36 votes

I think I'm done with Amazon. Recommend me some alternative storefronts

This story was basically the last straw, but the bigger frustration is that I ordered a NAS on Black Friday that STILL hasn't shipped. I have zero trust in this company to actually deliver me what they claim to be anymore, and their listings are crap.

So instead of just spending my time whining (like the Ars comment section seems to be), I'd like to brainstorm alternative places to buy stuff. The main problem is breaking the Amazon habit, especially as it dominates all Google results for whatever you're looking for.

Nothing will ever be as much of a "one stop shop" as the A->Z store, naturally. But I think I'll just set myself up some bookmarks and go to one based on what I'm looking for. Also, while I get that there is no ethical consumption under capitalism, there is definitely a sliding scale of better and worse so that should weigh into things.

So let's go by category. I'm just listing out places where I've started to look for things instead. Please feel free to make suggestions. Whatever people recommend, I'll edit back into this list. If you include any general comments about what you like or what they could do better on any of your recommendations or any of mine let me know.

Groceries (Dry goods and sundries)

  • Target.com
  • Jet.com
  • WalMart.com
  • CostCo
  • Chewy.com: For dog/pet supplies

Groceries (Fresh/perishable and specialty foods)

  • Peapod (is this still a thing? Has anyone used it?)

Electronics

  • BestBuy.com
  • WalMart.com
  • Target.com
  • Drop.com: Unfortunately, it's whatever happens to be a deal at the time. So good to check in on and get alerts if there is something you're waiting for but not reliable.
  • TechnaBob: Same as Drop
  • NewEgg: Obviously
  • Monoprice: For cables and other staples.

Clothes (basics like socks, t-shirts, underwear, etc.)

Clothes (designer)

  • Gilt.com is basically for overstock and weird fashion items. Sometimes there are good finds there though, particularly good deals on designer versions of basics.

Random stuff (specifically random "flea market" type sites)

  • Meh.com
  • Etsy (for handicrafts and consignment/antiques, although this is also starting to get lousy with shitty knockoffs)
  • eBay (can be pretty dodgy, once again crappy knockoff scammers ruin everything)
  • CraigsList (if you're okay with used)

Other (specialty sites for very specific things)

  • Drop: For stuff in drop communities. Currently they have a very active one for mechanical keyboards along with audiophile gear, writing/stationary, EDC, and random tech.
  • The Clymb: A deal site for camping clothes and outdoor gear
  • REI.com: More outdoors gear

34 comments

  1. [7]
    Parliament
    Link
    I've been entertaining a Costco membership to reduce my reliance on Amazon too. Sounds like the membership is worth it to most people, and they compensate employees well.

    I've been entertaining a Costco membership to reduce my reliance on Amazon too. Sounds like the membership is worth it to most people, and they compensate employees well.

    15 votes
    1. Archimedes
      Link Parent
      Costco is pretty nice. I've actually bought a fair amount of clothing there as the quality to cost ratio is amazing. @NaraVara, Costco is a good fit for basic clothing.

      Costco is pretty nice. I've actually bought a fair amount of clothing there as the quality to cost ratio is amazing.

      @NaraVara, Costco is a good fit for basic clothing.

      8 votes
    2. [5]
      Akir
      Link Parent
      Costco is only worth it if you have a large-ish household (3 people absolute minimum), if they have a gas station near you that is not constantly busy (assuming you are driving a gas-powered car;...

      Costco is only worth it if you have a large-ish household (3 people absolute minimum), if they have a gas station near you that is not constantly busy (assuming you are driving a gas-powered car; no go for electric or diesel), or if your family must eat name-brand prepared foods.

      When it comes to food specifically, I find that food is generally cheaper at discount grocery stores like Aldi and WinCo. For instance, I just bought a 10 Lbs. Bag of potatoes at Aldi for $1.50 and the last time I was at Costco they had a 15 Lbs. Bag of the same kind of potato for $5.15. The big difference is that Aldi does not carry the big name brands all the time.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        Archimedes
        Link Parent
        Aldi is great if you have one close by but Costco is still worth it for my 2 person home. Not so much for all general groceries, but for items food items that have a shelf life of a month or more....

