I buy lots of stuff from China – nothing important, just various electronics and plastic-based merchandise that is extremely cheap to produce over there. Typically for small things, my go-to source is to look for it on DealExtreme.
I’ve had good success with DX, so I have confidence when buying from there. I’ve bought from other China-based sites before, but because so many pop up and disappear, I’m not sure whether they’re trustworthy or not. With DX, even though sometimes the prices are a few dollars higher, I’m relatively certain that I will get the item in about 3 weeks (I’ve experienced a couple of DOAs or missing packages, but usually they refund my money or send it out again).
In fact, I buy from DX so often that I started getting curious. How much money have I spent propping up the manufacturing industry of China? Luckily for me, I have PayPal records of all my purchases so I spent an evening entering the data into a spreadsheet.
Since August 2007, I’ve made 62 different orders at DealExtreme. I typically try and batch my orders so that they’re less than $20 in value (to avoid custom fees). Even then, 60+ orders is a lot – and comes up to just over $1000 USD spent at DealExtreme! $1000 seems like a lot of USB cables and various electronic knick-knacks, but I’ve bought some more expensive items, such as a lot of LED light bulbs, EZ-Flash, and some musical instruments. In total, I’ve bought 197 items from DX.
Crossing that $1000 threshold surprised me, but I don’t think I’m going to stop buying from China. Besides, that’s just a year worth of Starbucks, and I get much more happiness out of random stuff from China.