They say we’re a product of our environment and life experiences. So it happens that I believe in local loyalty. I was born and raised in a small town in northwest Iowa, where my dad owned a business on Main Street. Even though the town was only about 2,500 people, we “shopped at home,” because of course, we wanted people to shop at our store instead of driving to the bigger city just across the state line to spend their money. Our family members were expected to set an example, and shop in our home town.
I still believe in local loyalty. And if you look around your neighborhood or suburb today, you’ll see a lot of local businesses that, in this economy, are struggling to survive right along with the national chains.
The point is not so much local loyalty these days as it is just plain loyalty. We can help businesses where we shop and eat (large or small) survive and thrive by patronizing them.
At the same time, they often reward us with special discounts. This brings us back to the subject of coupons. Many businesses (both local and national chains) use coupons or “specials” to capture your loyalty. That loyalty is good for them, and it can be good for you too. A couple of examples:
At a local restaurant where we like to eat, we were invited to sign up for their specials by filling out a form which asked for our email address. Now they routinely email us special offers. For instance, on my birthday:
We also indulge in a great pizza now and then. Who doesn’t? We find that if we go to the website of our favorite pizzeria, we can click on “special and coupons” and always find a way to save money.
Of course the national chains do this too. I just signed up for the “Fresh Catch Club” at Red Lobster (redlobster.com). Members are notified of special events, receive a birthday “surprise” (probably a coupon), and are entered in a prize drawing. Point is, signing up for online “clubs” brings you up a notch as far as getting the best deal is concerned. Of course you have to exercise a degree of caution as to what you join online as you do anywhere else – in other words, read the fine print.
But membership does have its privileges, and if you click around on your favorite restaurant or shopping sites for opportunities to sign up for free membership, you can cash in on some of those privileges.
Jane Booras is Editor of the Campus Times Newsletter for Computer School for Seniors (www.cs4seniors.com)