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By Jim Gerland and Mark Winer

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The Internet Holiday Season
December 14, 1996

Last Holiday season we did some of our shopping online. Unfortunately we were limited by the number of stores which had Internet sites. Predictably, a year later our shopping options have increased tenfold. So here are some retail stores which have local locations or ownership that you can surf to for "less stressful" holiday shopping.

Most major department stores now have Internet sites - something that could not be said last year for the Holiday shopping rush. Of those that can be found in the Western New York vacinity, we noticed that many of these sites were top notch. For example, JCPenney's (www.jcpenney.com)has been redesigned; it seems faster, a little more graphical, easier to navigate, and easier to use since you are one click away from the home page and into cyber-shopping. This site provides secure on-line shopping in a nicely designed frames environment. Even gift certificates can be purchased on-line and through their easy to use check out form you can send your gift right to your loved one.

Another major retailer, Sears (www.sears.com) has come on line in the past year. This is a well done site, very graphical and easy to navigate and the pages loaded relatively quickly. The Store Locator allowed us toquickly find out the addresses and phone numbers of thespecific type of Sears store near your home. The SearsPortrait Store (www.sears-portrait.com) has a Parents area where there are several great ideas of family fun things that you can do with your kids, and fun recipes, not for food but rather to make fun putty, bubbles and fun soap and water finger paints. There is also information on all current special offerings and coupons that you can print and bring with you for your holiday picture.

Ames (www.amesstores.com) sports a relatively simple site that allows you to locate the closest Ames store to where you are. The site also contains information about the name brands that are sold and investor information that is available on the company.

You can find the closest Kmart (www.kmart.com) to you and check out the latest circular tabloid on line with all the holiday specials. You can also learn how to apply for a Kmart credit card. Soon you will be able to actually apply for your Kmart credit card on-line. Even though you can't purchase on-line there is a neat little window shopping area that you can virtually stroll through the aisle to look at some of the items that are on display.

If you're looking for on-line shopping go to Wal-Mart (www.wal-mart.com). Check it out - this site seems to have really put it all together. From their credit card to their circulars everything seems to be here. We tried to shop several times but it was so slow that it always timed out on us. Most likely their site was overly busy with other holiday shoppers.

One of the newest national retailers in WNY is Target (www.targetstores.com) which has a fine site. For starters you can easily find the nearest Target by zip code or city name. It seems as this is a prerequisite for all large retailers on the net. There is information about Target's new store openings and other promotional goodies. A good start, but the latest circulars should be added.

If you're looking for unique gifts take a peek at the Sharper Image (www.sharperimage.com). Here you'll find coupons and Internet specials for those who want to order on-line. They also provide an easy to navigate catalog, offering various ways to order (fax, telephone, on-line etc.).

We were disappointed to find that both Lord & Taylor and Kaufmanns (both are May Department Stores) had little information at the May Company site (www.maycompany.com) besides store locations and phone numbers.

Many local stores are on the Internet and offering on-line ordering. Or perhaps you're looking for a specially created cake? Take a look at Schroeder's Bakery Holiday Gift Shop (www.schroedersbakery.com). Here's an idea for that computer geek family member: buy RAM for their PC. The AccuCom (accucom.afterfive.com) folks have a great on-line system to make ordering memory a piece of cake. To warm up that cold winter night there aren't many better snacks than Buffalo Wings. Surf to the Buffalo Wings site (www.buffalowings.com) and order some Anchor Bar Buffalo Wing Sauce. A unique gift can be created by Enchanted Memories (www.enchantedmemories.com) which offers books personalized books featuring pictures you provide them. They have a variety of books which they can create including baby, pet, wedding/anniversary, and parents/grandparents. For that golfer in the family don't forget to browse the Springbrook Golf (www.springbrookgolf.com) site. And of course don't forget to check the classifieds for some great gift bargains. The Buffalo News classifieds (www.buffnews.com) are now online. Also take a look at the FREE online Classifieds on WNY Web (www.wnyweb.com) and InTotem (intotem.buffnet.net).

We look forward to the email and faxes we get from you so don't stop sending them in. Let us know what's going on in the WNY Internet community. You can email us at edge@edgeglobal.com  or fax us (716) 853-1350 and tell us what's going on or how you feel about the Internet.