Thanks to mega-sites like Coupons.com, clippable grocery savings are more than within reach of any consumer with Internet access, a working printer and a pair of scissors.
But, did you know tons of coupons from Tulsa's independent restaurants, retailers and entertainment powerhouses are out there, just waiting for you to snag 'em, clip 'em and, most important, use 'em?
It's true. It's just a matter of finding them.
I began making mental notes of where these deals typically hide earlier this year when I started to notice local businesses were adding coupons and discounts to their ads, Web sites and e-newsletters.
I love that Tulsa businesspeople are noticing and co-opting the trend of ad coupons that's blowing up on the national stage. A quick look inside the pages of magazines that claim women as a demographic focus - think pubs like All You Magazine, Real Simple, Rachel Ray Everyday and Family Circle - will show what I mean. See an ad for Libby's canned veggies? Odds are that these days it'll be combined with a coupon.
Advertisers are getting hip to the fact that not only are coupons hot, but the group of consumers willing to clip and use them is growing to include men and young women. Increasingly often, coupons drive what makes it into the grocery cart and what doesn't.
These ad coupons are all fine and good for when we need 50 cents off a box of brownie mix or, if we're lucky, $1 off Target-brand trash bags. But, what about the man or woman who is passionate about supporting local business? Buying local is smart in so many ways - economically and environmentally, just to name two - and local publications and advertisers are starting to partner to bring some of the coupon love to Tulsa clippers.
Here's a quick-and-dirty list of places to start hunting for Tulsa coupons:
Urban Tulsa Weekly. Check the margins of each page for sweet discounts on local fare and more. Heck, you might even find savings on the meal you're eating in the restaurant where you picked up that copy of you-tee-dub in the first place.
Oklahoma Magazine. Again, it's all in the ads.
Tulsa People. TP, a Tulsa-centric, free, monthly mag, loves to give back to its readership in the form of giveaways, and I don't mean prizes like an pine tree air freshener from QuikTrip. Rather, TP doles out lots and lots of really solid prizes from local providers to loyal readers several times per month. Up for grabs in October is $100 to Gaga-a-Gogo, $200 to Ihloff Salon & Day Spa and four tickets to Little House on the Prairie at Tulsa Performing Arts Center. Squee, right? It's easy to sign up to be eligible for these giveaways at the home of Tulsa People on the Web.
Tulsa Kids. Got kids? Parents need as much savings as they can get since, contrary to popular belief, kids 12 and under and NOT free. Several of the ads in this monthly, free publication combine discounts, specials and/or coupons to some of the favorite haunts of Tulsa kids and their parental units.
Ttownmoms.com. Not only does Ttownmoms.com offer grocery coupon hunters a local source for big-name clippables, but it's also a clearinghouse for giveaways that please the punch out of Tulsa's mommies, daddies and kiddos of every age. Keep an eye on the homepage for the giveaways; the coupons are at Ttownmoms.com/coupons. Check out the play dates, too - most of those are free ways to get together with other parents and to let the kids run wild in controlled, constructive environments.
Web sites of local businesses. Love Weber's Superior Root Beer? Then you'll love the coupons for root beer, burgers and more on the Weber's Web site. Look also at Purple Glaze (a decorate-your-own ceramics studio that's a local kids' favorite), Homeland Stores, Mazzio's Italian Eatery and more.
E-mail newsletters of local businesses. Joe Momma's Downtown, Blue Jackalope Coffee & Grocery, Reasor's, Sage Culinary Studio, Tulsa Performing Arts Center, The Melting Pot and Dilly Deli come to mind - I especially love the Dilly Deli/McNellie's newsletter because owner Elliot Nelson asks customers to do top-secret stuff like mystery shop his restaurants (for pay!) and try food at his new restaurants. Sign up for the birthday clubs at local businesses, too - I scored free ice cream from Sonic Drive-In, a free chocolate fondue from The Melting Pot, free breakfast at First Watch (not locally based, I know, but there's a location here in Tulsa), a free entree at Cosmo Cafe and 1/2 off at Mimi's Cafe. Not bad, not bad.
Local events and pamphlets. Lots of times Tulsans can find freebies, coupons and discounts at events, particularly those that target a specific demographic - moms, parents, kids and the like. The accompanying pamphlets are funded by ads, and some of them feature a coupon or a discount or five. Check 'em out.
Bills and e-mails from local service providers. In my September Cox Communications bill I scored not just two $2 coupons to Tulsa State Fair 2009 (which were extra-awesome on Two-for-Tuesday), but also a BOGO coupon for Tulsa Zoo's 20th annual Hallowzooeen. Just goes to show, it literally pays to read the mail.
Text groups, focus groups and Facebook pages. Want hot deals on some of the best sushi in town? Text itr to 74700 to the folks at In the Raw Sushi for special offers, free stuff and a chance to win a $200 gift card. Next, hop on Facebook and find Trula Restaurant & Bar, the brand-spankin'-new restaurant in the ground floor of the Mayo Hotel and fan that sucker. Deals and discounts should start flowing regularly very, very soon. Then, text the word "bru" to 74700 for a chance to win $100, courtesy of The Bru House on Brookside. After that, sign up for QuikTrip's Web team survey group, where each month the QT obsessed can answer a few quick questions in exchange for some yummy QT fare. See? Your momma was wrong - smart phones and social media aren't just black holes of non-productivity.
