Buying (and Trading) on Etsy
Positively one of my favorite places to shop online when I need a present is www.etsy.com. And I have to say, most of the time when I go to buy a present from this site, I have no idea beforehand what I'm actually going to buy. I just browse endlessly by random criteria. My favorite is by color. I want to see something blue and voila! Everything from buttons to yarn to pillows and barrettes in blue.
Etsy only lets vendors who are selling handmade items post their wares on Etsy. They are pretty strict about this. If a vendor even tries to post something not created , other shoppers and artisans will flag it immediately. When they say handmade they mean it---but there's such a broad interpretation of that. The t-shirts a friend of mine silk screens are on there, my old zines are on there, and restrung jewelry made with vintage beads are there too.
If you want to set up shop, etsy boasts some of the lowest cost fees around and the percentage cut is tiny. It doesn't have the traffic of eBay yet, but it doesn't have the high cost either and stuff can sit in your store for three months straight from one posting. A girlfriend of mine who dyes her own yarn has sold about $500 worth so far with not that much effort put into it. You can go in with a few artists in your area and have one store between you.
On the flip side, since artisans and artists make up this site and ususally can't help themselves when they see something fun, clever or beautiful, you can bet that other artists and artisans are looking around their fellow etsy sites. You can totally work out trades of merchandise and can post on your site that you are up for such things (there I go again with the trading). I traded a few books for some earrings.