Drawbacks From Buying Indie

Buyer beware...

Lately I've been really advocating independent businesses, and I'll continue to do just that. I fully support indies and I think their importance, especially on the local level, is completely underestimated. That said, there are some drawbacks about ordering from indie companies that I'm learning, and I'm sure you have some to share, too.

For starters, a lot of companies have terrible websites without the information you need, from the product ingredients, warnings or instructions to decent photos of the products. A coffee company that I just ordered from had so little information that it was difficult to read the coffee flavors in the photos, and they weren't listed on the website. I thought they'd at least send me information, but not only did they not do that, leaving me with absolutely no idea with how to make the cappucino mix I received or what was in it, but they also didn't include ANY information, including a receipt! I've never received a box of things in it like this. It felt like a random shipment from Amazon, especially after so many other indies that I order from take such care in what they do. To add insult to injury, it took over a month to get here due to some label issue (that you had to join a Facebook group to learn about; there was no email communication about the delay at all) and it didn't taste like it was supposed to, either. I am not naming names because it could be a fluke and I'm not into giving small businesses bad reviews... but I won't order again, either.

Many small businesses don't communicate well, either. Too many expect you to join their Facebook group, follow them on Instagram, or engage in social media otherwise to keep up with them. When I inquired about something I'd read wrongly in an email newsletter to a local business owner she sent me PARAGRAPHS berating me for not following her on social media and how her email list was "just a courtesy," among other things! Wow. I've never gone to business school, but I've worked in customer service and I know you don't treat potential customers like that. I'd been so excited to try her little shop and now I'll never go there. 

Do you have any bad experiences with indie companies? How about tips in how to spot which ones will deliver a quality product and customer service? Share your stories, advice and business recommendations in the chat.

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Spooky Candles

Where do you get them?

Whether you get them from Bath & Body Works, Yankee Candle or an indie seller, seasonal candles, especially Halloween scents, can help create a spooky and fun atmosphere. The challenge today, of course, is narrowing down your candle source to find your favorites. Your local farmer's market, for example, likely has a lot of options to choose from, as do the aforementioned sources.

Novelly Yours is one of my favorite companies. Their candles are beautiful and inspired by various fandoms; I have a bunch of witchy ones, themed from everything from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina to Hocus Pocus, to set the mood of Halloween in my office right now. A friend recently suggested Burke & Hare, which looks very interesting, as does 42 Nerdtastic Place. Some of these indie companies even provide candles that mirror the literary worlds we've all come to love, helping to bring them even more alive in our homes.

What candle companies do you suggest for the ultimate atmosphere building? Share your links in the chat!

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Best Halloween Goodies And Deals

Share yours here!

Last week we talked a bit about the many different cool indie sellers and their rewards programs, so I thought I'd open up a thread for us to share our favorite sources for Halloween deals and products. It's the best time of year to buy these products, after all! One that I recently ran across is Geeky Girl Candles, which has everything from Hocus Pocus to Friday the 13th themed candles, wax melts and sprays. They also have a bunch of other non-Halloween fandoms.

If you haven't tried 42Nerdtastic Place, you might want to check it out. My small order was a pre-order, so I've been waiting for it since I ordered in September, but they have all kinds of neat Halloween themed items, from The Shining to Supernatural, ranging from household products to bath and body favorites. They have partnered with Burial Grounds Coffee to make some fun coffee and candle sets, which I've also ordered and am remaining to check out since it was a preorder. That's the thing about indie businesses: they operate on a skeleton crew and turnaround can take a while, but I've found that it's almost always worth it. 

Then there are places like the Spirit Store (sign up for their emails to get LOTS of coupons!) and Target, which didn't have the best selection to me this year. Where do you love to get your spooky goodies?

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Use Up Those Points!

Who has the best point system?

The Internet seems to be home to an endless supply of indie businesses now, and while I love it, I'm also a bit overwhelmed. It's like the number of TV show choices we have today: there are simply too many to choose from, and each one has its own unique quirks, points system and other insider knowledge. Many even have their own Facebook groups, which are almost vital to join if you do want to know how to use a company's sales, promotions and other insider info. 

Some of the best companies that offer rewards, I have found, also let you get points for reviewing their products. Southern Breeze Sweet Tea and Fortune Cookie Soap, two companies I really like, have these systems to reward their customers. If you buy anything, it's easy to rack up points to spend later. Another new favorite of mine, Fable, has a lot of coupons that offer BOGO deals when you do anything from make your first order to leave a review. Some of these companies have weird websites, slow turnarounds due to having such small staffs and other oddities (I know one indie company that doesn't even have an email address and only wants to be contacted through Facebook, for example), but they often have some of the best products with the best deals.

