Supporting Small Businesses

Small business are begging for your business. The question is, can they compete? 

Small Business Saturday is “Main Street’s” bid for holiday shopping. They can only hope that you’ve not exhausted your dollars on Black Friday. American Express hopes so. They launched the post-Thanksgiving shopping smack in the middle of a recession back in 2010, in hopes of bolstering much needed business. The credit card company offers small rebates to cardholders who buy from local business on that day. Americans who actually know about Small Business Saturday spent $5.7 billion in local business last year. Yet, that doesn’t mean the shoppers KNEW about Small Business Saturday–it may be coincidental that they just have their shopping shoes on.  

The question is–is Small Business Saturday enough to get small stores out of the red, as Black Friday is known to do (hence the name)? Based on research, it seems that many businesses not only don’t know about it, but certainly don’t rely it. If anything, they are more inclined to give coupons or extra discounts as a gesture, than an expectation to bolster business by huge numbers. And let’s face it, if the stores don’t even know it’s happening, the idea isn’t going to ever take off. Furthermore, in order to be really effective, several shops in one area would have to work together to create (and probably pay for) marketing campaigns to get people in the door. Small business owners just don’t have those extra advertising funds to pour into one weekend.

It would be nice to support your town’s local businesses–after all, it’s what makes home, home. But the reality is, most people are only as charitable as their budget allows. And when your budget is promised to holiday gifts, nobody is buying handcrafted leather bags, or vintage photos in niche stores.

So, what do you think? How important is it to your local community to support the local businesses, soon becoming a thing of the past? Let them go, or prop them up?

A Culture of Consumerism?

Black Friday is widely criticized for what it says about American culture–that at worst, Americans materialistic debt-hoarders with a limited sense of values.

 

Ouch.

Over the last ten years or so, Black Friday has become something of an American tradition. Some would argue that it’s less about the download (2)shopping and more about the “experience” of getting up in the wee hours, to beat other consumers out of the best prices, even if it means waiting in line outside in November for hours, or even all night. Sounds like fun, right? And as of the last few years, retailers are pulling their employees away from their Thanksgiving family meals to work.

This year, many retailers have vowed to close their doors on Thanksgiving, refusing to kowtow to consumers and profit. Some are even using it as (arguably) a marketing tool, in which they are closed as a form of protest on behalf of their employees.  Likewise, in response, many shoppers are posting pledges not to shop on Thanksgiving Day, in protest of rampant consumerism that they  believe are now eclipsing family values.

Some of the biggies that have announced that they are CLOSED on the big day are: Apple (perhaps the biggest surprise), BJs, Costco, TJX stores, Home Depot, and Nordstrom. Interestingly, there is an argument to be made that some of the stores mentioned have clientele with a generally higher income than Wal-mart, for example. Black Friday has come to be known as a “middle class” tradition by some critics–these stores may be responding to that. It may actually be more beneficial to their image to be closed. Conversely, studies show that 40% of Walmart shoppers have an income of under $35k. 

The flip side of this conversation is that Black Friday is less about the penny pinching and more about the competitive sport of bargain hunting. The sweet knowledge that you got the best deal you could is worth bitter temperatures and stampeding shoppers.It’s a rush.

And for those of us not cooking turkeys, it may be the simple element of time. Weekends in December are jammed with parties, cookie-swaps and friendly holiday get togethers. But this week, you have two days off! When was the last time you had time on a Thursday afternoon to go shopping?!

So, is it the need to save money, the neo family shopping tradition, or the simple lack of time that fosters the madness that is Thanksgiving/Black Friday shopping? Or, if we look hard enough, are we simply a product of well-organized marketing campaigns that begin in October? You decide.

