivery but all you need do is to log on to the website in the search box indicate what you are looking for  and start shopping right away:

Popular Online Shopping Sites

konga.com/baby-kids-toys  – Kids Fashion, Baby Clothing & Toys
jumia.com.ng  Baby clothes‎,‎ Toys & Kids – Pay on delivery
olx.com.ng/q/baby/c-866 – Children’s products in Nigeria, second hand products also available on this site
kaymu.com.ng/for-kids-and-babies/   OLUWATOSIN BABY STORE
dealdey.com/categories/baby-kids-2:  Here you can get baby and Kids Products

Maternity, Kids and New Born Baby Shopping Sites

kidsrepublicng.com – Kids store Nigeria..
Simplyinfants.com: Offers free delivery
MothercareNigeria : Mothercare have lots of quality baby stuff and accessories, baby gears, toys, gift items, baby nursery e.t.c. Mothercare also have a shop on jumia.
Kandlekids.com : At kandlekids, you can  buy children’s party  costumes,  baby and kids wear, toys and accessories. Kandlekids also have a shop on konga.
www.dafunshop.com: Is an online kiddies store stocked with items like children’s clothing, toys accessories, decors and accessories.
mom-stop.com: Like when I can do my shopping in one place and it satisfies that need. The site is not mobile I have been getting a lot of feedback on the article on baby shopping so I’d like to share two other stores I just found out about.
Alluring Grace :  Delivers all your items to your door you for free, only on orders
above N10,000, shopping via telephone line is also allowed.
jumia.com.ng/mothercare/ Mothercare products- you can order and pay on delivery
childrens-wearhouse.com/ -The Children Warehouse is a supplier of babies and kids Products online
second.com.ng- Affordable Baby and kids in Nigeria. …
vconnect.com/nigeria/  – This site will give you a list-of-babies/kiddies products
myboolah.com/ Babies, toddlers & Children· Baby Food in Nigeria
purplerod.net/catalog/Baby_Accessories-41-1.html Online Shopping Mall
partysuppliesng.com/ Shop for Unique Party Balloons, Decorations, and Baby Shower Accessories..
Motherlovesbaby.wordpress.com – Baby Care Products ..
www.businesslist.com.ng › Categories › Shopping › Kids
babynigeria.com/ – Buy newborn baby, kids and maternity products online
expat-blog.com/en/classifieds/nigeria/baby-stuff-kids-stuff.html  – One stop baby products, children clothing and accessories
foodconigeria.com/babyproducts.php: Baby products, children clothing and accessories
ng.all.biz  In this sit you will find lots of children Goods like baby strollers, cribs and playpens and lots more
Now you know the sites to visit when shopping for your maternity wear, baby or kids clothing, baby gear, toys and more.  If you feel the price of an item you want to buy is on the high side, simply do a price comparison check by checking with pricecheck to compare prices. Enjoy your shopping!

Do you make these mistakes when shopping with kids (and husbands?)

‘We’ll be quick,’ my husband had said. ‘All I need is some soft drink from the store and some new shirts.’
‘You want to take three kids to a department store while you buy shirts?’ I asked incredulously.
He showed me his phone.
‘I have pictures of exactly what I want. Size, brand everything. It’ll be easy,’ he said.
First mistake – believing my husband.
The shop with the shirts didn’t open til 9am yet for some reason we were coasting into the carpark well before 8.30am. My husband slowed in front of the boom gate and took the proffered ticket.
What happened to it after that is anyone’s guess.
All five of us stepped out of the car and moved noisily into the shops. It was a Saturday morning: no one had brushed hair. One kid was wearing a floor-length Elsa dress. One was wearing a boys Minion t-shirts (from Despicable Me) that was about 4 sizes too big. It’s possible she had a skirt on underneath, but it didn’t matter because her top was so long. The other had a dirty ex-daycare dress and pair of thongs. We looked like a family of bums.
My husband has a bit of an addiction to a particular sugar-free soft drink, but as it’s locally made, it is only sporadically available for sale. When he sees it at a low price, he turns into a hoarder, which is exactly what he did, grabbing a trolley and filling it with the 13 cases he could find on the shelf.
When I muttered about leaving some for others, he put one box back on the shelf. Reluctantly.
Embarrassed at his trolley load of soda I wandered ahead of the family, pretending not to know them.
Once he had paid and realising we still had time before the shirt shop would open, we decided to take his haul back to the car. At least people would stop staring at us, I thought. My second mistake – shopping with three kids means there is always a reason to be stared at.
It was when we got back to the car that my husband offhandedly mentioned not being able to find the parking ticket. Not actually believing that someone as intelligent as he could actually lose a parking ticket between taking it from the machine and getting out of the car, I dismissed it, and we headed, noisily, back into the shopping centre. The kids began whinging they were thirsty and hungry, and no matter how many times I pointed out that breakfast was literally less than half an hour ago, they all declared they were going to die immediately of starvation and thirst.
We still had time to kill, so we went back to the grocery shop, this time to buy juice for the kids and a packet of mini jam cakes. My husband’s brilliant idea was that the kids and I could sit and eat snacks while he bought his shirts. My third mistake – listening to his ‘good idea’ and agreeing to be left with the kids while he got to shop by himself.
Naturally, it turned out there were not any chairs or benches outside the shop in question. Only a deliciously plush, brand new carpet, and some display cases with mannequins wearing ridiculously expensive outfits. While I was looking around for somewhere bench-like to sit, my husband was encouraging the kids to ‘have a picnic’. On the floor. Of the very flash shopping centre. While we looked like bums. In the middle of a very posh neighbourhood.
Number Three refused to let me put the lid back on her juice, instead she kept running around the run, juice preciously sloshing. As I grabbed her and manhandled her back onto the floor, a shop assistant for one of the obscenely expensive women’s fashion stores arrived to unlock her shop, frowning so intently that her lemon mouth all but disappeared into her botoxed cheeks.
‘This was such a stupid idea of Daddy’s,’ I muttered under my breath as I tried to pick up a stepped-on jam cake from the floor.
‘I’m going to tell him you said that,’’ said the Middle.
Dobber, I thought.
Suddenly the Third’s juice exploded all over her, spraying orange liquid all over the fancy carpet, and her not-so-fancy outfit. She took one look at her dripping t-shirt and ran crying into the shop shrieking ‘Daddy! Daddy!’ The eldest took off after her.
Not sure whether I should follow them or clean up the mess, I stood paralysed for a second. The snobby shop assistant was shaking her head at me through her streak-free glass window. My husband suddenly reappeared holding a bag with his new shirts and a small juice covered girl.
The Mop jumped up and said ‘Mummy said your idea was stupid.’
‘Did she?’ he asked amused.
The eldest had reappeared and tried to grab her juice out of the bag into which I had thrown all the bottles and leftover food. As she pulled it out, the top flew in one direction and the juice flew in another. A second bright orange puddle, but this time on the shiny white tiles.
As I was hissing at my husband to get back into the shop to get them to call the cleaners, and heatedly arguing with the Bombshell over who was to blame I heard a pleasant voice say ‘hello Shannon.’ My new neighbours, appropriately dressed and not covered in any juice, were witnessing my descent into madness. I tried hard to smiled pleasantly, but doubt I succeeded. I was absolutely seething, yet somehow my husband didn’t seem to care or notice that not one, but two of his children were covered in sticky juice.
As we bundled the kids away from the disgraceful mess (the cleaners had been called and were on their way) I recalled my husband’s promise that it would be ‘easy’. I was never going to believe a single word he said ever again.
Back at the car, he absently patted down his pockets and stuck his head under his seat. The parking ticket had disappeared. So to top off our brilliant shopping trip, instead of free parking, his lost ticket meant a $25 fee to get the car out of the carpark. We had to pay for the privilege of ritual humiliation and disgrace.

