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!


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

Susie Love’s trunk sale at Y5

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

5 Yorkville Ave. (map)
Toronto, ON

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

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%

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.

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

Mississauga, Ontario

L4V 1E8

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

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

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:
greeting cards
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