Valpak.com. Not a locally run site, of course, but deals for Tulsa lovers are here in abundance. Plus, ValPak sends by mail bulging envelopes of coupons, both local and not, frequently enough to keep me and mine entertained and well-fed until the next envelope arrives. Found in recent ValPaks and ValPak.com: Merritt's Bakery. Eaton Square 6 Cinemas. Desi Wok. Te Kei's Chinese/Asian Kitchen. Super Saver Cinema. 71st Street Depot. Heck, yes.
Restaurant.com. Yeah, it's another one of those mega-sites, but plenty of great deals at local restaurants are to be had there. I often buy the $25 gift certificates to Kilkenny's Irish Pub (yes, y'all, it's still open), White Owl Pub and Hibiscus Caribbean Bar & Grill from Restaurant.com, especially when they're 80 percent off ($2 for a gift certificate worth $25? Yes, please). It's not a gimmick, folks - I've tried it many times, and it's always been a great way to dine out at Tulsa's independent restaurants for less.
918 Coupon Queen Blog. This woman, Sarah Roe, is in no uncertain terms a coupon maniac, and everyone in Tulsa is surely glad she is. Hit her site for deals on everything from mayonnaise to allergy-friendly foods to meal deals, all from everywhere from Reasor's to National Steak and Poultry to Cosi. Plus, her site is swimming with contests and, like here at TDT, your odds are pretty darned good as long as you take the sliver of time it takes to enter and, well, enter.
Want more specifics? Here are a few of the deals I've found within the past week:
Urban Tulsa Weekly, Vol. 19, No. 18
- $5 off a ride wristband at Tulsa State Fair 2009 (there's still time! It's open until 11pm tonight), pg. 6
- 10% off a starter kit at High Gravity Homebrewing & Winemaking Supplies (!), pg. 22
- Buy 1 lunch combi, get 1 at 1/2 price at La Hacienda (seriously good chiles rellenos, folks), pg. 25
- BOGO Sweet & Sour Chicken at Golden Gate Chinese Cuisine, pg. 26
- Free appetizer with purchase of any two adult entrees and two beverages at Desi Wok (home of the best Indian/Asian cuisine in town, according to many, many Tulsans), pg. 26
- BOGO Tattoo Goo at Tulsa Body Jewelry, pg. 38
- Upwards of $10 off at some of Tulsa's most-talked-about massage parlors (tee-hee!), pg. 61
- Free haircut with purchase of hair color at Sandalwood Day Spa & Salon, pg. 62
Tulsa Kids, Oct. 2009
- 1/2 off any regular priced item of ladies clothing at Goodwill Tulsa, pg. 10.
- One month free at Apollo's Karate with purchase of a $49 uniform, pg. 13.
- $50 off diagnostic testing at Huntington Learning Center, pg. 13.
- 25% off at Pictures Plus, pg. 19.
- Free trial class at The Little Gym, pg. 19
- 50% off the skills assessment test at Sylvan, pg. 27
- 10% off at Indigo Joes, pg. 31
- $1 off admission with a canned food donation at Psycho Path, A Haunted Adventure, pg. 43
- Free sandwich at Tulsa's beloved hometown convenience store chain, QuikTrip
- 10% off your first purchase at Loops, A Yarn Store, in Utica Square, as found in Indie Emporium 2009 brochure
- 40% off selected Alessi at Dwelling Spaces, downtown at 119 S. Detroit Ave.
- All men's and women's basic t-shirts marked down 30% at Rainbow Swirlz (from which I purchased this little number yesterday at Indie Emporium). Hurry! Sale ends tonight.
- Free appetizer of fried plantains at Hibiscus Caribbean Bar & Grill
- Free appetizer and a free hour of pool at Magoo's Restaurant and Billiards
- $10 off all body piercing (!) at Culture Shock, 12th and Memorial
- For you feisty quilters out there (me included), a free fat quarter from The Little Quilt Shop in Sand Springs.
Didn't see your favorite local business mentioned anywhere in this post? First, if that business does offer coupons and I've missed them, let me know and I'll add them here.
If that business doesn't offer coupons, here's what I suggest: Call the biz and suggest they start offering discounts and coupons on their Web site, in their ads or in their customer e-newsletter. Explain that you, your friends and family would be more likely to patronize their business even more often if you had clippable encouragement. Be really, super nice and, hopefully for all of us, you'll get your way.
With plenty of your help, I'll post a list here at TDT of the best of the active local deals and coupons each Sunday evening from now on.
So, after you hit up Red Plum and SmartSource in the Sunday edition of Tulsa World and The Oklahoman, Sarah Roe (Tulsa's very own 918 Coupon Queen), Alicia Herrington (the one and only Penny Princess at Ttownmoms.com) and your other favorite coupon sites, be sure to stop by TDT for the scoop on entertainment coupons, discounts and freebies from your favorite places right here in T-Town, the best city ever.