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Holiday Shoppers: Find Unique Gifts Online while Saving Time and Money

October 2003, Natick, Mass. - Smart shoppers can find the perfect gift while saving time and money by shopping online, according to David Steiner, president of AuctionBytes.com.

"Traditionally, this is the time of year that merchants are stocking their stores for the holidays - and online merchants are no different,” said Steiner. “You can do all of your holiday shopping from the comfort of your home, and avoid the crowds and long lines at the mall."

Large marketplaces like eBay and Amazon have proven to be popular stops for holiday shoppers. But smaller niche sites can also give you the variety and quality you are looking for in a gift. This year online shoppers have a couple of extra tools available to help them find unique gifts on the Web.

Search Aggregators like Google (http://www.froogle.com) and Yahoo! (shopping.yahoo.com) have developed shopping search engines. In addition to including large retail sites, the services include many smaller “Mom and Pop” sites offering a great selection of items, from hand-made jewelry, antiques, to collectibles and crafts.

“You’ll be amazed at some of the things you can find on smaller sites - and the prices in many cases are excellent," said Steiner. For holiday gift-givers, Steiner offers the following online shopping tips:

- If there is a collector in your life, online shopping is ideal for finding that one piece that will complete their collection. And don't worry about whether they already have an item. Collectors like duplicates so they can play with one and save the other, or trade for items missing from their collection. Online antiques malls like Tias (http://www.tias.com), Ruby Lane (http://www.rubylane.com) and GoAntiques (http://www.goantiques.com) offer a great selection.

- An extra set of a hard-to-find place setting or a replacement for a broken saucer or cup in a special pattern is a great gift. Check out sites like Replacements Ltd. (http://www.replacements.com) or eBay (http://www.ebay.com).

- Satisfy hard-to-please family members and friends by buying memorabilia. Consider a vintage movie poster or a celebrity autograph for the people who already have everything. Something that might remind a person of their childhood or a happy time in their lives is a great gift.

- Check out some of the smaller auction sites such as ePier (http://www.epier.com), SellYourItem (http://www.sellyouritem.com) or BidVille (http://www.bidville.com) These sites may have hidden gems that are great deals because they’re not as heavily trafficked as eBay or Amazon.

- A wide range of books exists to satisfy collectors. For example, Miller's Movie Collectibles by Rudy and Barbara Franchi covers all aspects of collecting movie memorabilia with current values, sources, history, terminology and trends. You can buy the collecting-related books online (new or used) on book sites like Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com) and specialty sites like Collector Books (http://www.collectorbooks.com). You can also use a search engine for books, like BookFinder (http://www.bookfinder.com).

- You can find free-shipping deals online, or consider buying multiple items at once to save on shipping costs. Use comparison shopping sites like Shopping.com (http://www.shopping.com) and Yahoo! Shopping (http://shopping.yahoo.com) to look for the best deals.

When buying online, it is important to be a savvy shopper, warns Steiner, especially when buying on marketplaces like eBay. Use a credit card and be skeptical. If someone is offering a deal on eBay or another auction site, and it looks too good to be true, it usually is.

"If someone is selling a plasma screen TV for $200, it’s likely that the item doesn’t exist. Don’t try and rationalize why it’s such a good deal - just walk away from it," said Steiner.

Never, ever wire-transfer money to a seller, Steiner warned. And consider using an escrow service for high-price items, but be aware that there are hoax escrow sites as well - be sure to use a legitimate service.

Steiner's Web site AuctionBytes.com has more tips on how to shop wisely on eBay: http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y202/m08/abu0077/s03 There's no reason to be a last-minute shopper, get online now. And don't worry if you get something you hate under the tree in December. You can turn around and sell it online! "January is a hot month for online 're-gifting,'" said Steiner. "People are online selling the gifts they don’t want or that don't fit, and they're looking for the items they really did want but did not receive."

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Steiner Associates
AuctionBytes.com
PO Box 668
Natick, MA 01760

Tel. 508-655-5697
Contact Ina Steiner with questions, ina@auctionbytes.com or 508-655-5697


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