Sunday, April 30, 2006

Beyond the NFL Draft: Online Touchdown Savings

Sports fan have been watching the NFL Draft this weekend, but I've been checking out options to save and shop. There are even sites for tracking down affordable bedding.

I've frequently spotted full-page advertisements for The concept -- brand-name merchandise for low prices and a flat shipping fee of $2.95 -- intrigued me. When my friend Ellen raved about, I checked it out. features excess inventory. For less than wholesale prices, Over purchases merchandise from manufacturers and sells those items at discounts of 40 percent to 80 percent below standard retail prices. In addition to partnership agreements with name-brand companies, Over acquires canceled orders from stores and items from companies that are downsizing or moving. Merchandise includes furniture, books, clothing and jewelry and other items.

In addition to its regular discounts, offers special clearance bins. A special page on the site features bins of books, music and movies for $1 to $5. Another bin features an assortment of bedding, shoes, accessories, jewelry, electronics and house wares for $25 and less. And regardless of the size or weight of your order, shipping is always $2.95.

While I was window shopping on my PC, I checked into a few other sites that promote savings. Here is a sample of my latest electronic expedition. (Shop It To Me) works like a personal shopper. You provide a profile of your shopping tastes (size and favorite labels), and Shop It To Me will find the lowest sale price from its pool of retailers. That list includes Nordstrom, Ann Taylor Loft, Kenneth Cole, Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue and other top stores. You can elect to receive daily, weekly or semi-weekly e-mails alerting you when the items from your wish list are on sale. sells discounts for restaurants in your area. For instance, after typing in my area code, I received a list of 212 restaurants within 15 miles of my home, including hot spots in South Beach, Coral Gables and the Brickell Avenue district. At those eateries, charges $10 for $25 gift certificates and $3 for $10 certificates. They are good for purchasing meals. Restrictions vary from restaurant to restaurant and are detailed on the website. One South Beach eatery, for example, requires a minimal food purchase of $35 and at another restaurant, the certificates can't be used for early-bird dining. offers discounts on beauty and personal care products, vitamins, prescriptions and other items typically found in brick-and-mortar stores. partners with Rite Aid and GNC, which sells vitamins and other health aids. Product savings range from 20 percent to 40 percent. Shipping is free for orders of $25 or more.

Of course, due to security concerns, many consumers are wary about online transactions. For that market, (bill me later) offers a solution. Through agreements with a wide range of retailers, Bill Me Later enables you to shop online, but receive hard copy bills through regular mail so that you don't have to use your credit card on cyberspace. According to a customer service rep, the merchandise is shipped as soon as you make the purchase, with the bill arriving later. Bill Me Later has financing agreements with Wal, Sports Authority, Linens-N-Things, Petco.Com and other well-known online merchants.

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