Can’t Miss Black Friday Tech Deals

Before you set out on Friday, know what you’re looking for, and be sure to read last week’s guide to Black Friday shopping. We’ve compiled a list of some of the hottest and most sought after deals at your favorite stores, so you’re armed and ready to go:

Best Buy

Click here for the complete flyer, featuring the following items: 

New Release DVDs  Brand new movies and popular DVDs are $9.99 each

Panasonic 50″ LED HDTV  is $199

Dell Touch Screen Laptop  is $299

HP Intel Celeron 15.6-inch Touch Laptop

 

Walmart

Click here for the complete flyer, featuring the following items: 

HP Intel Touch Screen Laptop for $249.0

RCA Google Play Wi-Fi Tablet for $29.00

XBox One Halo + $30 Gift Card  for $329.00

50″ LED HDTV for $218.00

 

Target

Click here for the complete flyer:

Element 40″ LED TV for $119.00

Beats by Dre Solo for $97.00

Apple IPad Air

XBox One 500GB Console Bundle with $50 gift card for $329 .99

Apple iPad Air 2  (16GB) with $140 gift card for $499.00

Westinghouse 48″ LED HDTV for $235.00

Playstation 4 500 GB Console Bundle for $399.00

GoPro HERO3+ w/ $50 Gift Card for $249.99

 

Chic and Cheap Holiday Decorating Tricks

The following are modified from a Reader’s Digest Article

1. DIY Advent Calendar Christmas Advent Calendar

Update your advent calendar! Use a metallic spray paint to cover an old frame, or find a n inexpensive bulletin board. Create tags using a an online template, or any creative way you wish and pin them on the board. Use your local craft store to find decorative pins. Then hang an ornament with ribbon, which you can remove and put on the tree at the end of each day.

 

2. DIY Bow Wreath

At your local craft store, pick up a styrofoam wreath and a bag of bows. If you don’t mind spending a little more, hand pick your  more glamorous bows to create your customized, eclectic look. Then, just glue to your styrofoam wreath! Christmas Bow Wreath

3. Pretty Pinecones

Dip pinecones (bought or gathered) in gold paint, OR spray paint. For a contemporary look, don’t dip all the way (to create an ombre look). You can then sprinkle with glitter to make them sparkle. Place the pinecones about your house or in your tree.

4. Candy Cane Vase

Glue your candy canes to a coffee can or something similar. Tie and glue a ribbon around it. Go traditional with red and white, or playful with colored candy canes.

Christmas Candy Cane Vase

5.Chair Bows

A ridiculously easy way to glam up your your dining room is to tie ribbons around the chairs. They don’t have to be expensive fabric
bows, but you can use burlap, or gift wrapping ribbon, as well. Hang an ornament from the bow for an even more festive look

 

Black Friday–When You Should Sleep In.

For some, Black Friday is just fun. It’s all about the American experience of waking up before dawn to stand in line in the frigid cold to save a few bucks on this year’s hottest piece of technology, or most popular toy. For some families, this is a tradition. But if your goal is to save money, how much are you really saving? Is Black Friday madness worth it? Let’s go over a few commonly overlooked truths about Black Friday.

1. Black Friday sales are not always the best sales of the year. Yes, you’ve been lied to. For example, if you’re shopping for winter apparel and can a few weeks until January, you’re likely to find the item 50% off. And it’s just a few weeks. Further, the store is going to get you in the door by advertising “crazy” prices. But, the truth is, the crazy prices might be on items you’re not planning to buy. Many items will still be regular priced items, among all the giant yellow signs. Know what you’re looking for before you set out.

2.  Black Friday deals will often start before Black Friday. Over the last few years, more stores have initiated sales on Thanksgiving Day.
If enough people are out shopping, inventory will be low on Friday, if not sold out. This year, there are only three shopping weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas (one less than usual). Retailers are not going to take any chances and might release their best deals at least a week before the big day.

3. You may not be able to return your purchase. Or, at least, not in the time you expected. Return policies are revised and tightened during the holiday season. PAY ATTENTION to the return policy before checking out. Many stores will only offer credit on returns. And as of recently, some stores are keeping track of perpetual returning shoppers and reserve the right to ban them! And, if you have no receipt (or gift receipt for your recipients), they are likely to only get credit on significantly reduced prices.

