A list of the top ten difficult to find stores onlineContributed by Lindsay Shugerman, Catalogs.com Top 10 Guru

Searching for hard-to-find products and online stores using the internet can be both frustrating and rewarding.

Even though finding stores online is less harrowing than driving in circles in your car, it can be difficult to know where to find the products you are looking for among so many stores online. Here is a list of my top ten difficult to find and specialty items in stores online – I’ve already done the legwork, so click over, browse and place your order!

10. Men’s shirts for tall men who are thin

A list of the top ten difficult to find stores online

There are big and tall shops in most cities, but for some reason, they seem to confuse tall with wide. If you’ve ever had to find dress shirts for a man who is very tall, but also slender, you know the challenge. Finally, I found a website called LankyLife.com that lists companies that cater to tall, thin men and women, providing information on retailers who offers slender cut in their tall sizes. Thank goodness!

9. Estate jewelry you can trust

A list of the top ten difficult to find stores online

Don’t get wrong. There are plenty of sites online that claim to see estate jewelry. But if you order, you’re more likely to get thrift store quality than estate level. Or you’ll receive a reproduction instead of the real thing. Thank goodness I found an independent jeweler. They are serious about providing customers everywhere with a complete selection of high quality estate pieces they can trust.

8. Science fair project materials

A list of the top ten difficult to find stores online

It’s hard to find all the supplies kids need for science fairs. Local lab supply houses are usually wholesale only, and most educational stores are limited to kits. Searches online for test tubes and pH paper led me into site that sell project instructions, instead of supplies. So I was very happy to find education science catalogs online. They have all the things kids need for science fair projects, at a retail price parents can afford.

7. Ready-to-assemble Amish gazebos

Yes, there are lots of sites selling gazebos online. But most of them are, shall we say, flimsy? As in you’d be lucky to still have a standing gazebo by the end of the first year.

I know what a real gazebo is supposed to look like because I used to live near Lancaster, Pennsylvania where Amish craftsmen built solid, sturdy gazebos that would last through a couple of generations. But unless you’re heading that way, it can be hard to find that quality online. So I was happy when I found out that Amish Country Gazebos is the exception. These are real, Amish designed and built gazebos you can order in ready-to-assemble or custom designs.

6. Modern tapestries

A list of the top ten difficult to find stores online

I love the look of tapestries, but didn’t want the same old dozen or so patterns most furniture stores carry. In fact, I was hoping for some modern tapestries, but local stores had nothing. It took digging though a ton of sites that sell tapestry patterns and supplies, but I finally found a store that offers classic and modern tapestries, as well as custom tapestries.

5. A good selection of long skirts

A list of the top ten difficult to find stores online

I love wearing long skirts. Cotton or silk are both good. But it’s hard to find a good selection at the mall, or even online. Most of the search results that come up are stores with 2 or 3 longs skirts at best. A few sell oversized shapeless skirts apparently designed to hide the fact that the wearer is a woman. Not for me. Then I found Soft Surroundings – problem solved. Now the only problem is deciding which ones to order!

4. Sturdy dog toys

A list of the top ten difficult to find stores online

There are all kinds of websites that claim their dog toys are indestructible. Unfortunately, none of them seem to be telling the truth. My one year old Rhodesian mix has chewed through the best of them – along with a large part of my discretionary budget. This made the top 10 difficult to find online stores because I know so many other dog owners who are struggling with the same issue. The toys all seem to be made for lap dogs. Any suggestions, readers?

3. Clothes that work in heat and cold, too

There are clothes that work in cold weather — sweaters, coats, jackets. And there are clothes that (almost) work in hot weather, like tank top, shorts and sun dresses. But I couldn’t find one store that had clothes that kept the chill under control in winter, AND kept me cooler in the heat of summer until I found wicking underwear. This underwear works to keep active people dry and comfortable all year round. It even helps people facing medical issues such as diabetes stay healthier.

2. Lightbulbs

One of the top ten difficult to find stores online

Lightbulbs online? Who would have thought that you could find all those specialty bulbs – like chase lights and holiday bulbs. Find an online lightbulb store that has at least that – 1000 lightbulbs – so you don’t sit in the dark a minute longer.

1. Really unique greeting cards

A list of the top ten difficult to find stores online

It’s harder than you think to find quality cards that are truly unique. So many stores and sites sell the exact same cards, renamed perhaps, but the same images, same messages. There is one online store that has broken that mold. CardGnome.com works with artists to create original works of art for their holiday and special occasion greeting cards, lets you personalize them online, and then they mail them for you. Now that’s different!

Keep on trying.

No matter what you’re looking for, odds are it’s available online somewhere. Just keep searching. Oh, and if anyone finds those indestructible dog toys, please drop me a line!