updated 12/7/2012 8:19:35 AM ET 2012-12-07T13:19:35

There is no shortage of online shopping sites. But the social shopping site Storenvy, which recently had a major makeover, takes a new approach by making the experience feel like a visit to the world's coolest mall.

Storenvy adds 6,000 new items each week and hosts more than 26,000 independent stores — dwarfing the Mall of America. You immediately know what's most popular on the site, a big help when there's so much to see. Items are listed in order of popularity, a ranking that's continuously updated based on how many times a product has been liked and shared, as well as the number of sales.

You can search by category, including apparel and technology, but about half the items don't fit under a typical heading, the company says. It recommends trying "Everything Else" under the Specialty category to discover items you'll like, but probably hadn't thought about.

While the layout resembles  Pinterest , there are several big differences. Unlike Pinterest, with few items for sale, and none direct from the site, everything is for sale at Storenvy. And Storenvy appeals as much to men as it does to women — no hairdos or make-up tutorials on Storenvy.

Why we like it

Creative, not just crafty: Storenvy is home to specialty retailers and artists alike, so you can find unusual items that you're unlikely to find elsewhere. While a quarter or so of the offerings are handmade like those on Etsy, Storenvy balances the crafty with manufactured products, which could be the best of both worlds if you're looking for the unique.

A staff with good taste: Maybe you don't want to scroll through a seemingly endless array of products. Luckily, Storenvy marks its staff picks with green banners so they're easy to spot. On the technology page, staff picks include iPhone  jack caps that look like sporty bandanas and a set of three square mugs resembling computer keyboard keys, marked CTRL, ALT and DEL — witty gifts that are reasonably priced.

Solid search: In addition to browsing by categories and subcategories, such as Art and Pins (the kind you wear, such as a set of Andy Warhol portrait pins for $4), you can search by keyword, price, popularity and newest.

Advanced social shopping: Storenvy is designed to foster a sense of community shopping where it's easy to find great items by seeing what your friends like and buy. Users make a profile for themselves when they join. The profile pages include the items you've "envied" (liked) and the ones you've purchased. It also shows the stores you've added to your Watch list (so you can receive new product updates from them), the shoppers you're following and those who are following you. You can also share the products you've liked and bought to Facebook , Twitter and Pinterest.

Private shopping option: As social as Storenvy is, it doesn't require you to share your purchase history with others. You can choose to make each purchase private , so you don't spoil a friend's birthday surprise.

Keep in mind

Much of the inventory is geared toward younger people's interests. You'll find plenty of T-shirts with up-to-the-minute sayings that could be a hit with the weekend pub gang, but are probably not so great for the mothers' book club.

Bottom line

Storenvy is a great one-stop-shopping site for thousands of unusual items. And it works as well on your computer as it does on your  smartphone  browser. (Storenvy mobile apps will be launched next year.) It's easy to see what's trending and, thanks to the savvy staff, it's easy to find some of the most intriguing items available.

© 2012 TechNewsDaily


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