Do You Have a Reader On Your List?

It’s that time of year….yes, the time when we’re all either glued to our laptops, trying to pick out the perfect items for those on our shopping lists, or running around from store to store to find them. Well, I’m here to help you, especially if you have a reader (or librarian) on your list!

The Ontario Library Association has a wonderful Holiday Gift Guide–and shop—to help you find the perfect book-themed items. From card catalog socks, to colouring books, to puppets, they have all sorts of wacky and wonderful items that anyone who reads would love. Personally, I’m hoping for this Hand-Lettering book:

9781441322012_1024x1024But don’t wait too long. Many of the items are already sold out (sorry to anyone who would have picked the Cats on the Go Tech Decals, but they still have some Cattoos!), so get on this right away. I wish I’d known about this before our Teen Book Club Christmas party…..but maybe next year!

Happy shopping!

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Find a Bookstore…

Even as a library, we support our local bookstore here in Carleton Place. There have been many times we’ve needed a book (or books), and Aisha at Read’s Book Shop has come through in a pinch! It’s wonderful to shop local, and this little bookstore offers up all of the usual fun—-book clubs, a dynamite coffee shop atmosphere, and even special storytimes during the summer months.

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Now, the Retail Council of Canada has launched a website to help you find an independent bookstore in your area.  FindaBookstore.ca allows you to pop in your address, and it will search for Canadian Independent shops only. How easy is that? Support your local retail shops.

 

 

Only Two More Days!

We’ve given away iTunes gift cards, books, candy, games, duct tape, wallets, magic tricks, drum kits, even more candy, stickers, chocolate, graphic novels and, oh, did I mention candy?

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So far, kids have spent over $170 book bucks this week, and we still have two more days! Don’t forget, if you still have book bucks to spend, you can come in anytime today or Saturday and pick out something delightful.  This was our window yesterday afternoon. It might look different today, but we’ll keep it well stocked until the end of the week.

Happy spending!

Christmas Shopping in Carleton Place

Every newspaper and magazine right now has gift giving ideas for everyone on your list, but what about those of you who wish to shop locally?  Sure, there are many flyers and newspaper ads that are showcasing the latest sales going on in town, but what about some creative ideas? In Carleton Place over the past couple of years, there has been much said about trying to shop downtown, or at least, locally to support our businesses.  With so many people working in the city, it can be easier to shop there. And shopping online is becoming more popular.  So, are there really any great places to shop in Carleton Place?

Like many of us, if you are planning on spending a bit less this year, you might want to be more creative with your gift giving to really make the most of those presents. If you need to buy for family members, friends, or even neighbours, maybe you’ll get a few ideas here.

#1. How about a subscription to The Carleton Place Canadian? It is only $1.00 an issue when you buy it each week at the store, but you can also get a yearly rate and have it delivered right to your door.  This would be a great idea for an elderly person who might not get out much, or even for your university student who might like some news from home.

#2. Gift cards are really popular right now for all ages. They allow your gift recipient to purchase whatever they like.  There are some great places to get a wide variety of gift cards in town and one of the best places is Price Chopper!  Yes, while you shop for your weekly groceries, you can pick up a few gift cards for your grandchildren to shop at iTunes, Roots, or even Old Navy.  They have a really extensive collection of cards for a variety of prices and places to shop. Shoppers Drugmart also carries a wide line of cards, so take a look on your way out of the store.

#3.  How about buying someone a haircut?  If you know their local hairdresser, many local stylists have gift certificates for their services, such as cuts, colour, and even manicures and eyebrow waxing!  How nice would it be to give this little gift to someone who just might enjoy being pampered?

#4.  The Carleton Place Cinemas have great weekly movies at really low prices.  You might want to pick up some gift certificates for movie tickets and popcorn and treat your mailman to a night out, or as a great gift for your child’s teacher.  They also host International Movie Night once a month, which might be interesting for that discerning movie-watcher on your list. These are always great movies and a yearly subscription of $40 gets you into all of these films.

