Where to Shop Instead of Amazon

If you’re not aware, Amazon is not the most… ethical company and it’s becoming even more obvious in the recent weeks. I won’t get into it, you can Google it and find out for yourself. I admit I have become a lazy shopper and often go to Amazon for super simple things, especially now that we are sheltering in place. But no more. I am working to find places where I can find the same items that will also ship to me but are not Amazon. Some of the places I have recently shopped:

Places to Shop Instead of Amazon

I’m doing a Closet Cleanout / Rearranging my Pantry / Organizing My Office

Head to The Container Store! Shipping is free on purchases of $75 or more. They are experiencing shipping delays due to having way more with stores being closed but that’s just fine considering you’re not going anywhere and neither is your pantry, closet, or office.

The Container Store also has items you may not expect. For example, we were looking for ways to hang up our bikes indoors, but have them lay flat against the wall. The Container Store had several different types of bike racks to choose from, and one that was exactly what we were looking for. They also have a lot of kitchen gadgets from respected brands like OXO and unexpected items like makeup mirrors. With a robust search tool on their site, it’s easy to take a gander and see if they may have what non-hanger or storage bin thing you’re looking for.

The Container Store year after year is awarded a top place to work. With stores closed, they have had to furlough many corporate and store employees but are maintaining curbside pickup where it is still legally permitted and is staffed only by employees who desire to work right now. The Container Store also reduced the base salaries of their CEO and other executive officers by 45 percent and 33 percent respectively. Their CEO and CFO have changed their employment contracts to temporarily defer annual cash bonus payments for the 2020 fiscal year.

I'm Starting a Garden and Want to Work on My Yard

Head to Gardener's Supply Company!  From seeds and plants to soil and mulch, compost bins to patio furniture, and even supplies to grow plants indoors, Gardener's Supply Company likely has it and will be at a fair price with plenty of customer reviews to help you determine what is right for your gardening project. While they admit their orders are backed up right now, most leave their warehouse within 10 business days and arrives within a week of shipping.  Shipping rates vary depending on how much you spend. 

Gardener's Supply Company is an employee-owned company in Vermont and has been employee-owned since 2009. Gardner's Supply Company is also a B-Corp, which means they meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.  

I Need Shampoo / Nail Clippers / Box Hair Dye / Beloved Drugstore Brand Mascara

Head to Ulta! From Maybelline to Meaningful Beauty to MAC, Ulta has an amazing selection of beauty brands. If you’re looking to touch up your roots at home, Ulta offers Madison Reed, the coveted L’Oreal Root Cover Up spray, and plenty of permanent, semi-permanent, and nontoxic options. Whether it’s a $3 nail clipper or the $200 NuFACE toning device, Ulta has you covered with free standard shipping on any order $35 or more.

With stores closed, employees have been furloughed. Ulta’s CEO will forego her base salary and personally donated $500K the Ulta Beauty Associate Relief Program, which provides monetary grants to associates in need of financial assistance due to COVID-19. Ulta continues to offer online sales, and is paying workers in its distribution centers an additional $2 an hour. The company also said it plans to donate 450,000 medical-grade gloves from its salons to hospitals nationwide in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

I’m Trying to Get my Fitness On

Head to Dick’s Sporting Goods! Dick’s has been my favorite place to shop for sports, fitness, and other athletic needs for years due to their ethics and they continue to impress during a pandemic. Hand weights of every shape size, yoga mats, TRX systems, even a punching bag to get out your aggression to what is going on… Dick’s has it along with apparel, footwear, and more. While they are dealing with many items out of stock, it’s worth checking back as I’ve seen things sold out two weeks ago are again available on the website. Dick’s Sporting Goods offers free shipping on orders of $49 and more, though this excludes oversized or overweight items. See their site for specifics.

Almost 40,000 employees have also been furloughed at Dick’s since their stores closed. Some locations are still offering contactless curbside pickup with reduced staff to manage it. Dick’s enacted a temporary, graduated payroll cut for employees who are eligible for bonuses. The CEO and President are not receiving a salary.

I Want to Read a Book!