        Aldi is great if you have one close by but Costco is still worth it for my 2 person home. Not so much for all general groceries, but for items food items that have a shelf life of a month or more. Crackers, frozen foods (chicken, fish, fruit, veggies, pizza, dumplings, etc), protein bars, quinoa, cheese logs, wine, etc.

        3 votes
        1. Akir
          Link Parent
          YMMV based on your location, but Aldi where I am has lower prices than Costco so long as you are comparing by product rather than brand on most of the items you listed. But in any case, I wasn't...

          YMMV based on your location, but Aldi where I am has lower prices than Costco so long as you are comparing by product rather than brand on most of the items you listed.

          But in any case, I wasn't really trying to shill for Aldi so much as I was trying to say that you should go and do the math with the stores near where you live.

          2 votes
      2. [2]
        Weldawadyathink
        Link Parent
        Don't underestimate Costco gas though. I only commute 4 miles to work, and my car gets about 20mpg. When I did the calculations, savings on gas alone just about paid for the cheap membership,...

        Don't underestimate Costco gas though. I only commute 4 miles to work, and my car gets about 20mpg. When I did the calculations, savings on gas alone just about paid for the cheap membership, assuming I didn't drive anywhere except work and home. Add to that the food court, which is dirt cheap, and Costco can end up being a good deal even if you never go into the warehouse. Also, if you can get the Costco credit card, you get 5% back at any gas station, not just Costco gas. This is the best gas rewards you can get. The next best, I think, is discover's rotating categories, which give you 3% for 3 months a year.

        1 vote
        1. Akir
          Link Parent
          That is why I brought it up. Though in my experience it is almost always too busy to be worth the cost of my time

          That is why I brought it up. Though in my experience it is almost always too busy to be worth the cost of my time

  2. [9]
    Micycle_the_Bichael
    Link
    So this is maybe a wrong answer and at least a bit privileged but can I answer: buy local? Don’t get me wrong, you will pay more, it won’t always be as convenient, but buying from local shops...

    So this is maybe a wrong answer and at least a bit privileged but can I answer: buy local? Don’t get me wrong, you will pay more, it won’t always be as convenient, but buying from local shops where you can does help you community a lot and does minimize environmental impact from less shipping. Also depending on what you are getting it could be better quality too. It was something I have made a shift towards: spending 45-60 minutes on a bus to get something that day and helping a local shop vs ordering on amazon.

    14 votes
    1. [3]
      NaraVara
      Link Parent
      I basically buy local for anything that ain’t a pain to carry home. Stuff like toilet paper and bags of dog food, though, are too much of a hassle to carry around on foot. Plus, at this point my...

      I basically buy local for anything that ain’t a pain to carry home. Stuff like toilet paper and bags of dog food, though, are too much of a hassle to carry around on foot. Plus, at this point my city is so gentrified that independent stores with interesting stock are basically gone.

      7 votes
      1. Micycle_the_Bichael
        Link Parent
        That’s super fair!!!! I just wanted to throw it out there because the idea of buying local was like, mind-blowing to some of my peers.

        That’s super fair!!!! I just wanted to throw it out there because the idea of buying local was like, mind-blowing to some of my peers.

        2 votes
      2. ubergeek
        Link Parent
        Sounds like you need a cargo bike :) I kid, I kid. You're already like 9 steps ahead of me :)

        Sounds like you need a cargo bike :) I kid, I kid. You're already like 9 steps ahead of me :)

        1 vote
    2. [4]
      vord
      Link Parent
      Given that I work and commute 55+ hours a week and sleep 56, that leaves me with 57 hours of weekly free time...max. During workdays, I get to interact with my kid for ~1.5 hours total each day....

      Given that I work and commute 55+ hours a week and sleep 56, that leaves me with 57 hours of weekly free time...max. During workdays, I get to interact with my kid for ~1.5 hours total each day. That makes my weekend time extremely precious, and every hour I save directly translates to more time spent with my kid.