#5.  How about treating someone to a nice lunch?  Pretty much all of the great eateries downtown have gift certificates so that you can give someone a break this winter.  Maybe pop the certificate into an envelope along with a movie certificate so they can do dinner and a movie right in town!  Of course, there are a wide variety of restaurants in town from Mexican to Chinese and even a new steakhouse.  Walk down Bridge Street and buy up all your gifts in one go!

#6.  Coffee lovers have it all now in Carleton Place.  You can get pre-paid cards for that double-double coffeeholic on your list at either Tim Horton’s, or why not let them try out Starbucks with a gift card? (Starbucks also has great little gifts for those stockings like chocolate covered coffee beans and beautiful bamboo-boxed tea sets.)  While you’re there doing your Christmas shopping, take a few minutes and relax with an Egg Nog Latte.  Yum!

#7.  Canadian Tire always has some wonderful gifts for everyone on your list.  Right now, they also have some great incentives with coupons available near the entrance.  You can buy that new rice-cooker for that chef on your list, and pick up some hockey equipment for your son.  Or how about an original gift for Christmas…….Christmas decorations!  Pick up a basket and fill it with new energy-saving lights for the tree, twinkling new ornaments or a new wreath for the door.  Your gift recipient will be thrilled to add someone new to their home.  Don’t forget, you can bring along the kids while you shop and let them stop by the popcorn machine for some munchies while you look around.

#8.  Speaking of Christmas decorations, how about the Carleton Place Nursery? They have wonderful trees for your home, gorgeous fresh wreaths for the front door and a Christmas store that smells like cinnamon which is filled with beautiful ornaments and gifts.  How nice would it be to show up at a neighbour’s home with a fresh fir wreath for their front door?

#9.  Looking for some easy gifts to keep around in case people show up unexpectedly?  The Bulk Barn has great glass jars that you could fill with buttered pecans or maple walnuts.  Just tie a pretty ribbon around the lid and you have an instant gift.  Make a few of these ahead of time and keep them in case someone drops by with a gift for you.  If you don’t use them, they’re great to put out over the holidays for people to munch on while sipping hot chocolate.

#10.  I couldn’t have a Christmas Gift list without mentioning the library!  At the Carleton Place Public Library, we have a fantastic Christmas Book Sale going the whole month of December.  Visit our gift table for wonderful new and almost-new books at unbelievable prices and find something for everyone on your list!  We have all kinds of books set aside for the sale from biographies to decorating books to quick-read paperbacks from the latest authors.  Our table will change constantly, so keep coming in to have a look.

I hope you found a few ideas from this list. Even if you can’t get to Carleton Place, you can use these ideas to help make your shopping list a bit shorter.

Let’s go shopping!

Since today is Black Friday in the US, I thought I’d do my own little tribute to shopping.  For those of you that don’t know, Black Friday is considered the biggest shopping day in the year, the official kick-off to Christmas holiday shopping, with many stores offering outrageous deals to shoppers who are willing to darken their doors at 4am.  I wish we had something like this in Canada, although Boxing Day (December 26) is traditionally  one of the biggest shopping days here. If only it happened before Christmas!

In this great year of financial crisis, many people are thinking of limiting their shopping so that their already-stretched budgets don’t burst completely.  In my house, we do a lot of comparison shopping, both online and in-store, but we could also benefit from a few new strategies for better shopping.

#1.   Have you heard of “cashback shopping”?  This is really a new term for me, but one which makes complete sense since I do a lot of my shopping on the web.  You sign up at one of the many sites devoted to cashback shopping (many are free, but some have a small yearly fee), and they pay you a percentage for each purchase you make through their site. Some pay monthly, others require your balance to be a certain size before they send you the money, but it might be something to consider, even if it is just a few dollars a month.  I’d much rather know I am being paid a few cents on something I was going to buy anyway.  You can look at sites like Spree.com, TreasureTrooper.com, and CashCrate.com.