Kids and Grocery Shopping

Do you take your kids grocery shopping? Believe me, I know it sounds like a lot of work to bring them if you don’t have to, but it is good for them! No matter their age, letting your kids come along when you grocery shop is a great opportunity to teach them about healthy habits. Plus, when we let our kids be more involved in the decision making process they are often more interested in making healthy choices.

Mini Me!

For a while I was using my Saturday/Sunday grocery store trips as a chance to get away by myself and leave Em to have a little one-on-one time with her daddy. But lately, she has been wanting to come with. I don’t dare say the word “shopping” around her and not expect her to run to the door to put her shoes and “fun” jacket on. )Yes, my daughter has a “shopping” jacket. What can I say, she is my (and my mom’s) Mini Me. I don’t blame the girl for wanting to go shopping!)

And so, I have given in to letting her come with me on my grocery shopping trips. At first I was dragging my feet, but I realized that it is not too early to get her involved at the store. I am usually answering her “what’s that?” questions. And when I’m not, I’m asking her what her prefences are for the foods we purchase. She also likes to hold my list for me (only occassionally do I have to retrace my steps to find that she had dropped in one aisle back.)

I think that taking this opportunity to let her “help” with the food choices is going to really teach her about planning ahead and making healthy choices.

If your kids are a little bit older, get them even more involved by having them help you make your list and your menu for the week. You could even assign them to the task of finding certain foods that are on your list.

How to Start My Own Clothing Company Online

The Internet is an excellent place sell clothing. Online, small designers and retailers are able to reach a global market and compete with large department stores. This allows niche stores to reach their desired consumer. Starting your company is as simple has having your product, website and getting known. Selling clothing online requires detailed descriptions for size and texture as well as lots of pictures. Will you model the clothing yourself, hire someone else or use a mannequin? Showing how clothing looks on a person is important for an online clothing company, as the customer cannot try on the garment before purchasing it.

  • Contact wholesalers of the type of clothing you wish to sell. Wholesale is a business term, meaning you buy it at a cheaper price than the price at which you sell it. The difference is called mark-up and this is your profit margin. The price per article of clothing at wholesale is reduced if you buy in bulk. You can use online directories to find wholesalers of specific types of clothing (see Resources).
  • Send an email to the wholesaler. Outline what you are interested in and ask when you should call to further discuss. Include your own phone number and contact details.
  • Consider running a drop-ship company. This means that you work closely with a manufacturer, or drop-shipping company, that holds the products for you. When you receive an order, you pass it on to the company that then directly ships the order to the customer. This means you do not need to keep an inventory and items can be shipped quickly. The downside is that the other company takes a cut from the sale.
  • Use your own clothing logo/picture designs by contacting print-on-demand printers. They will be able to print your logos and pictures onto clothing. Find print-on-demand printers through online search engines or in phone books, located under “Printers.”
  • Create your website. Use an existing online template, design your own, or hire a professional to design your website.
  • Set up an e-commerce account, and upload your product details to it. You will also need to place the check-out links onto your website. This will allow your customers to pay online with a debit or credit card.
  • Host your website online. There are many hosting services available and they all charge different rates for different services. Choose the one that suits your needs best. Once you have hosted your website it is live. Register with search engines.

How to Start a Clothing Resale Business

If you enjoy fashion, have a knack for retail sales and are good with people, a clothing resale business might be right for you. This is an ideal business for many people because it’s creative, can be fun and is full of variety. But it’s important that you settle on a business model, figure out how to acquire inventory inexpensively and market your business well.

