Who has delighted you?
August 31, 2008 9:11 PM   Subscribe

What online shopping experiences have left you absolutely delighted? As in "I laughed with delight when I opened the box?" I want to start building a list of *great* places to buy gifts for my friends/family, and I'm sure some of you know some great places. My inspiration for this question.
posted by pjern to Shopping (25 answers total) 74 users marked this as a favorite
I have bought three pieces of artwork from Lynda Barry on e-Bay (There's nothing up now... she sells in cycles). All three pieces came in wrapping that was a work of art itself. This picture shows the packaging, including handwritten notes from her. And those monkeys on the far and upper right are original paintings (incorporating a stamp) on the inner envelopes that the pieces I ordered came in. The outside envelopes were hand addressed, and covered in kooky stamps. I lurve her so much. One note... is you are buying as gifts, make sure you let her know, she has a practice of personalizing everything. So one of the pieces I bought was for a friend, but the inner note, and painted envelope have my name on them (my friend graciously let me keep them).
posted by kimdog at 9:42 PM on August 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Everything I've gotten from Etsy.com, from various sellers, has been absolutely perfect. There's a connection between the artist and the buyer, and it usually comes packed with care, with a penchant for aesthetically pleasing wrapping. Definitely my go-to place for gifts.
posted by OLechat at 9:52 PM on August 31, 2008 [3 favorites]

Zappos. Vast selection, good pricing, lightning fast shipping, no hassle returns.

Crutchfield. About as informative as you'd ever need pre-purchase.

Newegg. Stupendous pricing, great filter options for searches, awesome and helpful user reviews, and very fast shipping. I won't be offended if you don't buy your relatives computer parts, and wind up skipping that one.

This is probably as good a time to mention that my last couple experiences with Amazon have been ASS. 2 out of the last 3 shipments from them have arrived open (those self-sealing book things they use are not secure enough) and exposed to the elements.
posted by tremspeed at 10:11 PM on August 31, 2008

Maybe I didn't really hit the mark with my non arts & crafts suggestions....
posted by tremspeed at 10:12 PM on August 31, 2008

Depending on the tastes of your friends and family, I find ThinkGeek has a lot of cool gifts for interests ranging from the not-so-geeky to the very geeky.

While it's not so much a specialty kind of store, and I'm not even a big shoe fan, Endless.com is just a cool freakin' site... you mentioned the shopping experience itself -- I really like Endless's interface.

I've bought several gifts from ModCloth that have delighted friends...

Finally, while they require a little extra effort:

Zazzle lets you custom make all sorts of cool stuff. The latest discovery I just found is shoes! Upload images and make your own shoes.. crazy...

Ponoko is another amazing make-your-own-item kind of site -- that lets you do laser-cut 3d products from a variety of different materials... super cool!
posted by twiggy at 10:43 PM on August 31, 2008 [2 favorites]

Seconding Newegg (in case your friends and family enjoy receiving computer-related goods as gifts). I once ordered a jump drive from their website, and it arrived THE NEXT DAY.
posted by chicainthecity at 11:15 PM on August 31, 2008

Proflowers. Never fails to amaze me when I pull their flowers out of a box just after the UPS guy shows up. Always impresses my mother too.
posted by taubman at 2:01 AM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you were in New Zealand, I would suggest Jumping Tangents, because not only do they sell a range of beautiful gifts, but they do a gorgeous job of wrapping them up, which makes opening the parcel an experience in itself.
posted by slightlybewildered at 2:22 AM on September 1, 2008

I find smaller companies give the best service. Two I've really liked are Fred Aldous and Demijohn, though I realise neither are much use to you if outside the UK. The former responded to a site question I sent to them by telling me one of their staff knows how to do the craft I wanted to learn, and if I wanted to know more I could just phone up and get talked through it. They obviously love what they do and shopping with places like that is always a nice experience.

I'd also second Etsy.
posted by mippy at 4:17 AM on September 1, 2008

I bought a piece of artwork from Amy Ruppel and it was a delight from start to finish. You need to keep an eye on her website for the next sale, there's usually one every 2 months or so.

Payment was simple, we had a short but very friendly and helpful email exchange and the picture when it arrived was perfect.
posted by ceri richard at 8:16 AM on September 1, 2008

I ordered an unfortunate (alien) animal from Cat Grey at morbidtendencies.com as a gift, and my friend still talks about the cool wrapping. It came in a tie-died scap of cloth, wrapped in leaves and weird string. It was awesome.
posted by gemmy at 9:20 AM on September 1, 2008

Anthropologie has lovely packaging - white boxes and beautiful tissue. Perpetual Kid always includes extra little toys and stuff.

Also, I find that many sellers on Etsy are really creative with packaging - in fact, I think that the more independent/small a business is, the better your chances of receiving a really great package. I've love the packages that I receive from Darling Shoppe, Pink Loves Brown and Made by Girl, for instance.
posted by mewithoutyou at 9:54 AM on September 1, 2008

I've love

Sigh. I love.
posted by mewithoutyou at 9:55 AM on September 1, 2008

I love the packaging (wrapped in tissue and ribbon) and address label ("To the fantastic:") from One More Mile Running.