So which indie companies are your favorites? Who has the best points system and why? Share your finds in the chat!

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Universal Monster Collection Launches At Hot Topic

Are you as in love as we are?

My teenager is over the moon for classic monsters and horror movies, so when we saw that Hot Topic was launching a Universal Monsters collection, we both pretty much went gaga. The kid yelled much more than I did, especially over the Frankenstein jacket and all of the werewolf stuff, but I'm here for the Creature From the Black Lagoon dress, Dracula cardigan... everything! It's really cool that the classics are so popular this year because not only has my teen always loved them, but they're also making a classic monsters mural on our living room window this year.

Unfortunately they don't have EVERY classic monster (my kid's favorite, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, seems to be absent) but they have quite a few, including Bride of Frankenstein, and today they're 20% off! They have bags, purses, wallets, jackets, skirts, t-shirts, you name it. There are also cute little horror figures.

What do you think of the collection? Will you be buying anything? Share it in the chat!


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Harry Potter Lego Advent On Sale!

Get this deal on Amazon today

While my family isn't religious, we love a good countdown calendar SO much. We do them for birthdays, Halloween, Valentine's and Christmas, and we mix up little gifts with candies and little slips of paper that say an activity or craft to do that day. One year we did all books for Valentine's Day and it was lovely! 

If you have a Lego lover who also happens to love Harry Potter, this deal for an Amazon LEGO Harry Potter Advent Calendar is one to grab now while it's on sale for $32.99. It comes with over 300 pieces, including 7 minifigs, a Hedwig owl, a mini Hogwarts Express and a bunch of cool little Hogwarts Legos that any fan would love to get for Christmas!

Will you be getting this set? If not, which Lego sets or Advent calendars are on your radar? Share them in the chat!

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Birthday Deals

Share your favorites!

While my birthday isn't until later in the fall, this month Fortune Cookie Soap is celebrating their 15th birthday with a themed collection, which has it on my mind. It's always a good time to sign up for deals for your birthday--especially in advance--so you can get lots of offers in your email by your birthday month.

My favorite birthday special is probably from our closest Brazilian churrasco restaruant, Tucanos. It's a place we don't visit often because of the price tag, but if you get their birthday deal, you can buy one and get one free, which is a fantastic deal. I also love how my favorite indie brands (like the aforementioned Fortune Cookie Soap, but also Haus of Gloi and other brands) give you bonus points for your birthday, which is often enough to get something free. Lots of restaurants also offer birthday BOGOs and freebies, from the Great American Cookie Compay to Captain D's. 

What are your favorite birthday deals? Share where we need to sign up in the chat!

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Marvel Barbies Are Here!

There's Storm, Dark Phoenix and Mystique

If you've never fancied yourself a Barbie person, you may change your mind when you check out the new line of X-Men Barbies that are being released in honor of Marvel's 80th anniversary! The dolls will feature Storm, Dark Phoenix and Mystique, and they will cost $54.99 each. They are available for pre-order and you can find them at the GameStop link above.

For those who finds these toys a little on the pricey side, keep in mind that you can find many Marvel action figures at GameStop as well as Slacker, V-Stock, and other comic and video game stores as well as online sellers like eBay and Amazon. A lot of the collectible items are even pricier, but some are as cheap as $14. Entertainment Earth even has sets for $60, but they don't feature all of the characters here.

Will you be buying the X-Men Barbies? If not, do you have any other X-Men toys? Where do you like to buy them? Share your deals in the chat.

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Camping On The Water

Would you use this Amphibious Camper?

Have you seen these incredible campers that allow you to camp both on land and on water? They are becoming popular across the Internet as "Amphibious Campers." It's almost like something out of a Bond movie, except it's totally real, and you can totally buy one. 

There's a wide variety of these "camper boats" to meet different needs, and the fact that they can transform from a trailer to a yacht is just mind-boggling. You can camp in it like you normally do, or convert it to camp on the water. In your own little boat. How cool is that? If you've always wanted a boat AND a camper, here's your chance!

Would you get an amphibious camper? Do you have one? Tell us about it in the chat!

