Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dance with a dog or cozy up with a cat in 2008

I’m not a pet owner. I live in a small house and between parenting, working full-time and part-time social media endeavors including this blog, I don’t have much time left over for a cute, cuddly and furry four-legged addition to the family. As much as my kids would like a dog and/or a cat, they don’t really want the responsibility.

This time of year, many people think about giving pets as gifts without thinking about all the repercussions. After a couple days (or hours), the new owners/gift recipients realize they just aren’t cut out to own that new dog or cat and either give them to a wanting home or turn them over to the Toronto Humane Society. Some are also abandoned in our streets.

Fortunately, for those of you who want a new cat, dog or other pet and know you will be a responsible and caring pet owner, the Toronto Humane Society may have just the furry companion you’re looking for.

Last year, more than 700 animals were placed during the holiday season. This year, more animals need a home. Consider their Adopt a Pet program. You’ll need to qualify first. Although adopting a pet is free, donations are requested.

Want to help out but can’t own a pet right now? There are other ways to get involved as a volunteer and help out even if you can’t take a furry friend home.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Tip of the Week - avoid hotel glasses

I was standing in line at the drugstore and a woman told me I should bring my own glasses and towels next time I stay at a hotel.

A video immediately came to mind. Perhaps you’ve already seen this exposé of hotel room cleaning practices. Since it’s popular time of year for sun or ski vacations, I thought I’d post it just in case you haven’t ...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Bargainista’s List of Boxing Day Sales

I’ve already started my list of Boxing Day sales on Twitter. Since not all of you follow me there, I decided I'd bring my Boxing Day tweets to you instead. (Please excuse the duplicate entries. So far, I haven’t figured out how to avoid them.)

This list will be updated continuously so check it often. You may also want to click through to my comprehensive list on Twitter. If you find a sale that isn’t listed here please add it by leaving a comments or e-mail me and I’ll do my best to post it quickly.

Happy Shopping!

Eden

UPDATE: I’ve removed the list of Boxing Day sales. (Jan. 14, 2008)

You click here for the complete list of sales and other shopping info.

Big Box Boxing Day Sale Bungle

Does this message look familiar to you?


Traditionally, Boxing Day is the biggest shopping day in Canada. It’s comparable to the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S.

As I was reading the paper before work yesterday morning, I couldn’t help noticing the big sale flyers from sibling big box electronic stores announcing they were jumping the gun and starting their Boxing Day sales online at 8 p.m. that night.

I expected their websites would be busy and perhaps a bit slow. I also expected them to be prepared for heavy traffic since they put so much effort into promoting their online early-bird sale. I was wrong. When I logged on, I got the message above instead. I couldn’t even access either website until after 11 p.m. I had better luck getting what I wanted shopping in person last year.

I woke up this morning, logged on to Twitter and learned I wasn’t the only one annoyed last night. Mitch Joel sums it up beautifully in How The e-commerce Grinch Store Christmas - A Holiday Season Marketing Disaster.

I imagine the company in question will think twice about jumping the gun next Boxing Day unless they’ve ensured their websites are adequately equipped to deal with customer demand.

I hope other stores take note too, including the one that sent me an e-mail today announcing their online Boxing Day sale had begun. The tag line in their title bar states they are Canada’s #1 brand. Let’s hope they stay true to their word.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Weekly Wish ....

Cranium WOW is one hot party game

Looking for a last-minute gift for that person who has everything? What about a different hostess gift for a New Years’ Eve party? Consider Cranium WOW. It’s an updated version of the original Cranium game.

My kids particularly like the four customizable game pieces or “movers”. Each one has a name and a back story. My favourite is Coco but I’m sure that’s no surprise. The folks at Cranium actually designed 12 movers and there are different ones in every box. Cool thing is you can order more if you like for $4.95 each.

I bought Cranium WOW on sale as my Chaunkah gift to the family. It’s really more of a party game for adults than a pastime for kids. Regardless, we had a great time playing together. Be prepared, it takes at least an hour to play and I think it’s more fun when played with more than four people.

I’ve seen it everywhere from fancy displays at Starbucks to the unique game selection at Mastermind but ToysRUs keeps putting it on sale. In fact, I think it’s half-price along with other Cranium games now through Dec. 24.

What's your favorite party game? Have you played Cranium WOW? Did you like it? How do you think it compares to the original?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Getting green at Dandelion Mud Pie

Tucked away behind Pizzaville on Fairlawn Ave., set apart from the long-standing shops on Yonge St., sits a new little shop inspiring people to live a little greener.

Dandelion Mud Pie carries a wide-range of environmentally-friendly, natural and organic items. From household cleaning products, to jewelery, clothing, skin care, nic nacs and hand-crafted accessories; you’ll find something for everyone.

I’ve been meaning to tell you about this cool spot for a while but I kept forgetting my (old) camera because it’s bulky and takes up too much room in my purse.

Thanks FujiFilm Canada for monitoring the blogosphere and granting my wish, things are different now. It’s so compact and lightweight it fits into my smallest purse. I bring it almost everywhere.

The other night while I was waiting to meet the girls, I had the perfect opportunity to test it out. I popped into Dandelion Mud Pie and took some pics. I’m definitely intrigued by the variety of home-grown products. My favorites are the bags from Echoes in the Attic, like the one in the photo.