  • Decide on a specialty. You can focus on children’s clothing and toys, or you can focus on just women’s clothing. You might prefer focusing on high-end women’s clothing, or boutique-only children’s clothing. While you can open a resale business that offers a little something to everyone, the best resale shops tend to specialize.
  • Decide how your business will operate. Some resale clothing shops are actual storefronts where customers come to look at, try on and purchase the clothing. You might decide to operate your business by selling secondhand clothes at a flea market or open-air market, or you might decide to sell only online, offering the clothes via a website. You could begin by selling online, move up to selling at flea markets and once you have a name and some capital, open the storefront. In the end, you could also combine business strategies for the best chance at success.
  • Find a location. If you are opening a storefront, look for a small store in a good area. Good choices might include in a shopping district near a business area, in a small and quaint downtown district, or in a strip mall that gets a lot of traffic. If you decide to sell your items at flea markets, visit several in your area to see if your product would sell well at the markets you are considering. If you decide to sell online, buy a domain name, build a website and find out how to accept payments online.
  • Educate yourself. If you are focused on children’s clothing, for example, stay abreast of the popular brands and their value. Be aware of which brands are selling well and which are still in demand even if it is an older item. You can use an online auction to see for how much similar items are selling for.
  • Get your inventory. Because you are going into the resale–and not consignment–business, you can buy clothing directly from people at a low price and resell it at a higher rate. You might advertise on a free classified advertising site and offer to buy large quantities of clothing at a low price. Generally, plan to pay less than 50 percent of your projected sales price for each item. You can also shop at garage sales and thrift stores to build up your inventory. Once your name is established, you can begin attracting people who will come to you specifically to sell their outgrown and unwanted clothes.
  • Advertise your new business. You can go the traditional route and advertise in the paper or on the radio, but also consider inexpensive ads in “shopper” newspapers. Consider offering a coupon to get customers into your store. You might also get creative and put on a fashion show–with proceeds going to charity–or offer a 90-second shopping spree to one lucky customer, which can bring media coverage. Pass out fliers in front of your store or bring them to nearby businesses. If you are operating at a flea market, have an attractive banner designed that grabs the attention of potential customers. If working online, advertise on blogs and websites that appeal to your customer base.

How to Buy Clothes Online

Although you can’t finger the fabric or try on the item, the payoff in convenience and an almost unlimited selection may make you a convert once you master the basics of buying clothes online.

  • Ask a friend, a tailor or a clothing store salesperson to help you measure your chest, waist, hips, arm length and inseam (the distance from your crotch to where you want the hem of your pants to fall). Another way to get your inseam is to measure a pair of pants that fit perfectly.
  • Look for sites that provide you with lots of information about their clothes via high-quality photos and detailed descriptions, dimensions and sizing information.
  • Check out one of the coolest aspects of buying online: virtual model technology at sites like MyVirtualModel.com. You can see clothes you’re interested in on a generic model or on one that you customize with your weight, height and body shape, so you can virtually try before you buy.
  • Find jeans that were literally made for you. Sites like IC3D.com, LandsEnd.com and AmericanFitClothing.com give you options to design your own pants, from $54 to $125. Customize lengths, colors, waistlines, leg styles and more.
  • Contact customer service by phone or e-mail with any questions not addressed by the site’s frequently asked questions (FAQ) area. Representatives often have additional notes about the fit or care of items. Some sites let you converse with customer service reps by typing in questions and receiving instant answers.
  • Buy several items at the same time to avoid paying individual shipping charges. Look for retailers that offer free shipping when you spend a certain amount.
  • Understand the return policy. Some online retailers let you return clothes to their local store, which saves you shipping charges. Be sure to bring your shipping invoice. Some stores provide a prepaid shipping label for returns, which reduces the hassle of returns. Many stores don’t charge additional shipping when exchanging an item for a different size. See How to Make Returns.
  • Read the fine print before you click the button to finalize your order. Reputable retailers have secure sites to keep your credit card and personal information safe and private, but you may have to check a specific box to prevent your name from being sold to other mailing lists or to avoid receiving additional catalogs.

How to Start a Clothing Store Online

These days, just about every kind of business enterprise has an online presence. Depending on the type of business, you can either start out in a brick-and-mortar shop or online. A good example of this is a clothing store, which in today’s world of 24-hour shopping, is easiest to do on the Internet. Starting a clothing store online simply requires the inventory to sell and some business and marketing savvy.

  • Determine what kind of clothing you will sell: Will you be a specialized clothing store, selling to specific sizes or an all-purpose boutique, for men, women and children of all shapes and sizes? This is an important consideration because your specialty is what will set you apart from the competition, and the more specialized your online clothing store is, the more likely it is that you will be able to build a faithful clientele. Some of the more popular options when it comes to online clothing stores are kid’s clothing, plus-size apparel and online shoe boutiques. Remember, your entire marketing campaign will be built around the type of clothing you sell, so be sure to make an informed decision based on the size of the market and the demand for such apparel, the money it will take to amass an inventory of items and how large an inventory you plan to offer at first.
  • Acquire and assess your clothing inventory: Depending on your niche, you can get clothing from just about anywhere. You can start by purchasing items from hard-to-find dealers and retailers that will sell to you at a wholesale price and allow you to mark up the items for profit. You can also frequent some of the retail markets, which feature dozens of dealers in one place, selling the latest fashions. Another option is to work directly with up and coming designers, particularly ones in your area, that are new to the fashion scene and have fresh looks to offer. The more creative and fresh your inventory is, the more likely it is to sell and get exposure in a saturated online clothing industry.
  • Put together all of your price points and don’t forget to include shipping costs. The most that it costs you to purchase an item wholesale, the more you will have to mark it up. This can drive customers away, so you must try to negotiate the best deal you can when purchasing items from clothing vendors. This is where it helps to work with new or little-known clothing designers, because they are usually hungry for exposure and won’t charge you as much as a well-known vendor to sell their clothing.
  • Build your website. Just like a brick-and-mortar shop is the calling card of a traditional clothing retailer, your website is just as important for you. Your online clothing store should be catchy and eye-popping without being overwhelming. The clothing should be prominently featured on the site and checkout should be extremely easy to locate. Moreover, your site should be up to date at all times with an easy to remember–and type–name. If you can afford to have a professional build your site, it may be a worthwhile investment if you are not very technically savvy; otherwise, use a template (preferably Flash-based) with enough bells and whistles to make your site look exciting, but with your clothing front-and-center.
  • Optimize your site so it shows up on lists under your category of search terms. Most often, customers will find your store by typing terms into a search engine. If you specialize in kid’s clothing, then “kids clothes” or “kid’s clothing” will likely be some of the terms potential customers will use to find you. Because of this, it is important to include search terms in the language of your site so that Web crawlers will pick it up and deliver eyeballs directly to your homepage. Again, if you hire a professional, he should be able to assist you with this as part of your Web design package; if not, search the category you specialize in and check out the language of the competition (particularly the top 20 companies listed). Use some of the same terms in the information on your site to get yourself as high on the list as possible.
  • Spread the word through online advertising, message boards, social media forums and just about anywhere else that you can. Letting people know about your online clothing store is the best way to get inventory selling. Take advantage of every opportunity possible to spread the word about your store. Sign up for a Facebook and/or MySpace page and amass a collection of friends who are privy to special discounts and sales (you won’t believe how quickly your friend lists will grow). Offer information about your store to fashion bloggers and/or reporters. Offer to be a resource for future articles. All of this will work in conjunction with traditional forms of advertising/marketing to get your store optimal publicity and enhance your chances for success.