      Sure, I could spend ~3+ hours each weekend commuting and shopping with a young child. But you know what beats the hell out of that? Ordering online and having it delivered after kiddo's bedtime on a weekday, and spending those 3 hours doing literally anything other than shopping.

      Don't blame the consumers for making the logical choice (maximizing their free time). Blame the government for gutting worker's rights, which IMO is the only reason it's immoral to order from Amazon.

      2 votes
      1. [3]
        timo
        Link Parent
        These are two separate (but related) issues. Do you need better worker rights? Yes. Are you knowingly contributing to Amazon treating and paying its workers poorly by buying there? Yes.

        Don't blame the consumers for making the logical choice (maximizing their free time). Blame the government for gutting worker's rights, which IMO is the only reason it's immoral to order from Amazon.

        These are two separate (but related) issues. Do you need better worker rights? Yes. Are you knowingly contributing to Amazon treating and paying its workers poorly by buying there? Yes.

        4 votes
        1. [2]
          vord
          Link Parent
          No, they are one in the same. If companies haven't been succeeding at lobbying the government to gut workers rights since the 70's, we wouldn't have ever arrived at this situation. Turns out that...

          No, they are one in the same. If companies haven't been succeeding at lobbying the government to gut workers rights since the 70's, we wouldn't have ever arrived at this situation.

          Turns out that when everyone has no workers rights, and wages remain stagnant for ~40 years, individuals will gravitate to the stores that are cheaper and save them time. Because that's their only reprieve from their own low wages and excessive costs.

          If everyone earned a living wage from work, they could afford to make moral choices instead of survival choices.

          2 votes
          1. timo
            Link Parent
            Based on your previous comment it was about maximizing free time. If you weigh in cost and wage (for you, not the Amazon worker), it is a different discussion. What about Amazon makes it a...

            Based on your previous comment it was about maximizing free time. If you weigh in cost and wage (for you, not the Amazon worker), it is a different discussion.

            What about Amazon makes it a necessity for survival?

            And would someone actually make the morally right choice if cost is such a big factor? Wouldn't the extra money from a living wage be spent on luxury things, before one would make the morally right choice on where to buy their necessities?

            2 votes
    3. mrbig
      Link Parent
      Plus: instant shipping.

      Plus: instant shipping.

      2 votes
  3. [6]
    Archimedes
    Link
    Is WalMart any better than Amazon? I don't actually have a problem with what's happening in the story provided there are proper descriptions of the products and their condition, returns are...

    Is WalMart any better than Amazon?

    I don't actually have a problem with what's happening in the story provided there are proper descriptions of the products and their condition, returns are reasonable, and Amazon promptly deals with bad actors. I don't think it's completely fair to put all the blame on Amazon if people are abusing their system and misrepresenting things.

    9 votes
    1. anahata
      Link Parent
      WalMart was the first Amazon. They started displacing local stores with their stores in the same way Amazon does, with ridiculously low prices. Back in the late 90s / early 2000s folks were...

      WalMart was the first Amazon. They started displacing local stores with their stores in the same way Amazon does, with ridiculously low prices. Back in the late 90s / early 2000s folks were protesting WalMart's spread, especially in the suburbs, because they forced out a lot of smaller businesses.

      6 votes
    2. AugustusFerdinand
      Link Parent
      No, it's not better than Amazon and it should be noted that Jet is owned by Walmart.

      No, it's not better than Amazon and it should be noted that Jet is owned by Walmart.

      4 votes
    3. [3]
      NaraVara
      Link Parent
      Ethically, no it’s no better. But in terms of actually delivering me the thing I asked for when they said they would instead of defective Chinese knock-offs, yes I think they are. But healthy...

      Ethically, no it’s no better. But in terms of actually delivering me the thing I asked for when they said they would instead of defective Chinese knock-offs, yes I think they are.