As for the Fuji FinePix z10 it’s taking my retail therapy (and blogging) to a whole new level. ; )

Tags: Dandelion Mud Pie, digital camera, Echoes in the Attic, environment, Fuji, FinePixZ10, organic, photoblogging

Susie Love’s trunk sale at Y5

What?
Susie Love Trunk Sale
Lots of unique jewellery and more...

Where?
Y5
5 Yorkville Ave. (map)
Toronto, ON
416.920.9173

When?
Fri., Dec. 21: 6 p.m.-9 p.m.

And, if you want a custom illustration like the one Danielle drew for Susie, you better place your order now. Danielle’s offer ends Dec. 31.

Tags: Susie Love, Y5

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What’s Tzatz coupon about?

Okay maybe I’m just a bit thick but I just received this coupon from Tzatz, a local clothing store, and I’m not sure what it means.


This coupon is good for:
a) $20 off my next purchase?
b) $25 off if my next purchase is for $299 or more?
c) $20 off my next purchase or $25 off if my next purchase is $299 or more?
d) $20 off my next purchase + $25 off another purchase of $299 or more?
e) All of the above
f) None of the above

What do you think they are trying to tell me? Maybe they needed a better copywriter and/or proofreader. Have you received any confusing coupons lately?

Tags: Tzatz

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Brain Age mania

I used to think the Nintendo DS was for just kids even though I was wowed last year when my son showed me all the cool interactive tricks he could do with his pet Nintendog.

Now all my grown-up friends are adding the DS to their wish lists. One even swore she’d never buy a game console for anyone in her family. But all that has changed! Why? Brain Age mania!

I decided to jump on the bandwagon and see what all the hype was about. We already have a DS at home; I just needed the games. In true Bargainista fashion, I bought them both for a mere $26.98 + tax. Here’s how:

I went to EBgames looking for a used version of Brain Age (it’s been around for a while). They were sold out. Next I tried Gamerama. I should have gone there first. Gamerama is a neighbourhood shop with all the newest games plus a huge used game biz. They wanted $14.99. I told them EBgames was rumoured to be selling them for $10 (at least according to a guy I met in the electronics department at ToysRUs who was stocking up). Gamerama met me halfway: $11.99 plus tax.

This week, ToysRUs is selling Brain Age 2 for $14.99. Other retailers have it priced at $19.99 and up. Today I needed wanted some retail therapy at lunchtime. I work near a Future Shop and they were happy to price match.

I’ve been playing Brain Age for the past five days and my score is steadily improving. Has it increased my brain power? Who knows? What about you? Have you jumped on the Brain Age bandwagon?

Tags: Brain Age, Brain Age 2, EBgames, Future Shop, Gamerama, Nintendo DS, ToysRUs

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Gift shopping on a stormy Sunday

I don’t know about you but lots of my friends and colleagues planned to do a lot of shopping today. Mother Nature had other plans and covered our fair city with a large fluffy blanket of white stuff.

Fortunately, for those of you who are looking for some alternative gift ideas, Christopher S. Penn published a wonderful holiday gift guide from the Financial Aid Podcast, 5 GIFTS THAT COST NOTHING ... but could mean everything(pdf). Thanks to The Bryper Blog for tip.

Alexandra is focusing on edible and sharable gifts this year. Some of my friends are skipping the holiday card tradition and donating through GiveMeaning instead.

What about you? Do you have any meaningful gift ideas that don’t require leaving the house?

Tags: Alexandra Ruget, Christopher S. Penn, Financial Aid Podcast, GiveMeaning, The Bryper Blog

Friday, December 14, 2007

Tip of the Week - free parking at the Bay Queen St.

This week’s tip is courtesy of Kathryn from That Kathryn Girl. Did you know if you spend $25 or more at the Bay Queen St., you can park for one hour free (weekdays only) at the Bay-Adelaide Centre? The parking entrance is on Richmond St. just west of Yonge. An underground walkway will take you to the Bay.

Do you have any free parking tips to share this holiday season? I think a parking feature would also be a great addition to MizPee (last week’s tip).

Tags: free parking, Kathryn Lagden, MizPee, That Kathryn Girl, the Bay

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thanks for the e-card


A thoughtful reader sent me a Hallmark e-card today. Unfortunately, the link doesn’t work so I don’t know who you are but wanted to thank you just the same.

If you’re reading this, please ping me. I know you had the best of intentions unfortunately, Hallmark didn’t deliver. What a lousy time for an a greeting card company to have a malfunction.

Tags: e-cards, Hallmark, holiday cards

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Weekly wish - tag, you’re it!

Hanukkah ended today so for the most part, gift giving and receiving is over in my household. We don’t usually go all out and gifts are mainly for the kids. They both get a little something each night.

This year the gift that excited them most was choosing new t-shirts from Threadless. Lucky for me, I was able to take advantage of Threadless Holiday Sale and buy the t-shirts for $10 each. Hurry up and you can too! The sale continues until Dec. 16.

I got my wish too! A brand new hot pink FinePix Z10 digicam. It’s nice and compact and designed especially for bloggers and other people into digital photo sharing. It comes in 7 flashy colours too. You can bet I’ll be snapping more of my shopping pics from now on. I even found a sleek pink case on sale at Black’s for $6.

As for Mr. Bargainista, he didn’t ask for much. Just some nice home cooked meals and a movie. Yes, I cooked for him but we haven’t seen the movie yet.