I hear you, I’ve struggled to find time to read and now I am going through books. It’s a great way to distance yourself from the news and also helps you sleep better. No better time than now to support an independent bookstore. Many of them are shipping, and a few are offering curbside pickup of purchases. A few bookstores that are offering shipping (updated with reader suggestions):

Bookshop is a great alternative to Amazon for buying books and part of the profits are divided amongst independent booksellers. Thank you to all who recommended Bookshop! You can also click here to find a local independent bookseller, many that are offering contactless curbside pickup and/or home delivery. Some like DC's Kramerbooks is using Postmates for delivery. If you know of an amazing bookstore that is shipping, do share in the comments!

I Have a Kindle, Is there An Alternative to Amazon for eBooks?

If you have a library card, you can use Libby or OverDrive to borrow eBooks. If you do not have a library card or it expired, check your local library system because many (including Prince George’s County, Maryland where I live) have the ability to sign up or renew online so you can get straight to reading!

There are plenty of other ways to score books that can be added to your Kindle, and several other eBook apps you can download and subscribe to. Some are more legal than others and none I have tried myself. If you have had success with any of them, do share in the comments and help others!

What About an Audible Alternative?

Libro.fm offers a wide range of audiobooks and shares the profits with the independent bookstore of your choice.

I’m Ready to do One of Those 1000-piece Puzzles and Teach My Kids Scrabble

Looking for puzzles, board games, and other ways to entertain yourself and your family at this time?

  • Puzzle Warehouse is the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle store offering free shipping on all orders over $75 and 365 days for returns. They also offer plenty of games and brainteasers with classics like Apples to Apples, Risk, checkers, Rubix Cube, and more.
  • Stick it to Amazon by purchasing puzzles, games and even LEGO sets from Barnes & Noble!
  • Fat Brain Toys offers games, puzzles, and brainteasers by age and that includes adults! Along with classic games like Scrabble, Clue, and Bananagrams (a personal favorite), find toys from your childhood like Lite Brite, Spirograph, and latch-hook kits.

I’m Focused on Cleaning and Need Supplies

There are plenty of places that are delivering popular brand, organic, and specialty cleaning supplies, and you’re not as likely to be price gouged there as you may be at Amazon. Some online options:

Have a favorite not listed? Share in the comments!

I Need my Quest Bars/Protein Shake/Supplements!

Head to Vitamin Shoppe! Vitamin Shoppe has all the popular brands and most any health or fitness supplement you desire. You can shop online, some stores have curbside pickup, and if autodelivery is your thing, Vitamin Shoppe also offers that. They also offer a lot of promotions and deals; at the time of writing this Vitamin Shoppe was offering 20% off and free shipping for any orders of $75 or more. Please note at this time, all sales are final at Vitamin Shoppe.

I searched online and can’t find a lot about The Vitamin Shoppe and how they are handling things during the pandemic. Stores are franchises and many have stayed open longer than a lot of other retailers citing their products to be “essential,” but unlike their competitor which shall not be named, there aren’t a lot of news articles about store employees feeling unsafe and being forced to come to work. Let me know if you know more about this retailer, good or bad.

Where Else Can I Find My K-Beauty Products if I Don't Shop Amazon?

Head to Jolse! Jolse distributes many of the most popular K-beauty brands like COSRX, Sulwahsoo, Missha, Dr. Jart+, and Innisfree.  They also have plenty of gadgets like face rollers and gua sha, makeup brushes, and even LED masks. While shipping isn't swift with Jolse, it usually isn't on Amazon either and like Amazon, shipping is free. 

Let’s Be Honest, I’m Looking for Some… Self-Satisfaction

Head to Good Vibrations! You should not be buying your personal pleasure needs from Amazon anyway, go to a store that is expert in this subject! I bought my first toy at Good Vibrations, a sex-positive US-based adult toy company that has been around since 1977. Lots of product detail, quality brands offered, and detailed customer reviews mean you’ll get what you really want and what you deserve. Good Vibrations offers free discreet shipping on any orders over $69.

This isn’t everything that is bought on Amazon, but I focused on the things it seems people are purchasing the most in the past month of sheltering in place. If you have suggestions on where to buy besides Amazon, do share them in the comments!

Please note: Furloughed employees are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits, which were recently increased with the passing of the federal CARES Act.

59 Comments

  1. Chris
    April 27, 2020 / 9:35 pm

    Allie and Everyone,

    I like to own DVDs of my favorite movies and CDs of my favorite music. I have been buying used versions of both from Amazon. Do you have alternatives for used CDs and DVDs? And new ones?

