Buying your kite

If you are lucky enough to live near a good kite store, then you have no problem. They should have a good selection for you to choose from and be willing to order in what they don’t have. But if, like me, you live thousands of miles away from such a paradise, then the World Wide Web is your saviour.  Here are some of the sites I recommend from experience, but you can find many others:

IN AMERICA:

www.intothewind.com is a very good website, with a great selection of quality kites, many of them exclusive to the company.  Their service is good and delivery charges always reasonable, based on the value of your order rather than weight or size.  There is a wonderful retail store, too, if you are near Boulder, Colorado, full of toys and novelties as well as kites.

www.pictureprettykites.com has possibly the largest selection of kites anywhere, from hundreds of items suitable for children up to the big show kites, and lots of line laundry too.  Helen, the owner, gives very helpful and personal service from her Omaha, Nebraska base. Prices are very reasonable, and it’s always a great place to deal with.

www.gombergkites.com  is owned by David and Susan Gomberg, who are renowned for flying huge kites at festivals around the world. The sister site www.gkites.com  has their more basic range.  Most of their products are designed by, and made for, them.   A good source for tails and accessories as well as kites.  They are also the American agents for the famous Peter Lynn show kites.

Other good dealers I know of are  www.cobrakite.com and www.kitesandfunthings.com plus many I have no space to include.  All of those are in the United States, but post worldwide.

IN CANADA  the place to go for the best range of kites and top advice is www.kiteguys.ca   Bud Taylor is the man to contact there, and he will send kites to just about anywhere, and help you make your choice if you’re unsure what’s best for your requirements.

If you are in the U.K. then you can try www.kites4u.co.uk and Kiteworld.co.uk  

Anywhere in Europe, and even outside, you can find a great range of products from the nice people at  http://www.metropolis-drachen.de/en/home/  They’re based in Germany near the border with Denmark, but deliver to most places in the world.

In Singapore:  www.passionkites.com have a huge range of kites and send all over the world.  

Here in New Zealand, for those really big show kites, at prices to match, we have the famous Peter Lynn factory www.peterlynnkites.com who will happily quote you a price delivered to your home anywhere in the world. The kites are fantastic in design and built to an extremely high quality (but not cheap, of course.)  For good-quality smaller single-line kites and lots of sports kites, try www.kites.co.nz run by Julie Adam, a real enthusiast who also gives kite-making classes to schools and other groups.     

BUYING DIRECT FROM CHINA:  Most of the kites you can buy are made in China, whether they be from companies based in America or Germany.  They are, however, made to the standards of those companies, so you know what you are getting.  It’s becoming much easier to buy kites direct from China if you know what you are doing. Be aware that many kites sold in this way are copies of other people’s work (not good!), and in a lot of cases are inferior in materials and workmanship. However, if you are careful, there are some very good kites to be had that cannot be found elsewhere.  Stunning soft (inflatable) kites like the Trilobite are examples of the latter (see my review, page 3.)

Ordinary airmail from China to most places can be very slow, often leading buyers to think they will never receive their orders. If you pay extra for EMS (the international Express Mail Service) then your items will arrive much more promptly and reliably.  With smaller or lighter items, the cost is not much different, so it’s always good to check if EMS is available.  A new postal system called e-packet seems to be working well for small items.

One site I can recommend in China is www.emmakites.com , where I’ve always found honest dealing and good value (see kite photo top right and second left.)  I’ve also been very happy with http://kaixuankite.cn/ , a factory which makes some of Peter Lynn’s kites and is very reliable.

If you want to deal with Chinese companies other than the above, use the excellent http://www.aliexpress.com/  , which is a bit like a Chinese version of eBay, and the source of many of my purchases.  It links to thousands of retail outlets, and among the millions of items on sale are many kites of all types.  The site is a very safe way of dealing, as it acts as a “middle man” between the buyer and seller and ensures that the goods are received before the money is handed to the seller, otherwise a refund will be made.  Unfortunately, a lot of the English on the sellers’ websites is rather poor, but there are usually no problems getting what you want (check the ratings and deal only with the best ones.  Both the companies I mentioned above also sell through AliExpress.)

I used to think it was not good to buy from China, as it took away business from the American kite makers who have been responsible for giving us a great choice of well-made kites at reasonable prices.  Unfortunately, the choice of kites from the American companies is decreasing.  One, which I shall not name, is dropping more and more of the better kites which, with extensive applique work (sewn patterns) are costly to produce.  The company is substituting cheaper printed fabric in many of the remaining kites, some of which look awful as a result (in my opinion!)  So if you want a kite that you can’t obtain from the regular sources, try the companies I’ve mentioned or AliExpress, and you may well find what you want.  Don’t expect to get huge bargains, however – you usually get what you pay for.  And if it’s available nearer home, buy it there!

So you can always find a great choice of kites, wherever you are in the world and even if you never go near a kite store.   Of course, the alternative is to make your own, and a lot of people do that, from simple designs to complex works of art.  Me, I’m just a buyer!