Deal of the day stores riff off modern man's love of a tantalizing deal and fear of nagging regret. How do they tap into these conflicting urges? Daily deal websites feature one heavily discounted item at a time, displayed anywhere from a couple minutes to an entire day. Once the deal is pulled, sold out or otherwise snuffed, it's replaced by another item. If it disappears and you didn't buy, you may never see it again. In the world of one-deal-a-day shopping -- as in life -- if you snooze, you lose.
Why would someone opt to battle their inner retail Two-Face? One hyphenated word: Mark-downs. Discounts range from 40- to 90-percent off -- most items sit above 55 percent -- and you won't be saddled with a required minimum purchase or insulted by a paltry 10-percent off. As for products, daily deal websites vary wildly, running a gamut from sports equipment and name-brand clothing to gadgets and closeout goodies.
Operation and aesthetic are also strewn across the board. Some sites inform you how much time is left on a deal, others won't. Some display the number of remaining items, others keep you guessing. Some look flashy, others are the online equivalent of a dollar store. A good way to track these drool-inducing offers and decide which site best fits your tastes is to sign up for e-mail or Twitter updates. Almost all send regular updates, making it infinitely easier to pick the best site based on a particular day or wanted item.
A word of warning: While most stores are on the up-and-up, many sell used and refurbished goods alongside new ones, so be sure to read product descriptions and follow the same smart shopping practices you would anywhere else online. (For example, know your browser and read our post "Tab-Napping is the Latest Internet Scam.") To prepare you for that inaugural daily deal journey, we've put together a list of the 14 most product-laden deal-of-the-day online stores, all of which are reliable, prestigious and dirt, dirt cheap.
Humanitarian shopping sites are a blossoming breed and Roozt delivers social responsibility to the chic shopping masses. Although they deal solely with ethical and eco-friendly businesses, you won't be limited to hemp clothing or recycled knick-knacks. Past deals include half-off a $50 gift card to Autonomie Project, a sweatshop-free clothing and footwear company, and 50-percent off a variety of designer handbags from "eco-fashion" outfit Make Love Not Trash.
Along with discounts, Roozt also let's shoppers donate to worthy charities without extra hassle. One percent of every purchase is automatically given to an organization you choose. As for buyer's remorse, lets just say you can't be disappointed when you do this much good for so little.
2. Whiskey Militia
Whiskey Militia is the flagship outlet in a long line of daily deal websites operated by Backountry.com, an outdoor and action-sports merchant. Like many, it serves a niche culture, primarily boardsport enthusiasts. The look, tone and vibe of the site screams young and wreckless. Everything for riding shenanigans, from goggles and watches to skateboard decks and neon hoodies, can be found for 50-percent off or more.
The site features a deal dashboard of sorts on the right-hand side that lists the discount, time remaining and quantity left for all items. Whiskey Militia cycles through deals more regularly than others, occasionally up to 30 times a day. Since the items are culled from the large Backcountry.com inventory, everything is new and many are rotated back into circulation.
3. Musicians Friend Stupid Deal of the Day
As part of the grander Musicians Friend website, the Stupid Deal of the Day is similar to Whiskey Militia. You won't come across refurbished or off-brand junk. Instead, you'll get a deal on the same sonic equipment sold for wads more every other day. Items featured in the past include a $200 Korg amplifier marked down by 40 percent, and music-editing software for nearly 75-percent off, cut from $99 to $25.
As for update options, Musicians Friend forgoes Twitter for a custom iPod application, dubbed simply "Stupid Deal." You can't argue with the truth.
Dillyeo is, in a word, eclectic. How else would you describe a site that offers 70-percent off an FM transmitter one day, only to turn around and sell $10 lightsaber chopsticks the next? The site has gained a reputation for such random finds, often generating traffic solely because of them. Most of the items, however, are tech-inspired. Although a single product is featured on the homepage, Dillyeo is a stand-out for juggling multiple deals at once. Fringe offers won't be ridiculously cheap, but most are in the 40-percent off range.
In between ogling deals, be sure to check the "Condition" tab for every item. Dillyeo sells a mix of new, used and refurbished doodads.
5. Down Low Too Slow
An homage to the innocent competition on grade school playgrounds everywhere, Down Low Too Slow's name reflects the core concept of daily deal websites: If you hesitate, the proverbial hand is pulled away. Metaphors aside, the online store deals only in brand-name, factory-fresh gear for a variety of organized sports.
There's no rhyme or reason to what equipment pops up, but it roughly coincides with seasonal closeouts. Example: In the past few weeks, golf gear has flooded the site in preparation for winter, resulting in 60-percent off Callaway clubs and 30-percent off Ashworth polos. Down Low Too Slow also includes user reviews.
