Researching a gift idea? We've gathered together some websites that might be helpful!
Websites to Help with Gift Research
Google - Safe Browsing
The lowdown: Doing some online shopping? Worried about the legitimacy of a website? A good place to start is Google's Safe Browsing Site. Enter the URL of the site in question to see if Google has flagged it for suspicious activity.
Better Business Bureau
The lowdown: Thinking about shopping somewhere new? Worried about the legitimacy of the business? It might be worth checking with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed on the business in question.
Consumer Reports Some or all services are fee-based $
The lowdown: Consumer Reports is an independent, non-profit organization that works on behalf of consumers. They conduct product tests and produce reports detailing their results, covering items as diverse as cars, sewing machines, boxed chocolates, credit cards - and, guacamole! Their site may be worth a visit, especially if you are planning to gift a large ticket item.
CharityWatch Some or all services are fee-based $
The lowdown: If you're gifting a donation in someone's name or simply researching where best to give your hard-earned monies, CharityWatch is another resource to help make an informed decision. Founded in 1992, CharityWatch is itself a nonprofit, with over 95% of its revenue coming from individuals who support their work through membership. Their stated goal is: "to research and evaluate the efficiency, accountability and governance of nonprofit organizations." Currently, they have rated roughly 600 charities.
BBB Wise Giving Alliance
The lowdown: The Wise Giving Alliance (WGA) is a branch of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), responsible for scrutinizing charitable organizations. In their own words: "BBB WGA reports on nationally soliciting charities [in the US and Canada] that the public has most often asked about as well as charities that request to be evaluated." In total, they report on approximately 1,300 charities. Additionally, roughly half of the 112 Better Business Bureaus in the United States and Canada produce reports on more than 10,000 locally soliciting charities using the same standards as the WGA.
The lowdown: We love gardening and, come spring and late summer, are routinely online ordering bulbs, seeds and/or plants. Dave's Garden is an online community of gardners, offering many resources, among them "The Garden Watchdog," a directory of more than 7,800 mail-order/online gardening companies, ranked and reviewed by the site's community members. We've found this crowd-sourced directory to be truly invaluable over the years and think you might too, especially if you're sending a gift to a green thumb!
The lowdown: Giving the gift of beer or hard cider? BeerAdvocate is a handy resource for researching both, perusing reviews from beer and cider enthusiasts alike. Know your recipient's favored beer styles? Give yourself a leg up by browsing that style and checking out the top-rated brews within that category.
Wine-Searcher Some or all services are fee-based $
The lowdown: Based out of New Zealand and launched in 1999, Wine-Searcher offers a centralized point for online wine shopping. Because it is such a large and far-ranging marketplace, it has pricing information on a wide selection of wines, as well as, data on historical pricing and availability, making it a handy spot to reseach that bottle of wine you're thinking about giving someone. The site also has a trove of information about various wine regions and grape varietals. Please note: the free version of the site prioritizes listings from the site's sponsors - complete price and seller lists are only available to Pro Version subscribers.
The lowdown: Bookfinder is a great resource in online book sleuthing. Looking for a rare or out of print book? Trying to track down a first edition? Bookfinder scans across 100,000+ booksellers all over the world to see if a copy can be found, returning a list of potential sources.
The lowdown: AbeBooks, founded in 1995 and launched the following year, was acquired in 2008 by Amazon.com. However, it remains a stand-alone operation with headquarters in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. AbeBooks is an online marketplace for books with millions listed from all around the world. It's worth checking out when trying to track down a hard-to-find volume or when you need to get a sense for price points on a particular edition.
The lowdown: LiveAuctioneers serves as a centralized hub for online auctions all around the world. What we think is especially nifty about the site though is its database of auction price results. With over 21 million items dating back to 1999, it can be a handy starting point for researching market prices. Another plus: this data is available free of charge, unlike most other art price databases.
Artprice Some or all services are fee-based $
The lowdown: Artprice operates as an online marketplace but is widely known for its extensive database of Fine Art auction results, dating back to 1962, covering roughly 4,500 auction houses and more than 635,000 artists. Access to Artprice's database is largely fee-based.
The lowdown: artnet maintains a database of auction prices with over 10 million color-illustrated records dating back to 1985. Their listings cover 1,700+ auction houses and more than 320,000 artists. Access to artnet's database is largely fee-based.
The lowdown: askART's auction database covers 300,000+ artists and has records dating back to 1987. Among other things, subscribers have access to artist bios, hammer prices and dealers for a given artist. Access to askART's database is largely fee-based.
Invaluable Some or all services are fee-based $
The lowdown: Based out of our own hometown of Boston, but with offices around the globe, Invaluable launched in 2009 as an online marketplace for art. They maintain a database of over 58 million auction records with varying degress of acess available depending on subscription level.
Gordon’s and Blouin Art Sales Index Some or all services are fee-based $
The lowdown: this site is a portal to several art databases that began their life in book form. One of the databases is Gordon's Photography Prices which includes sales dating back to 1970 - another is Davenport's Art Reference & Price Guide which specializes in little-known and/or hard-to-find artists. Access to these - and the other databases on the site - is largely fee-based.
The lowdown: this site (and others like it) have saved us $$$$ over the years. The concept can effectively be described as a crowd-sourcing approach to collecting coupons and promo codes. Before making online purchases, we invariably check in here to see if there are any offers available and often find that we're in luck, be it securing a percentage off our purchase, or a coupon code for free shipping!
Side note: we can't speak to RetailMeNot's gift card program, but a quick survey of online reviews indicate that folks have had some trouble with them. As a result, we suggest sticking with the free-to-access coupon code part of their site until those issues have been resolved.