Monday, November 26, 2012

"Deal" Sites - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Let me start off by saying.. I love a good deal. I really do. But with the introduction of SOOOOO many deal sites out there, how do you know which ones are truly giving you a good deal? How do you know if they are a legitimate company? It seems like nearly daily I'm hearing about a "great new deal site." By no means have I bought from even 10% of the sites out there. But I have had experiences with several and wanted to share.

Topping my "good list" is I'm not 100% sure it was the original "deal" site, but it seems to be dang legit and I have NEVER had a problem. I have scored some amazing deals. And better yet, if you go use Ebates, you can earn cash back rebates for your Groupon purchases. These lovely little rebates get direct deposited into your Paypal account quarterly.

The majority of my Groupon purchases have been for hotel stays, passes to the local aquarium, etc. I haven't done much Groupon goods shopping. But I have been 100% pleased with every transaction so far.

My "deal site" days started with Zulily and Totsy. I still shop them occassionally, but have found the "deals" aren't always great deals. Sometimes you can find the same brands elsewhere on better sales, and you don't have to wait 3 - 6 weeks to receive your items either.

Among my deal sites favorites are Plum District, The Clymb, and SniqueAway.

One site, I used to watch a lot was VeryJane. But lately, I've seen soooo disappointed in the items offered. For example:

This lovely necklace is on right now for $7.99 with $2.99 shipping. $11 for a cute J Crew inspired necklace sure. Not bad.

But sadly enough you can buy that same necklace direct from China for $5.95 each with free shipping. (to buy direct from China via AliExpress... Click Here)

I know.. wholesale > retail > consumer. Right? I just don't think items like this have a place on a "deal site." Especially one that represents sellers who genuinely sell hand crafted, made local items. I believe it de-values the sellers that do craft their items. They are forced to sell cheaper, their time is worth less, just to compete with someone who just buys their goods from overseas sellers.

I've heard mixed reviews about Living Social, No More Rack, and the likes. I haven't purchased from them myself though. I tried once and found the situation horribly frustrating to claim my voucher, but it worked in the end and was worth the deal.

Now for the ugly.... Absolutely nothing tops the horrible experience I've had with I do have to credit for opening my eyes to the deal site world and all the bad it could hold. My first order with SneakPeeq was for a nail polish. They bragged it was 60% off or something like that. It took almost 2 months to arrive, and when I loved it and went online to find it elsewhere... I found you can buy it direct from many websites for $3 - $5 less than what I'd paid from the "deal site." Ok, my bad, I didn't do my research.

The wait had seemed a bit long... but I was used to Totsy and Zulily, so it was ok. Wasn't anything I needed in a rush. My second order with I placed on October 16th for a Diamond Candle. It was a good sale, and I couldn't resist. I knew it was a good price. So around November 9th, I contacted SneakPeeq for status, since the listing said 2-3 weeks from order it would be shipped and I'd heard nothing. No response to several emails to until 11/21, they told me they couldn't help or refund me and to contact Diamond Candles directly. So I did. I heard from them 11/24. They told me that by the time they received my order from SP on 11/1, the scent I ordered was out of stock.

Ok, my first question here... Why didn't DC's contact me to advise me of the backorder. Their response? They are still a small company that is growing. Ok, nice canned response, but really, don't they at least have an automated system that could send a backorder notice and give the customer options? So, they tell me my scent will be in this week if I want to wait for it. So I write back and tell them yes please, send ASAP, but if they cannot send this week to refund. They respond they have cancelled my shipment and I need to go back to SP to obtain a refund.

Now it's been a couple more days of "the runaround" and no resolution still. I will not be purchasing from again, and will likely never purchase from Diamond Candles again either. By choosing to vend through they are vouching for that service, and I feel the overall service is a joke.

To end my ranting here, I want to say, the best deals are going to be found by the educated consumer. Making sure you are getting a good deal by shopping around, making sure you are buying from a legit company, and being wise enough to recognize the deals you need and the deals you only want to buy because it's a steal.

What shopping secrets do you have? What deal sites are your favorites? I would love to hear your experiences with deal sites! Please share!

Oh and here's a fun update.... Petti Rompers on SassySteals... Because $11.99 with $2.99 shipping isn't bad... but to tell the consumer regular price is $55.00... Oh my wow. #nowords.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday Sale!

Use code "Black20" for 20% off everything in the shop. Today only! Ends tonight at midnight PST.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Typical Day in the Life....

Being a full time working Mama is HARD. Not sayin' it's the hardest thing out there, but it's tough. I find myself super envious of my fellow Mama friends who get to stay home with their little ones. I also know, a day at home with little ones is work in itself. I give kudos to the SAHM's out there also. Especially the ones with multiple children. But I really wanted to share why sometimes, I am just exhausted. I am spent. I need a beer wine prozac gigantic coffee vacation.

