Make Shopping From Home A Breeze

Making a purchasing decision can be difficult when you can't see or hold a product in person. But if you don't have the time to go to the store, or are just a person who prefers to shop at home, there are ways to make your catalog and online shopping experience better.

The Wall Street Journal's Catalog Critic, Lauren Lipton (www.laurenlipton.com), stopped by The Saturday Early Show to offer some insight on the best methods of shopping without leaving your living room.

Lipton gave six tips to remember when catalog shopping:

  1. Shop around. Catalogs often sell the same products; if the catalog or Web site is vague about the description of the product, call a customer-service representative for more information. After that, use Google or a comparative shopping Web site to see if you can find the item cheaper elsewhere.
  2. Don't plan on frequently returning products: If you are an indecisive person, stick to brands you know well. This will decrease the likelihood of a return. If you are this type of person, you should also look for catalogs that provide prepaid return stickers.
  3. Don't be afraid to complain: You can sometimes get a little more compensation for your trouble if you are unhappy with your purchase. If the item arrives late, ask for a refund on shipping.
  4. Check for coupons and special offers. Google the retailer's name along with the words "coupon code" or "promotional code" to see if you are eligible for a discount.
  5. Look for small, interesting online boutiques: Google a brand you've seen at a department store. A smaller site featuring that brand is likely to carry styles the big store doesn't have on display.
  6. Never pay by check. Always use a credit card that offers purchase protection. If you have trouble with the retailer, your credit card company can help you.

Here are Lipton's five favorite catalogs/Web sites:

  • Garnet Hill (www.Garnethill.com): A catalog of quilts, bed linens and towels, plus women's and kids' clothing and shoes. The products are consistently high quality, and designs are more sophisticated than other big-name bed-and-bath competitors.
  • Duluth Trading Co. (www.DuluthTrading.com): A seller of clothing and tools for contractors and other tradesmen.
  • Vivre (www.vivre.com): A beautiful collection of chic gifts, accessories and apparel.
  • Lilly's Kids (www.LillysKids.com): Inexpensive toys for babies through first-graders. The toys often don't have licensed characters on them. You'll find things like carpentry sets, buckets of little cars, and a carrying case with five little plush kittens. Plus, you can get lots of things monogrammed or personalized, which kids love.
  • Cocoa Mill Chocolate Company (www.cocoamill.com): This company will satisfy your sweet tooth in a big way.

    Lipton also recommends:

  • Neiman Marcus (www.NeimanMarcus.com)
  • Orvis (www.Orvis.com)
  • Athleta (www.Athleta.com)
  • Bas Bleu (www.BasBleu.com)
  • The Land of Nod (www.LandOfNod.com)
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