I try to not buy from chains, try to support local businesses and local artists, etc. But unfortunately, a lot of the local independent arts & crafts boutiques are too expensive, especially when I want to buy a lot of little things. Enter Etsy. Magpie suggested I visit MightyGoods, and Maggie often links to Etsy. I found some really nice little things for my brother, who’s impossible to shop for, and I also have started doing my christmas shopping– it makes it so easy to patronize a bunch of little crafters and artists whom I might never otherwise encounter. You can pay with PayPal, and some of the vendors will let you send them checks. So far I’ve been happy with the quality of the stuff and the responsiveness of the vendors. My only complaint is that the website is kind of slow, and it runs a heck of a lot faster first thing in the morning (or 3 am for my fellow insomniacs) than in the afternoons and evenings– so if you’re browsing, it can be frustrating– I’ve even timed out a few times. But it’s still worth it.