BOSTON (TheStreet) -- With commerce at your keyboard, spending a day shopping online sounds more peaceful than fighting crowds at the go-to stores.
1. Lala.com: Can a site funded by Bain Capital and propped up by Warner Music Group be considered a "hidden gem?" Considering that Google and Facebook are just catching on to what a lot of Lala listeners already know — that sometimes a song's only worth a dime — Lala's reach isn't yet as broad as its big backers would indicate. Here's the basic model: Listen to a full song once for free, a Web-only version costs you 10 cents and a mp3 file goes for 79 cents. Instead of going for the bargain bin, create a custom mix for your friend. If he doesn't like the tunes you picked, he can swap them for new ones.
2. Powell's Books: Let Target (Stock Quote: TGT), Wal-Mart (Stock Quote: WMT) and Amazon (Stock Quote: AMZN) slug it out over new online books. Oregonians and lovers of literature seek sanctuary in this one-stop new, used and rare-volume bookstand. Teeming with signed editions, staff picks and exclusive author interviews and essays, Powell's is a candy store for a kid who gets a treat out of reading J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey. Have fun stocking discounted copies of Sarah Palin's memoir, big boys: The Powell's crowd will be here in the corner writing in Moleskine journals, thumbing through autographed copies of John Irving's Last Night In Twisted River (Random House 2009) and Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals (Little, Brown & Co. 2009) and enjoying 30% off its New York Review of Books classics collection.
3. Etsy: This is the Overstock.com of handmade goods. Hundreds of thousands of artists and crafters sell their paintings, jewelry, soap, clothing, toys and other wares each year through this global clearing house. To give you some idea of the depth behind the site's 2 million items, there are more than 7,000 different varieties of fingerless gloves alone.
4. Ruby Jewel Treats: If you're going to make one thing, but make it well, the ice cream sandwich is a great pick. This Pacific Northwest-based company takes a few simple concepts — cookies, ice cream, farm-fresh local ingredients — and pours them into deliciously complex little pucks. The lemon and honey in its Lemon Cookie with Honey Lavender sandwiches are all natural, as is the mint in the Dark Chocolate Cookie with Fresh Mint sandwiches and the pumpkin from its seasonal Ginger Cookie with Pumpkin. With a case of 22 small sandwiches going for $55 and 15 large sandwiches fetching $60, they're definitely not Klondike bars. Get the variety pack.