Friday, February 23, 2007

Frugal Supplies: Office Depot's 50-Cent Bin, Coupons & Professional Discounts

In search of a padded bag for my laptop, I went to Office Depot yesterday. I saved a lot by tapping into assorted discounts. And while we were there, I hit the 50-cent bin near the front of the store.

To compete with dollar stores, many mainstream stores are offering steep discount bins. For example, Target, Walgreens, Toys R Us, and other national chains, now have sections where merchandise is only a buck or less. (I once found the cutest flip-flops at Target for 25 cents.) Some of the stuff is just junk, but there are a few finds. (I noticed this trend on my own and I also read about the concept in the book Treasure Hunt by Michael Silverstein (with John Butman).

The dollar bins at Target are located toward the front of the store. Office Depot's 50-cent bin is near the front of the store also. Here's what we found:

1) A telephone charger for my oldest son's phone. He's a teen and his charger frequently disappears. For 50 cents ( versus about $25 full price), we have a frugal backup.

2) School supplies: report covers (50 cents) and an elegant mechanical pencil for my husband.

We picked up and put down other items for 50 cents because the merchandise was nice, but not needed.

Meanwhile,we saved on the laptop case by:

1) Using a $10 off coupon that we received in the mail.
2) Enrolling in a special discount program for teachers. I teach two writing classes at a local school and qualified for the additional 5 percent off from Office Depot. If you teach (volunteer or otherwise) in a local school, you may be eligble for the discount, which is good for your personal purchases.

While at the store, I noticed other discounts and promotions, including a frequent shopper program, which is ideal for those of us with home offices.

"Star Teacher Program++: Teachers who participate in Office Depot's Star Teacher Program receive everyday discounts on qualifying in-store purchases and are included in a variety of special events and promotions during the year. Sign up for the Star Teacher Program by visiting your local Office Depot store." --Office Depot

Applications are also available online. I applied in the store at the customer service desk and received a printout of my discount enrollment number. The process does not take long, (less than a minute) and I instantly used the discount.

Star Teachers receive: a) an instant 5% discount on qualified in-store purchases, which excludes purchases from and purchases of Gift Cards, computers, postage stamps and wireless, satellite, Internet, mailing and shipping services; and b) an instant 15% discount on all qualified Copy & Print Center services, which excludes mailing/shipping services and postage stamps. Star Teachers can also receive Rewards, a maximum of $50 per Reward Period or $200 per year, granted on qualified purchases, exclusions and minimum purchase levels apply. Rewards accrue based on Reward Period purchase level and are distributed quarterly in the form of an Office Depot® Reward Card. See the Star Teacher Program



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