I’m Annie Logue, a writer and consultant specializing in business and finance. Real Outlet Stores is a side project for me that emerged out of three loves: travel; finding places off the beaten track; and getting a good bargain. I’m on the hunt to find ways to save money wherever I go. I hope that this site helps you save money and see parts of your town – or of the world – that you might not get to otherwise.
My professional web site is AnnLogue.com, if you want more information.
Also, on occasion, there may be affiliate links on the site. Other than that, no one pays me for reviews. All of these opinions are strictly my own.
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Gift cards and gift card deals are popular holiday presents. They are good for retailers, too: if customers use them, they generate traffic to the store and some additional sales. If customers don’t use them, then the retailer gets free money.
Not bad, huh?
There’s a secret. In a world of pathetically low interest rates, gift cards can be a great way to generate a return on investment. Not by doing anything shady, either. All you have to do is watch for special gift card promotions. Here are a few to check out (and let us know in the comments if you know of others).
Grocery and drugstore promotions: many weeks, Jewel-Osco stores offer special deals on gift cards. For example, a recent offer allowed you to purchase a $50 gift card to Michael’s Stores and then get $10 off your grocery bill. If you use the card at some point in the next year, that’s a 20% return on investment. Pay attention for similar promotions at places near you that have gift card racks. If you buy cards for places where you already shop, you can save a bundle.
Lettuce Entertain You: If there’s a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant near where you live, you can receive a $25 bonus coupon for every $100 in gift cards that you buy. The bonus is in the form of a coupon with an expiration date, but it’s a great deal if you use it. If you’re a member of the Lettuce Eats frequent diner club, you will receive points for the gift card purchase, too.
Vapiano Italian restaurants offer a 20% bonus on gift card purchases, a great deal if you are near one. Many other restaurants have similar promotions during the December holiday season.
Amazon.com often has special gift card promotions, ranging from Holiday Teddy Bear with a $150 gift card purchase offer to the occasional bonus. If you regularly shop Amazon, why not get a $100 gift card for your own account if it comes with a $5 bonus? When banks barely offer 1%, that’s a great return.
The only catch is that the bonuses are sometimes in the form of coupons, which have expiration dates, instead of gift cards, which may or may not expire (depending on the state). Be sure you’ll use the bonus in time to make it worth your while.
Now, there’s no law that says you have to give a gift card to someone else. If a business that you already frequent offers a gift card promotion, consider it a gift to yourself.
Roots is the Canadian casual-wear store, an indigenous GAP, so to speak. If you are visiting Vancouver and have a car, the outlet store is worth the trip. The outlet store is right on the border between Vancouver and the suburb of Burnaby. This is total Vancouver style.
New stock is carried in the front of the store. The fun is in the back, at the clearance section, where last season’s merchandise is 50% off retail. When I visited, there was a storewide buy one item, get the second at 50% off, which saved even more money.
ion was huge: sweaters, t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, gloves – all sorts of fun stuff. If you are visiting Canada and need souvenirs for people back home, this is a great stop. You can get a lot of high-quality, Canada-specific gear for rela
tively little money. Although the styles skew toward things of interest to the young, there was a wide range of sizes.
The store is not all that attractive from the street. The entrance is in the back. Also, the parking lot is a popular shortcut, so be on the lookout for cars speeding through.
All in all, this worth a visit if you are in Vancouver and are looking for fun casual clothes – with a Canadian flair – at a bargain.