6. Game Deal Daily
There are scores of daily deal websites targeted at loners, er, gamers, but Game Deal Daily is by far the most trustworthy. Granted, it still primarily sells used and refurbished goods, but did you really think you'd snag one of their grab bags -- five current games for under $10 -- without a five-finger discount? That said, be judicious. The site lays it out for buyers with a warning that some games may not work and, if so, they can't be returned.
Along with discs, Game Deal Daily sells refurbished controllers, wireless equipment and other extras to make those lonely Friday nights no less lonely, but slightly more affordable. Buy your one-person dinner with Pizza Hut printable coupons, tip big with the savings, and maybe it'll convince the delivery guy to stay for a quick romp through "Call of Duty."
7. Joma Deals
If other deal of the day stores are reminiscent of junk yards, Joma Deals is a boutique retailer. The site specializes in new watches and luxury items, with names like Dior, Tag Heuer and Fendi regularly rearing their chic heads. Sure, you'll still find average discounts of 60-percent off or more, but when prices begin in the thousands of dollars, "discount" takes on a new meaning. A recent Montblanc watch, originally $2,210, sold out when the price was dropped to $1,196. In short, it's the kind of site you'd expect to be frequented by the opulent foreigner who likes "saving ze monies" in the bizarre DirecTV ad.
Like the rendered bugs that grace the site, Jizbee is a hive of daily deal activity. Not only does it offer an oft-changing main item, it also features one "random deal" and free deal per day. The site is a cornucopia of products, ranging from headphones and other electronics to children's toys and craft materials, all of which are new. While most sites offer decent flat-rate shipping, Jizbee one-ups them all with free shipping on most orders, especially if you're one of the first 1,000 to buy.
Chainlove is another superb site from the good folks at Backcountry.com. Like Whiskey Militia, it serves a niche community of push-bikers. You can snag new completes, frames, hubs, brakes, and anything else you could imagine for the best hybrid vehicle since the horse buggy. Chainlove deals primarily in mountain, downhill and BMX components, but roadies or triathletes can head over to Bonktown, yet another cog in the Backcountry.com plan to take over the daily deal world.
10. Daily Steals
Daily Steals is the patriarch in a family of lesser sites -- including mobile, home and luxury -- all of which can be found through the homepage. The mother-site specializes in new and refurbished tech items, as well as a daily "members-only" raffle and rewards program for referring friends. Don't know what day to check the site? Items ship for free every Friday, guaranteed.
One odd theme is "spy" gear, as many normal items like watches and clocks feature a camera or other recording device, perhaps to justify their retail price. When burgeoning James Bonds bypass M and buy through Daily Steals, they'll get outfitted for 70-percent off or more. Plus, the product descriptions are more snarky than any Englishman.
11. Heels.com Deal of the Day
Truth is, we can't all be Carrie Bradshaw and spend Mr. Big's cash on Manolo Blahnik heels. However, premium pumps are affordable through the Heels.com Deal of the Day page, where Cynthia Vincent, Kenneth Cole and Hollywould footwear can be found for half off or more. Retail therapy done this way is no less rewarding and, in the end, much more friendly to your wallet.
12. T and T Daily Deals
If gambling is your catnip, T and T Daily Deals is your great roulette wheel in cyberspace. Unlike most deal of the day stores that specify the exact item you're about to purchase, this site features "box deals." Every day, site founders Todd and Tom craft a grab bag around a different theme, ranging from video games to car accessories. A recent deal featured four factory-packaged, randomly selected computer games for $1.99. There's no way to know what's in the box beforehand, but you can't be too disappointed for 97-percent off.
13. Amazon MP3 and iTunes
Most music connoisseurs already know about the free daily downloads on Amazon and iTunes, but they deserve a mention. In essence, they're marketing ploys to sell full-priced albums, but marketing with benefits isn't bad and both places feature a mix of well-known and burgeoning artists. Occasionally, you'll come across a rare and wonderful find, such as a demo track from a new Bob Dylan compilation.
To find the free tracks on Amazon, visit the MP3 homepage. The two free daily deals are featured on the right side beneath the menu bar. In iTunes, open the store and search for the free tab beneath "Music Quick Links" on the right. iTunes also carries tons of free TV shows and the list is currently bursting with new season pilots, right in time to decide whether "Glee" really deserves your weekly attention.
14. I Have to Have That
I Have to Have That is by-and-large the most kitschy site on the list, but it has one big thing going for it: Every item is sold for 70-percent off or more. The site is also good for finding seasonal goods, such as Halloween costumes and Christmas decorations. You won't have much choice -- it's the nature of the beast -- but you could stumble upon something you won't feel guilty about buying and using just once a year.
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