From Taking Stock

March 29, 2009 

You say it's your birthday

It was my birthday last week. As I've mentioned before, I love to sign up for the e-mail lists of all kinds of stores and restaurants. And on my birthday, this really pays off. So far this year, I've gotten special birthday offers and bonuses from Maggiano's Little Italy, Cold Stone Creamery, Dove beauty products and DSW to name a few. Anyone have a favorite birthday perk they'd like to share?

Also, for those of you about to sign up for 800 e-mail lists, I really recommend setting up a separate e-mail account on a free service such as Yahoo or Gmail to handle all of that e-mail. You don't want to clutter up your personal e-mail inbox.

Burger fans, sing for supper

Ted's Montana Grill is seeking its biggest burger FANatics. Through the end of the month, you can go to www.tedsmontanagrill.com to share your love for Ted's burgers. You can write something, upload a photo, make a video or sing a song.

The grand prize winner will get a 2009 Toyota Prius. And every qualified entry gets a FREE burger. Really!

The 3M company is giving away a free Filtrete filter to people who submit a photo of their old filter along with a 100-word essay about why they choose Filtrete. I'm sure the photos will be hilarious, and it could be worth the time. The fancy filters can cost up to $20 each. Even the cheaper ones are $9 or $10. You can check it out at www.filtretepromo.com/main/home.aspx.

That old printer could get you a $50 rebate

Now through May 2, Staples stores are offering customers a $50 rebate when you bring in your old printer for recycling and buy a new one for $179 and up. It looks as if the deal is only good on regularly priced printers. But if you had a Staples coupon or maybe one of their Staples Rewards program checks, that could be a way to save more on this deal. It looks like you can also get the deal if you buy a printer online and bring your trade-in to a store. Check out the Web site for more details: www.staples.com/sbd/cre/products/090315/merch023626/index.html.

Do you love layaway?

Advertising Age had a really interesting story and video last week featuring Kmart executives talking about how they revived the layaway concept in retail. If you'll recall, this past holiday, Kmart heavily promoted its layaway program as a way for parents to purchase holiday gifts over time. Now Kmart is pushing purchases of patio furniture and other spring items on layaway as a way to try to extend the popularity of the program.

Of course, layaway is not a new idea. But it definitely has been enjoying some renewed interest. What do you think?

Free prints at Shutterfly

Shutterfly is still pushing its new feature where you can make a personalized Web site to share your photos with your friends and family. And the company is pushing the service by offering free prints.

Through April 15, you get 30 free prints just for creating a site. Then you get an additional 20 prints for adding five "members" to your site. And you can earn 10 prints for posting a photo book to your site. Check it out at www.shutterfly.com/sharepromo/?.

Do you have 'choice fatigue?'

Apparently, having an abundance of choices is not always a good thing.

That's what researchers found when they studied the way consumers respond to the constant overload of choices in today's shopping universe. The findings: We are overwhelmed with selections, and sometimes that causes confusion and dissatisfaction with the choices we make in the end.

One factoid I found astounding in this Los Angeles Times story about the research: Starbucks offers guests up to 87,000 drink combinations. And silly me, I always order the same thing.

sue.stock@newsobserver.com or919-829-4649

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