…In Which I Have a Good Shopping Experience

Hey Dot, remember how we used to go to J C Penney and spend hours combing through the racks of clothing to spend our meager allowance on another purple dress (me) or nothing (you!)?  We could kill an entire afternoon at the mall in perfect bliss, totally unaware of the implications of giving our little money to purchase some mass-produced, energy-gobbling product that would soon be obsolete, out of style, or misplaced.  At the time we shopped at Eastgate, a shopping center which didn’t originate as a mall but was reborn as one with the addition of a roof and a few walkways.  Remember how punchy I’d get after a few hours of shopping, walking crazy and telling jokes and prompting you to leave me a few steps behind, convinced that I would wrench the coolness right out of your existence?

Well, clearly we are older and wiser.  Fond memories aside, these days I’d rather be dipped in Lay-Row-Catch-a-Mellow Barbecue Sauce and blackened on the grill than make a trip to the mall.   Shopping for gifts this season, I prefer recycled and/or recyclable products, preferably one-of-a-kind and handmade.  I prefer not to use a tank of precious gas and three hours of leg time to find them.  Shopping on the web is heaven.  I can browse or search, compare prices, communicate with sellers quickly and without obnoxious hold messages, and have something perfect show up on my front porch a week later.

Which brings me to my excellent shopping experience.  I KNOW I called it “good” in the title, but I have a tendency to exaggerate and embellish and I thought I’d tone it down just a notch.  Editing aside, I enjoyed looking for stocking stuffers this year.  Mostly I found them by reading newsletters from various stores and organizations that send regular notices to my email box.  (These were not unsolicited, I signed up for them.)  Some of these newsletters contain a mixture of sales info and instruction like the newsletter from Lion Brand Yarn, which informs me about their featured products, but also includes free patterns, knitting and crochet teaching, cartoons, and information on topics like charity knitting.  Other newsletters are not product related but may have advertising from interesting companies.  I always find, for instance, that Knitter’s Review gives me comprehensive information on particular yarns, but also has a fascinating array of advertising from smaller companies in the industry that I might otherwise have never encountered.  Most of you know that my own store, www.Essiewb.etsy.com, is a part of Etsy, and you might think that I would be aware of most of the merchandise offered there.  Www.Etsy.com is a huge group of online sellers of handmade products, and there is no way I’d be familiar with even a fraction of the stores without some help.  I do use their awesome search capabilities to find specific products, since you can search by item, seller, color, geographic area, or materials, but for browsing and finding interesting items that are out of my ken, I read Etsy’s shopping newsletter.  That is where I found katiediditglass. 

Katiediditglass (www.katiediditglass.etsy.com) is an etsy store featuring three-dimensional stained glass creations that take that art to a new high.  I won’t describe the products further, because I can’t do them justice and the photographs in the store are beautiful.  What I will say is that the store is everything you could want in an online shopping experience.  The shop announcement tells you clearly and concisely what the products are.  There is an attractive, uncluttered arrangement of photos that easily clicks from page to page, showing each product available.  The opening page of the store also leads you to more information.  If you are concerned with the owners experience and expertise, the Profile tells you her training.  Have concerns about the seller’s reliability?  Feedback lets you know that she’s only received positive reviews.  Curious about the design or production process?  She gives details in her Profile.  The products are divided into sections that make it easy to find a particular type of item, and each item has several views, yielding as much information as if I saw it hanging in a shop.   Prices?  Incredible-remember, these sellers don’t have to pay the heavy overhead that Your Local Mall stores live with.  Worried about whether you can get it there by Christmas?  The seller tells you specifically how to do that.  Just want to talk to the seller?  Leave a message in the Conversation area, and she responds promptly.  I left two messages in my purchase process and had return emails in a few minutes.  Wow!

Okay, so the shopping part worked.  Yesterday the products arrived.  They were right on schedule and securely packed (kind of crucial with stained glass!).  Each item was individually wrapped and contained a beautiful blank card that I can use when I give the present.  A hand-written note from the artist thanked me for my business.  A couple of business cards were included so that I can easily contact her again.  Best of all, the products are gorgeous.  I’m so pleased to be able to give a gift this lovely without my time or torso taking a beating! 

Happy Holiday Prep to you all…

…and of course, Peace!

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