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This is a quick guide to buying stuff "mail order" from China.  When making such purchases, consider the shipping charges as part of the price paid, and look at the expected arrival date -- frequently up to 8 weeks, and if end-to-end tracking is included.  Small items will frequently come with USPS as the last leg.  Consider if the item is actually of use to you, not only if it is cheap for what it is.  Many things come with no documentation, documentation in chineese or chinglish (aka poor translations).

Ebay http://ebay.com/ has many overseas vendors, both with auctions and "buy it now".  Payment is generally via paypal, with shipment only to the paypal confirmed address.  Disputes are handled by a US company.  I've purchased many items, sometimes winning bids at $0.01 with free shipping. I consider this lowball bidding entertainment, if you value the time spent it may not be worthwhile.  At least in small electronic parts, ebay is the most likely to give partly functional or even deliberately mislabeled items.

Dealextreme http://dx.com/?Utm_rid=86646167&Utm_source=affiliate (affiliate link) has their own warehouse with a wide variety of goods.  Shipping is free with $15 order, but takes 4-8 weeks.  They have frequent sales and coupon offers.  Sometimes seemingly identical items will be listed at different prices.  Dozens of items are added and go out of stock every day.

Dxsoul http://dxsoul.com/?Utm_rid=86646167&Utm_source=affiliate is the same company, but with free express shipping (1-2 weeks) to the US.  Prices do vary from dealextreme, occasionally they are lower.

Banggood http://banggood.com/ is similar to dealextreme. 

Aliexpress http://aliexpress.com/ is an advertising, order and payment company for a wide variety of manufacturers and distributors.  Shipping costs won't be combined between companies, and frequently exceeds the cost of the items.  



Alibaba http://alibaba.com/ is the same company, but provides less of the middleman functions.  It is intended to help you find and contact manufacturers for wholesale quantities.

Taobao http://taobao.com/ is for internal to China transactions.  Listings are in Chinese, and you will need an agent to accept the package and forward it to you.  (Some agents will combine packages for you.)  (In china, licenses are different for domestic and international sales, and many companies have only one.)  Between the translation errors (both to vendor and agent) risks are higher than the above options.  Sometimes lower prices and wider selection of merchandise can make paying the agent and double shipping worthwhile.
Thanks Blars.

I appreciate when people share what they have learned. There's a big learning curve with things that are out of the ordinary. I don't necessarily need the info at the time but I file it away for later.
I have bought a couple things from gearbest and came out okay.
I live about 3 hours from Columbus, Ohio which is an International Inland Port.   Anything can be brought to Ohio from around the world and delivered to Toledo or Cleveland.   From there it goes down toward Columbus to any number of handlers for shipping to final destination. 

Down river from me is a new Port in the southern most end of Ohio.  Port of South Point Ohio.   Goods that are ordered from off shore using that destination can be picked up at that facility. (after coming there from Columbus)  This is roughly 30 miles down river from me.

I've been waiting to see if this will open soon as it could open a lot of possibility for eCommerce sales online. 

I could imagine anyone in the sticks and bricks setting up a "Drop Shipping" firm where those wanting to sell from it could catalog items in their shopping cart websites and do sales and then place orders to the Drop Shipper with the customers address to be shipped to.  (all sales include insurance) 

For those living on the road or boondocking (with internet connection) this could provide for an income stream.  I'm sure items for RV travel and Camping or other outdoor recreation may make for the better more specialized selection of items to sell.   But this way the eCommerce site owners could take of their sales & taxes and the warehouse/shipper could do the same. 

It's just a thought as this mutualization could benefit Van/RV dwellers who could do everything on their computer and make enough money to be in a lower tax bracket and live well.    Those wanting to be in the warehouse/shipping business in the sticks and bricks could find plenty of Van dwellers to do sales for them.