      But healthy competition between retailers is one of the things that limits the most egregiously anti-consumer behaviors. So having two or three bad entities at the table beats having one big one.

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        Weldawadyathink
        Link Parent
        Walmart just makes their own knockoffs instead of Chinese ones. Levi brand jeans from Walmart are much lower quality than any other store. The same holds true for much of Walmarts stock.

        Walmart just makes their own knockoffs instead of Chinese ones. Levi brand jeans from Walmart are much lower quality than any other store. The same holds true for much of Walmarts stock.

        2 votes
        1. NaraVara
          Link Parent
          There is within-brand quality control though. Their surge protectors will actually protect against surges, for instance.

          There is within-brand quality control though. Their surge protectors will actually protect against surges, for instance.

          1 vote
  4. eladnarra
    Link
    One resource I've been using to buy from Amazon less is Amazon Alternatives, which is separated by category. It helped remind me of some places other folks have mentioned, such as Better World Books.

    One resource I've been using to buy from Amazon less is Amazon Alternatives, which is separated by category. It helped remind me of some places other folks have mentioned, such as Better World Books.

    5 votes
  5. [2]
    kfwyre
    (edited )
    Link
    Here are some good sources for books, for anyone that still buys physical copies: Better World Books is a socially conscious used book store that's allied with the Internet Archive. It's got great...

    Here are some good sources for books, for anyone that still buys physical copies:

    • Better World Books is a socially conscious used book store that's allied with the Internet Archive. It's got great selection, but the item quality can vary (lots of ex-library books with covers, stickers, or damage).

    • Book Outlet sells remaindered books for cheap. Selection is more limited than BWB (and a lot of their stock isn't great), but the books are new (with only a remainder mark).

    • InStockTrades is good for comics and graphic novels, with prices that often beat Amazon.

    And an un-recommendation if you're trying to avoid Amazon:

    • Abebooks is a used book marketplace that is owned by Amazon.
    6 votes
    1. monarda
      Link Parent
      I came across this older topic because I was searching for something else, but I remember when it came up and meant to post this: Powell's Books is an amazing independent bookstore that sells new...

      I came across this older topic because I was searching for something else, but I remember when it came up and meant to post this:
      Powell's Books is an amazing independent bookstore that sells new and used books. When I am looking for used books it is not uncommon for me to find a third party seller on Amazon that has it cheaper, but if I have the extra 2 dollars, I will always buy from Powell's. They have great customer service, and a store you can get lost in for days. Support independent!

      3 votes
  6. jwong
    Link
    I’ve been buying electronics from bandh and adorama lately. Though they seem to be better known for their Camera products, they also have a lot of computer parts.

    I’ve been buying electronics from bandh and adorama lately. Though they seem to be better known for their Camera products, they also have a lot of computer parts.

    4 votes
  7. [2]
    kayelcio
    Link
    Gonna throw out swappa.com for second hand electronics as well as aliexpress.com for a lot of the same stuff that is listed on amazon but cutting out the middle man

    Gonna throw out swappa.com for second hand electronics as well as aliexpress.com for a lot of the same stuff that is listed on amazon but cutting out the middle man

    3 votes
    1. DrStone
      Link Parent
      Aliexpress is one of the many marketplaces owned by the Alibaba Group, an enormous Chinese multi-national company. Other marketplaces include Alibaba, TaoBao, Lazada, plus all of their other...

      Aliexpress is one of the many marketplaces owned by the Alibaba Group, an enormous Chinese multi-national company. Other marketplaces include Alibaba, TaoBao, Lazada, plus all of their other businesses (cloud computing, AI, finance and payments, media and ticketing, and more). They have had plenty of issues with counterfeit items and scams with weak response. Additionally, as of 2019, Chinese government officials embedded in numerous companies, including Alibaba.

      6 votes
  8. TheJorro
    Link
    Staples has been amazing for electronics in the last couple years, at least in Canada. If general marketplace experiences apply, the US version is sure to be even better.

    Staples has been amazing for electronics in the last couple years, at least in Canada. If general marketplace experiences apply, the US version is sure to be even better.

