November 01, 1998
Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts November 1998 Current Issue
November 1998
Short Cuts:

guitarOnce upon a time, mail-order catalogs were the only answer to the rigors of holiday shopping. Not anymore. Today time-strapped consumers are cruising the Internet for those perfect gifts. While you wont be able to scour the sales racks for bargains, and youll sometimes need more than an ounce of patience waiting for images to download, you can shop at midnight in your underwear, and you wont ever have to wait in line to pay.

To get you started, M&C has hand-picked several online shopping sites. All promise delivery within seven to 10 business days.

Logging on to toy giant Toys R Us,, is like hiring your own personal shopper - something the companys huge stores could use. Not sure what youre looking for? Simply plug in the childs age, type of toy youre considering (building blocks, dolls, arts and crafts, etc.) and price range. You can then select from possibilities from the stores inventory. One interesting feature is the Product Recall area. It spills the beans on recalled goods and provides links to sites such as U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Need more Titanic memorabilia to add to that special someones growing collection? Upscale FAO Schwarz, at www., has it. Choices include an 18 1/2" Rose doll in a variety of gowns for $395. Or, if you really feel like splurging, get the Steamer Set, which includes Rose, a steamer trunk, three gowns and all the accessories a lady needs for a cruise for a mere $1,200.

At, site of the New England granddaddy of fly- fishing, offerings include everything from Orvis' speciality reels and rod cases to luggage, rain gear and equipment for kids. Snazzy items in the speciality gifts section include Orvis Riverguide Wallets ($29-$35) and Orvis Clearview sunglasses ($60-$85).

For software, serves up everything from Reader Rabbit for first-graders to American Civil War Generals for history buffs. The site breaks searches into categories (entertainment, hobbies, etc.) and lists its own top 10 best sellers in each.

If it's out-of-print and hard-to-find first editions you're after for that book collector on your list, check out A test search for a signed, first edition of Truman Capote's 1965 best seller In Cold Blood yielded several possibilities, ranging from an autographed copy to his personal physician for $1,000 with the inscription "from an admiring patient," to a slightly worn autographed version for $350. A request for Herman Melville's classic Moby-Dick turned up a 1924 hardcover for $165.

Online shopping takes on a new dimension at, one of the hottest auction sites around. From typical collectors' items like coins and postage stamps to antique clothing, handmade guitars and 18-century sheet music, this is the site to find unusual gifts. Warning: The offerings are so enticing, it can become addictive. (In the name of research, this reporter rekindled an old hobby - stamp collecting - to the tune of $125.) Happy hunting.


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