How to Become an Online Clothing Retailer

Aspiring clothing store entrepreneurs are no longer limited to owning brick-and-mortar ventures. Technological changes in website design, online purchasing and digital marketing have paved the way for a variety of online retailers who offer everything from vintage clothing to personalized baby apparel. A major benefit of online retail stores is that they’re accessible 24 hours a day, allowing customers to make purchases at their leisure. Consider the types of clothing styles you enjoy and your interests to help you determine what type of online retail clothing store you want to own and operate.

  • Decide whether you want to run your online retail store through a drop ship company, which gives you access to a variety of fashions you can sell on your website, without holding an inventory, since the items ship from the drop ship company’s website. You could also opt to set up your online retail store through a third party, such as Etsy or eBay, which charge a fee per item posted or sold. Another option is to purchase clothing, at wholesale prices, directly from designers, or create your own clothing to sell.
  • Create a customer profile to identify the major characteristics of your online retail store. These details will heavily depend on the types of clothing you plan to sell. It is important to know your target client’s average age, income level, marital status, educational level, interests, hobbies and lifestyle.
  • Come up with a name for your online retail clothing store, based on the target market you plan to serve and the type of clothing you plan to sell.
  • Check with local government offices about what sort of permits you may need. For instance, if you’re attempting to set up shop in Houston, Texas, you’ll need to file a “doing business as,” form with the Harris County Clerk’s Office. You also need to obtain a “Texas Sales and Use Tax Permit” from the comptroller’s office.
  • Develop a list of goals for your online clothing store that will help you measure your success; revisit and revamp the goals at once or twice a year. Make sure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. An example of a goal for an online retail store might include generating $500 a month in sales, during the first quarter of business, and $1,500 a month in sales by the fourth quarter of sales.
  • Hire a graphic designer to create a logo and website for your online retail store. The branding of the site should resonate with the target market you want to attract. Ensure that the website has shopping cart capabilities, which allow your customers to make purchases online, save their shopping carts, create wish lists, and use promotional codes and gift cards.
  • Make a list of clothing brands that fit your target market. Visit the brands’ websites to find out how to become a retailer, attend apparel trade shows or go directly to the brands’ showrooms. These options will give you an opportunity to discuss their requirements, costs and the availability of their merchandise. Sign contracts with the retailers who are interested in letting you carry their brands in your online clothing store.
  • Work with your website designer to upload pictures of the clothing you plan to sell on your site. Hire a copywriter to create vivid descriptions of each item, then assign prices.
  • Come up with a marketing plan for your online retail clothing store. Some marketing tactics you may use to promote your clothing store may include issuing a press release, using social media to host a contest and advertise on fashion blogs your target market may frequent.

How to Open an Internet Vintage Clothing Store

If you have an interest in fashion, specifically vintage fashion, starting an online vintage store could be an excellent business opportunity for you. Vintage clothing generally includes pieces that were created between 1920 and 1990. Some people will seek vintage items to wear everyday, and others collect designer vintage garments as a hobby. Designer vintage shops and boutiques are usually found in the fashion district of densely populated cities. Creating an online vintage shop allows individuals around the world to enjoy and collect vintage garments regardless of their proximity to urban areas.

Start a Vintage Clothing Store Online

  • Acquire a personal computer and an internet connection. You will need both of these items to create and access your online store. Personal computers can be purchased at any office supply store such as Staples, Office Max, Best Buy or Walmart. An internet connection can be set up by contacting your local internet or cable provider.
  • Set up an e-commerce website. Your website is the online equivalent of a brick-and-mortar store. You cannot sell vintage clothing online without one. Your website should include photographs and descriptions of each piece of vintage clothing that you are offering for sale with prices, information about your shop, your sale and return policies (if any), and shipping prices. If you are not technologically savvy, you will need to hire a web designer to build your site.
  • Acquire vintage pieces to offer for sale in your online store. Vintage pieces are one-of-a-kind items that may be found in other bricks-and-mortar vintage shops, consignment stores, estate sales or online auction sites such as eBay. Unlike other retail stores, vintage clothing cannot be purchased from a wholesale distributor or manufacturer. You will need to actively seek out unique, high-quality items to carry in your online store.
  • Prepare and photograph your vintage pieces. Since you will be selling online, potential customers will want to see detailed pictures of your vintage items before making a purchase. Find a model or mannequin to display each piece and take photographs from different angles, usually one from the front, side and back. Upload your photographs to your website.
  • Purchase shipping and packaging materials. When a customer purchases an item from your online vintage shop, you will need to package and ship the item to the customer. Keep in mind that many vintage pieces may be delicate and will require attention and care when preparing them for shipment. In the case of very expensive garments, you should wrap the garment in tissue paper and place it inside of a sealed plastic bag before placing it in a shipping box. This will protect the item from liquid damage. It is also advisable to purchase shipping insurance on high-priced items in the event that they become lost or damaged in shipment.

How to Start An Online Clothing Resale Shop

We are all looking for ways to earn more money. This is an option for people looking to earn money from home. Starting an online clothing resale shop can be challenging at first, but it will become easier with time. An online clothing resale shop can also be very profitable.