    3 votes
  9. joplin
    Link
    For groceries, I use ralphs.com. It's a West (US) coast branding of Kroger's. But I can order online and either pick up at the store or have it delivered via PostMates. I'm not a big fan of...

    For groceries, I use ralphs.com. It's a West (US) coast branding of Kroger's. But I can order online and either pick up at the store or have it delivered via PostMates. I'm not a big fan of companies/apps like PostMates, GrubHub, etc. because of how poorly they treat employees and because they're inserting themselves into a transaction that have no business being in. But they deliver for other companies, so even if I choose not to have an account with them, some stuff still gets delivered by them. I believe Apple uses them for 2 hour delivery if you live near an Apple Store, for example.

    3 votes
  10. [3]
    vord
    Link
    Peapod is a thing, it's run by Giant. It is fantastic. Instacart, Postmates, and the like are garbage by comparison. Peapod doesn't subcontract out, with normal employees driving and picking. They...

    Peapod is a thing, it's run by Giant. It is fantastic. Instacart, Postmates, and the like are garbage by comparison.

    Peapod doesn't subcontract out, with normal employees driving and picking. They are almost always on time and their substitutions are always in your favor. Prices are reasonable considering that they are delivering them to your home.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      Thrabalen
      Link Parent
      Their substitutions are almost always in your favor. I recently placed an order that included sugar free cool whip. They sent me reduced fat cool whip. Brilliant... except, it still had sugar.

      Their substitutions are almost always in your favor. I recently placed an order that included sugar free cool whip. They sent me reduced fat cool whip. Brilliant... except, it still had sugar.

      2 votes
      1. vord
        Link Parent
        That's a fair criticism. Never encountered one like that personally. The main substitution methods I've seen from Peapod (roughly in order of frequency): Name brand instead of store brand Organic...

        That's a fair criticism. Never encountered one like that personally.

        The main substitution methods I've seen from Peapod (roughly in order of frequency):

        • Name brand instead of store brand
        • Organic version instead of non-organic (never in reverse though)
        • Replacing with more quantity (1 larger item or 2-3x of smaller items)
        • Cancel item

        They refund cancelled items, but for others they eat the difference between what you ordered and what they replace it with. On average, I'd say that they sub or cancel ~3 items on a ~$120 order. Not too bad, since I've had Instacart orders where over 50% of the stuff was substituted or cancelled.

        The worst sub I've had from Peapod was "Unbleached Bread Flour" instead of "Unbleached All-purpose Flour." I guess they thought the "Unbleached" part was more important than the "All-purpose."

        3 votes
  11. DrStone
    Link
    I've had good luck with Amazon, but I'm also very careful. Before a purchase, I read a lot of the customer product reviews, with a focus on the bad. I check the "Sold by" and "Fulfilled by", and...

    I've had good luck with Amazon, but I'm also very careful. Before a purchase, I read a lot of the customer product reviews, with a focus on the bad. I check the "Sold by" and "Fulfilled by", and check the rating and reviews of those in a similar way. I've heard about some online services that can review the reviews and try to spot fake/planted reviews. In the end, I'll only buy if both the product and the seller have a decent history (e.g. not new and medium+ volume) of good reviews, and the bad seem within expectations. It's certainly not foolproof, but it seems to have helped.

    Some random thoughts on OP's and others recs:

    • Newegg, along with Tiger Direct, really went downhill. Prices aren't as great, they added third party sellers t o the market place, etc.
    • Monoprice - Even with Amazon, I still get most of my cables and basic accessories here. Great prices, so far great quality.
    • REI - I love this place. Quality gear, good prices, knowledgable staff (in-store), run as co-op, runs outdoor classes and excursions (local stores).
    • Adorama - Got a great deal on a photo printer here a while back, something like $500 for $150.
    • Costco - Haven't tried their online shop, but having a membership is great for a family. Bulk groceries, car tires, clothing basics, mattresses, and more. They've got good prices on good quality for a lot of things.
    3 votes