#2. Rewards Cards.  We have a few stores in my town that offer points on everything you buy and days to cash them in later for merchandise.  (Although I must confess that some of the smaller stores have rather silly rewards options.  Let me just say, if I am not allowed to know what my point balance is, I will not think to go to your store first.)  Shoppers Drugmart has a fabulous rewards program that we have benefited from several times now.  You shop, earn points, and later, you can cash in the points to purchase anything in the store from beauty products to groceries to health supplies.  We’re waiting for our next $200 shopping spree!  Costco is another great store that offers rewards for items purchased over time. The more you spend, the more you can save with their program.  And don’t forget your credit cards.  Certain banks offer rewards for using their cards.  Check with your bank to see if you could be earning money towards something fun!

#3.  Comparison shopping through your phone.  Right now, Google’s iPhone has a great new application to allow you to comparison shop while you are in the store.  How many time have we been shopping and wondered if we were really getting the best price?  With the iPhone, you can scan the bar code with the camera phone,  and the application will source out other deals in the area, even providing you with a map and directions to the store with the better deal.  Sound useful?  It might have some rough edges just yet, but I can see this idea taking off soon!

#4. Let me just say….online coupon codes. This is one little secret that I have only just started using.  If you are shopping online at many major retail stores, before you checkout, do an online search for a coupon code for that store and you might wind up with a deal.  I often wondered where you’d get one of these coupon codes that seem to be on every store checkout page.  All you need to do once you find a coupon code for the store you’re shopping at is copy the code and paste it into the box and you’ll save!  Amazing!

What are your tricks for saving money during this holiday season?


Christmas shopping

As I was standing on my front porch this morning dead-heading my hanging flower basket, a man walked up the walkway and handed me my Christmas Wish Book from Sears. It is August 18th, my friends. The Wish Book….in August????

I started thinking that maybe it is a marketing ploy to get to the kids before they go back to school. The Wish Book arrives and suddenly, every child is quiet in the corner, flipping through the pages and folding down corners or circling items that they want. (For those of you unfamiliar with the Sears Wish Book, it is the annual Christmas line up of toys, clothes and specialty items that they are promoting for the holidays.)

I will confess to enjoying the Wish Book as a child, and even now, there is a little thrill upon seeing it arrive (even if it is in August). But this makes me think about catalogs in general and how they are used, or not used, these days.

Years ago, people mainly shopped at a store, and although catalogs were available, most people preferred to go to an actual building and see the merchandise before buying. The exception seemed to be Sears, originally with their hand-drawn catalogs and then to their now-glossy version. The draw with Sears is that there is usually a depot in every small town s well as the bigger cities, and you can return the merchandise without any hassles or costs. That’s a plus when shopping these days.

I do the majority of my shopping online now. I still like to see the catalogs when I can get them if only because I can pick it up and look at it at my leisure, but I do purchase online without catalogs from a variety of stores. Most times, stores offer great deals, the shipping is usually pretty good, and these days with the Canadian dollar being so strong, there isn’t a down-side to shopping online across the border. Even the return policies are pretty good these days. Even so, I still hear that people are afraid to buy online. They seem pretty sure that their identity or credit card numbers are going to be stolen, each person having a “friend” who has horror story about shopping online. But I think if you are a smart shopper, shopping online is a safe and fabulous alternative to going to the store. Plus, it saves gas and these days, that is a bonus in itself!

One of my favourite places to shop online is Ebay, which always has great deals, and you don’t just have to bid in auctions. They have buy-it-now options as well, and many of the things you are looking for are brand new. Plus, you don’t have to give out your financial information to someone you don’t know. Most sellers accept PayPal which is a fabulous site for online purchases, and they don’t share your information with anyone else. Ebay.ca is great to use in Canada, but you can also buy on Ebay.com. Many times, I have come across something I am looking for on one site but not the other, so don’t be afraid to look.

The other great site that I am in love with right now is Etsy.com. Etsy is the place for people who make handmade items to sell their wares. This is a growing site and the search possibilities are very creative. You can find an item by geographical zone, by colour or by name. This is going to be really big soon, so get in on it if you have a talent!

What will shopping be like for children of this generation? Will online shopping be the norm? Will they even remember catalogs? I’m not sure what’s coming.

So, even though we have just over four months to shop for presents, you might want to get a head start on it now. You might even get finished before September rolls around!