Enough about us, this week I’m turning the wishes over to you!
What are you wishing for this holiday season? Please let me know and leave a comment. You never know, maybe you’ll get lucky and someone will grant your wish too. ; )

Tags: camera, digital camera, Fuji, FinePixZ10, photoblogging, Threadless

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Premium Retail Group featuring GUESS? Jeans mega wearhouse sale

What?
Premium Retail Group Mega Warehouse Sale
Stay warm while looking great this winter and stock up with some hot deals on the greatest fashions from
GUESS! Puma, Marciano, and G-Star Raw.

Save from
60-90% off on denim, handbags, jackets, tops, sweaters, dresses and more! Fashions and fragrances for both Men and Women!

Get the VIP treatment!
Take this coupon with you on Dec. 12 and save an extra 10%

When?
Dec. 12, 12 noon - 9 p.m.
Dec. 13 & 14, 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Dec. 15 & 16, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Where?
International Centre, Hall 6 (see map)
6900 Airport Rd.

Mississauga, Ontario

L4V 1E8

Tags: GUESS? Jeans, G-Star Raw, Marciano, Puma, warehouse sale

Moor Allure Naturals - Holiday Giveaway!

My friend Henna from Canadian Beauty has an awesome contest on now and all you need to do to be eligible to win Moor Allure Naturals’ Complete Natural Skin Kit ($190 value), is leave a comment on her blog.

Moor Allure Naturals is a Canadian line specializing in natural products containing moor extracts.

According to their website, with daily use these products help:
prevent premature aging
protect skin from environmental damage; and
regenerate skin for pure radiance (whatever that means)

Okay, I’m sold. The contest ends Thursday, Dec. 13. Five lucky winners will be randomly selected. What are you waiting for? Get busy and enter all you need to do is leave your name, e-mail address and discuss your favourite skin care product - I did!

Tags: Canadian Beauty, Moor Allure Naturals, moor extracts, skin care

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Strange shopping stories on a sunny Saturday


The store I bitched about last week is trying to redeem itself but still won’t sell me the memory card in question for $9.99 as marked. I asked a sales associate at another location in the chain what she’d charge a customer for a mis-marked display item. Without hesitation she said “I’d charge the price as marked, how could I expect to charge you another amount. Customer service is my number one priority.” Then she proceeded to give me some free fragrance samples and told me to call head office. Now that’s what I call service.

Coach took out full-page newspaper ads today letting customers know they’ve adjusted their Canadian prices to match those in the U.S. I’m not sure why they bothered doing so today of all days because they sent postcards to select customers offering them 25% off all purchases. There must have been 100 customers waiting in line outside the store. Once again, I didn't receive one. Did you? Guess I’m still not Coach-worthy. BTW, Coach is now shipping to Canada.

Indigo (Chapters, etc.) has stopped giving out the coupon books they promoted so aggressively last weekend. Although the coupons will still be honoured until Dec. 24, they aren’t being handed out anymore and I suspect they are collecting them more diligently now. Seems like they were overwhelmed by the volume of sales last week and underwhelmed by the profit margins. There’s a new in-store promo this weekend: sales associates are handing out photocopied coupons offering customers 15% off book purchases of $50 or more (25% off for irewards customers) upon request.

Have you noticed any shopping oddities lately? Please share.

photo credit: ilrraa on Flickr

Tags: Chapters, Coach, coupons, Indigo, irewards

Friday, December 07, 2007

Tip of the Week - MizPee

Okay, so this may seem a bit silly to you but honestly, it’s a shopping tip you may thank me for one day.

Have you ever found yourself shopping or running errands in an unfamiliar part of town and suddenly have the need to pee? You’re not alone. MizPee can help. Just enter your location into this free web app and you’ll get a list of the nearest public washrooms along with ratings and info. about whether or not you need to be a paying customer before you can use the can.

MizPee is also WAP-enabled. My son thought the idea of being able to find the location of the nearest public washroom on his mobile phone was pretty cool. MizPee is available in 15 other North American cities and has a lot of potential for Torontonians. Like tracking the latest local shopping deals but note these features aren’t available here just yet

In order for it to succeed in our fair city, MizPee needs your help! Add public toilets you’ve used and rate them on the site (check out the toilet paper icons). I quite like the embedded Yahoo! maps feature as well.

Here are some bugs to watch for:

Finding toilets
I tried entering a couple different locations in central and downtown Toronto. I had limited success but more often than not, I got a list of toilets in NYC instead of Toronto. I suspect as more of us useMizPee, it will work a whole lot better.
The listing for mobile companies doesn’t include Canadian carriers, at least not yet.

Profile (if you want to join the community)
User names must be 5-8 characters long, so I can’t use “Bargainista”. Bummer!
The zip code field doesn’t appear to be alphanumeric so us Canadians can’t enter our postal codes properly.

Check it out and let me know what you think. Would you like to see more info. like this on Bargainista?

Tags: MizPee, public washrooms

Thursday, December 06, 2007

New masthead - part deux

I’m listening.

About 10 days ago, I changed Bargainista’s masthead and asked for your input. Tonight I’ve made a couple more changes. I made the masthead a bit smaller, outlined the the lettering, added Bargainista’s pic and changed the profile photo to my own.

What do you think? Are we there yet?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Weekly Wish - winter pedicures made easy

Monday night four of us decided to forget the winter blahs and indulge in an evening of pampered fingers and toes at Cozy Nails. Three of us even spiced up our lives and went for the hard-core red polish.

