Shopping mauled: You'd never know there's a crisis

John
John Gushue
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There might be an economic meltdown enveloping the Earth, but you might not be aware of that, if you're the type of person who spends their time shopping online.

Actually, not so much shopping, but just browsing around the untold number of sites wanting to fill your house with stuff you don't necessarily need.

Surf's up - There might be an economic meltdown enveloping the Earth, but you might not be aware of that, if you're the type of person who spends their time shopping online.

Actually, not so much shopping, but just browsing around the untold number of sites wanting to fill your house with stuff you don't necessarily need.

Here's a theory. When times get tough, it's almost a form of escapism to check out all that stuff ... without even having to go to the actual checkout.

This week, we begin with some sites that like to tell and sell.

GearCrave

www.gearcrave.com

Engadget and Gizmodo are the heavy hitters for tech toys (and, of course, ahem, for perfectly legitimate productivity tools), but there are other sources to consider.

GearCrave is like a candy shop for people who like bright shiny things. It's part of a network of "crave" sites, including screencrave.com/, for the movie buff who enjoys the anticipation of a forthcoming flick as much as seeing it.

Delight

www.delight.com

Delight is all about the excitement of finding that special splurge. Geared to women, it features a different "find" each day, although plenty of other things are on offer. Bestsellers include fashion accessories, candles, funky giftware and stylish housewares - with pricetags to match.

Dwell Product of the Day

www.dwell.com/products/day

Dwell magazine is a favourite in our house, even though we're not architects or designers or other professionals that build or remodel homes. The Dwell site is pretty cool, including a store that features the suave and stylish (and, often, quite useful) home items that the magazine favours.

Make a Muppet

www.fao.com/catalog/factories/muppets.jsp

Our eyes popped when we visited the FAO Schwarz flagship store in New York.

The website is packed to the rafters, too, but this is particularly cool. You can make your own Muppet, starting with the right body shape and colour, and then adding your own eyes, hair, clothing, etc. (It's up to you to supply the voice, I guess!)

Fred's Home

www.worldwidefred.com

Oven mitts in the shape of Pac-Man, ice cubes that come out looking like the Space Invaders alien ships, and a "pillow" to rest your wooden spoon upon ... it's all in Fred's Home, which features some of the funniest household objects you'll see today. Then there's the "Uncomb," for "that untidy, unkempt, undone look that women love," featuring a comb-like device with only a few tines.

If you're looking for truly unique gifts, or a way to drop a lot of humour into your daily routine, you could do a lot worse.

Fat Wallet

www.fatwallet.com

Fat Wallet is one of those sites that help consumers look for coupons, and while the variety here is considerable, would-be shoppers might be more interested in checking out the action (and the tips and warnings) in the forums section.

Grand Illusions

www.grand-illusions.com

An online store that sells Nothing. Literally. (Nothing, in this case, is a sphere filled with, um, nothing.) Puzzles, optical illusions, novelties and toys galore make this British site a nice little stop.

Onion Store

store.theonion.com

The Onion - the site that has redefined American satire - does more than just make fun of the high, the mighty and the millions of schleps out there.

It sells merchandise that does just the same thing. Hilarious T-shirts, desk items, and more are on sale; I want the gift box that pretends to house the iFeast, a supposed docking station that doubles as feeding dishes for your pet.

(I know people that would definitely buy that.)

Meanwhile

I've joined the hordes on Twitter, the social networking site that favours rapid, brief communications.

(Have something to say over 140 characters? You'll need to condense, or use abbreviations.)

You can find me at twitter.com/ johngushue.

John Gushue is a news writer for CBCNews.ca in St. John's. E-mail: surf@thetelegram.com. Read past Surf's Up columns and daily updates at his blog: johngushue.typepad.com.

Organizations: Fred's, FAO Schwarz

Geographic location: New York, St. John's

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