Beyond Amazon

There's a lot more to buy online than cheap CDs. Rebecca Armstrong searches the outer limits of the net for the weird and the wonderful
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The Independent Online

This clever site was set up last year and allows subscribers to buy, sell or swap designer and vintage clothing online. It's like a chic and cheerful bring and buy sale where visitors can find anything from box-fresh Louis Vuitton handbags to worn-once Jimmy Choos. A nice touch is that would-be buyers can e-mail the person who has uploaded their unwanted items to get the inside information.

To create a truly unique bag log on to and pick a style from courier to shoulder bag. Then choose which recycled truck tarpaulin fits your colour scheme and the site will create your bag. With a huge range of tarpaulin colours and designs, it's safe to say that your bag will be a real one-off.

Want to reduce the UK's waste mountain? Check out this new website which encourages people to try to fix household items before they buy new ones. eSpares provides an easy way to source spare parts for household electrical items, buy spare parts direct and gives good advice on how to locate and replace them through exploded diagrams and video clips.

"Benevolent capitalism starts here" claims this site's homepage, and with good reason - every time you make a purchase at Amazon, iTunes or at any one of's affiliates (through the Buyforgood site), a small portion of your money gets sent automatically to charity. The site costs you nothing because Amazon and co contribute the money themselves instead of spending on advertising.

This site has been selling Japanese ultra light notebooks and gadgets for the last eight years. These products aren't on the grey market - non-illegal imports that are just this side of the law - and the site is professional and reliable. Great buys are the cherry wood or bamboo earphones.

The auction site specialises in technology products, but only sells one item a day, posted nightly at midnight US Central time. Don't like today's special offer? Check tomorrow to see if it's offering the gadget of your dreams.

This site produces photo montages that don't require any cutting or sticking. Instead, send your images - either traditional or digital photos - to and the site will print your snaps on to canvas. As well as offering montages, shoppers can choose from large canvases, panels or panoramic pictures, and there's a free preview to see what your work of art will look like. and

These portal sites give you a small amount of money for visiting shopping sites through them. But don't expect to get rich quick - you'll only receive about £3.50 (or some food vouchers) for shopping through these sites, but at least they are giving not taking.

At you can create a song online. You can choose the type of song you want, give information about the person you're creating it for, and in seconds a lavishly orchestrated work is produced. After a free listen, you can send it to your inspiration. The whole process takes five minutes.

The antithesis of a sky-high eBay auction. Instead of people flogging unwanted concert tickets for vastly inflated sums, is an ethical gig and festival ticket exchange for the UK and Ireland where would-be concert goers can buy or sell tickets at the original value, rather than for ticket-tout prices.

An ongoing online design competition, is also the answer to wardrobe crises everywhere. As well as giving wannabe designers an outlet for their creative talents, this site offers a T-shirt delivery service whereby subscribers to Threadless receive a brand new T-shirt every month.

Custom-designed CDs, CD cases and DVDs are all for sale here, as well as CD storage and blank DVDs. That may not sound very exciting, but with pre-designed silk-screened CDs and a range of hip T-shirts, is leading the market in striking CDRs.

Make greetings cards online using this site's templates - ranging from mock Hello! covers to pretend passports - or by e-mailing your own digital images. Cards are sent to the address of your choice, potentially making forgotten birthday and lacklustre cards a thing of the past.

American website Branch offers sustainable designs for the home. Recycled plastic iPod covers and hemp napkins are colourful and beautifully crafted, while the children's cork chair would make a cool addition to any bedroom. This is a low-guilt alternative to big-name interiors brands.