It’s a whole new world for shopping.  Gone are the days when the only way to get what you want was to brave the weather to go to the local department or specialty store only to stumble through the front door of your home laden with packages (and with aching feet) a few hours later!

And, thanks to franchising, it’s always the same old stuff.

Of course, hitting the pavement is still necessary to some extent, but here’s some ideas for online shopping websites that have some unique offerings, and can save you the gas (or bus fare!).

amazon.com (.ca)

Amazon was originally mostly associated with selling books, but nowadays you can purchase almost anything.  Case in point, I just typed “toilet paper” into Amazon’s search bar and not one, not two, but upwards of seven different brands were offered!  There are almost 400 million products to choose from, so the chances of finding something suitable are very high!  Their website is really user friendly too.

Amazon also offers a feature called Amazon Prime which,  for about 10 bucks a month, offers free 2-day shipping, free streaming of TV and Video, free downloading of Kindle books and more.

Shipping:  Aside from Amazon Prime, Amazon generally offers two different shipping options, standard and expedited.

Gift cards:  Gift cards are available in both actual card and eCard options.

etsy.com

Etsy is a marketplace of vendors from all across the globe.  All of the offerings are creative, crafty or vintage in nature, and all are handmade.  In fact, you cannot be an Etsy vendor unless your items are handmade.

Etsy offers a wide variety of unique or personalized items that you won’t be able to find anywhere else.  Another great thing about Etsy is that you can message the vendors directly in case you want additional information.

One of the drawbacks of Etsy though is that vendors often have “ready to ship” dates.  Since items are handmade, they may not be in stock.  This means that you will have to add this time onto your shipping, so the wait to get the item into your hands could be lengthier.

Shipping:  Shipping times and costs vary, depending on which country the item is coming from.

Gift Cards:  Etsy eCards are available in many different designs, but they are not accepted by every Etsy vendor.

redbubble.com

Redbubble.com is a really cool site; particularly if you like art.  It works on the premise that artists submit their designs to Rebbubble and they put them on various products like, clothing, electronic device cases, home decor and more.

This is a great place to find original, unique and fun gifts, and if you fall in love with a design, there is any number of products that you can get it on.  This is especially great for home decor themes.

Shipping:  Shipping times and costs vary depending on country but generally both standard and express options are offered.  Sometimes shipping times may be longer if you are purchasing multiple items, because they may be coming from different manufacturing centres.

Gift Cards:  Called “Gift Certificates” and, yes, they have ’em (electronic only)!

thisiswhyimbroke.com

This is why I’m broke is a website that finds cool and unique stuff to buy all over the Internet and displays it in one place.  Silly, practical, ridiculously expensive and everything in between.  The website itself is just plain fun to browse through.

Some notable items include a Harry Potter cookbook, a public toilet survival kit or an infrared keyboard, plus tons and tons of gaming stuff.

If you are looking for a unique gift though, this is it … on steroids!

Shipping:  When you click on an item, you are redirected to the page of the vendor that sells it so shipping could be different for everything depending on what each particular vendor offers.

Gift Cards:  Nada from the website itself, but many of the items come from Amazon, and you can get them there.

zazzle.com (.ca)

I ❤️ Zazzle.  Really, I do.  Again, if it is the unique gift you are after, you’ll find it here.  Zazzle is the personalization king; you can absolutely personalize anything in your home with the help of Zazzle, including your bathmat!  They also have beautiful phone cases with any design you can imagine including a large selection of watercolour and famous art print designs.

Zazzle works with brands too, so if your the person you are buying for is a Justice League connoisseur, you can find something they will love!

Another nice thing is that Zazzle has a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so if you have any problem with your purchase, they’ll take it back. I don’t normally like to mention this, because it sounds like blah, blah, blah, buy here, but I purchased an item from Zazzle once that I wanted to return, and they bent over backwards to make sure I was happy, and I find that to be rare nowadays!

Shipping:  Shipping options are expedited, standard and slow, with standard and expedited offering tracking.  You can ship directly to your recipient too, and they’ll take the price information off of the invoice.

Gift Cards:  Gift cards are available in eCard format and can be sent with a personal message; you also get to choose the design.

ebates.com (.ca)

Ebates is a great site if you want to save and earn money.  All you have to do is sign up for an Ebates account and shop at all your favourite stores.  In return, Ebates gives you a percentage of your purchase as a cash back.  Almost every store you can imagine (or that you already shop at) is included.

Also, if you refer a friend, and they sign up, you get a bonus ($25 for one friend on the .com site and $35 for two friends on the .ca site).  That’s not bad!

Shipping:  Varies by individual store.

Gift cards:  None for eBates, but you can purchase them for different stores, AND you earn cash back on them!

bonanza.com

Bonanza is an online marketplace that offers top brands in almost every category you can imagine.  There is a unique art and collectible section as well that offers antique and vintage offerings at decent prices.

Bonanza also offers a PayPal payment plan on items over $99.  So if you can’t pay it all at once, you can take your time.

Shipping:  Varies by individual vendor, but many are free.

Gift Cards:  None available for the marketplace itself.

eBay.com (.ca)

Ebay  is a very unique site that has been around a long time, and of course, it has millions of offerings from different sellers.  The nice thing about eBay is that if you are looking for something obscure or something that is no longer offered by the original vendor, you can often find it on eBay (and sometimes brand new too!).

Ebay offers the option of purchasing the item for a set price, or bidding on an item within a set timeframe, and if you win the bid, you may get the item at a lower price.

Shipping:  Varies by individual vendor.

Gift Cards:  Yes!  In actual card mode.