Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Published in The OCCofC Business Viewpoint

As I learned in French I under Monsieur Pierre Wrinn at Walden High School, the coup de grace is the final, winning stroke in a contest. These days, coupons can serve much the same purpose in building and retaining a customer base.

“I don’t buy anything any more without a coupon” our home health aide told me while clipping coupons on her break. Another staff member chimed in, “Me, too!” I Googled “couponing” and found 8 million items, including “extreme couponing,” “true couponing,” and “the Krazy Coupon Lady.”

Our nursing staff (my wife, Tina Su Cooper, is quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent) regaled me with tales of large savings racked up by “extreme couponers.” They themselves, of course, never take things to extremes: “Moderation in all things…except morality” as Dwight David Eisenhower was reputed to have said. I pressed the crew for the downside of newspaper coupons: finding and clipping are time-consuming; expiration dates are in tiny print and often too soon; the prices may have been raised to be able to give some people a discount. I, myself, have trouble with scissors, having scored poorly on cut-and-color-aptitude in kindergarten. Fortunately, no glue is needed, but I always worry about what I am losing on the backside of the page from which I am extracting the coupon. Internet coupons overcome some of these negatives.

There was a time, back in my youth, when only the elite “clipped coupons,” which was how they cashed in their quarterly interest payments on their bonds. Today, coupon clipping is almost an indoor sport. Inserts in the Sunday papers are passed around among the clippers, each excising those she wants. Are men doing it, too? Definitely. I’ll be doing it today, but on my computer.

Let’s see how this goes:

orangeny.com [click]

[At the banner] About the chamber [click]

Coupons [click]

There they are: Fourteen companies, alphabetically from Advance Fire Safety to VALUE CHARGE/VALUE OFFICE have little “coupon” buttons to click on. We use Advanced Oxy-Med, so I’ll go there first: 10% off our first order, good to 11/29/2011. This would be far from our first order, so I’ll try another:

Debby Porco, Independent Beauty Consultant, Mary Kay will give me $10 off my first order of $50 or more. Shall I get body wash? Wrinkle remover? Mud mask? Lip gloss? Which would do me most good? I’ll have to ask my wife. E-Sales Masters, L.L.C., will give me “10% discount up to $500 on fine art plus free shipping.” I may need another Rembrandt, for the foyer. Wait --- I see what I need: “Life Cleaners!” At 10% off, they could start with my office, then upstairs to the bedroom, and the porch needs help, too. Another element of my life that could benefit from cleaning up would be my relationship with some in-laws. Oops, they are “a full-service dry cleaner that operates an automatic kiosk in the ShopRite in Vails Gate.” Would they do a leisure suit?

Some of the other offers include: a free fire extinguisher, discounts on storage, dental work, and submarines (the sandwiches, of course). Janco Security would give me a year’s worth of free monitoring, allowing us to rest easy, cut-rate.

According to the Web site statspotting.com, last year 3 billion coupons were redeemed in the U.S. In a country of just over 300 million people, that works out to about ten coupons per person per year. Half of the coupons that were redeemed came from the Sunday newspaper supplements. They note that typically 1% of the coupons offered by such print media are redeemed but 10% of those offered on the Internet are redeemed, making Internet coupon offerings particularly effective.

The Orange County Chamber of Commerce welcomes its members to participate in establishing coupon offers as well as in taking advantage of the bargains they offer. Contact
wendym@orangeny.com to place such an ad and cherylc@orangeny.com to join the Chamber.

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