It saves a lot of time. And frustration.
I used to look around on the sites, maybe put something into my shopping cart, then go to check out, just to find out they ship to the contiguous 48 states only, or that they want to charge completely outrageous shipping charges.
That being said, being in Alaska, there are a few things I need that I can't come by here.
A good example is that I buy Premo! in the 1 pound block. I haven't found it anywhere here, so I order it from Polymer Clay Express.
You might think that it costs me a fortune to have several pounds of clay shipped to Alaska. But I order from this company for several reasons: their prices are good, they are always very prompt in shipping, they take the time to write little thank you comments on every single invoice they enclose and they take the extra step to offer flat rate shipping through the USPS.
Another good example: Recently, I started making some adorable ( if I must say so myself) penguins perched on top of ice cubes. I'm not certain where I got the few glass cubes I originally started with, but I was unable to find them at JoAnn's or Michael's, so I started hunting on-line.
I went straight to my usual "go to" on-line "general" craft supplier (which I will not name in this particular blog entry) and found that they indeed do sell the glass cubes that I so desperately wanted ( since they really do add such CUTENESS to the penguins ). Well, I added four bags of the cubes to my shopping cart at $2.49 per bag, went to check out and found out that for a little under $10 worth of mechandise I was going to be charged $31.49 in shipping. Apparently the only way they ship to Alaska now is by 2nd Day Air. You may have guessed that I did not complete the transaction and I no longer have a usual "go to" on-line "general" craft supplier.
After finding several other places with similar issues, I finally came across a wonderful place called Wholesalers USA. They carry a lot of cool stuff AND they have special shipping to Alaska and Hawaii. You guess it! They use the flat rate shipping option through the USPS. (and they don't add a handling fee, so what ever can fit into one of the flat rate boxes, regardless of weight, is only $10 bucks!) I bought six pounds of the cute glass cubes.
( Admittedly, the US Postal Service is not without it's flaws, the box my cubes came in had been dropped or squished in some way, but the cubes had been packaged so carefully that not one was even chipped). Hopefully, they last me awhile. But when I do need more, you can bet I will be a return customer at Wholesalers USA.