  • Begin by cleaning out your closet to see what you no longer need. This will be the most profitable items, because you do not have to purchase them.
  • Shop yard sales close to time when they would end the sales. Most people will be getting rid of there clothing by selling them at a large discount, or donating them. Ask if you can by the clothing for one bulk price.
  • Ask friends and family if they may have clothing they are wanting to get rid of. Most of them will not mind giving them to you. If they want a portion of the earnings offer them a small percentage.
  • Track all of them purchases you make, and the percentage you have offered the friends or family. This will give you your expenses, and show what you need to make to profit.
  • Set the price based on the above step, as well as the name brand and quality of the item.
  • Take quality pictures of the items. Write down the sizes, name brand, description, and measurements if required. You should be as descriptive as possible with these.
  • Organize a place to store the items. This place should be clean. You do not want odors to get on the clothing.
  • Set up a personal website or list the items on an auction site. The auctions sites may be easier in the beginning, but you will want to expand after you see how profitable it may be.
  • Track all of your sales. You want to begin to see a trend on what sells better, and what may not be worth the time. It is also beneficial to see your profit or loss in your business.

How Amazon Started

As of 2011, Amazon.com is a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Seattle, Washington, that operates with the mission of being the world’s most customer-oriented online retailer. Its goal is to create an online site where consumers can find anything they want to purchase. Amazon.com’s beginnings can be traced to founder Jeffrey Bezos’ garage in Seattle in 1994.


  • In 1995, Bezos started Amazon.com as a book-selling website that provided customers with a unique shopping experience that only the Internet could offer. Bezos’ website allowed customers to browse a large selection of books in one sitting without having to go to a bookstore. Amazon.com started with a bang, shipping orders to customers in 50 states and 45 countries within the first 30 days of business. The company rode that wave to its initial public offering (IPO) on the stock market in 1997.


  • In May 1997, Amazon.com completed its IPO by putting three million shares up for trading on the New York Stock Exchange with a per-share value of $18. By the close of trading, Amazon.com’s stock value closed at $23.50 per share after reaching a peak of $30 per share earlier in the day. Its first day of trading netted the company $70.5 million its opening day and increased the company’s market value to $438 million. In spite of its impressive stock market debut, the company experienced slow growth following its IPO, causing shareholders to worry about their investments.


  • In 1999, “Time” named Bezos its Person of the Year for his contribution to the world of e-commerce. For years following Amazon.com’s IPO, the company operated with a deficit. After the fallout of the “dot com” bust of the late 1990s, Amazon.com remained in business and turned a $5 million profit, its first in years, during the last quarter of 2001. By the end of 2002, the company reported a $3.9 billion profit. In 2008, Amazon.com replaced Merrill Lynch on the “Standard and Poors” list of the 100 top businesses.


  • From its meager beginning in Bezos’ garage, Amazon.com has grown considerably since its one-man operational days in the mid 1990s. As of 2011, the company has more than 33,000 employees and operates customer service centers in 18 states and 10 countries. The company maintains five software development in five countries throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. Since it started selling books in the 1990s, Amazon.com has steadily added a wider variety of products and services, including computers, music, tools, apparel and groceries.

How to Save Money on Amazon.com

The Amazon.com website is already a mecca for bargain hunters of everything from books to bacon, office equipment to origami supplies. Routinely discounted prices aside, there are other ways you can save money on Amazon, keeping even more of your hard earned money in your pocket. Read on to learn more.

  • Search for coupon codes online to save money. There are numerous coupon code websites that often include entire lists of coupon codes for featured items. The coupon codes can be for everything from a percent off a certain item to free shipping. Examples of coupon websites are Deal Catcher and Secret Coupons.
  • Spend at least $25 on eligible items on the Amazon.com website, and you qualify for free super saver shipping. Super saver shipping takes a few extra days to ship, and the shipping time is usually longer than regular shipping. But if you’re not in a rush to get your items, this is a great way to save money on Amazon.com.
  • Take advantage of special promotions on Amazon.com to save money, including free items with the purchase of a qualifying item, multi-item discounts and best value discounts.
  • Buy a Gold Box Deal to save money on Amazon.com. For example, Deal of the Day is an item or collection of related items on sale for one day only. Lightning Deals is another example of Gold Box Deals in which discount prices are offered on items for which there is limited stock. The deal is good for four hours or until the item sells out.

How to Use Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime offers a wide variety of services. While online shopping is a popular feature, services such as two-day shipping, video streaming, music streaming, a photo service, grocery delivery, and additional benefits are available to members for $100 per year, as of publication.

Free Two-Day Shipping

  • If you shop online, the free two-day shipping offered by Amazon Prime is attractive — Amazon’s standard shipping can take 4 to 5 days. Many items are eligible for two-day, but there are exceptions. For example, an item ordered through Amazon’s marketplace section is not eligible for free shipping.

    For Prime Members, standard shipping, release date shipping (on qualifying items) and no-rush shipping are also available for free. When Prime Members select no-rush shipping, in exchange they are awarded a credit towards a future purchase because they are opting out of the two-day shipping promise. Two-day shipping is not available to residents of Alaska, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico.

    Expedited shipping is available for a reduced cost.

Video Streaming

  • With Prime Instant Video, you can watch movies and popular TV shows, including original series exclusive to Prime members. Some current movies are also available.

    Amazon Prime offers some titles for free, and you can rent movies (for 24 hours) or buy them outright. Prime Instant Video is available on Fire phone, Fire Tablets, Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Amazon Echo, iOS devices, Android smartphones and tablets (v.4.0 and above), PC, Mac, and the Amazon.com website. Also, if you have a smart TV or game console with the Amazon Prime app, you can access your videos on those devices.

Prime Music

  • According to Amazon, Prime Music has over a million songs for members in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, and offers ad-free access to hundreds of Prime Playlists. You can also take your own music and mix it with Prime Music to create a personalized playlist. Looking for a particular album or artist? The search feature allows you to find — and listen to — full albums, or a particular song.

    You can access Prime Music on compatible devices that support Amazon Music. These include Fire phone, Fire Tablets, Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Amazon Echo, iOS devices, Android smartphones and tablets (v.4.0 and above), PC, Mac, and the Amazon.com website. Additionally, new titles are added on a rolling basis.

Prime Photos

  • If you have a vast library of photos and want some additional security, Prime Photos offers cloud storage for your pictures. Additionally, any videos you might want to upload can be added to Cloud Drive. Prime Photos can be accessed via the Web, a mobile device, or from a desktop application on your computer. Amazon provides unlimited cloud storage for the duration of your Prime membership. If you decide to cancel Prime, you are then be locked into the corresponding storage limit associated with your Amazon account.