4. Doorbuster deals are typically low in stock. That’s why they’re called “doorbusters.” Most retailers only stock limited quantities of the deal. The buzz created by the “doorbuster” sales are simply meant to get you in the door. But then, if they stocked enough, it would take the competitive edge out of the fun.

Join PromoPro’s Share-to-Win Contests to Earn Yourself More Joy During the 2014 Holiday Season

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ – PromoPro.com (www.promopro.com), the rising star in the coupon industry, recently launched a series of interesting user contests, a campaign intended to give shoppers some fun savings.  According to PromoPro’s report, over 10,000 loyal users participated in the contests and 11 lucky winners have already been picked.

According to Promo Pro’s latest 2014 Holiday Shopper Research Report released 2 weeks ago; the average person is expected to spend around $800 this holiday season, which is up nearly 5% from 2013. As everybody is gearing up for this holiday shopping, PromoPro has been helping users get into the holiday spirit with various exciting contests and giveaways.

In addition, PromoPro.com has teamed up with the Do It For The Love Foundation this holiday season, a charity dedicated to giving severely ill candidates a chance to fulfill their dream of seeing their music idol live. As of September 23, 2014, every new member that joins the PromoPro Community allows PromoPro to donate 10 cents to the Do It For Love Foundation. With the holiday season just around the corner, PromoPro is proud to have already been able to donate $200 to date.

Coupon finding has never been easier, with the launch of PromoPro’s new coupon alert. The company has over 5,000 avid coupon savers since launch already. In conjunction, users were given the opportunity to join the PromoPro $200-Gift-Card Giveaway. The giveaway ended on November 9, 2014 and 10 very lucky winners were announced on PromoPro’s Facebook page.

PromoPro’s Share-to-Win contest ($50 Amazon Gift Card) ended on November 7, with over 1,000 active users participating. The fans posted photos of their most life-like Halloween costumes and the most popular photo won.

Sharing is love and sharing is winning! The upcoming PromoPro’s Thanksgiving Share-to-Win contest is for a range of holiday gift cards up to $100 for grabs. To enter, simply sign up as a new member in PromoPro Community, share a thought about money-saving techniques and tips, and get more likes to win. The contest ends on November 26, 2014.

PromoPro is also helping spread holiday cheer for animals as well this holiday season. In support of the humane treatment of animals and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), PromoPro has cut profitable connections with Sea World and has removed all Sea World Coupons.

Besides the contests and giveaways, consumers can be better prepared for the coming Holiday shopping season with PromoPro’s shopping helpers:

1.    Coupon Alerts –Never miss out of offers from your favorite stores by choosing the stores you want deals from. Anyone can subscribe to the coupon alerts and it’s free.

2.    PromoPro’s Coupon Newletter – Discover top online coupons and deals available from popular stores. PromoPro does the work for you, by searching and hand-selecting the best offers available for you to look through.

3.    PromoPro’s Coupons App “AnyCodes” – Best coupons always at your fingertips. Use AnyCodes to find the best coupons, deals and shopping discounts direct from your smartphone so you can easily shop anywhere and anytime.

This 2014 holiday shopping season doesn’t have to burn a hole in your wallet, just go to PromoPro.com to find some amazing coupons and possibly win a holiday gift card to brighten up this holiday with savings. Shop, save and share!

About PromoPro:

PromoPro is a website devoted to helping shoppers save time and money by using online coupon codes and discounts. The site compiles online coupons, deals, and special offers from thousands of merchants. PromoPro, the professional saving expert, is free to use and new discounts are becoming available every day. Mobile users can browse coupons whenever and wherever with PromoPro’s coupon app “AnyCodes“. For more information on AnyCodes and to view thousands of online coupon codes and discounts, please see: www.PromoPro.com.