Only one problem. Unlike the sandal days of summer, we had to put on socks and boots before leaving the shop. Since Cozy Nails is so customer-service oriented, they wrapped up our toes in appropriately-sized baggies and we were told to come back if we needed any touch-ups. One of my toes got a little bit smushed, so if I have time this weekend, I’ll go back and have it fixed.

Thanks to the ever-brilliant Connie, I learned a trio of ingenious sisters from New Jersey invented a boot to protect your post-pedicure tootsies in the winter. Bootie Pies are pedicure-friendly, lined suede boots with a toe flap. Think UGGS with a patent leather toe cap.

Bootie Pies look like regular winter boots but they’re special. They have removable toe caps. You put them on just before your toes are polished so you don’t have to wait at the spa until they are completely dry.

Bootie Pies are sold online for $128 U.S. and come in four basic colours. They’ll sure keep your feet a lot warmer than flip flops. Think fingerless gloves or only warmer. If it’s really cold outside, you can wear them with your Toes-eez.

As you probably know by know, I’m not a princess but when it comes to my hands and feet I like to be pampered all year round. So this week, I’m wishing for a pair of Bootie Pies, preferably in black but I’d settle for bayberry. So sisters, if you’re listening...

Special Shout Out
I can’t thank owners Jenny, John and the wonderful estheticians at Cozy Nails for staying open a bit later than normal and indulging me and my gal pals with a little TLC on an otherwise cold and blustery night.

I was also very flattered when I learned they are regular Bargainista readers. John monitors the web regularly for references to “Cozy Nails” – how impressive – with a little investigating, he realized I was the person behind the blog. ; )

Tags: Bootie Pies, Cozy Nails, esthetician, manicures, pedicures, spas

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Happy Hanukkah!

Tonight my family started celebrating Hanukkah. It’s early this year.

mimoco, one of my favourite gadget companies, wished customers a Happy Hanukkah with a menorah filled with mimobots instead of candles. Today also marks the day mimoco posted their holiday shipping primer. How enlightened. ; )

I guess those awesome looking mimobot USB flash drives really do store a lot of ingenious information.

Mimobots are a definite must on my gift list this year.

Have you seen a holiday greeting worth sharing?

Tags: Chanukah, flash drives, Hanukkah, memory stick, mimoco, mimobots

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Another shopping experience from Hell

Yesterday, I went to shopping for some remaining items on my kids’ gift lists. I knew I could find most of what I needed at one particular store. While there, I thought I’d pick up a case and memory card for my new camera.

The salesperson showed me a 1GB memory card on sale for $26.99 (reg. $39.99). It was hanging on the wall behind the cash. I took a closer look on the wall and saw the same memory card hanging up in another spot for $9.99 also regularly $39.99. In fact, there were five of them hanging on the same rack.

She gasped because the memory cards were mis-marked, then took them down for me. I asked her if she was going to sell them to me at the marked price and she told me she had too.

Easier said than done!

I was about to pay but before she could ring in the sale, someone with more authority had to come over for a cash override so I could buy the memory cards for $9.99. At that price, I wanted two.

Now, keep in mind an employee put the memory cards on the rack (customers can’t access that spot) and the salesperson helping me agreed to sell me them at the $9.99 price as marked. Steve, the guy in authority, came over and told me I couldn’t buy the memory cards for that price. WTF? It was their mistake and I’d already been told they would honour the marked price. He refused. We got into quite the discussion. I also learned he wasn’t the manager, just the person in charge over the weekend.

He insulted me and suggested I needed a “bit of an education” on the price of memory cards because there is no way a 1GB memory card could be selling for such a low price. Boy was I pissed. I understand technology and I certainly understand retail and customer service. How dare he insult me – or anyone else – like that. (BTW, BestBuy.ca is selling a 2-pack of 1GB memory cards for $16.99).

I told him customer service comes first. They made a mistake. They need to honour it – even one of their employees agreed. He offered to take off $10 – I told him it was already supposed to be on sale for $13 off so he told me I could pay that price – WTF? He told me if I didn’t like it, I could call the manager on Monday. Believe me, I will.

This guy had no sense of customer service. He was extremely rude and severely lacking in people skills. We continued arguing for several minutes and eventually I had to leave.

As you’d expect, I left all the items behind. I was planning on returning next week to buy another $200 in gifts but I’ll go elsewhere instead.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? What did you do? What would you do if you were me?

Tags: BestBuy, memory card

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Tip of the Week – Books, cards and calendars for less

A few weeks ago, my 9-yr-old showed me a coffee table book at Indigo he wanted for Chanukah. When I saw the $50 CDN price tag I gasped (it was marked $40 US). I’m thrilled he loves books but thought $50 for one was a bit steep.

I inquired if they’d be honouring U.S. prices. A cashier told me to check the price online. Sure enough, Nicktoons was selling for $33 CDN online ($31.35 for iRewards customers). I added a couple other items from my gift list and saved the shipping costs too.

I like the convenience of online shopping but wish pricing and promotions were the same for one store regardless of the channel I choose.

This week, the Chapters•Indigo chain launched an in-store promo too. Save 10-40% (or more) until Dec. 24 on:
books
calendars
greeting cards
magazines
Chicken Soup and Klutz series.

I scooped up a new children’s reference book for 45% off the marked price - they combined two promos!

Although some of the in-store coupons say they are for one item only, cashiers aren’t collecting them. You can use them more than once!

