Repost from our previous blog site hooptricks.org - originally published on August 18, 2014 at 9:56am
The Hoop forums I'm in always have someone wondering where they can get a polypro, LED or a smart hoop. Sometimes I'll see someone ask where to get a hood, a pair of leggings, or a pair of flow pants.
I'm sure many of us had made terrible mistakes in our hoop-purchases in the past (including me). If I had learned these tips beforehand, I could have saved quite a bit of money and frustration.
Tip #1. Can it wait?
More often then not the answer is "yes."
Impulsive buying is very easy to do, but almost NEVER a good idea. Even if it's a deal that is once-in-a-lifetime, not putting any thought into a perchance is a bad idea. You may be so consumed in wanting those flow-pants or that FutureHoop, that you might not even consider it being the wrong size.
Personal experience, I bought a FutureHoop from a festival, totally on impulse. I was full of joy for a month...until I outgrew it; and down grading smart-hoops is not an easy (or cheap) task.
Just remember, the longer you wait, the better your skill becomes. More often than not, as you build more skills the hoop you use will get smaller and lighter.
Tip #2. Make it first.
Okay, maybe you're not an electrician or a seamstress, but if you try to make your hoops or clothes before dropping $50, you may surprise yourself. I made my first hula hoop and only recently bought my first non-LED. (Shout-out to Feather Hoops for my button hoop!)
But seriously. If you want a utility belt, an LED, or flow-pants, it would cost you stacks less to try to make it yourself! Not to mention you would learn a fun new skill and have a unique, one-of-a-kind item! If YouTube can teach you how to do a shoulder duck-out, it can teach you how to make a polypro hoop.
Tip #3. Reviews!
Reviews are your f r i e n d! I cannot stress this enough. ESPECIALLY if the prices or deals give you a "too good to be true" feeling. Don't just look up one review, check out a couple. Look for details that may pertain to your wants. For instance, if the site says "Three day shipping," and you NEED that hoop pronto, check out reviews before buying it. It only takes a few minutes. If the reviews say, "It took two/three weeks," that could be a deal-breaker for you. Had I looked at a review before buying my latest LED, I would have a much better-quality hoop.
Tip #4. If you can't afford it, trade it!
There's plenty of groups through Facebook such as A Hooper's Closet and Flow/Hoop/Circus Clothescycle that will happily trade hoops for clothes and vice-versa. Some traders will charge money for their gear. If you're going to take this route, try to find a trader near you who can meet up in-person, or use PayPal, so you can be refunded if you never receive your items. Trading sites can be addictive, but oh-so fun! It's also a great way for you to clean out your own closet. Make sure you go through your personal supplies and take flattering pictures of what you have to offer. Keep in mind the way your pictures are taken. It could mean the difference between scoring some doubles...or not.
Personally, I love trading sites. I got an awesome deal on a 5-prong fire hoop and made some really awesome flow-buds!
Tip #5. Find an Etsy-alternative.
You should undoubtedly support small businesses. However, Etsy charges the artists "seller fees", which take from their profits. Sometimes, this means the crafters may charge more on Etsy versus Ebay or their personal website. I am NOT saying to avoid Etsy, but most crafters will have multiple sites with the same product. The items may not always be less, but it's certainly worth a try. Not to mention, buying straight from their website is better business for them. You can usually find their alternative sites either through their Etsy profile, or just by Googling them.
Tip #6. Like, type, share.
If there is a small hoop or clothes business you adore, make sure you like their page and share all their promo info. Show your friends and be a faithful customer. Promotion goes a long way. Letting the business know you like them and want them to succeed will give them a reason to give you a discount or let that shipping fee slide. Even if the business doesn't give you any benefits, knowing that you're helping them is good karma. It may come back around if they ever seeking sponsees, promoters, or employees.