So this droll bit is a departure from my usual fare, but I felt like sharing. We’ll be back to regularly scheduled Money Under the Cushions stuff next time.
A few weeks ago JCPenney had one of their free money coupon giveaways where you could score $10 off of $10 or more, $20 off of $20, or $100 off of $100. Yankee Candle and a few others also had similar offers. I didn’t inform you guys about them. Why? I was both burned out and bummed, which is strange because not too long ago I wrote an article encouraging their use and listing places that I knew gave them away.
This latest round of free money coupons from JCPenney, especially in light of the recent announcement of 138 locations closing gave me pause. It reminded me of a time in my other life as a higher ed professional when my office frequented Bennigan’s (remember that joint?). They had an AMAZING $5 lunch deal that included an entree (my fave was the hot turkey with honey mustard on a pretzel roll with french fries) and a large beverage. With tax and tip our lunches came to seven bucks a pop. You know that’s my type of lunch deal. So we went. And enjoyed. And went again. And planned to go back. But the next time we went we found the restaurant closed.
I went searching for a reason and discovered that most of their locations had been abruptly shuttered. I was shocked as there was no warning and I thought their business was doing fine. While I was celebrating the cheap eats, I completely missed an obvious warning sign of a business in trouble.
The same thing is happening today at an alarming rate. Was it last week that the Bebe clothing store chain abruptly closed all of their locations? And not too long ago the Limited? I read today that Abercrombie & Fitch, a store I’ve never patronized but knew it was once an “iconic” brand is looking for a buyer. In fact more than 3,000 store locations from different brands are closing this year.
Which brings me back to JCPenney and their free money coupons. I wasn’t surprised to read about their closings, but hoped it wouldn’t happen. I mean they’ve had a really rough go of it for a number of years, but when they were literally giving away free money coupons just about every day in the weeks leading up to Christmas 2016 … well, one doesn’t need to read the business news to know that’s not a good sign.
Let me be real here. We know that the purpose of these coupons is to get us into the store, right? Once there, most end up buying more, significantly more than the face value of the coupon. Not me though. I get too much of a high when getting free stuff. The stores are never going to make money off of people like me and I figure that’s factored in. So when JCPenney and other stores offer so many free money coupons that I get bored, and can barely lift a finger to type out the details to share with you, I do start to worry.
What’s my point? I don’t have one really except that it makes me sad. There are a multitude of reasons and tons of analyses for why this is happening (too many locations, too many options, changing demographics, shopping online, etc.). I believe they’re all hitting on some of it, but for me I just feel sad. Sad when Brad and I drive past the increasing number of barren strip malls with one lone store hanging on for dear life. (We stopped by a Radio Shack – which is finally being put out of its misery – last weekend) Sad about once flourishing malls losing anchor stores like crazy with no replacements, just a dirty outline of the letters where the store marquee used to be. Sad about smaller stores in the malls closing. Sad for those being displaced from jobs and worried about small individually owned businesses.
I love my deals, but I can’t feel happy sharing them when I think the business is in trouble and people’s jobs are being impacted. Maybe I’m fooling myself, but I’ve noticed a down tick in free money coupons. I’m hoping that’s a good sign. For now, anyway, because y’all know I don’t want them to totally disappear! Because, freebies! (Shakes head at self)
BTW, for the past two weekends GNC has had buy one get one 80% off. PLUS, Brad has gotten great coupons in the mail from them every week for the past several weeks. This is AFTER they lowered their prices and changed their rewards program. I can actually score a deal there now, which is unheard of. I’m thinking GNC is in trouble…. Have you noticed changes or trends with your favorite stores? Let me know in the comments.