Canadian-friendly online shopping sites to get your fix

Canadian-friendly shopping sites cater to northern consumers.

Canadian-friendly shopping sites cater to northern consumers.

Natalia Manzocco, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

If you thought the temptation to shop online was bad before, you might want to start hiding the credit cards.

After years of being plagued with prohibitively high duties and shipping costs, the tables are turning for Canadians. Sites catering to Canadian shoppers are springing up, as more and more entrepreneurs tap into a pool of frustrated consumers in the Great White North.

"The Canadian consumer is dying to get in there," says Irene Kim, vice-president of La Closette, a Toronto-based shopping and personal styling service. "They want to have access to these products in a way that is readily available for Americans."

In addition to hunting down finds for her clients, Kim has been a regular online shopper since the turn of the millennium, when most outlets just wouldn't ship up north. Nowadays, many sites are Canadian-friendly, but the cross-border taxes and shipping keeps purchases from being worthwhile.

"Sometimes I'll order something from Neiman Marcus, or I'll put it in my shopping cart, and it will go from $60 to $125 with duties," Kim says. As a result, she's become a pro at comparison shopping, doing a mock checkout on different websites to see what the final tally will be.

Canadian-based sellers, Kim says, soften the blow -- she counts the Aldo and Joe Fresh sites among her favourites for surprise fee-free shopping.

Avenue K, an online marketplace featuring a number of sellers hawking a carefully edited mix of luxury goods, is one of the newest sites catering to fashion-savvy Canadians. "We saw ... shoppers setting up storage lockers across the border in the U.S. to enable them to shop brands and lines they couldn’t get in Canada," Avenue K CEOs Rafi Gordon and Alex Amin told me via email. Their aim was to offer the kind of convenience and selection so often unavailable to Canadians.

In order to adapt to a new market, the Avenue K team decided to accept returns -- something its Japanese predecessor, Buyma, didn't do -- and re-jigged their product offerings to appeal to Canadian buyers. Here are five more Canadian-friendly spots to get your next fashion fix.


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