34 years in this business has taken me to some great places across this country. Rockford, IL, Aberdeen, SD, Stevens Point, WI, Kansas City, MO, Anchorage, AK, Dallas, TX, Enid, OK and now Fort Smith.
A few of you may have managed to navigate the sea of humanity at the mall on Friday and emerge with sacks of gifts and holiday shopping nearly done. The rest of us can look forward to days of trudging from one store to the next or hunching over the computer at work, surreptitiously surfing for that elusive deal on a Michael Kors watch or on the FIFA 2013 video game.
But in a world of smartphones and tablets, a host of mobile apps can make shopping much easier - or less painful - by finding the best prices on popular items, locating a hard-to-find gift at a nearby store, or even suggesting what to get your crotchety old aunt.
The best apps are as useful inside the mall as for shopping online. They blend barcode scanning and text input and use GPS and other location technologies so you can compare products between online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores. They also organize coupons according to your location and weed out expired
Most such apps are free, available for both Apple iOS and Android devices.
One of the best is eBay Inc.'s RedLaser Barcode and QR Scanner. It scans quickly and accurately and lists prices at major retailers, online and offline, while showing how far stores with the products in stock are from your current location.
Moreover, RedLaser provides reviews and suggests products similar to those you have scanned. It archives your searches, and you can create lists of the items you've been scanning and looking up.
For sheer elegance, ShopAdvisor, from Boston-based Evoqu, is hard to match, with its smart and simple-to-use comparison shopping tool. ShopAdvisor also has an excellent voice input feature. Its search results are detailed and well-organized, and often surprising. I searched for "Mini Cooper" (the ride-on toy for little kids) and got a mix of online and local retailers with prices ranging from $179 to $399.99.
Among price-comparison tools, the elephant in the room is Google Shopper. As with the Internet giant's other search tools, the app lets you sort and narrow results by distance and other criteria. Punch "Jo Malone perfume" into Shopper, and the app can limit hits to brick-and-mortar stores such as
Thought it was only your future mother-in-law you had to worry about? Think again chaps.
A quarter of women would dump a man if their pet didn't like him, a study found - and a third would leave their own bed and sleep on the floor next to their pet if it was ill.
Half claim they say 'hello' to their dog or cat before anyone else when they get
home. Men, however, seem to be a little less devoted.
Only 12 percent said they would split up with their partner if their pet didn't take to her. The study, carried out by an animal health organization, found that 40 percent of the 1,094 pet owners surveyed would risk their own life to save their animal if it were in danger.
Half insisted they would spare no expense on treatment if their pet was ill - although a similar number forget to keep their vaccines up to date.
The study found 10 percent say they would save money by stopping smoking, or by cutting down, rather than have to reduce the amount spent on their pet.
We all love Target...so here are some secrets to save big bucks throughout the
Tip #1: Just because something is on clearance doesn't mean that's as low as the price will go -- clearance prices can go to even 90% off.
• Here's deep dark secret: Check if the price ends in a "4." The "4" means it won't go any lower, but an "8" means it will be marked down again.
Tip #2: Ask a Target employee when certain items get marked marked down because it varies by location, but a few savvy Target shoppers noted that most follow this schedule:
• Monday: Children's clothing, baby items, electronics, and office supplies/gift
• Tuesday: Women's clothing, home decor and domestic items .
• Wednesday: Men's clothing, toys, food, health and beauty, garden items.
• Thursday: Housewares, lingerie, shoes, sporting goods, luggage .
• Friday: Cosmetics, jewelry, hardware, automotive, and home improvement.
Tip #3: The best time to shop for toys is in July as the store receives their fall and winter stock. That's when toys will be marked down by as much as 70%... and if
you see a Target employee with a markdown gun, ask if they can mark it down
even more...try it , it works!