    Thanks.

  2. April 20, 2020 / 4:50 am

    Amazing pos! Super tips!

  3. Alex
    April 19, 2020 / 7:32 pm

    What an excellent post! Thank you so much for putting these resources together.

  4. Blondie
    April 18, 2020 / 5:58 pm

    Our Prime membership was up for renewal on March 1 and we decided not to renew it as our bank account, planet, and society would be better without it. We only miss the video streaming, to be honest.

    All of our media comes from library or a streaming service. I have a Target credit card, which gets me free shipping there. We stocked our new home gym with a curbside pickup at Dick’s Sporting Goods. Costco ships a lot of the stuff in their warehouse; they add the cost of shipping the item to the in-store price, but that is a cost I was willing to pay this month to avoid the store.

    Mostly, we use eBay! Anything you can find on Amazon you can find on eBay. Make sure the return policy, seller rating, and authenticity meet your standards, and we usually stick to items located in the US for quick delivery.

  5. Lily
    April 17, 2020 / 5:45 pm

    For a lot of things, you can also go to the website of the company directly instead of through a vendor.

    Obviously does not work for books, but I was going to buy some sperry shoes last year and was able to get them from the Sperry website for the same price (and with free shipping) as amazon. This is great specially for smaller companies (which…sperry is not) since they get a bigger cut of your money.

  6. E E Deere
    April 17, 2020 / 11:05 am

    Thank you so much for this post. I have been trying to wean off Amazon too.
    It slowly dawned on me that they are not the cheapest, unless it’s a product they have chosen for competitive pricing. All that packaging. All the unsatisfactory customer service if the product is through a third party.
    I can vouch for Powell’s in Portland for books. And the Container Store.

  7. Susie Jones
    April 17, 2020 / 8:59 am

    This is good information. How does everyone reconcile the package delivery services (UPS, FedEx, USPS) needed to deliver these goods? I read articles where some of their employees feel they are not being properly safe-guarded. I’m truly conflicted on this.

    • April 17, 2020 / 11:44 am

      I am conflicted as well, but know they are also delivering to brick and mortar so if we go shopping in person we are also supporting them delivering. The best thing is to not buy what you don’t need and to buy in bulk/wait and do larger orders whenever possible to reduce the number of individual packages. Also right now USPS needs our business to stay afloat, so whenever USPS is an option I am choosing it to keep them running.

  8. Book Goddess
    April 16, 2020 / 8:18 pm

    Hi All –

    Public librarian here. By all means contact your local public library about all kinds of digital resources for free. I’m happy that various people have mentioned hoopla and Kanopy. Your local library may also have cloudLibrary which is a fantastic resource for audiobooks and e-books, and super user friendly. And for any Acorn fans out there, you can get that free too if your library has RBDigital streaming video.

    Many libraries, as Alison said, are allowing people to sign up for library cards for digital access online or over the phone. Do yourself a favor and sign up!

    • Lily
      April 17, 2020 / 5:43 pm

      Thank you for everything you do. The public library has been a light and joy in my life ever since I was a little girl.

      • Book Goddess
        April 17, 2020 / 7:09 pm

        Thank you, that is wonderful to hear! I feel that I have been very blessed in my career.

  9. Michele S.
    April 16, 2020 / 6:45 pm

    Perfect timing! I needed some wood hangers and a new hamper, placed an order with The Container Store. I’m also trying to order directly from the company instead of Amazon, Sephora, etc., if that’s available. Thanks for this information!

  10. Kelly B
    April 16, 2020 / 5:25 pm

    Another bookstore for your list. Bards Alley in Vienna, VA is doing phone orders with contact-free outdoor pickup and they will deliver locally by bicycle through their Bike Pedalers service. https://www.bardsalley.com/

  11. Cat
    April 16, 2020 / 2:07 pm

    Glad to see solidarity with workers in this post. I like that you talked about the ethical practices of the companies you named. 🙂

  12. Jax
    April 16, 2020 / 1:34 pm

    Thank you for this super timely post, Alison! We’ve been longtime Amazon customers and are now re-evaluating our relationship with them. Even Walmart is looking better than Amazon right now!

  13. Emily Maduzia
    April 16, 2020 / 1:34 pm

    Thank you SO MUCH for the book shop recommendations! I just re-discovered a local bookshelf I never ever thought about patronizing; they have a terrific website and I will now be buying books from them!