Media Contact:
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Toys You Need to Get NOW

1. Doc McStuffins Get Better Talking Mobile Cart

$49.99

Last year it was the standing Checkup Center that you couldn’t find anywhere and were going for $200 on Amazon.  This year, it’s the mobile version is where it’s at. As a side note, last year’s Checkup Center is now available in the boy version, blue. Doc is a great role model for your kids–she takes care of her toys, just like her mom, a real doctor.

 

2. Little Live Pets Bird Cage 

$19.99
$19.99

Parents, you’re really going to hope that this one is short-lived. The Little Live Pets Bird Cage. Best for ages 5 and up, your child can play with the

bird and elicit responses like chirping, tweeting and singing. Your child can also record ten seconds of her own voice and the bird will play back (like a parrot–get it?!). And when the bird is really happy, he will play a special song for your child. Choose from different birds with different cutesy names, like “Friendly Frankie,” or “Angelic Angela.”

 

 

Elsa
$34.99

3. Disney Frozen Snow Glow Elsa Doll 

Well, if we’re being honest, everything Frozen-related makes a hot toy this year. But, while you’re child probably already has a collection of Frozen toys, this one is brand new for the holiday season. This (child-like) version of Elsa sings our favorite song, that we’re are not remotely sick of, “Let it Go.” She also says key phrases from the movie (we know it by heart, anyway) when her “magic” pendant is touched. This DOES come with Olaf (who will be immediately cast aside and forgotten).

 

4. Guardians of the Galaxy Lego set (ages 6-12) 

39.99
39.99

There’s a few different versions of this ranging from about 35.99 to 69.99. Some are much more involved and complicated than others, so  be sure to read the age ranges on the box…and to also consider that you might spend hours of your Saturday helping your kid put this together.

 

 

 

5. The Doh Vinci Style and Store Vanity Design Kit

$15.99
$15.99

Designing and creating are all the rage for girls right now–and this is never a bad thing. Jewelry makers, beads, and bracelet makers are huge this season. Play-doh gets in on the action by creating a vanity that you can decorate and store jewelry in. Decorate with this specialPlay-Doh and it dries to lock in your design. The Doh Vinci line has other cool options for designing and creating jewelry.

 

Fall Trends You Can Afford

TREND #1 Fringe

Fringe comes and goes. Be warned: this is a trend. It always has been. Unless you can afford it, it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot. If you’re a little leary about stepping out in fringe, try it in black, versus brown. Brown tends to give the look a hippie feel, whereas black feels more sophisticated.

Tip: Pare it down. Don’t do fringe with a lot of color or in combination with other trends, like animal prints.

Fall Runway Trends Under $100
(Courtesy of InStyle) From left: Miss Selfridge, $44, missselfridge.com; ModCloth, $50, modcloth.com; H&M, $50, hm.com; Topshop, $96, topshop.com

 

TREND 2: Boxy Coats

Oversized boxy coats are coming in every size, color and pattern. Some are dramatic with wide collars and tie waists, while others have a single button closure and slim collar. Others are short and cropped, like a modified cape.  These are being seen on the runways in every color and pattern imaginable. The red and yellows seen on the runway might be a little much for all of the fabric that some of these coats come with. Below are three different looks–a pop of color (yes, pastels are ok for winter), that’s cropped and cute, a sophisticated trench, and fun pattern with a masculine cut (everything masculine is in. See her shoes?) What we like about this trend is that this is still considered a classic coat that can stand the the test of time. The retro look will serve you well for years to come. You won’t be sorry to have spend a bit extra on these

TIP: If you’re on the small side, go with the cropped version as not to overwhelm yourself with fabric.

(From left: DKNY $155, Top Shop $170, Dahlia $190)
(From left: DKNY $155, Top Shop $170, Dahlia $190)

 

TREND 3: The Cropped Top

This is not a trend for everyone–we know that. It’s a look that became popular last Spring and has transitioned to fall with heavier fabrics, long sleeves, and turtlenecks. The extra fabric is key for balance. This looks great with a wide-leg trouser, or high-waisted pant, again to strike that balance. Nothing too tight or short on the bottom. If you’re a bit modest, or like the look for work, one great way to do this is to layer the cropped sweater with an collared button down.

