What’s Your Modus Operandi for Shopping? Online or Brick and Mortar?

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Do you prefer to shop online or in person? Big retailer or small business?

If you had asked me this a few years ago I would’ve said that online shopping would be my last resort. Today, you’d have to threaten me before I’d walk into brick and mortar stores.

I’m all for shopping locally–especially if the item is artisanal, but almost every artisinal product I’ve bought can be found on their web sites or Amazon.

Whenever I shop at a fair or craft festival, I like to take business cards for the vendors and check out their web sites once I’m home. I’m less hurried when I shop online. I don’t have vendors (or other customers) hanging over my shoulder while I make a decision.

One thing I’ve learned to do when I’m surfing Amazon for something custom or handmade is to go to the vendor’s personal web site. The price will usually be identical.

Another benefit of shopping a vendor’s personal web site is that the selection is wider. The only disadvantage is that they usually charge shipping. Whereas if I bought the same item on Amazon, my shipping is free because I’m on Amazon Prime. I never thought I’d use Amazon Prime as much as I do, but aside from the free shipping, I get access to a lot of videos and books. There’s music too, but I don’t partake in that.

Shop Amazon – Give the Gift of Amazon Prime

For me, it’s a matter of choosing my battles. Shipping is my arch nemesis and where the line in the sand is drawn. Lots of times I find products cheaper from other vendors, but the shipping charges send them through the roof.

So I pick and choose. If it’s a lightweight item that I can’t find anywhere else, I’ll eat the shipping cost, but if it’s a heavy item, the cost of shipping will decide where I buy the item.

I’ve been burned more often than I care to admit when shopping locally–not for gifts but for necessary items. Once it was some doohicky for the central air conditioner. We bought it locally thinking it was too obscure an item to buy anywhere but a commercial retailer. It cost nearly a hundred dollars!

Within a year it went out again. This time as I was looking online for another dealer, I noticed Amazon had it in stock–for less than third of the price! For the record, this one is still working fine.

Before I make a large ticket purchase, I always check online first. I don’t want to cheat anyone out of their paycheck, but my first allegiance is to my family’s bottom line, especially when we’re counting in big numbers.

Living in the sticks, we’re far away from any cool, artisanal businesses. They live in places like Dallas and Fort Worth. Too far for me to travel unless I’m packing a lunch and a passport. 🙂

Maybe I’d shop them more if they were closer. For me, I shop online probably 85% of the time. The only things I won’t buy online are clothing and furniture. Those are the kinds of things I need to touch before I make a purchase.

How about you? Do you prefer to shop online or at brick and mortar stores? Small business or large retailers?

And do you live close to a big city or do you live in the boonies?

Are you finished Christmas shopping? I still have to bake goodies for the neighbors. We’ve invited a lot of them for a Christmas party this Sunday. The list has grown a bit, but that’s okay. We hardly ever see our neighbors and we should.



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  1. Online without a doubt – even for groceries – which has one distinct advantage: your bill is updated item by item in the basket and I find that a sobering check on impulse buys. Mind you, for fresh meat, fruit and veg I prefer our locals shops that allow you to poke and prod and select the freshest there. Good in a small market town.
    Ref books and diverse items it’s usually Amazon. Hardly surprising really 🙂

    • Mike: What a smart observation about seeing your total item by item. I never thought about that.

      I still can’t bring myself to shop for groceries online. Sometimes I’m tempted, but my shopping is intuitive. If I see something on clearance I hadn’t expected, we might be having that than what’s on the menu.

  2. Sherri/Raelyn

    My time is limited so I do a lot of online shopping even if I pick up at the store to save shipping costs. I’d do more of my grocery shopping online if I could use my paper coupons as well as the digital ones associated with the store. That being said, I’m trying to be more small and local focused.

  3. Sherri: We’ve done that recently with some solar panels we ordered. It was cheaper to pick them up at the store. All we had to do was choose the store closest to us.

    re: shopping local
    It helps the community as a whole if you stay local. The money tends to stay in town. The same can be said for hiring help. If you can hire local instead of the big commercial enterprises, the cost is usually lower and they can end up with loyal customers.

  4. To be honest, I’m not much of a shopper so I’ve simplified this area of my life a lot. Beginning with clothing, I have two places online and one local small shop that I like to visit each season. From there I do use amazon, just got a Silhouette Cameo from them. It was just easier than trying to go into a retail store and deal with all the people. Groceries though is that chore that I’m trying to simplify and figure out… Shopping in general is just something I try to avoid.

    • Carole: I really need to buy some clothes but I hate the whole process. I don’t care for the styles or the quality, but I have to wear something. 🙂

      I don’t mind grocery shopping, though I prefer to do it alone and at odd hours to avoid the crowds.

  5. betty

    I do a mixture of both; online and in person. Wal-Mart in my opinion has really good online shopping and free delivery, usually 2 days later. I’m an introvert so its good for me to get out and actually go to the stores. I could easily become a hermit with all the opportunities to do things online these days 🙂 Your party does sound like it will be a fun one!


    • Betty: I tried Walmart a couple of times, but I picked up the items. I was shocked they were ready for pickup with 30 minutes.

      For the record, I am a hermit most of the time. I try to go out and visit with other human beings once in a while. 🙂

  6. I try to shop locally when possible, but being out in the country makes online shopping is almost a necessity. We also have to order online things like the carbon filters for our well, and parts for our Gravely lawn mower, which are not available locally at all.

    I make most of my Christmas gifts so there’s not a lot of shopping involved. I still have to bake cookies and make fudge, but otherwise everything is done. 🙂

    • Lynn: Once I retired and my long commute to the big city was over is when I started shopping online. I’d had enough of the crowds and the traffic. When we shop we try to keep it within 25 miles which is where our nearest towns are.

      The reason I hesitated shopping online early on is because I wasn’t convinced they had good security on their web sites. For this reason I try to use only one specific credit card for online purchases so I can track it better.

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