The Hartford Courant Korky Vann column
Feb 03, 2013 (The Hartford Courant - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Discounts are great, but I really love freebies. There's something fabulous about finding a free stuff in your mailbox, printing out a coupon for a free product from the web or showing up at a restaurant when they're giving out free coffee, ice cream or burgers.
Getting a regular freebie stream going takes some digging.
(Not to brag, but signing up for my text alerts, text "Savvy Shopper Deals" to 37798, or following Korky Vann's Deal of the Day at Courant.com or on the Courant's A1 page every day, is a good way to start.)
Set up a separate email account. They're free at Yahoo, Gmail or Hot Mail. Because most offers require you to provide an email address, a separate account reserved for your freebie mining allows you to keep your personal email advertising and spam free.
Some companies make it easy for you to get the goods. Sign up for the mailing list for the Penzeys catalog (www.Penzeys.com or 1-800-741-7787), for example, and you'll get regular coupons for free products, no purchase necessary. Recent offers have included free jars of cinnamon, cumin and other spices.
"We send out catalogs about eight times a year and many of those will include a coupon for a free item," says Bob Bourgeois, a Penzeys director. ""We think it's a good way for us to introduce folks to our products and to encourage them to visit out stores."
Research bears that out. A study by the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, showed that the positive effect of giveaways extends beyond the item at hand. When consumers are given a sample, they're more likely to buy the product. And a City University of New York study showed that free samples can produce measurable long-term effects on sales that can be observed as much as 12 months after the promotion.
"Free is the ultimate advertisement," says Neil Sharp, president and owner of Stone & Paddle restaurants in Manchester, Rocky Hill and Vernon.
When each of his restaurants opened, Sharp did a izza-slice giveaway. The promotions drew hundreds, many of whom became regular customers.
"The giveaways get people in the door," says Sharp.
DHC Skincare (www.dhccare.com), maker of beauty and bath products, is another company generous with its free samples. Request a free catalog, which comes with four free samples, by calling 800-342-2273. (Order the catalog and samples online and it'll cost you $2, but you'll get a $5 gift certificate toward a future purchase.) Every time the company sends you a new catalog, you'll get more trial packets of products.
I haven't paid for a magazine subscription in years. A number of websites, including RewardsGold.com, MercuryMagazines.com and Freebizmag.com, offer a changing mix of free periodicals in exchange for filling out surveys and questionnaires. No credit card is required and you won't receive a bill.
At websites like RecycleBank.com, DailyFeats.com and MyPoints.com, earn points for looking at product advertisements, watching short videos and filling out surveys, or in the case of DailyFeats, doing good deeds for yourself and the planet. The points can be redeemed for free gift cards, discounts and magazine subscriptions.
Redbox -- those big, red boxes at area supermarkets -- offer movies and video game rentals for $1 a night, but most of the time, you can get them free. Sign up for the Redbox Text Club at Redbox.com and they'll send you a code for a free rental every month. At RedBoxCodes.com and InsideRedBox.com, you'll find more free rental codes.
Sign up at Gofobo.com for free movie tickets for advance screening of new films.
At http://www.freebies.about.com, you'll find alerts on Facebook giveaways and local free events, like no-charge classes at chain craft stores and home improvement centers, as well as links to other freebie websites..
Freebie sites are everywhere online, some better than others. I like EatDrinkDeals.com, MrFreeStuff.com, FreeSampleMomma.com and VocalPoint.com. If you want to save yourself the trouble of checking a number of websites every day, check in at FatWallet.com, where consumers who are experts in uncovering free stuff share their finds.
Remember, not all freebies are free. Don't get suckered into buying something you don't want or need to get a freebie. And wherever your freebie hunt takes you, if you see something you like, grab it. There are limited quantities for most giveaways, so things go quickly.
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(Hartford, Conn.) at www.courant.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
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