TIP: Layer it in with a silk or soft fabric, to create a flowy look in contrast to the fitted sweater.

cropped sweater-topshop ribbed crop sweater
From Left; Top Shop $50, CUSP $50, River Island $24

cropped turtleneck-cusp by neiman marcus cableknit mock turtleneck crop sweater winter whitecropped turtleneck-river island womens black stripe turtle neck crop top

 

 

 

 

Amazon and Walmart Get Ahead of Black Friday to Edge Out Competition

SaleRemember when Black Friday was the start of the holiday shopping frenzy? Remember when you were able to enjoy fall without the barrage of Christmas ads in October? Those days are long gone. Since the unofficial end of the recession, retailers seem to be making up for lost time. Retailers also suffered last year because of bad weather—but it doesn’t usually snow in November, does it?

This year, you may have noticed that the space a store dedicated to seasonal items was split down the middle—Halloween on side, Christmas on the other. The Toys R’ Us toy Christmas toy catalog came to my house on Halloween—complete with outer cover designed to look like wrapping paper. Instead of enjoying candy (not that I’m complaining), my kids spent Halloween weekend poring over the toy catalog, diligently marking their Christmas picks. It’s becoming hard to explain to a four year old that Christmas is a long way off in kid time.VfFsy8u_

Most notably, Walmart and Amazon (arguable two of the biggest retailers in the world) kicked off holiday sales on Saturday, November 1. Black Friday deals are being promoted now, trying get ahead of the competition. Amazon typically has holiday deals at the beginning of November, but will be features on more products and hosting more frequent deals, according to USA Today. Look out for TWO daily deals on Amazon from November 1, right up until December 22.

downloadAmazon says that they will also increase the number of “lightening deals” from November 1 until the actual Black Friday weekend. These deals go on sale for a limited amount of time each day. Deals will go up every ten minutes with each day closer to Black Friday, says the Amazon spokesperson. Deals will most often be for cookware, electronics, and toys.

Other deals to watch for in the meantime:

  • Walmart will launch 20,000 more rollbacks beginning November 1 (more than last year). This is twice what they offer during the rest of the year. Walmart is also online price matching (watch out, Amazon). Check with your local store, though; this is only a test this year
  • Office Depot and Office Max have begun holiday deals laptops and touch screen computers through the 15th. The stores will also offer the usual “Cyber Monday” deals every Monday in November!
  • Sears will offer Black Friday deals two weeks early during the “friends and family” sale on Nov 9 (5-15% off). Some items will be available at an additional (yet unknown) “Black Friday” discount, on top of friends and family event.

Walmart Toy Book Ad Scan: Walmart Black Friday Ads and Sales on Top Toys

The Walmart Top Toys Wish List Book is leaked.  The toy book  is filled with 32 pages of the top toys guaranteed to be on someones wish list. Walmart Toy deals go alive on November 9, 2014, and end on December 25, 2014.  So you can plan ahead and make your own toy shopping list.  Give your sweets the hottest toys this holiday season!

Here are some top toy deals picked for you:

  1. Disney Frozen Plush Doll, was $32.88. now $28.88 ;
  2. Nerf Rebelle Secrets & Spies Agent Bow: $19.96;
  3. My Little Pony Figure , only $4.97;
  4. XBox On, now $349.00;
  5. Select games and character bedding from $7.87;
  6. Afterglow Wired Headset (Playstation 4 or Xbox One): $89.96;
  7. VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch: $49.96.

View Part of  the Walmart 2014 Top Toys ad scan:

Walmart Toy Book Black Friday ad Scan 2014 page 1Walmart Toy Book Black Friday ad Scan 2014 page 2Walmart Toy Book Black Friday ad Scan 2014 page 3Walmart Toy Book Black Friday ad Scan 2014 page 29