Prime Pantry

  • Although it may not eliminate the need for your routine grocery store trip, Prime Pantry provides an alternative to traditional food shopping. Order food, snacks, beverages, household cleaning products, baby care, pet care products and more. Personal care products, such as hair care items and hand soap can be purchased as well. You can add up to 45 pounds and pay a flat rate of $5.99 delivery fee per Prime pantry box.

Additional Benefits

  • Amazon Prime also offers discounts for college students. Amazon Student offers free two-day shipping on most items and half off on Amazon Prime membership fee. If you own a Kindle device, you can borrow (or lend books) through Kindle Owners’ Lending Library each calendar month. There is a monthly limit, so you can only borrow one book per month, however, no due date is assigned. You can keep the book as long as you’re an Amazon Prime member.

Alternatives to Amazon

Amazon.com is a website that originally specialized in selling books, but has branched out into DVDs, music, electronics and more. Amazon sells e-books, downloadable music and videos, apparel, health and beauty products, toys, jewelry, and office supplies. While Amazon.com dominates a large percentage of the online book sales market, there are many alternative web sites, whether you are searching for books or electronics.

Barnes & Noble

  • One of the main bookstore giants, Barnes & Noble offers traditional paper book, e-books, music, DVDs, electronics and even home decorations. Barnes & Noble also offers the Nook, a rival to Amazon’s Kindle e-reader. Barnes & Noble’s website uses a similar shopping cart structure to Amazon and provides the same shipping options. Barnes & Noble also offers prepackaged boxed sets for gifts or collections.


  • Borders is another major retail and online bookseller, offering a wide variety of traditional paper book and downloadable e-book choices. Borders also sells DVDs and Blu-ray discs, as well as CDs and music downloads. Borders offers craft supplies such as brushes and kits for activities that include as drawing, painting, and illustration. Borders also offers hot deals and online gift cards for many products, as well as the same shipping options as Amazon.com. Like Amazon.com, Borders sells previously owned books at discounted prices.

Best Buy

  • You may not think of Best Buy when you think of books, but the electronics powerhouse is actually a comparable alternative to Amazon.com. Best Buy offers a virtually identical, if not broader, range of electronics, DVDs and music. Best Buy also offers traditional paper books, digital audio books and e-books, which can be ordered online and shipped anywhere, just like Amazon. To find books on Best Buy’s website, enter “books” into the search bar to access Best Buy Books.


  • The site primarily known for auctions also has many merchants selling new products. Just about everything you can find on Amazon can also be found on eBay, from books and movies to electronics and apparel. Furniture, home decorations, gardening items, beauty products, gadgets and even cars are for sale on eBay at a range of prices, based on different merchants. One of the benefits of buying books or other items on eBay is that, like Amazon, you can find used merchandise in good condition for discounted prices.

How to Start an Amazon aStore

An Amazon aStore is an online store that Amazon affiliates use to promote merchandise. Affiliates incorporate the store into a website or blog. The aStore can also be a stand-alone website. An aStore can include any product for sale on Amazon. Affiliates get paid for each sale made through their store.

  • Join the Amazon Associates Program and become an affiliate. (See Resources for a link.)
  • Sign into your affiliate account and select “aStore” from the menu toolbar at the top of the page.
  • Select the products you want to sell in your store. You can include specific products or search by keyword for recommendations. Pick as many items as you want.
  • Group your items into categories. Using categories makes it easier for people to find what they want. An aStore selling women’s shoes can have categories such as “boots” and “athletic.” An aStore selling video games can include categories like “action” and “role playing.”
  • Select and customize a theme. Pick the color of the page background and text. Decide which font you want to use. Optionally, name your aStore and upload a logo for the header.
  • Click “Finish and get link” when you’re happy with your aStore. Use the link to embed the aStore into your blog or website.

How to Use Amazon for Online Shopping

With over 230 million active customer accounts, the online giant, Amazon, is the most popular online store at the time of publication, and even ranks as one of the ten most popular websites on the entire Internet. Even if Amazon’s own warehouses don’t have what you’re looking for, one of its third-party Marketplace sellers might — though potentially at a high price. Whether you want to shop from Amazon directly or in the Marketplace, head to Amazon’s website to start browsing the shelves or use a sky mall that curates different products from Amazon.

Find an Item

  • Amazon’s home page provides three methods to start finding and buying items. The front page itself shows off featured items, and once the site starts learning your tastes, it will display products based on your history. To find a specific item, type in the search bar at the top of the page. Press “Enter” to search the entire catalog, or select from the drop-down menu set automatically to “All” to search a specific category, which also enables the “Refine” capability for more specific results. If you’d rather just window shop, click “Shop by Department,” to pick a section to browse.

Make an Account and Check Out

  • As you come across items you want, click “Add to Cart” to save them. If you’re undecided, add it anyway and you can always take it out of the cart later. When you’re done, click the “Cart” button at the top of any Amazon page and select “Proceed to Checkout.” Your first purchase includes creating an account. When Amazon prompts you to log in, enter your email address, choose “I Am a New Customer” and fill in your personal info. You’ll also need to enter a credit card to complete your purchase. If you haven’t shopped online before, the prospect of giving out your card number might seem intimidating, but online stores use encryption to prevent hackers from stealing your information. To stay safe on Amazon, just as with any other site, never give out your password, keep up-to-date anti-virus software on your computer and watch your bill for unexpected charges. Some credit card companies also provide one-time use numbers for shopping online — check your card company’s website to see if it offers this feature.

Shop on the Amazon Marketplace

  • Many items on Amazon come from third-party sellers on the Marketplace, indicated by a “Sold by” line near the “Add to Cart” button. If both Amazon and third-party sellers offer the item, the large “Add to Cart” button buys from Amazon, and you’ll see a few alternative “Add to Cart” buttons with different prices and a link to a full list of used and new versions of the product. Marketplace sellers set their own prices, so you might find a great discount on a used item, or come across a rare, discontinued product that’s only for sale at a collector’s price. Even when buying from another seller, Amazon itself handles your payment, so you don’t need to worry about your credit card information leaking out.