Keep an eye out for other retailers offering books, cards, magazines and gift wrap for U.S. prices.

Tags: Chapters, exchange rate, Indigo, iRewards

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Weekly Wish - TiVo...


TiVo is finally coming to Canada. I want one! ’Nuff said.

Am I still living in the dark ages or what? Do you have a PVR? Can you imagine life without it?

Tags: digital video recorder, TiVo, PVR

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What do you think of the new masthead?


I’ve been playing around a bit tonight and designed a new masthead for the blog. I wanted to make a bit more of a statement. What do you think? Be honest.

Over the next little while, I may make other changes depending on how creative I’m feeling. I’d love to know what you think. So speak up, don’t be shy!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tip of the Week - Razzle!

A.C. Riley gets all the credit for this week’s shopping tip: Razzle!. It’s a new online shopping site. The tag line says it all: “One Deal a Day, One Chance”.

Bottom line: every day Razzle! will be offering one item at a rock-botton price. There’s even have an RSS feed so you don’t have to check the site every day to see the Razzle of the day.

You don’t have to wait until checkout time to find the shipping cost either, it’s right up front underneath the price of the daily deal.

Today’s deal is a pair of Sennheiser RS116 headphones for $44.90. When I did an online search, I found them on other sites starting from $128 and up.

That’s all. Pretty simple. What do you think?

Tags: A.C. Riley, Razzle.ca, razzle, Sennheiser

Thursday, November 22, 2007

SelectBlindsCanada.ca’s special offer for Bargainista readers

Recently, SelectBlindsCanada.ca was singled out in a The Toronto Star article for making the process of shopping for window coverings as painless and inexpensive as possible.

My curiosity was piqued. I wanted to learn more about shopping for window coverings online. I invited Robert Mendelson, EVP of SelectBlindsCanada.ca for an interview. As a special treat, he’s also offering Bargainista readers 30% off until December 3, just use this unique promo code “BARGAIN” when you go to the checkout.

Note: Robert and I met through AIMS several years ago.


B: What made you decide to sell window coverings online?

RM: As someone who has shopped for window coverings myself, I found that it was a hassle to go from store to store looking first for the style and colour I liked, and then for the best deal. Shopping online, I can compare prices without leaving my house and wasting time sitting in traffic or waiting for sales people to serve me in stores.

I found typical bricks and mortar blinds store didn’t always have the best selection. I ended up having to get some blinds from one store and then higher-end or specialty items from another.

Online, we can offer just about everything under the sun. We’re not limited by store size. We can offer as many different products as possible without increasing our costs, allowing us to offer the lowest prices. Since everyone has windows, we figured it was a natural to sell window coverings online.

B: What else sets SelectBlindsCanada.ca apart from the competition?

RM: Price. Because we have no physical store, our low overhead allows us to offer the most competitive prices. We’re able to guarantee the lowest price. If customers find a lower price from any other Canadian retailer within 90 days of purchase, we will beat it! We also offer free shipping to just about anywhere in Canada!

Convenience. You can comparison shop 24/7. We offer free samples so you can touch the material and see the colours before making a purchase.

Satisfaction Guaranteed or Your Money Back. We are fanatical about customer satisfaction. We don’t rest until every customer is 100% satisfied. We offer personalized service by phone, e-mail and live chat; and a lifetime warranty on everything we sell!

We’re Canadian. We offer Canadians the comfort of shopping on this side of the border. For example, if you need to return your blinds or a repair, you don’t have to worry about dealing with extra taxes or customs and brokerage charges.

B: How would I buy window coverings online? I want to see samples, need exact measurements and am concerned about installation. How can you help me overcome these concerns?

RM: Many of our customers can’t believe how easy it is to measure and install our products. The samples part is easy—we send those to you for free! Measuring is also easy—we have detailed, easy-to-follow illustrated instructions on the site. And the same goes for installation—easy to follow instructions online and available for you anytime.

We often say, if you can hang a picture on the wall, you can put up a blind. And if you’ve ever assembled furniture from that Swedish big box store, then putting up our blinds will be a cinch!

B: What’s the most interesting order you’ve ever received?

RM: We’ve outfitted an RV and sold 40 sets of blinds to a B&B in the Maritimes. Oh, and then there’s the school up in Nunavut with a few dozen of our mini-blinds!

Do you have a question for Robert? Would you like to see more interviews or exclusive promos here? Leave a comment.

Tags: blinds, Robert Mendelson, SelectBlindsCanada.ca, Toronto Star, window coverings

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Weekly Wish - a new digital camera

I’ve been wanting a new digital camera for a while. In my house we share a Canon PowerShotA550. It’s fine and easy to use. My only beef is that it’s heavy and doesn’t fit easily into my purse. I’d like a smaller and lighter camera to carry with me wherever I go so I can take pictures more often.

I’d been giving serious thought to the Casio Exilim Zoom then last week I learned about the new Fuji FinePixZ10. It comes in several smashing colours, including hot pink. I thought they made it just for me. ; ) What I like best is it’s blogging feature - it let’s you upload photos directly to your blog. Just think, I could take pictures while I’m shopping and share them with you almost instantly. How awesome is that? It also has IrSimple wireless technology so I could share photos with other friends who have IrSimple-enabled cameras.

