I recently discovered my personality type and everything made sense. The reason I do what I do, think the way I think, feel the way I feel is all because of the personality I am. (I'm talking about the 16 personality types by Meyers Briggs). One of my traits is to give gifts.
Now I'm a freelancer and a full time mom. Mostly of the time I can't be choosy about the work I do, (sometimes I can) but even before this phase of my life, my favourite part about working is once I get my 'salary', is planning and giving gifts to my family (and some friends).
In my youth, being a Bombay towny fashion street, colaba causeway and crawford market were my go to for deals. As malls began emerging I never caught onto the mall shopping because I always knew there would be better deals else wear. But as time went by fashion street became something else, Colaba causeway is still great but limited.
As I moved out of Bombay and lived in different parts of the country, I had to find my own version of cheap deals, every place has it. Delhi has Sarojini Nagar and Paharganj (which is way cheaper than Janpath). Bhopal has Peer Gate rather than the conventional New Market. But as a thumb rule, in India at least, if you want a cheap deal head closer to the station. That's what I do, you get most things (including vegetables at half costs near the station). Even in Thane, we live near Yeor Hills yet go all the way to the station to buy our groceries and monthly purchase.
Truth be told marriage made me more frugal and wise about costs. Though frugality is relative, some would call eating out a waste of money, but it always depends on where you are. In Bombay and Calcutta eating out is way cheaper that cooking at home. But that's for another day, another topic.
I was introduced to online transactions after marriage by my husband who taught me net banking and then there was no stopping me. It began with understanding OLX and eBay I was one of the few who jumped onto the Flipkart revolution and moved on to Amazon as well. But I still would always look for deals. I remember my cousin would order her meat and vegetables to her apartment and I would wish for services like those in the city I lived it. With time all that has become more possible especially in urban setups in India.
However my heart would still want the Crawford Market prices that occasionally as a family we would make a trip to town (once in 3 months) to get the full advance of lower costs.
And then I discovered Ali Express.
My exposure to Ali Express was earlier, when two people I knew from church ordered their wedding dresses from Lucy Bridal which was Ali Baba during that time. So I did that and got my dress which otherwise would cost me 85,000 in India cost me 7,000 INR. Of course there were other items I bought like the skirt (to add a puff to my dress) and gloves but my dress was what made me realise that the Indian market was fooling its customers.
Later on once my daughter was born for her 3rd birthday I ordered a few kids dresses. Those days the app has just come out and things were more unsure. It was for her 4th birthday when she chose the theme My Little Pony I got stuck because Crawford or Bandra vendors didn't even know what My Little Pony was. Months after her birthday we found 1 lunch box and 1 water bottle random shops. So I began ordering in June (with small purchases). It took time but eventually by the time her birthday arrived, I was all set with a themed party I would have never been able to pull off, and that too I did it very frugally.
Since then I first check the Ali Express price because most of the time its about 300 INR cheaper than Crawford and given that it's delivered by good old Indian Post to your door step (shipping free) I'm not complaining. Now that said, I still go to Crawford Market for a few things and with Ali you have to be careful about reading the fine print and being very careful with measurements. Sometime the products look bigger than they actually are (opposite of super size). I have received lego toys which were barely 1cm. So disclaimer given.
Ali is excellent for Kid birthday party's and toys, shoes, some clothes, gifts you can never get in India, and unbranded camera equipment.
Right now I'm planning a Wonder Woman birthday party for my daughter's birthday and the shopkeepers in Bombay don't even know who she is! Lol! Will write more about the Wonder Woman party
For Now: Here are my top Ali Express Items (for gifting or for yourself)
5. Camera Accessories: Light Kit
Let me know if you have any questions about Ali. I am planning to do a video series on this in detail. Would love your feedback.