11/01/06 - Associated Press
Social networking for bargains by Megan Scott

A new breed of Web site is mixing the current social networking craze with the tried and true group-discount concept.

The idea: give Web surfers who are interested in purchasing the same product a forum to organize so they can approach vendors to seek group discounts....

Online bargain shopping guru Karen Hoxmeier believes the co-op concept is going to grow in popularity. More people are shopping online and co-ops are an innovative way for them to leverage their buying power....

Hoxmeier, who runs the deal site, MyBargainBuddy.com, says people should start co-ops on reputable Web sites that already have a relationship with merchants. She recommends they target online stores, such as Overstock.com and Amazon.com, which are more likely to give a discount than, say, a bricks-and-mortar retailer such as JC Penney's. They should also choose practical items, such as bed sheets, appliances, electronics, and clothing -- things the average person can use.

"A car would be really hard because not everyone is in the market to buy a new car at the same time," she says. "Same with jewelry. It's hard finding someone who wants to buy a 5 carat diamond ring, let alone 20 people."