I’m guessing some of the photo bloggers were sent samples of this camera back in July when the Z10 was launched. Only thing is, the photo bloggers probably use much more sophisticated cameras, not the simple point-and-shoot styles. If I worked for Fuji’s marketing department, I’d follow the lead of the KRZRBloggers and put it in the hands of some influential bloggers from several different communities.

This week, I’m wishing Fuji (or a competitor with an equally compelling camera for us bloggers) will step up to the plate and offer me a compact, sleek digicam I can use for the blog. And if so, in return, they can be sure I’ll give their camera credit every time I post a pic.

Tags: camera, Casio Exilim Zoom, digital camera, Fuji, FinePixZ10, photoblogging

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Body Shop rocks at Rockland

I just returned from a weekend in Montréal. Fortunately, I had lovely visit with family.

I didn’t have much time to shop but we did take the boys for a quick trip to Rockland. After a bite at Eggspectation, we did a bit of shopping and my son found some VANS for $30 off.

What impressed me most was the display of products from The Body Shop at the mall’s information desk.

While people were waiting in line for assistance, they could check out a few samples from The Body Shop. Rockland and The Body Shop were offering an interesting promotion. Customers purchasing $100 or more in mall gift certificates were given a free gift pack from The Body Shop ($50 value). What a smart partnership, I wonder why other malls haven’t thought of doing something similar? I’ll bet some smart shoppers were buying gift certificates just to get the free gift. What do you think?

Tags: The Body Shop, gift certificates, Montréal, Rockland

Sunday, November 18, 2007

TFBB XIII - Nov. 25

You’re invited! Calling all local fashion bloggers:

What?
Toronto Fashion Bloggers Brunch (TFBB)

Where?
Brassaii
461 King St. W. (map)
Toronto

When?
Nov. 25, 2007
11:30 a.m.

Who?
The TFBB gang and friends.

How?
RSVP by logging on to http://tfbb.eventbrite.com

Special thanks to Danielle great illustration and poster, Anita for setting up the RSVPs on eventbrite and Henna for booking Brassaii. Unfortunately, I probably won’t make it to this one but can’t wait to read about it on the ’net afterwards.

Tags: Brassaii, blogging, fashion, social media, TFBB,

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tip of the Week - Stocking up for charitable giving

This year, my son’s daycare is having a gift drive for the Children’s Aid Society. Parents have been asked to donate items for care packages that will be given to children and teens of families in need. Requested items include: toiletries, personal hygiene items, winter accessories, stationary items and small toys.

Over the holiday season, many people will be donating useful items to those in need. It’s helpful to find these types of things at the lowest possible prices so you can purchase more of them and in turn, help more children, teens and adults in our community.

Did you know there are places where you can buy basic necessities for prices lower than what you often find at big box stores? For instance, weekends now through December 23, The Bargains Group is having their annual warehouse sale where a little will go a very long way. And, if you have a generous budget and/or are shopping on behalf of a group, you can buy things by the case and save even more.

You may also want to take a look through your cupboards and see if you have some hair products, nice soaps or body lotions you haven’t used. If you’re like me, you’ve probably accumulated a bunch of freebies though cosmetic promos or swag bags.

Tags: Children’s Aid Society, holiday giving, The Bargains Group, warehouse sales

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Weekly Wish - bangles and more pics from Holts

Two brochures arrived on my doorstep this week. Both filled with beautiful photographs of luxurious jewelry. What great escapism. As I flipped through each of them looking at the shiny and sparkling designs and soaring price tags, I fantasized about which ones I wanted. For five minutes, I could pretend I was a member of the rich and famous... price was no object.

And now, back to reality...
Okay, so even a bargainista is allowed to be out of the loop on occasion. Since when did Holts get into the luxury jewelry business? I hadn’t noticed they started carrying the real thing and not just the upscale costume stuff.

I wanted to share links with you from their website ’cause this week, I’m wishing for either any of the stunning diamond and Celtic noir cable bangles from Charriol or the Judith Ripka sterling silver ($1,550-$2,750) and 18-karat-gold chandelier earrings with diamonds and canary crystals ($1,095), both Holts exclusives. (Not only are diamonds a girl’s best friend, they’re also my birthstone!) Unfortunately, they aren’t on the website - you can only see them in stores. So, instead I’ve shared the only bangles pic I could find, the gold, onyx and diamond bangles ($630-$8,095). They are lovely just not what I’m really wishing for this week.

And if you think I’m wishing for just for the jewels, you’re only partly right. This week I’m also wishing stores would realize their websites were just as important as their bricks and mortar stores. Holts already spent a fortune on photos, ad copy and printing costs for the fancy brochure. Why couldn’t they leverage the photos and text by adding them to their website too?

What do you think? When you visit a store’s website, do you want to find an online catologue or are you satisfied with just a hint or a tease of their offerings?

Tags: diamonds, Holt Renfrew, Holts, Tiffany,

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Now you can rate my posts

You may have noticed a funny looking icon at the bottom of each post. I've added a widget called ClickComments. It's a simple rating tool you can click on to tell me if you like my post or not. If you're in a hurry you can share your opinion without having to leave a comment - although I always prefer comments. ; ) I'm trying it out. Let me know what you think. Rate this post or leave a comment.

Thanks geekgirl for the tip.

Tag: ratings, ClickComments, comments, PostReach

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Bargains Group warehouse sale

What?
The Bargains Group Friends and Family Warehouse Sale - Don’t miss this annual blowout! It’s a good old-fashioned warehouse sale with savings up to 80% off retail prices.

