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Quiet Desperation

Coupons that offer discounts are more than a little bit off


Clip and save this column. It will be worth $500 off the purchase price of your favorite automobile, one day only, September 31, 2017.

Take this column to any fast-food restaurant in the metro Denver area, and it will be good for one free askance.

If it weren't for coupons and inserts, my Sunday newspaper would look like a Sunday newspaper.

Do you want my coupons? I don't care for the thought behind them. I don't like to be lured into buying something by a coupon or a sale. Just tell me how much it is.

First of all, is it "koo" or "cue"? I vote for "koo."

Who originated coupons and when?

Was it Coca-Cola in 1888? Procter & Gamble in 1900? Or Heidi Fleiss in 1987. Answer to follow.

"Ten for $10s," it says instead of $1 each.

"Buy five and get one free."

"This is a limited-time-only sale. It will be followed by another limited-time-only sale. And then another one."

Automobiles are never, ever sold at face value. The "Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price" is the punch line of every automobile advertisement.

Some things are never negotiated. Have you ever negotiated at Denny's?

Have you ever negotiated at Nordstrom?

Some things are always negotiated.

Art, for example. I am here to tell you that you can negotiate the price of a painting in a commercial gallery. It's expected. Prices are above retail, to allow some negotiation room.

The collector makes an offer, and if it's accepted, leaves feeling like he accomplished something. Chances are, the collector paid retail or over.

It's an aspect of the art world that I won't miss when I retire from it in about 18 months. As Ginger Rogers said, "You've got to know when to fold 'em."

I shop for products that are well made and get good reviews. Then I compare prices. But I never clip coupons.

The argument against this is the family trying to make it on low income. I appreciate that.

I just get an uncomfortable feeling when a vendor tries to woo me with discounts.

Sales? I am mindful of bargains online, but I will give you a new Schwinn if you ever see me waiting for the doors to open.

If I want to save money, I don't spend money

None of this means I am good with money. Artists aren't good with money. We spend money to make money, and we don't make money.

The high point for coupons was 1992, although how would anyone know for sure? According to Time magazine, "7.9 billion discounts were granted via coupons."

When it's time to check out, do you check out the shoppers ahead of you, to see if any of them are packing coupons? I do.

If a homemaker has a sheaf of them, I get into a different line.

Black Friday sales? Cyber Monday sales? Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day sales? As the Beatles said, "You won't see me."

JC Penney had the right idea, remember? They abandoned sales and coupons and switched to everyday low prices in 2012. No one bought it. It took away the consumer's "small feeling of achievement," a shopper complained. JC Penney is still trying to recover.

Coca-Cola introduced coupons in 1888. Burp.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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