5:00am - Husbands alarm goes off. But really my day hasn't started here. It was at 3:30am when my 2 1/2 year old joined us in bed. I never fully get back to sleep after events such as this.

5:15am - I need milk Mama. Proceed to kitchen. Bring back sippy cup of milk to my daughter.

5:30am - She is poking my closed eyelids, saying Wake up Mama. Ok, fine, let's officially start our day. Husband comes in and says goodbye to us.

5:30am - 6:15am - Turn on Barbie movie for little one while she lays in bed. I make a pot of coffee. Catch up on emails and shop orders.

The rest of the morning until 7:45 or so consists of: Making our breakfast and lunches for the day. My shower, get dressed, get make up on time. (I'm LUCKY if I get 45 uninterrupted minutes for said tasks.) Battle of the wills regarding what clothes little one will wear that day. "I have to be princess." "It's not pink!!!" This.Battle.Occurs.Daily. #nojoke. Try to get little one to finish her breakfast and let me brush her teeth and hair. Optional: Fight with little one over which jacket she will wear to school. "Not the boy one Mama!" Who knew blue with butterflies = boy jacket? Sometimes she's excited to go to school and this battle doesn't happen. Those days, I'm delightfully on time.

8:00 - 8:15 - Drive little one to preschool. Hope she doesn't cry when I drop her off. Nothing makes me feel worse. =(

8:30 - 4:30 - I am at work... thinking, stressing, and obsessing over all the things I will need to do when I get home. On breaks, I check on shop orders, track incoming shipments, and reply to emails.

4:45 - Pick little one up at school. She usually decides that is when she needs to go potty, and I get to stand there for 10 minutes while she sits there and eventually decides she doesn't have to go, and we head home.

5:00 - 6:00 - Get changed out of the professional clothes and into something comfy. Unpack lunches. Start dinner. While cooking dinner, unload dishwasher, reload it, hand wash any pots and pans.

6:00 - 10:00 - Eat dinner as a family. Work on shop orders. Get items made, packed, ready to ship. Bath time for little one. Get her in jammies, etc. Cuddle time with little one. She'll usually fall asleep by 9 or so. Catch up on emails, more shop stuff, and the likes. Oh, did I mention that I am a host in co-op buys as well? Yeah, so track incoming shipments. Keep track of orders for that, etc. And research new ideas for future buys. Communicate with vendors. Etc.

Go to bed and start it all.over.again. Did you notice... no mention of laundry, or vacuuming, etc? Yeah, because Saturday and Sunday are "catch-up" days. I usually wash and fold 4 -5 loads of laundry each weekend. And my house is never as clean as I'd like.

I know, to an extent, I put a lot of this on myself. I don't have to have my shop. But I know how unhappy I'd be without some sort of creative outlet. And 99% of the time, I genuinely enjoy it. And I am grateful for how blessed I am. Sometimes... just sometimes. I just wish I had a couple extra hours in the day. Ya know? Cuz being a working Mama is tough!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

If I had a Million Dollars....

If I had a million dollars, had a million dollars, Well, I'd buy you a house.

Gotta love Barenaked Ladies, but for real... how fun is it to dream of winning a million bucks?

On long road trips, my husband and I play the, if I had a million dollars game and we break down what we'd each do if we won.

Here's my list. For the purposes of my list, the $1 million dollars is the "after taxes" lump sum I would receive.

1.) Payoff our cars and miscellaneous small debts.

2.) Sell our current house and purchase a home on acreage or have a modest home built on acreage. My biggest splurge for the home would be a "natural pool." Love the look of this!

3.) Payoff my Mom & Step Dad's house and my Dad & Step Mom's house.

4.) Give each of my siblings $25k. (The two that are minors, it would be held in a trust account until they turn 23. Why 23... well, I feel like that's when I really started to get my head on straight financially.)

This would total approximately $600k. So now what to do with the rest?

5.) Invest at least $200k.

6.) Vacation to Fiji, New Zealand, and probably Hawaii again.

7.) Invest $25k into expanding my little shop. And of course, quit my day job!

8.) Go on a shopping spree in Southern California.

9.) Take our daughter to DisneyLand.

10.) Buy that wonderful leather sectional from Restoration Hardware I've been coveting for years!!! (It's only the same price of a small economy car... lol...)

What would you do with a million dollars? It sure is fun to dream huh???

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Why I hire models...

I often get asked why I hire models for my shop, instead of taking advantage of the adorable little model I have living right underneath my own roof. And sometimes, I start to wonder that very same thing. So today, I decided to give the whole modeling thing another try with my 2 1/2 year old. Here's how it looked....

But, I did get a couple useable shots too. And we had fun!

Oh, and not to brag or anything.... but it's November, and it was 72 degrees and sunny here in Oregon. Couldn't ask for better weather!!!

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