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The Best Alternatives to Amazon on Prime Day


A photo of tiny cardboard boxes with shopping cats on them

Photo: Achira22 (Shutterstock)

There is no ethical consumption under capitalism. But there are places to shop besides Amazon and the other big-box retailers that have set up locations in cities and suburbs across the country. On Prime Day, they can be a great way to fulfill your retail needs without feeding the beast, plus you might actually find a broader selection at specialized stores than in a one-stop shop. And because these stores can’t assume they’ll get your business in the same way Amazon can, they’re no stranger to running their own, often more enticing deals— especially during Prime Day.

Since I am Gizmodo’s resident shopping addict—this is not a story about my habits, let’s not get into it—it felt apt that I should take on the task of helping you buy stuff from anywhere but Amazon. And while you could still probably save a couple of bucks on some things here and there with Amazon’s Prime Day deals, consider what’s at stake when you press the Buy Now button in pursuit of convenience.

Experts like me have found other places with more consistent pricing and quality shipping practices throughout our shopping journeys. Here are a few Amazon alternatives to consider this Prime Day, or really any time you need to stock up on books, food, or fandom.

Books from an actual bookstore

Last Christmas, I finally figured out how to buy books online while still supporting my small town’s new and used bookshop. I’d been importing books through Powell’s Books, which is based in Portland, OR., to try to keep my money away from Amazon, but it was annoying waiting for shipping since I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I wanted my money to go somewhere closer.

I went to my small town’s online buying portal and learned they’re using Bookshop.org. The site lets you order from its warehouse and then ships it quickly to your retailer of choice. You can pay extra to have it shipped directly to your house, and it will still support your local bookshop. The site works internationally, too, in the UK and Spain.

ThriftBooks and Abe Books are also worth considering if you want to buy used books. And New Yorkers can always shop at The Strand bookstore for books and gifts, instead of at a giant retailer.

Beauty doesn’t have to come from a Big Box

I have purchased countless beauty items from Amazon, Sephora, and Ulta, with the latter two taking precedence because I figured out how to take advantage of the reward points to my benefit. But unless I’m desperately looking for a trending item that no other place carries, I keep Dermstore in my regular shopping rounds, especially as I’m stocking up on things like shampoo and skin care.

Once you start shopping at Dermstore, the site will add you to its mailing list for coupons and sales. I often wait for one of those to hit before I make a bulk order. Dermstore carries brands like Briogio, COSRX, ILIA, and even cult-favorite sunscreen, Supergoop.

For makeup addicts, you might like what you see at Credo Beauty, which carries a heaping helping of clean makeup and skincare brands. You’ll find items like Athr Beauty’s vegan eyeshadow palettes in stock, Kosas’ trending concealer, and Vapour beauty’s multi-use cream makeup sticks.

Stock up on food somewhere else

If you’re trying to avoid Amazon, rule out shopping at Whole Foods, since it was folded into the conglomo-empire in 2017. Instead, check out some alternatives to online grocery shopping.

If you don’t already have a Costco membership, check out Boxed, which lets you buy food and household items in bulk. The site features brands you can find in most places, including cleaning brands like Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyers. It even has my husband’s favorite canned cold brew from Rise Brewing.

FreshDirect is another alternative to driving to the nearest grocery store and shopping in person, if you’re looking for produce and meat.

If you’re looking into organic brands, you might also check out Thrive. It’s $5/month, billed annually, but it might be worth it if you shop one of the many brands they carry and don’t want to deal with weekly in-person shopping trips to a specialty grocery store.

Where to buy tech and gadgets

The joke about buying gadgets and tech products online is that they’re available in too many places. Although it’s another giant retailer, I will shop in person at Best Buy if I need something quick. Online, Newegg and Monoprice continue to be favorites for stocking up on things like cables, flash drives, and SD cards. They’ll often have a broader selection and better deals than the likes of Amazon, especially for hot releases like graphics cards.

If you’re buying a computer or smartphone, it’s worth checking out the manufacturer to see the deals, too. For instance, the Google Store will have discounts on anything in the Android/Google sphere, and the same goes for Microsoft if you’re using Windows (though I’m also seeing a sale on a Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 with LTE as I write). Lenovo is especially guilty of pricing pretty heavily, unless you buy through its website and take advantage of one of its almost omnipresent “deals.”

Sorry, Apple fans; there’s never an official sale on Apple stuff, though plenty of retailers will try to offer it for less, including B&H and Adorama. I’ve also had success buying devices and refurbished tech through eBay. Oftentimes, companies will also set up official eBay storefronts, like with Samsung and Dyson.

Feed your fandom (with stuff!)

I had to throw this in to honor my shopping ventures. If you don’t mind spending a whopper on shipping from overseas, JapanYouWant, Sugoi Mart, and Meccha Japan are fantastic places to get geeky, nerdy things from your favorite franchises.

But if you’d rather shop with a lower shipping and handling cost, don’t shy away from Hot Topic and Box Lunch. I’m serious! They tend to have massive sales and cashback deals that are great if you’re a fiend like me for anything with a Pokémon on it. To that end, the Sanrio store is now online for your kawaii stationery needs, and The Pokémon Center ships your fandom domestically.

Don’t forget to tap into your community

When I had a kid, my shopping habits and financial priorities changed. While I made a stink about leaving Facebook in my youth, I’ve since returned under a different moniker purely out of necessity, so I can access Facebook Marketplace. Frankly, it’s worth it. I’ve been able to offload all sorts of things in my household, from used baby stuff to manga collections that I didn’t have room to store. I’ve also found things I need, like a gently-used car seat to put in my family’s second car.

It can be much more economical to tap into whatever’s available locally than to always buy new. And it’s so much easier than the days of yore, scouring Craigslist for something that didn’t seem creepy. Sites like Mercari (where I just sold a pair of Doc Martens), LetGo, Poshmark, and OfferUp let you buy things locally, or at least from a real person. Toycycle and thredUP are also worthy places for second-hand stuff if you don’t mind paying for shipping.



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