    One important caveat about the Marketplace is that unlike eBay, sellers do not control their own shipping costs, and therefore cannot provide a shipping discount if you buy multiple items. Also note that some product pages include ad links to items sold on other websites, which are not affiliated with the Amazon Marketplace.

Return an Item

  • If your new dress doesn’t fit right or a gadget arrives broken, Amazon accepts returns on most sales within 30 days of delivery. In general, third-party sellers offer the same policy, although you’ll usually have to pay for return shipping to the seller unless the seller advertises free returns, whereas Amazon often provides a prepaid shipping label for its own returns. The cost of the return may be subtracted from the refund if the item was returned for some other reason than Amazon’s mistake.

    To start a return, visit the Returns Center, press “Return Items” and pick a product. A few types of items, such as groceries and high-priced goods, carry different return policies, which you can check on the return policy page.

Save With Amazon Prime

  • Amazon’s Prime subscription service costs $99 per year and provides free two-day shipping on items purchased from Amazon that display the “Prime” logo. Prime includes free shipping on Marketplace items that sellers opt to have delivered via Amazon’s warehouse, but not on most third-party purchases. Even without Prime, orders over $35 include free basic shipping, but Prime can save you a good amount on shipping if you frequently place small orders or need items delivered quickly. In addition, Prime includes extras such as Prime Instant Video, a streaming video service similar to Netflix, Prime Music, which provides free streaming music, and the ability to borrow one Kindle e-book per month from the Amazon Kindle Lending Library. To start a subscription, click “Your Prime” at the top of any Amazon page.

How to Use Walmart’s Online Site to Store Delivery

The Site to Store shipping method is a service that offers customers free shipping of online orders to any Walmart store. Shopping on Walmart’s website gives you convenient access to tens of thousands of items, many of which are not normally available in the stores. The Walmart Site to Store delivery method will save you money when purchasing products online.

  • Select your merchandise and add it to the cart. Walmart provides products to fulfill the needs of its customers. You can access their website to accomplish most of your household shopping including electronics, bedding, furniture, clothing, and various other products. Select the item you would like to purchase and read the product information. Once you find what you need click on the “Add to Cart” button. You will then be directed to the shopping cart and can either keep shopping or click on “Proceed to Checkout” to continue your order.
  • Register an account or sign in. When you are ready to check out you will need to sign in to your already existing account or create a new one. To sign in enter your email address and password and click on the “Sign In” button. Click on the “Continue” button in the “Create an Account” box to create a new account. From there follow the prompts to complete the new account set up.
  • Select the Site to Store shipping options. Once you are signed in to your account enter or verify your shipping destination and then select a shipping method. The delivery options listed include Site to Store, standard, 2 to 3 day, and 1 day shipping. When choosing site to store delivery your products will ship for free. The prices are also listed for all of the other shipping options. To ship using the Site to Store method you will need to select a store to ship your merchandise to by performing a zip code or city and state search.
  • Complete your order. After choosing the Site to Store shipping option click on the “Continue” button and enter your payment information. Then you will be able to review a list of all of the merchandise you are purchasing, their prices, and tax amounts. There is also a shipping information section that lists the expected arrival date, shipping address, and shipment method. Once you are satisfied with your order summary click on “Place Your Order” to complete the transaction.
  • Pick up your order. You will receive an email telling you that your order is being processed and to expect an email when the order arrives at the selected store. You will need to print off the arrival letter and take it to the store with you. When you arrive at the store proceed to the Site to Store desk, which is usually located in the back, and present your delivery letter and a valid photo ID to the associate. Your Site to Store order should arrive at the selected store approximately 7 to 10 business days after your order is processed.

How to Use Wal-Mart Discount Card on Walmart.Com

As a part of its benefits package, Walmart provides employees with an Associate Discount Card. Employees can use this card at any Walmart location worldwide, including the online store. Associates receive a 10 percent discount on any general merchandise that is not already discounted as well as on fresh produce. To use your Associate Discount Card on Walmart.com, you simply need to enter the proper information to identify yourself as a current Walmart employee.

  • Access the Walmart website.
  • Type “Associate” into the search box on the top of the page and click “Search.” This will bring up the Walmart Associates page of the website.
  • Enter your Associate ID Number, which is your Social Security number, and your Associate Card Number into the appropriate boxes.
  • Click “Continue.” You will then be logged into Walmart.com as an associate. Any qualifying items you purchase during that session will automatically be discounted by 10 percent.

How to Share Newegg Shopping Carts

When you browse the extensive selection of electronic items offered for sale at the Newegg website, you may find items you wish to purchase. As a registered customer of Newegg, you can place items into a virtual shopping cart for purchase. After placing items into your shopping cart, you may wish to share your Newegg shopping cart with others. You have two options for sharing the contents of your Newegg shopping cart with friends and family.
  • Visit the Newegg website. Register as a new customer, if necessary, by clicking “Login/Register” under “My Account” at the bottom of the homepage. Click the “Register” link and enter an email address into the appropriate field. Choose a password and enter this into the next field. Enter your mailing address into the remaining fields and click “Submit.”
  • Log into the Newegg website with your email address and password.
  • Browse the website, looking for the items you desire. When you find items you wish to purchase, place them into your shopping cart.
  • View your shopping cart by clicking the shopping cart icon in the upper right corner of the website.
  • Click “Print Cart” in the upper right corner of the shopping cart page to print out the contents of your shopping cart. You can then give the printed shopping cart to anyone you wish. Alternatively, click the “Email Cart” link to email a copy of your shopping cart to someone. Enter a recipient’s email address into the appropriate field. Add a subject and short message, if you wish, but this is optional. Click “Send” and Newegg will send a copy of your shopping cart to the recipient.

Choose The Right Cheap 50cc Scooter From Online Stores

Scooters are one of the most common transport modes which are used by the average person today. The popularity of the scooters is usually because of their easy maintenance, comfortable maneuverability and competitive price structure.In recent times, the cheap gas scooters have carved a niche for themselves in the automobile sector, primarily owing to their fuel efficient performance. Another feature that increases its demand in the market is the truth that it is the largest scooter that can be driven even without any special license.

