Who doesn’t love free food? IHOP restaurants nationwide are offering diners a free short stack of pancakes all day Tuesday, Feb. 28 (from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.) It’s a fundraiser for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Expect to wait in line – this is a popular event!
Babies R Us has a new way for parents to earn money on purchases for their baby. The retailer’s Very Important Baby (V.I.B.) program is like a debit card that can be loaded with funds and used at Babies R Us and Toys R Us stores on certain items: diapers, wipes, formula and baby food. Each time the user loads money onto it, the retailer adds 10%, up to $200 a year. For example, if $100 is loaded onto the card, an extra $10 bonus is added, appearing in the account within 24 hours. Bonus dollars expire in a year. The card is free and can be obtained at the guest services desk inside any store. V.I.B card purchases are valid on all brands of diapers, wipes, formula and baby food sold in Babies R Us and Toys R Us stores. It’s even a way others can give a gift to mom and dad – by adding funds to the card.
I just found out that Mazzio’s Italian Eatery now offers a gluten-free crust at many of its locations. This is awesome news for my family, since I discovered a few months ago that I’m allergic to wheat. I’m certainly not alone. A restaurant manager I interviewed a week ago said the increasing incidence of food allergies is the single-most important issue restaurants and their waitstaff face. At Mazzio’s, the gluten-free crust is available as a 10″ specialty or create-your-own and for dine-in or carry-out only. Read about it here.
Other local businesses that cater to food allergies include:
Green Goodies in Classen Curve shopping center. Her gluten-free cupcakes are delish.
Hideaway Pizza, which has multiple locations, also has a gluten-free pizza crust for $3 extra.
Those are my favorites. What other restaurants offer gluten-free food?
Consignment season – it’s one of my favorite times of year. Just Between Friends opened its Norman sale on Monday and has packed the Cleveland County Fairgrounds with tons of bargains for parents, including baby, kids and maternity clothes, toys, furniture and pretty much anything you could possibly need or want for your children. The Norman sale is smaller than the Oklahoma City event (which is April 30-May 5) and doesn’t have bedding or shoes but there’s still plenty to shop for. I try to consign a few items so I can shop during the pre-sale, which was Sunday. Hours of the sale are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. On Friday, most items are 25% off and on Saturday, most are half price. For more details, click here.
Some sales going on this weekend for President’s Day:
Stride Rite: Take an additional 25% off clearance through Monday.
Kitchen Collection: select As Seen On TV Items – on sale
Gap: Red, White and Blue event, with select styles up to 40% off
Express: Buy 1, Get 1 50% off
Lane Bryant: Up to 70% off clearance items, can combine with Facebook Friends and Family coupon for 30% off.
The New York Times on Thursday published a really interesting article about the science of habits and how Target used a statistician to predict which shoppers were pregnant (and how far along they were!) to entice them to shop for more items at the store. It’s a long article (adapted from writer Charles Duhigg’s upcoming book “The Power of Habit”) but well worth your time. As the story explains, new parents are a “retailer’s holy grail.” They are forming new shopping habits likely to stick around for a long time. And while the science of this story is so interesting, my favorite part is on page 7 where Duhigg writes how difficult it was to get Target to respond:
“When I sent Target a complete summary of my reporting, the reply was more terse: “Almost all of your statements contain inaccurate information and publishing them would be misleading to the public. We do not intend to address each statement point by point.” The company declined to identify what was inaccurate. They did add, however, that Target “is in compliance with all federal and state laws, including those related to protected health information.”
When I offered to fly to Target’s headquarters to discuss its concerns, a spokeswoman e-mailed that no one would meet me. When I flew out anyway, I was told I was on a list of prohibited visitors. “I’ve been instructed not to give you access and to ask you to leave,” said a very nice security guard named Alex.”
Read the full story here. Some commenters are appalled at the seemingly “creepy” practice while other say it’s great to receive coupons for products they’ll actually use.
Some shoppers at Michaels stores on Friday, Feb. 17 will be chosen for a random act of kindness: a free gift card. The craft retailer is giving away more than $100,000 in gift cards total at its U.S. stores and on its Facebook page during Random Acts of Kindness Day. It may be another made up holiday but I love the idea of a retailer making people smile by handing out free gift cards with no strings attached. Michaels says they hope the gift cards inspire people to do something kind in return, by donating them to a school, church or hospital or using it to make a homemade gift for someone. All stores are participating and there are five metro area locations.
Love is in the air and it’s draining our wallets! Recent consumer spending surveys say we’ll be shelling out as much or more than last year on our loved ones. Flowers, chocolates, jewelry and date night all add up to an average of more than $125 spent per person, according to the National Retail Federation. We’re a little unconventional at my house: everyone is getting Thunder gear for Valentine’s Day. I found lots of clothes that show how much we LOVE the Thunder while working on this story last week.
Here’s some interesting tidbits on consumer spending this Valentine’s Day:
How much we’re spending: people plan to spend $74.12 on their spouse or significant other, $25.25 on their children, parents or other family members, $6.92 on friends and $4.52 on their pets this year. (From the NRF.)
Where we’re shopping: 37% will spend at discount stores, 33.6% will head to department stores and one out of five (19.3%) shop online for gifts. Others will shop at specialty stores (20.2%), floral shops (17.8%), jewelry stores (10.6%) and specialty clothing stores (6.6%). (From the NRF.)
Our budgets: 56% plan to spend the same as 2011, 20% will spend more, 20% will spend less and 4% won’t buy anything, according to a PriceGrabber survey.
Most wanted gifts/purchases: Samsung 55″ LED TV, Apple iPhone 4S 64GB black unlocked, TOMS ‘Corbel Classic” Slip-On shoes, a 4-tier wedding cake fountain, roses, Patron Silver Tequilla, N.V. Domaine Chandon Rose Champagne Blend, 1-carat diamond engagement ring, Omega 2221.80.00 Men’s Seamaster Stainless Steel Watch (like the one worn by James Bond) and a ruby devil heart pendant with diamonds 2.33-carat in 10K yellow gold with chain, according to PriceGrabber web analytics from Saturday, Feb. 4-Sunday, Feb. 5.
I was invited to the new IMAX auditorium at the Warren Theatres in Moore today to watch as they raised the screen–which is 6 stories tall and 100 feet wide. Owner Bill Warren says it’s the largest IMAX screen in the country. Oklahomans will be able to check it out soon when the IMAX auditorium opens Feb. 24.
Warren Theatres had already offered a swanky movie experience with its balcony seats. Then, the theater added director’s suites, which are small and posh mini theaters. Now, it’s busy working on readying the largest screen around. Makes me wonder what they’ll do next!