Bring the coupon above and you’ll save an additional $5 off purchases over $50 (excluding tax) and get free pair of gloves!

The Bargains Group is only open to the public once a year. Need to stock up on basics? Buying items to donate to charities over the holidays? If you’re a true bargain hunter, this is one sale you won’t want to miss!

Highlights include...

Adults:
European brand name scarves (reg. $35-$90) - 2 for $10
Hats, toques, mitts, gloves scarves - any combo - 2 for $10
Brand-name ladies polar gloves - 3 for $10
Underwear - 5 for $10
Flannel PJs - 2 pairs for $20.00!

Kids:
Disney 2-piece outfits - 2 for $25
“Hot Paws” ski gloves, mitts, toques, scarves, headbands and neck warmers - 2 for $10.00
Brand-name toys (Spiderman, Disney, etc.) and stocking stuffers from $1!

Everyone:
Flannel lounge pants for the entire family - 2 for $15.00!
Kombi long underwear (reg. $30-35 reg. ) - 2 for $20
Great socks - 5 pairs for $10
Famous T-shirts - 3 for $10
Plush bath towels - 3 for $15
Polar fleece blankets - 2 for $15

When?
Weekends starting Nov. 16 thru Dec. 23
Fridays: 3 p.m.-7 p.m.
Saturdays: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Sundays: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Where?
The Bargains Group (see map)
890 Caledonia Rd.
Toronto, ON
(south of Lawrence, betw. Keele and Dufferin)

If you go, leave a comment and let us know what you find.

Note: The owner is a friend of mine but I wouldn’t be sharing info. about this sale if I didn’t think it was awesome.

Tags: The Bargains Group, great deals, stocking stuffers, warehouse sales

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Exposed at Abercrombie & Fitch

Okay, so the clothing is cool but if there’s one chain store I avoid it’s Abercrombie & Fitch. Maybe I’m getting old but I just find it too loud and dark. I can never see anything and don't want to buy any clothes I can’t even see in the store.

I took a quick cruise through the mall this afternoon and as we were about to pass by A&F, I told my husband how I hated shopping there because it was so dark and the music was too loud.

But this time was different. As I was passing by, something, or should I say someone, caught my eye. An incredibly cute guy was hanging out in the store entrance. At closer range, I noticed he wasn’t just any guy but a hunky model wearing a down-filled jacket and no shirt. Just jeans, the jacket and his washboard chest.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the type of person who takes pleasure in objectifying men. But A&F obviously does. They wanted me to picture my man in that jacket looking just like the exposed hunky model who was there for the looking whether you were entering the store or just passing by. I have to admit, he looked darn good in that jacket but it still didn’t work for me. Would it have worked for you?

Tags: Abercrombie & Fitch, hunks, models

Friday, November 09, 2007

Tip of the Week- FlyerMall

Are you tired of all those grocery store flyers piling up on your kitchen table every Friday and Saturday? I am.

From now on, I’m visiting FlyerMall.com and intead of putting up with clutter every weekend, I’m throwing those flyers into the recycling bin and maybe even postins a “No Flyers Please” note on my door. What about you?

Tags: FlyerMall, grocery flyers

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Get down with Narnia and save

What?
• 20% off on all down coats and vests
• top off your down purchase with a complimentary hot drink from Starbucks

When?
Sat., Nov. 10: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 11: 12 noon-5 p.m.

Where?
Narnia
3236 Yonge St. (see map)
Toronto, ON. M4N 2L4
(416) 487-7287

Let is know what you get if you go.

Tags: down coats, Narnia, Starbucks

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Weekly Wish - jacket from Rudsak

Most billboard advertising has become a blur for me lately but not the new one on Mount Pleasant north of Bloor with stunning power couple Chantal Kreviasuk and Raine Maida. They’re all decked out in Rudsak. Rudsak, a Montreal-based firm, has been around since 1994 but only hit my radar recently.

Last Friday night, Jenny and I took a quick detour from our shop crawling and checked out Rudsak’s Queen St. W. location. The luscious red buttery leather bag in the window was calling my name. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it inside the store so I have no idea of the price but I’m guessing it’s around $250 or so.

The bag wasn’t the only thing in the store calling my name. There were some stunning jackets and anyone who knows me, knows I’m severely lacking in the fall outerwear department. Although I didn’t dare to try it on, I was salivating over a brown wool jacket with leather trim. It’s about $400.

Unfortunately, Rudsak’s website puts all emphasis on fashion instead of function so I have no idea how much the jacket really costs - I’m just going by memory. Regardless, it was a little pricey for the Barganista’s wallet that night. But that’s not stopping me now. So this week, you guessed it, I’m wishing for a new fall jacket or car coat. The smart Rudsak jacket pictured above, or anything dressier than down-filled will do.

Tags: Chantal Kreviasuk, Raine Maida, Rudsak

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Shopping party at dish sounds delish

What?
Holiday Shopping Party at dish cooking studio

When?
Sunday, Nov. 11
12 noon-4 p.m.

Where?
390 Dupont St. (See map)
Toronto

Let is know what you get if you go.

Tags: cooking lessons, dish cooking studio, Trish Magwood

Sunday, November 04, 2007

ChickAdvisor Shop Crawl: real life social shopping

So far, my tales of social shopping have been limited to After a Fashion outings in Second Life. Thanks to The ChickAdvisor Shop Crawl, I was recently initiated into real life social shopping.