However, their opinion of how big a size large measures is vastly smaller than mine. The item I ordered was friggin' tiny for a size large. At least returns were professional and prompt.
posted by 26.2 at 10:59 AM on September 1, 2008

I've had wonderful experiences buying things from Novica.
I first found them when searching for a hand-made chess set for my father; the set I bought was incredibly beautiful, came lovingly wrapped and with a card from the people who made it. I've bought several gifts since then and everyone has loved them.
posted by smoakes at 2:02 PM on September 1, 2008

posted by fixedgear at 5:50 PM on September 1, 2008

I bought a T-Shirt and a CD from the band The Octopus Project and they included a bunch of weird little knickknacks, like a glow-in-the-dark spider ring, and a bunch of candy. They have more types of merch available than usual for a band, but I'm not certain their selections would appeal to anyone who wasn't into their music (which I really enjoy, personally).
posted by whir at 5:51 PM on September 1, 2008

Levenger. Most of their biz is internet/catalog mail order, but I've been to their Chicago store inside Macys and it's great. Many of their products come in lovely boxes that make you feel good for having given them.

Maybe not quite laughing with delight stuff, since it's essentially high end office supplies, but the things I've bought from them are pretty delightful. And very clever & nonboring.
posted by altcountryman at 7:28 PM on September 1, 2008


Aside from the overall kitschy and just-plain-fun atmosphere of their site, the packages they ship their shirts in are funny as well.

They're your normal plasticy envelope type deals, but, they've got the Threadless logo and such on them, in addition to having a saying to the effect of "The person that ordered this is awesome!" or "There's something awesome inside this package!".

I heart Threadless, and the experience with them both online and unwrapping.
posted by mrhaydel at 9:00 PM on September 1, 2008

A book from Blurb..
It's not an instant gift - it takes three to four hours to make a basic album without a lot of text, but my mom was moved enough to cry in delight for an hour on the phone when she got the album I made her.
posted by ye#ara at 11:43 PM on September 1, 2008

I had a good shopping experience with Design A Mosaic. The recipients were very happy with the photo mosaics and it only took about 20 minutes to upload my photos and place the order. The customer service was also helpful when I had some special requests for one of the photo mosaics. Similar to what Yeara mentioned about Blurb, I think a gift that uses photos of yourselves is particularly sentimental.
posted by JonBFSU at 11:54 AM on September 3, 2008

Context Clothing has very clean and modern looking packaging, quite Euro-stylish as befits the clothing they sell.

Busy Beaver Buttons, have really cool custom envelopes and the care instructions that come with the buttons are a done in a Little Golden Books style which can be seen on the webpage.

The McSweeney's Quarterly Concern is flawlessly designed and laid out, especially the latest one which took my breath away, the mailing materials, however are pretty boring.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 11:45 AM on September 4, 2008

I was really impressed by Atomic Books when I got a gift for someone there a couple of years ago. An appropriately sized box, some stickers, a lower price and faster shipping than Amazon for the same item, and they included a DVD of random wacky videos that someone had burned and then hand labeled.
posted by togdon at 12:33 PM on September 4, 2008

I have been delighted with every purchase I've made from Amazon in the last 9 years. Despite being a huge company with what I imagine are pretty small margins, things always go without a hitch on their end, and they go out of their way to resolve any issues caused by third parties (e.g. USPS losing my packages.)

This may not be the kind of personal, individually unique experience that you gave as an example, but after a few bad experiences with other merchants, I have grown to really appreciate this reliability.
posted by qvtqht at 2:20 AM on September 14, 2008

I was pleased with the presentation of my tokidoki bag from Tobi- it was wrapped in tissue paper held with a nice sticker, and the invoice was folded in a neat little pouch.

If anyone you know is into mineral makeup, I've purchased from many places, but I've been consistently pleased with Aromaleigh since 2003- always nicely wrapped in tissue paper, a handwritten thanks on the invoice, and free samples.

As mentioned before, Etsy sellers are usually creative and thoughtful, one seller that I purchased from several times, and was like "Oooh!" every time I saw the package was mpatrizio. The envelopes had cute little personalized doodles, and one came wrapped in nice fabric tied with red & white string.

Lisa Snelling's Poppets are very cool little art pieces, and the ones I've received as gifts, or purchased for myself have come with decorative little boxes or organza bags, with handwritten thanks and a bookmark.

If you like dark humor, I recommend Demotivators calendars from Despair, Inc. They come in black mailers that have a large frownie :-( in white type. They sell Demotivators prints too, but the calendar is the pessimistic gift that keeps on giving.

Threadless can't be beat for selection and availability, but a couple of years age I got a t-shirt from People Like Us Collective that came awesomely packaged in a box (they appear to have upgraded to a reusable bag now) with postcards, stickers, candy and a toy.

I always get excited when I get a package from JetPens or Pencilthings, but that's just because I love nifty pens and pencils.
posted by andeluria at 1:07 AM on September 18, 2008

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