[Note: this is the comment I've posted over at Aquinas and More's blog. Since his comments are moderated, it may take a while for my comment to show up (and as it's long, it may have to be trimmed to fit). I'm therefore taking the liberty of posting it here, too.]
I'm sorry I wasn't able to respond yesterday, but I wanted to take a moment to address your response to my blog post. You're right that I haven't ordered from your store; in all honesty I must admit that your rather complicated return policy is one of the main reasons I haven't. I know it seems simple and straightforward to you, but to a shopper just wandering virtually around your site it seems confusing--cash refunds, but only in a certain time period, and not on some items including gold jewelry; store credit after that 30 day period, which is described variously as 30 days after the customer receives the items or 30 days after the item has shipped; defective CDs or DVDs will be replaced, but only if Aquinas and More plays them first, and if they work at your store you'll tell the customer to clean his equipment (which, you may not realize, comes off as rather insulting to the customer). And I only know this because I clicked on the link for "help" and then the one for "return policy;" how many of your customers place orders without realizing that they have ordered an item in your "non-returnable" category?
Like I said, this probably seems straightforward to you, and your many customers obviously don't have a problem with it. But put yourself in my place a moment: pretend you have a small budget to buy someone a gift (let's say a CD of Christmas music), you can order it from a store which will play the disk to "prove" it's defective if you say it is--or you can order the exact same disk from Barnes and Noble for pretty much the same price, knowing that they'll replace it immediately and without question if the item arrives and is defective. Which would you do? Or suppose you have enough money to buy your goddaughter a gold medal--do you order it online from a store where there's no possibility of returning it, even if you dislike the quality or workmanship once you see it, or do you go to Sears and physically look at their selection of gold medals? Considering how much money the customer is about to spend, here, I think it's only prudent to choose the second option.
I know you say the difference between big retailers and online Catholic ones is partly the "made in (fill in the totalitarian regime)" aspect that can be true of big stores. The thing is, it's also true of online Catholic ones. A lot of items I've ordered have turned out to be made in those same countries. Your store does pride itself on staying away from such items--but these days, books, CDs, DVDs and a host of similar items may be printed or manufactured (or have some components manufactured--CD cases, etc.) in those countries; even a simple item like printed wrapping paper often is. The question as to whether we ought to boycott those items or whether, as Pope John Paul II suggested, boycotts principally hurt the desperately poor is one on which Catholics might disagree; suffice it to say that the sort of thing I'm talking about isn't the kind of situation where the item I buy from the Catholic retailer will be made in a different country than the one I buy from a major secular retailer. In other words, if I want the new Susan Boyle CD, it's going to be the same CD whether it comes from Aquinas and More or Barnes and Noble.
And that is also true about your other objection which is that shoppers at big secular stores can't be sure of the orthodoxy of the items they are purchasing. Again, if I want to buy the latest book by a Catholic apologist, the book will be the same if I buy it at Amazon! With all due respect, if I'm shopping online, then I have plenty of ways to see if the item I'm buying meets my standards for orthodoxy or not, simply by doing a few online searches. I'm not really at the mercy of the big retailer just because the big retailer is only carrying Catholic goods at Christmas and Easter, for instance.
What the relatively small Catholic Internet stores, what even a big Catholic Internet store like Aquinas and More can do to earn my loyal business, is to treat me to an overwhelmingly positive customer service experience that goes above and beyond what I'd ever expect--because this is something the big secular retailers can't always do. I'm sure that this is how loyal customers of Aquinas and More feel about your store; I myself have been burned so many times by other Catholic Internet stores that I'm hesitant to take the chance again only to find myself, yet again, without a gift item I've ordered well in advance as the date of the occasion looms closer and closer.