Jenny and I started right at 6 p.m. sharp. First stop, CHANGE, the Scandinavian lingerie chain’s first Canadian location. With CBC’s new Fortune Hunters cameraman following us around for an upcoming episode, it was a bit awkward shopping for undies.

Carole, the assistant manager did her best to put us at ease. In fact, this was the only location where customer service was queen (pardon the pun). We also got $25 gift certificates valid through January. Of course, we both used ours that night. It was the only time I parted with my money. CHANGE is one store I’ll visit again. ; )

I was pumped about C-Squared where we were offered a 20% discount. Jenny scored a sweet pair of chocolate brown Camper pumps.

We made it to the other the other stores on the crawl list as well: Scarpino, Kazuo (reasonable prices, I tried a great coat but it was too big), Fraiche (I’ll be back) and Fashion Crimes. All of them offered 20%-25% off for shop crawlers.

I was disappointed we saved Fashion Crimes for last. The staff refused to stay open past 8 p.m. (the crawl went on until 9) so I didn’t get past their enticing windows. Sucks, huh? Boy, did they pass up an opportunity for new business and leave a bitter taste in many shoppers’ mouths. How unfortunate. Jen and I were hoping to do some shopping there along with my TFBB friends.

The evening ended with a trip to Milestones for bellinis and yummy pizza fresh out of the oven, swag bags (I’ll be discussing mine in an upcoming post), prize draws and a fashion show put on by shoppers wanting to win their outfits.

Social shopping is a phenomenon that’s gaining steam. Groups of people shop together in order to get better prices. As for retailers, it’s a great way to garner publicity for your business, introduce new customers to your store and compete in a competitive marketplace where consumers are becoming more cost-conscious everyday.

Tags: After a Fashion, Ali de Bold, Camper, CHANGE, ChickAdvisor, Fashion Crimes, Fortune Hunters, Fraiche, Kazuo, Milestones, Queen Street, Scarpino, Shop Crawl, TFBB

Monday, October 29, 2007

Only Nikes for my guys

Note: Here’s another guest post from my friend Saul Colt, otherwise known as the Smartest Man in the World...

Before I had kids I used to see people in the mall shopping for toddler-sized leather jackets and other items that their kids would wear and outgrow and I just couldn’t wrap my finger around it.

I swore I would never be “that guy” and my kids would wear whatever I buy them and that stuff would be practical.

Well I am here to say that I “slipped” I swore up and down that I wouldn’t do this but my passion for sneakers and my love of nostalgia got the better of me and this past week I purchased my four-year-old his first pair of Nike Air Jordan’s (Retro 3s for those keeping score at home). And because I couldn’t buy for one and not the other, my three-year-old got his first pair of Nike Air Force Ones (AF1 Toronto Model).

Both love the shoes and I have to admit I get a weird thrill (not a sexual one so wipe that from your head) seeing them in the same shoes I wear every day so I guess being “that guy” isn’t so bad...but they still are not getting leather jackets!

Tags: basketball shoes, Nike, Nike Air Force One, Nike Air Jordan, Saul Colt

Friday, October 26, 2007

Weekly Wish - checking out L’Oréal Fashion Week

This week I wanted to do something really decadent... I wanted to head downtown to Nathan Phillips Square and check out L’Oréal Fashion Week. It’s the first year they’re trying something new and making local fashion more accessible to the general public.

I even had plans to meet some of my cool TFBB friends today. They’ve been hanging around down there all week - some have even been lucky enough to attend some of the “By Invitation Only” events.

As they say, some of the best laid plans...

So, instead of going there myself, this week I’m wishing for something a bit different. I’m wishing for those of you lucky kids out there who schmoozed with Toronto’s pretty people at the shows, parties and just hanging around, to share your stories and links to your photos, right here at Bargainista. Leave a comment. Send me a guest post, send me a link to your flickr album. I’m there!

Tags: L’Oréal Fashion Week, TFBB, Toronto Fashion Week

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Making the best of a bad hair day

I had a bad hair day; I mean a really bad hair day. I’ve kept quiet about it because out of embarrassment.

I had a reverse perm last December and the top layer of my hair fell out. I was so uncomfortable; I stayed with the same stylist thinking he was the best person to repair his damage.

Did he offer any special treatments or services to help while my hair was growing back? No, he didn’t charge me to colour my hair at my next visit. C’est tout!

I finally got the courage to make a change. I know, I know. You’re probably thinking “What took her so long? This is uncharacteristic of Bargainista”. “What took her so long? And, you’re right. But you know a girl and her hair... Fortunately, the colour technician was a perfectionist and got it right the first time. (Usually it takes me at least two sessions with someone new.) I also splurged and had the owner/director stylist cut my hair. Et voila! No more barrettes for me - I can wear my hair down again without looking like a 70s glam rocker.

Why did I feel the need to share this with you now? Because of the postcard I received the other day. I got a nice note thanking me for choosing their salon including a voucher for $5 off my next visit.

It's the little things like thank you notes and vouchers that will secure my business - at least once more (but I suspect much longer.) If they wanted to kick it up a notch, I suggest they ditch the generic pre-printed note in favour of a personalized handwritten one. For now, I’ll gladly accept the $5 gesture and use it on my return visit.

What excellent customer service lately? Bargainista wants to know. Leave a comment.

photo credit: jfchenier on Flickr

Tags: bad hair day, Calia, hair salons

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