Choosing to buy a 50cc scooter is the perfect choice for you to purchase if you are looking for a two-wheeler transport bike at cheap rates. However, these scooters are limited to 30 miles per hour speed and if you are under 16 the speed limitation of scooter can be delimited that also depends on the hills and roads in your area. This type of gas scooter is not about how fast you can get from A to B, it is about having a safe, comfortable and full of enjoyable riding experience.Nowadays purchasing a new scooter is a great way of looking really stylish and also to be in touch with the environmental issues. If you are presently considering to buy a scooter or an existing scooter owner looking towards upgrading and attaining all the major benefits of getting best performance online shopping is the best option.

There are a lot of advantages off using a gas scooter, the foremost benefit is its cheap price. Scooters provide an amazing performance for the cost incurred. This is the only reason of their immense popularity among all classes of people today. Scooters are also a great choice in terms of gas mileage. All these benefits of this range of gas scooter make it simply perfect for traveling short and medium distances. Thus, the economical advantage makes the scooter exceedingly popular with all classes.

Easier and less expensive maintenance of these scooters also makes them the favorite choice of all bike riders. Further, it is also quite easy to ride and operate as the functions are made so simple just like a motorbike. Though, it needs to be mentioned that they are much lighter and do not even require changes of gears like in motorcycles.

Finally, the transportation authorities have also approved the 50cc Scooter and have marked them street legal. So, now you can also save a lot of time by riding this gas scooter to a local marketplace as it does not require any special parking area and is fun to ride on roads.

Shop Online for Mac Cosmetics at Discounted and Cheap Prices

Mac Cosmetics is a renowned name in the cosmetics industry. It has also been found out that Mac cosmetics have huge demand, both offline as well as online. At present it is one of the most influential and admired companies of the world and that’s why ladies can’t get their eyes off while shopping.

Each and every woman likes to look young and happening. However, time doesn’t wait. However, Mac make-up and cosmetics can help you enhance your beauty in the most natural manner possible. In fact, middle-aged women, who are going through the agony of wrinkles and enhanced blackheads, can look youthful with Mac cosmetics, skin care and make-up products. In fact some of the skin care products can also help your iron out the wrinkles of your face and help you to glow like a young lady. However, comprehensive make-up tips will help you to transform your look completely.

In the fashion world, Mac cosmetics is a name in itself and their main target audience is the high fashion industry. The price tags associated with the Mac make-up products are generally on the higher side. However, their products are also made available in the market by many online shops at discounted rates under the ‘discount cosmetics’ section. One such online shop that makes Mac make-up and cosmetics available to all segments of customers at cheap rates is Wonderland Cosmetics. It is renowned because it helps online shoppers to get high-end brands at discounted and cheap price.

Mac Cosmetics was founded in Canada by two people named Frank Angelo and Frank Toskan in the year 1984. Among these two founders, it is the later who is responsible for the highly renowned products of Mac Cosmetics.  In the quest of preparing the world-famous products, Frank Toskan got help from a chemist called Victor Casale, who was also his brother-in-law. With this combined effort, high quality Mac make-up products were produced by Mac Cosmetics.

Mac Cosmetics started its first store in New York in the year 1991 followed by their second shopping outlet in Paris in the year 1996. After 1998, the scenario of Mac Cosmetics started changing. The excessive control by the fashion industry was done away with. Now, more and more products are made available to regular people at discounted price. Cheap and discounted cosmetics are now available at various online shopping websites like Wonderland Cosmetics.
There are various cosmetics and make-up products available at WonderlandCosmetics.co.uk of renowned brands. These Mac make-up products can be categorised into skin care products, fragrances, hair care, nail care and many more. In the Mac make-up section you will get all sorts of cosmetics and make-up products for lips, eyes, face and cheeks. The products available for the lips include Lipsticks, Lip Tints, Lip Liners, SPF and Glosses. Now, coming to eyes, the products are Eyeliners, Pencils, Mascaras, Eye Shadows, Brows and Pencils. In the Face and Cheeks section you will get Bronzers, Powders, Powders, Blush, Shimmer and Correctors & Concealers. If you want to get hold of these Mac make-up and cosmetics at cheap price then Wonderland Cosmetics is the answer.

Looking for Cheap and best Laptop Online !

This means that the laptop must be current with the latest hardware configuration and software. The first thing to take into consideration is the brand. Avoid choosing a brand that is not known. You might be able to find cheap laptops from companies that aren’t well known, but you are better off with going choosing a laptop brand you can trust. Remember that sometimes need to run advance programs to complete coursework. Depending on the degree a college student is studying for determines the laptop they should invest into. Yet there are great laptops out there that almost any college student should take a look

If You are going to buy the laptop , I will look for following features.

1. CPU speed
You would like to know the bootup speed, L1 and L2 Cache will give exact picture about how much time will it take to wake up?

2. Weight & Thickness
The next thing, you need to check is the thickness and weight of laptop. If the weight is less than 2 kg, it will be easier to carry the laptop. Less weight makes it more portable. Thickness also plays a major role. people prefer mini laptops.

3. Battery Backup time
Battery backup is important for all. A good laptop should support 4+ hours working time. The most expensive laptops have a battery range from 9 to 11 hours. You can get a good battery time by adding more cells at a reasonable cost.

4. Good RAM and graphic RAM

The latest laptops have a 4GB RAM. You can search for a 8 GB RAM for better speed. Graphics Memory of 1 GB or 2 GB will give upper edge for rich graphics and entertainment.

5. Touch Screen
If you are going to buy a laptop in 2015, buy a touch screen laptop. It is best to buy a 2 in 1 PC.

Here are some tips for buying the laptop through an online shopping portal.

1. Look for a phone number. Websites can give you their email address but, it is better to contact them via phone number.
2. Look for a professional attitude. Excellent customer support is required to trust the business.
3. Read reviews about the service. There are many shopping websites. Hopefully, many are not scams. But, it is never good to go blind.