As you sit down at your computer this holiday season, think twice before you click on just any shopping Web site.
If you're on the perennial hunt for a distinctive gift for that special someone — something handmade? something that just says "wow!" — you might want to try to find a "niche" site instead of one of the big boys.
That's where Maggie Mason comes in. Her two-year-old shopping blog, MightyGoods.com, points the way to sites that offer that self-watering flower pot your mother didn't know she needed. Or a Wonder Woman costume for Fido. Or a personal potato chip fryer. Or a map of the history of all civilization.
You get the picture.
Mason, who works out of San Francisco, says inventory and space limitations prevent brick-and-mortar stores from offering crazier or kickier items. The shelves are arranged to match the taste of the average customer.
In some cases, major retailers offer products that are only available online — where they can afford to offer a riskier selection.
But the beauty of online shopping — niche or otherwise — is that it allows shoppers to cover a lot of ground in a hurry. Mason gives Andrea Seabrook some tips on finding just the right thing.