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Care Packages For College Students

Share your favorites in the chat

When it comes to care packages, DIY is always best, don't you think? You can customize, exclude things that the recipient wouldn't like from a pre-packaged box and include special, unique items just for that person. But sometimes you can't create one based on time, or a subscription service that would really fit the person in mind is just easier and cheaper, especially with shipping. 

When you do want to send a college care kit to someone, The College Student First Aid Kit is a great way to do it. It contains everything you need for minor bumps, bruises and illnesses that college kids may not have thought to pack on their own. Sure, some dorms have these kits on the floor, but many kids may not be staying in dorms--and many may have incidents late at night when they don't feel comfortable venturing out. These could be lifesaver kits for many people!

What college survival kits, care packages or subscription boxes do you like best? Share them in the chat.

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National Lemonade Day Specials

Share your finds in the chat!

It's National Lemonade Day! Do you have big lemonade plans? Lemonade is probably my all-time favorite drink, and I'll make it any way--from lemon shake-ups to keto lemonade, lemonade-tea (Arnold Palmer) drinks to cocktails. YUM. Plenty of businesses are having lemonade celebrates today in honor of the holiday, so why not take them up on them?

Here are a bunch of businesses, many of them large chains, that will be giving out free lemonade for the holiday or have given it out in the past. Check to see if one is participating this year near you! There's also a link here where you can enter your info and find participating locations near you.

What are you doing for National Lemonade Day? Share your city's events or your favorite local deals in the chat!


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August Deals

What purchases do you usually make in August?

August is nearly halfway over, but even if we're finished with the tax-free sales, that doesn't mean there aren't many other sales to enjoy this month. There are back-to-school bargains to be had at just about every store, and it's the time of year to pick up paper, glue and scissors for a quarter or 50 cents, laptops for $150 and dorm gear at a discount, too.

It's also a great time of year to score big on summer clothing, swimsuits, summer shoes and other summery items that will be going out of season soon. It's hard to predict the sizes your kids will be next year, but if you're buying for yourself, you might as well make good use of the discounts. It's also a great time to pick up some patio furniture and other outdoor gear that many people will be putting away for the year in just a few short months before it's all exchanged for winter items in the stores.

What do you make sure to buy in August? Share your steals and deals in the chat.

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Car Repairs on the Cheap

Share your secrets!

If you're the kind of person who likes to save money on car repairs, there are lots of ways to go about it. Some banks and credit unions, for example, offer an insurance program that covers all of the repairs to your vehicle out of a monthly payment, which can save you lots of money if you need lots of repairs. You can see if the dealer will fix it for free, if there are coupons or specials available via an app, email or the store itself and look for other discounts. Some stores even have new customer specials.

If you're handy or you have someone close who is and will charge you less, try getting used parts from a junkyard, which can save you 80% or more, or try a discount parts outlet like Rock Auto. You can often even find the whole car you need on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for cheap. If it's already less than the part you need costs new, why not get it and have it for spare parts, or to fix up and sell later?

How do you save money on auto repairs? Share your tips in the chat!

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Fun Amazon Finds

Share your favorites!

Amazon.com can be as big of a time suck as social media sites and your favorite blogs or Pinterest. Once you start discovering cool new deals, weird finds for under $20 and other goodies it's hard to stop looking, making wish lists and generally spending way too much time online.

This list of finds for under $25 has me wasting way too much time on the Internet, but just look at some of these cool items for sale! You never knew you needed, from an indoor grill to a straw that filters water from lakes. There's a pull-apart key chain that makes sharing keys easy, an ice cube tray that's super flexible, and exciting, innovative tech like cut-resistant gloves and diffuser water bottles. 

What's the coolest thing you've seen for sale on Amazon? Share it in the chat.

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Fun Coffee Mugs

Share your favorites!

Do you have a favorite coffee mug? Most people seem to have one. I have many, and most of them were given to me! From the Girl Scouts and Library read-a-thon mugs I've earned to the ones I've been given as gifts from family members, I have a lot of beloved mugs. Most of them even have their own stories about how they were acquired or a fond memory attached to them.

Nerd Kung Fu has some great coffee mugs for sale, like this one featuring a bunch of banned books. They also have mugs featuring Star Trek, Ghostbusters, Tetris and other fun things. If you ever head to the Dollar Tree, they sometimes have really cute ones for just a buck. I found some neat astrology-themed mugs there. Another place we like to get mugs is the pottery painting store, where you can paint your own. My teen has painted some really neat Doctor Who and Good Omens mugs.

Where do you like to get your mugs? What kinds of stories do they have? Share them and any mug deals in the chat!

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