12 Top-Rated Shopping Sites You Never Heard Of

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Ever wish you could easily turn your bright idea into a marketable invention? Or that your recipes were digitally organized? Or that online auction buying were as simple as a tweet? There's a website for that – and we've broken them all down for you.

For months, two ShopSmart editors collected the addresses of cool shopping websites that they had never heard of.

The result is a list of 50 quirky, trendy, and handy shopping websites that you’ve probably never heard of either – even though many have already been featured in media outlets like The Today Show, TechCrunch, and The New York Times…

For one-of-a-kind finds

ShopSmart says these sites are great places to “discover essentials you didn’t even know you needed.” But they’re also great places to gift shop for the person who seemingly has everything…

  • Quirky.com: This site combines the invention process with social media. Anyone with a great new idea can potentially team up with Quirky’s professional designers in order to invent a product to be sold in mainstream stores. Definitely check this site out: Their manifesto video is fascinating, and some of their finished products are ingenious.
  • OfAKind.com: “Each week, we select one designer whose work we love to feature on the site,” says Of a Kind, a site that appears better suited for the artsy-fartsy and the couture-conscious than the penny pinchers. “We share a series of stories about that designer along with a limited-edition piece designed exclusively for Of a Kind.”
  • OneStepAhead.com: This site sells baby and kids products like clothing and toys. But what sets their products apart is that they’re hand-picked by real-life parents – all of One Step Ahead’s merchandise is tested and approved by their Parents’ Council before it hits the e-shelves.

For secondhand gems

All of these online marketplaces integrate social media…

  • Addoway.com: This site uses Facebook’s Social Graph to make buying from strangers less risky than it is on sites like eBay and Craigslist. They recommend sellers your Facebook friends know or have bought from in the past.
  • Yardsellr.com: “Check out virtual yard sales that link you to the folks in your social networks,” ShopSmart says. But I couldn’t check out anything: A home page popup forced me to sign up before I could view the site.
  • SellSimp.ly: Also known as “The Twitter Marketplace,” this site allows you to buy and sell via – you guessed it – Twitter. Purchasing is as easy as tweeting the word “buy.”

For trendy fashion

These free-to-join subscription sites recommend monthly purchases based on your fashion taste…

  • JewelMint.com: This site is run by celebrity stylist/designer Cher Coulter and actress Kate Bosworth, who hand-pick the pieces the site sells. If this piques your curiosities, definitely check out their How It Works video.
  • SendTheTrend.com: The accessories version of Jewel Mint, this site sells jewelry plus bags, scarves, and sunglasses.
  • SoleSociety.com: This site is the shoe version: As they put it, “Choose your favorite heel, wedge, flat or bootie for just $49.95 per month.”

For kitchen gadgets

Thanks to these websites, locating hard-to-find ingredients and tools is a snap, and making dinner every night despite a busy schedule is easier…

  • ChefShop.com: This site’s motto sums it up: “Supporting family-owned artisan producers of hard-to-find ingredients since 1999.” But as ShopSmart points out, they won’t sell out of season, so while you can order cherries year-round, you won’t receive them till June.
  • KitchenMonki.com: This site offers free tools to make mealtime less stressful and time-consuming. It’s designed to digitally organize your recipe collection the way your MP3 player organizes your music collection: “We built Kitchen Monki to be a hard-core productivity tool. Use it to organize your own recipes. Use it to share recipes among your friends. Or our favorite, use it to automate grocery list preparation.”
  • Store.GourmetSleuth.com: This site sells hard-to-find tools and rare ingredients from all over the world. If you’re unsure what to do with your exotic purchases, they also offer free recipes to tie it all together.

Karla Bowsher runs the Deals page; writes “Today’s Deals” posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; and shares consumer wisdom every Thursday. If you have a comment, suggestion, or question, leave a comment or contact her at [email protected].

Stacy Johnson

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