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7 fun and funky niche stores

I am somewhat embarrassed to say I felt completely giddy after stumbling upon an online clothing store called Last Exit to Nowhere.

I’m not much of a clothes shopper. I don’t head to the mall too often. But I do love t-shirts, especially t-shirts with a retro look, and here was a store with t-shirt designs inspired by places, companies and names from books and movies. You can buy an “Amity Island Welcomes You” shirt (think “Jaws”), or a Polymer Records shirt (from the record label in the movie “This Is Spinal Tap”), or plenty of others. Very, very cool (to me, at least). My credit card was out in no time.

That’s the idea behind the new brand of web shopping spots. Even if you’re not much of a shopper, when you stumble upon the right niche store or shopping blog, you’re supposed to think, “I’m home—I’ve found my people.” And then you spend your money.

  1. Shopflick
    Think YouTube for shopping, with indie retailers and designers posting videos to hawk their wares. At their best, these videos give you a real feel for the people who produce and sell jewelry, clothing and other products. You’ll be more likely to buy a product, the thinking goes, if you see what goes into making it.
  2. Cool Hunting
    They hunt for cool stuff, and you buy it. At Cool Hunting and other next-generation shopping spots, you get the sense a couple of stylish, in-the-know shopping mavens are tracking down products just for you. At Cool Hunting, that’s actually the case, with a cadre of writers and editors seeking out things to buy, from art objects to filing cabinets, and writing about them in a spot that’s a combination of a blog and an upscale shopping magazine.
  3. ThisNext
    If you take Cool Hunting to the next level, you get something like ThisNext—a web startup billing itself as “a social shopping network.” At ThisNext, you’re encouraged to recommend products you like, and then troll other people’s recommendations for things you might want to buy. Another social shopping spot, stylehive, encourages you to connect with other stylish types, then track the products they’re finding and buying.
  4. Mighty Goods
    At the web’s shopping blogs, taste is everything. “We spend a great deal of time finding and posting things we love,” according to Mighty Goods, a popular blog with a focus on well-designed products. “These aren’t just any old things, these are exactly the right things.” Like what? Well, among the items highlighted recently was a $135 kit to throw a “chocolate party.”
  5. Etsy
    Do you have handmade things you want to sell? Etsy is a community for selling the things you make at home, with everything from paper art to pet beds for sale.
    By highlighting items with big discounts, takes a simple idea and runs with it. When I checked into the site, you could snag a tabletop tripod for $1.95. You may not want what’s there, but it can be fun checking out the offerings. The same can be said of Woot, a website that sells one item a day until it’s sold out.
  7. Zazzle
    Zazzle’s motto is “infinite one-of-a-kind-ness,” meaning you can create, and sell, just about anything, from posters to t-shirts to bumper stickers.

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