  14. Joy Bucy
    April 16, 2020 / 12:37 pm

    The Container Store is wonderful! So glad to see it included in the article.

  15. Lisa Harbin
    April 16, 2020 / 11:40 am

    Atomic Books in Baltimore is a national treasure! (atomicbooks.com) They also offer audiobooks through Libro.fm and, if you’re local, great craft beers and other adult beverages!
    W/r/t fashion & cool homegoods, many of my local boutiques have upped their online sales games (doubledutchboutique.com, mapetiteshoe.com are great examples) so check out how you can support your local shops.

    • Melissa Schober
      April 16, 2020 / 12:53 pm

      I’m also in Baltimore and was about to suggest some of these. In addition:
      –http://thecbstore.com/ (children’s bookshop)
      –Ace stores for gardening/hardware. Many are locally owned. We use the Waverly branch: –https://www.acehardware.com/store-details/14925 They are the nicest folks and offering curbside pick-up.
      –This a good time to join a CSA for food, if you can afford it. Baltimore has several to choose from, in different price ranges. Support your local farmers, get groceries (fresh produce!), and some are offering deals with other local businesses to add in cookies, bread, eggs, flour, etc.
      –Sex toys: Sugar (http://www.sugartheshop.com). A woman-owned toy store that is LGBTQ-friendly. The owner is working without pay now. Also offering online classes.

      For folks trying to save money, we’re using lots of our library resources. Kanopy, Hoopla, and Overdrive have books, comics, movies, TV, etc. We have accounts via our library system (the Enoch Pratt) but folks should check their local systems to see what is on offer.

      • Lisa Harbin
        April 16, 2020 / 3:13 pm

        Yay! Baltimore! Co-signed on all of these!
        Also, check local pet stores for curbside pickup or delivery (Mutt Mart and Howl in Baltimore).
        And, in Baltimore some restaurants are selling grocery items now (Charmingtons in Bmore!).

  16. MicMacinMN
    April 16, 2020 / 11:16 am

    This is a great post – right on target! Thanks for all the ideas!

  17. Jane
    April 16, 2020 / 11:14 am

    Thanks for this post! A lot of great companies on here, and I appreciate that you researched what they are doing for their employees. Love Gardener’s Supply, and their customer service is outstanding!

  18. Grace
    April 16, 2020 / 11:14 am

    Fantastic post, Allison! I have to add Powell’s Books in Portland, OR to your list. They’re my hometown favorite and they’re shipping.

    https://www.powells.com/

  19. hmbalison
    April 16, 2020 / 10:53 am

    Thanks for this post. Want to add to check out Hoopla if your library subscribes. It offers audiobooks, ebooks, music and movies. You can check out 20 titles a month. I’ve never had to wait for a title. It’s an awesome app/service.

  20. Shelly
    April 16, 2020 / 10:39 am

    Thanks so much for this post, and the closet clean out post! Terrific information!

  21. Ellen Greenway
    April 16, 2020 / 10:24 am

    You should add Bookshop.org for books! It’s a cooperative made up of independent bookshops across the country. It’s been hailed as a serious threat to Amazon and I’m all for that. https://bookshop.org/

  22. Allison
    April 16, 2020 / 10:22 am

    I swear by Libby and Overdrive. I listen to so many books that way. Sometimes, the wait it long to “borrow” the book, but that often makes me expand my horizons and explore authors/subjects I would have not otherwise tried.

    • April 16, 2020 / 11:10 am

      Great way to look at it, Allison!

  23. Leslie
    April 16, 2020 / 9:54 am

    If you’re a big reader, and maybe you review books you’ve read on Goodreads or on a blog, sign up for Netgalley.com – you will be able to request (not always get approved, though) advance reader copies of books. There are some books that are available to “read now” – without publisher approval. Over the years, I have enjoyed these ARCs and discovered some new authors this way!

    • Leslie
      April 16, 2020 / 9:55 am

      I should add – you get electronic versions of the books that you can download to your Kindle, Apple device, or as a pdf.

  24. Kim Kash
    April 16, 2020 / 9:51 am

    Daedalus Books is another great online resource for an interesting curated offering books and music–and the prices are amazing! For years their warehouse (and a great store) was in Columbia, MD. Their offices are now in Baltimore. https://www.daedalusbooks.com/

    • April 16, 2020 / 11:07 am

      Thanks Kim, I added it to the list!

