These may well be sites that others already know about, but I do feel quite fortunate to have found them. There are several factors that I take into account when determining if I like doing business at a site. Price is the most obvious factor that people consider, and it does make a difference. After all, who wants to overpay for something?
To me there are two factors more important that price though.
- Security. I always consider security of the site. I want to be confident that I will be the only one using my debit card online. If the information is not secure, you are opening yourself up to fraudulent charges on your credit card at the very least, and at most, identity theft.
- Customer Service. The next consideration, and arguably as important to me as security, is customer service. I’ll pay a higher price to do business with people that seem to want to do business with me, that acknowledge that I’ve chosen to do business with them, and take that as a privilege. It should be treated as an opportunity to foster a loyal customer/merchant relationship that will continue. Word of mouth is still quite important to the success of a business.
- Selection. Not as important as the other two, but duh, if they don’t have anything you want, all the other points are mute.
These are my favorite sites and my observations/experiences with them.
Black Sheep Wools This spot has some great sales. For example, right now Sublime Angora Merino DK & Sublime Kid Mohair is £1.99 for a 50g ball. Now, here we need a bit of explanation, as it took me a bit to figure it out. The price displayed is Euros, but the price is converted in your cart to British Pounds (they estimate the exchange rate – this is explained on their site). So the £1.99 in Euros is becomes 1.73 British Pounds. They are a UK business; I can understand charging in their currency, so no big deal converting. Ultimately, the important thing, the one you want to know, is that that ball of Sublime will be costing you $2.84. You will find a free, efficient and accurate currency converter here to keep an eye on what you are spending while you shop/browse their site: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
They have numerous other items on sale at all times. Lot’s of Debbie Bliss, Rowan and Sirdar. This is just an example of a sale that’s been going on for well over a month now. I’ve bought quite a few to stock up. As well as pattern books, also at much less than anywhere else that I’ve found. Their customer service is excellent. The only negatives that I can think of are international shipping and broken links on the site. The international shipping does not cost a lot, nor does it take that long. I get everything in under 2 weeks. But, if you are in a hurry, then this might be too long to wait. They are friendly, package your items up safely, and write you little notes thanking you for your business on your order. The broken links never last long, I suspect it happens when they are updating their site, as they are 6 hours ahead of Central Time zone here in US. The times they have been broken are typically the hours of day that updates would be made. I highly recommend them.
Jimmy Beans Wool I just love these people and their wonderful yarn shop. They are a very customer oriented business. They have good prices, although they may not be the lowest all the time (especially when competing with a certain company in the UK – but Jimmy Beans has a far greater selection of items as well) but they still get a majority of my business. Why? Because, this is a company that deserves to stay in business, they truly like their customers and treat you as if they are fortunate to have the opportunity to have you as a customer. Sorry, but something so simple that has been missing in our society today.
I always get my order quickly and efficiently. In fact there was one time, over a holiday weekend, that it didn’t get here as lightening quick as usual, and they were upset (not me) and put a $5 credit in my account. There are times I’ve had questions and called them up and they’ve always sounded genuinely interested in helping me. Not just paying lip service. And I’m not unique in this area, read their customer testimonials. If you want to ask about a yarn you are thinking of substituting, call them, they’ll work with you. They give quarterly rewards based on 5% of what you purchased during that time, in the manner of cash back on a purchase of your choosing. They have ‘How To” tutorials and videos on their website as well as product reviews. They advertise that they are “your local yarn store, online” and that is just what they are.
Since this post has become o-sooooo long, I’ll stop for now. There is one more site that I want to write about. Unfortunately, it’s like a Milo’s burger to me, I can’t figure out if I like it or hate it, so I keep eating to see if I can decide once-and-for-all. The experiences, along with the more than $600 I’ve spent there in the past 4-5 months deserves to be fully explained.