My family were early adopters of the internet, thanks to my geeky father, who was a computer engineer at Hewlett Packard in the 1980s and 1990s. We had access to the internet in our house as early as 1993. And yes, for the record, we also had a Commodore 64 (which we used to play Paperboy, of course) and my earliest memories of using a computer meant STARTING MS DOS… C:\>_
I was also an early adopter of online commerce. As an enterprising cash-strapped teenager in the late 1990s, I used to make extra money for myself by selling on eBay all the random unused things from our closets, shelves, and attic… books, CDs, video games, and clothing. I must have made around $500 that way… a hefty sum when you’re 18 and yet to earn your own salary.
That was back in the day when eBay was still edgy and people were afraid of buying things online – they would nervously ask, “But is is secure to enter your credit card details on a website?” Well, a lot has changed in the decade I spent living outside of the US. Nowadays online shopping is not only accepted, it’s the standard. And I’ve gotten sucked right into it.
Before I left the US (for the first time in 1999, and again at the start of 2005 after a one year stint in New York in 2004), I mostly sold things online, on eBay and Amazon and Half.com (which was bought out by eBay in 2000). Since returning to the US, I still sell things online, but now I also BUY things online. What things? Like, everything.
Not only have I gotten into online clothes shopping, but I also buy all of the most random stuff online. It all started when I needed an American-size three-ring binder to organize my American-size papers. I went to buy it at CVS and a 3″ binder cost $10.99. More than a tenner, just for a silly binder? No way.
So instead of buying it at CVS, I went home and looked it up on eBay, and realized I could order it for under $7, shipping included for free, delivered to my doorstep. Later, when I remembered that I also needed a hole punch and a stapler, rather than go out to the store to buy them, I also ordered them on eBay, for a combined total of under $7.
During my period of initial excitement, which resulted in a flurry of low-value purchases, I did learn one important lesson: avoid ordering items from China. I ordered a stainless steel tea ball for brewing tea – for the grand sum of $0.95 – but it has a tendency to stick shut (I’ll need to replace it by buying a new one, which I’ll do online of course). I also ordered a beautiful flowing white satin dress from China, which turned out to be the crappiest, cheapest, worst fitting piece of sh** I have ever tried on in my entire life. So, I now limit my purchase to US-based sellers.
Long live online shopping! Now let me move over the to the next tab in my browser, eBay.com…