The online auction/sales site Ebay started a new promotion this year: For sellers who offer free shipping on their auctions, Ebay would knock 15% off of the sellers’ Final Valuation fee. The number of sellers offering free shipping is greater this year than ever before, due to the combination of a very weak economy in which many sellers are offering rock-bottom prices AND free shipping.
As the holidays draw closer, money remains tight for most of us. While we trim our budgets for ourselves as adults, it’s especially hard to come up with alternative ideas for good, well-made and inexpensive gifts our children. Take heart: You don’t need to make a trip to your local dollar store for gifts.
As a matter of fact, I honestly strongly advise AGAINST buying childrens’ toys at dollar stores. In many instances, these toys are cheaply manufactured overseas, especially in China. Their quality and workmanship is extremely poor. (Don’t expect a dollar store toy to last into the New Year.) Worst of all, foreign manufacturers don’t have to adhere to the same quality standards that we’ve set forth in this country. Do the lead paint and tainted forumla stories ring a bell? Avoid these stores at any cost for toys that your children touch or, worst of all, may place in their mouth.
You truly can do all of your holiday shopping for your children in the comfort of your home. All you need is your computer, usually a Paypal account, and the time and patience to ‘graze’ through all of the millions of listings. When you find a category in which you’re interested, go to the top of the category page. Scroll down to the ‘lowest price first’ selection; that way, all of the Free Shipping and very low shipping cost items come up first in your search.
1. Consider buying your child a Furby/Gizmo or any of the electronic talking devices that were so wildly popular (and expensive) a decade ago. You can now find them on Ebay for $20 or under; in many instances, sellers will offer both free shipping and the four batteries required. Look for sellers with high seller ratings who offer free shipping and batteries. I purchased two Furbies recently, both of which were brand new in their original boxes, were shipped free of charge, with fresh batteries included. One seller that I’d strongly recommend is ‘estatesale0’. Bob is a wonderful seller with a great rating; all of his items are shipped free of charge. He’s easy with whom to work, and has some fantastic buys. (I was able to pick up two retired Ty 14″ bears, brand new with tags, for $9.99 each – plus free shipping on both!) Other ‘Furby’ type items you might want to think about for younger children include the Baby Furbies and the Furby bean bag toys.
2. Finger puppets! They’re currently going for as low as 99 cents each, with free shipping. Some are handmade and are just adorable. Look to buy from the same seller who offers the free shipping: you can get half a dozen finger puppets for $6, with no sales tax and free shipping.
3. Ty Beanie babies are going for as low as $3 – brand new, with their original tags still attached – with free shipping.
4. The popular Webkidz are also a consideration. I found several available for a buy it now price of $9.99, brand new – and again with that free shipping. You can, of course, save time and money if you purchase one or more from the same seller offering the no-price shipping.
5. Consider searching for bikes, tricycles, scooters and skateboards in this way: Look for items that are “Free: Pick Up Only”. Zero in on your own geographic area, and you’ll be surprised – as I was – with how many sellers are offering dirt-cheap prices on many brand new or slightly used riding vehicles, if you pick up the item yourself.
6. The same theory holds true for playground equipment and playhouses. Search again using the “lowest shipping price first” comparison feature, and up first will pop those items for sale which are offered at no shipping charge because they’re large enough to require local pickup only. You can find some incredible buys that way.
Look for dollhouses, large dolls, plastic play ‘kitchen’, ‘grocery store’ and other larger toy items this way as well. You’re bound to find something within a 10 or 15 minute drive that’s offered at a tremendous discount because it has a limited geographic area.
7. Kites! I found kites, brand new in their original packages, for as low as 99 cents, with free shipping.
8. Look for soft play balls, and stuffed soccer balls – all of which were brand new and priced under $8 – with free shipping.
9. There were quite a few Etch a Sketch and drawing sets offered with free shipping. Look for items that are brand new with their original box for these.
10. Kids’ clothing of all types! Again, remember to hit that comparison key at the top of your search page so that the ‘lowest shipping price first’ listings come up. There are some incredible buys on high end, brand new with tag items, as well as gently used. I’d advise staying with the higher brands, even if the price is slightly higher, for this reason. Designer kids’ duds last longer. Old Navy items are designed pretty much to last one season, if that. Also, you can always re-sell designer kids’ clothing when your own children have outgrown them – something that you can’t do with Old Navy, K-Mart and WalMart brands. As the holidays draw closer, prices on childrens’ clothing – as well as toys – will continue to drop as sellers become more desperate to unload their auctions.
Remember, there’s nothing wrong with sending a message to a seller asking if they would discount an item. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I recently purchased a jewelery item for one of my daughters that had started out at a buy it now price of $350 for $148 the other day – with free shipping, of course! Have a great time!