Columnist

Kristin Emery is a meteorologist at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, an O-R columnist, and writer for Total Health magazine and other publications. Kristin is a Washington native and a graduate of Washington High School and West Virginia University.

There I was, surfing the television channels or watching those shows I love about buying vacation homes on some Caribbean island when the commercial break hit. Some ad for a company selling furniture and home furnishings online was first followed by an ad for another company touting its website. I realized every ad was for a “dot com” business and none of them for a place you could visit in person.

The age of online shopping is here and we’re seeing the demise of local retail options such as Macy’s, Bon Ton and Gander Mountain.

I have to admit I’m guilty of buying some things online. I’ve purchased a few things you can’t get in local stores (such as specific scuba gear), but I still can’t understand how anyone could buy makeup or perfume without seeing, smelling or trying it in person.

I just saw a commercial for a service that lets you order a car online and have it delivered to your home. I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to spend thousands of dollars to buy a car I have not seen, touched or test driven.

The old adage of, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” rings in my head as I envision buying items based solely on photos provided by the seller. I realize that returns are often easy, but I can’t be bothered to buy a bunch of clothes online, wait for delivery, inspect the quality, try them on and realize they don’t fit and then have to pack them up and head to the post office. Some folks have the postal worker pick up their packages, which also sounds easy. It’s just too much of a hassle.

I have bought some clothes online though and it’s a roll of the dice. I ordered two swimsuits at very cheap prices from a company that apparently stockpiles orders then places them once they get a big enough shipment. After more than a month, they arrived in a plastic bag. I cautiously opened it and was shocked that the quality appeared to be good. I tried them on and couldn’t believe they fit.

What appeared to be a great deal wound up all wet last week on vacation at the beach. I noticed something black beneath my fingernails that wouldn’t come off with soap and water. Then it was all over my hands. Later, I noticed black smudges on my thighs. Only then did I realize it was the black dye from my cheapo mail order swimsuit. You get what you pay for. The suit is still in great shape but it may go from black to white or grey in the wash.

Shopping online is easy and convenient, but I still like going into stores and browsing in person. I’m wondering how much longer that will be an option.

Kristin Emery can be reached at kristinemery1@yahoo.com.

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