  25. Cameron Barry
    April 16, 2020 / 9:28 am

    Thanks so much for this post! I had gotten really good about not ordering from Amazon until the pandemic, but I’ve been ordering from them again recently and not feeling good about it. There is nothing to applaud about that company and the way its workers are treated, especially now.

    The Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore (and its sister store, Bird in Hand) is doing all kinds of wonderful things besides shipping books: https://www.theivybookshop.com/.

    • April 16, 2020 / 11:07 am

      Thanks Cameron, I added The Ivy to the list!

      • Regina
        April 16, 2020 / 1:53 pm

        I want to give a shout out to Grove Collaborative. I have been ordering home cleaning from them for over a year and they are so prompt and caring. Even now during the pandemic my shipments are timely and arrive with a caring supportive note inside or on the outside of the box from a real human. Can you say that about amazon? No you can’t.

        • April 16, 2020 / 4:42 pm

          That is awesome, thanks for letting us know Regina!

  26. Bette
    April 16, 2020 / 9:13 am

    Thanks for the shout-out to all our wonderful public libraries. The DC Public Library system has added a free membership to Kanopy, where you can choose from 100s of documentaries, indie films, and film festival prize winners. I reward myself at lunch every day by watching a short film. Love the DCPL!

  27. Krista
    April 16, 2020 / 9:09 am

    This might be one of my favorite posts ever! Thanks for this! Remember if you’re just looking for a little something to boost your mood, many small shops are open with local delivery. Check their social media. I’ll encourage those in the South to shop at Publix rather than the big “W”. They’re headquartered here in Lakeland, Florida. I know how hard they’re working and giving back. And (at least here in FL) breweries and bars are allowed to serve “to-go”. Order up your favorite beer and cocktails for pick up and delivery if possible. So when this over, we can still go out to our favorite places for a drink and story swapping.

    • Tracie Bowman
      April 16, 2020 / 10:17 am

      I don’t even live in Florida, but every time I’ve been there I love shopping at Publix. Glad to hear that they are good neighbors in your community!

    • Leu2500
      April 16, 2020 / 11:13 am

      I sooo 2nd Publix instead of W.

      I normally shop at Publix, but made a trip to W when I was hunting for toilet paper.

      It was a night & day comparison of how the companies are handling the virus. You can smell the disinfectant at Publix. They have someone keeping track of how many people are in the store & won’t let you in if they are over that number (AL seems to have mandated 50% of capacity). They are cleaning the shopping carts off & have another worker who makes sure you get a clean one. Etc.

      Walmart: well, they have the entrance & exits roped off. Not sure what that’s supposed to do. But heaven forbid that the Walton’s make a penny less during this time. I’m sorry for the people who have to shop there & even more sorry for the workers.

  28. April 16, 2020 / 9:07 am

    I have Overdrive! I’ve gotten into audio books. Before I wasn’t allowed to leave my house, I would listen to them through my car.

    • April 16, 2020 / 11:08 am

      Thank you so much Kelly, I added Bookshop to the suggestions in the post. I really appreciate it!

  29. Linda Dodson
    April 16, 2020 / 8:37 am

    Avid Bookshop, here in Athens, Georgia, ships gifts, books, and more! avidbookshop.com

    • MLH
      April 16, 2020 / 9:11 am

      Go Dawgs!

  30. Jenn
    April 16, 2020 / 8:35 am

    This is great, thank you!

    In the DMV – for people in the Arlington/Falls Church area, One More Page is a local bookstore that will deliver for free within zip codes near the store or ship. They are offering a “Surprise Box” and also carry puzzles/games.

    https://www.onemorepagebooks.com/

    • carol freysinger
      April 16, 2020 / 1:53 pm

      Thanks for mentioning OMP (One More Page). They also offer excellent chocolate and will mail it to you!

  31. Patsy
    April 16, 2020 / 8:33 am

    Congratulations on this info on the companies noted. Never been an Amazon fan and this cements it!

    • April 16, 2020 / 11:09 am

      Edited your comment Patsy, I’m so glad you liked the post! <3

  32. Nancy Bagshaw-Reasoner
    April 16, 2020 / 7:58 am

    Excellent post, Alison! Thank you .

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