I loved collecting cute stationery as a child – pens, notebooks, stickers, you name it, I collected it. This love was rekindled when I decided to go back to using an old-school planner, but goodness, cute stationery is expensive! I mean, $2+ for a roll of tape? $3+ for a sheet of stickers? At this rate I’m going to be spending at least $100 just to stock up on some basics.
Unwilling to pay the ridiculous prices, I decided to look for alternative places to purchase my stationary goods. Ebay was a little better, but not by much. Etsy also had some sellers with more reasonable prices, but the variety was limited. I then stumbled across Aliexpress (think English version of a Chinese eBay), and holy crap I struck gold. Sellers there sold everything from washi tape to stamps to stickers to pens, and the prices were dirt cheap. To make a long story short, I hauled the following for under $20 with free shipping:
Will I shop again at Aliexpress? Absolutely. Are there downsides to shopping there? Of course:
- Shipping takes a long time. Assuming you live in North America, don’t expect your package to arrive sooner than 2 weeks. On top of having to play the waiting game, you have to deal with the fact that China Post tracking is rarely updated. You probably won’t see much tracking info until your package reaches the US/Canada.
- Things get lost. I’ve personally never experienced this issue, but I do see reviews where buyers say they never got their package. Most sellers do offer a full refund if that happens, so just make sure you purchase through a reputable seller that offers this protection.
- Items are hit-or-miss. Most of my items came exactly as described in the listing, but a few of them you could tell were cheaply made. One stamp set (not pictured) was completely different from the listing, but the seller quickly refunded me 50% per their buyer protection policy. This isn’t not so much an issue with stationery, but I would never buy clothes, electronics, or any big-ticket items from Aliexpress.
- Lack of helpful reviews. Most reviews I saw were along the lines of “Thank you” or “I didn’t get the product”, which makes the whole review system pretty worthless. On the brighter side, you can still kind of gauge the quality of the product & seller by looking at the number of orders and reviews they’ve received.
Personally, none of the above are deal breakers for me, especially since I’m saving so much when shopping here. Worst comes to worst, you can always file a charge back with your credit card company. I found Aliexpress’ buyer protection to be pretty solid, so I doubt it will have to come down to that.
If small stationery goods are on your wishlist, I highly recommend taking a look at Aliexpress. If anyone has shopped there (or at a similar site) before, I’d love to hear your experience with them!