Bay Area Daily Deal Sites

I wrote the entry below on July 16, 2011.  Four years later most of the daily deal sites have disappeared; sometimes their domains have been bought by others.  The deals are no longer daily either, they now remain for days, weeks or months at a time.  Still, a couple of other sites have been added to the survivors, and there are some good deals to be had. Here are the ones I use:

Amazon Local

Similar variety of offerings than Groupon, but fewer offers.

Groupon

The site that started it all

Travel Zoo

It often has flash listings for nice restaurants.

Still Around but Barely

Living Social: It’s still going but seems to specialize in getaway and shares many of its local listings with Groupon.

Gilt City: barely any listings for San Francisco

Plumdistrict: few for San Francisco, even fewer for the East Bay

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I have to admit that I was a very late adopter of Groupon and other Daily Deal sites. I had checked out Groupon early, but as most of their deals were in San Francisco I had paid it no mind. But a little while ago I came across these sort of sites again and realized that many now have offering for the East Bay and even San Leandro. It’s also amazing just how many daily deal sites there are out there that cover the Bay Area, though East Bay deals are less common, there are still quite a few of them. Here are the sites I’ve found. If you know of others, let me know. And if you know of a service that aggregates all the deals into one daily e-mail, please let me know as well. You can see many (but not all) daily deals at Savvy Cities.

Groupon

Got Daily Deals

SFGate Daily Deals

Google Offers

Living Social

Buy With Me (now Gilt City)

Mamasource – children & mom oriented stuff

Bloomspot – travel, food & relaxation

Juice in the City

Plumdistrict

Goldstar – Event tickets

Pillow Puffs kit reviews

I was pretty lucky and a couple of people subscribed to the Darby Smart craft subscription box after seeing my last review. This meant that I got a $15 credit from Darby Smart which I used to buy these pillow puffs kits. Camila, my 10-yo, is very much into foxes this year, and I’m a huge elephant fan, so this had us both covered. Darby Smart offers free shipping and the kits arrived to my home in California a couple of days after I ordered them. They are $8 each and one or two would make a great birthday present.

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These kits allow to make two small stuffed animals without having to sew them.  They are not really stuffed animals of the kind you hug, they are best for decoration, but they are extremely cute.  Making them was quick and rather fun for my daughter.

Each kit includes two pre-cut and pre-printed pieces of felt, some sticky pre-cut felt pieces, stuffing, three glitter glues and a few decorations.  The instructions are common to all pillow puffs kits, but they have you do things in the wrong order.  In fact, you should decorate the top animal piece first, following the example on the box, and only after it’s done and dry you should add the stuffing and glue it to the back side.  Otherwise you are working to decorate an uneven surface.

The first kit we tried was the fox and, unfortunately, the printing on the top felt of piece was tilted.  That meant that she couldn’t decorate it to match the picture on the box.  If you take a look at the finished fox in the bottom picture, you can see how only part of his left eyebrow is shown.  My daughter was very frustrated about this, but the finished product was cute enough.  The elephant was printed correctly.

All of the felt pieces, including the animal pieces, are sticky – all you have to do is peel the backing paper and stick them to one another.  The decorative pieces (e.g. the feet of the fox) stayed put pretty well, but the edges of the fox and elephant came apart rather quickly:

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The glue just wasn’t sticky enough to make up for the push from the stuffing.  My daughter chose to glue them using a glue gun, which was not the tidiest of choices.  However, she loves using the glue gun and it worked quite well.  Regular glue might have worked as well and, of course, they can also be sewn.

All in all, this was a fun project and my daughter finished both in an hour.

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Love Toast Shower Crème – Review

lovetoastI got a couple of  Love & Toast  body washes (or, as the bottle calls them, shower crèmes) at Grocery Outlet, as they were on sale for $2 for the the 8.2 fl oz bottle.  Usually, they retail for around $12!

The reason is that in addition to a bunch of unpronounceable chemicals, they have a bunch of natural oils and extracts.  Dew Blossom, for example, has minute amounts of pollen, honeysuckle, apricot, and matricaria extracts.   They also don’t have parabens and other things that may be bad for you.

As a body wash, they seem to work pretty well.  They have a nice lather and a good, neither too thick or thin consistency.  The bottle could be a little easier to squeeze, but it’s attractive and takes little room.

So far, Ive used the Dew Blossom and the Salt & Sea.  A reviewer described Dew Blossom as smelling like play-dough, and I can actually understand the comparison.  It’s basically a powdery, sweetish scent.  It reminds me of the perfumed powder my grandmother might have had, but it’s very light.  Salt & Sea smells of citrus and salt.  Basically, like a margarita would smell.  It’s a little bit strange because you don’t necessarily feel like you are cleaning yourself, when you  smell salty, but overall I like it.  I probably wouldn’t get more dew blossom, but might get another bottle of salt & sea.

I haven’t tried the body lotions, also available at Grocery Outlet for $2, but I might get one today before they are all gone. Update: I smelled the lotions, they’re all too citrusy for me.

A Little Secret: Shoplifters Can Ignore Exit Alarms

but they debase honest shoppers as well as our freedom

I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading on shoplifting ever since my Assemblywoman, Mary Hayashi, was arrested and then convicted for stealing over $2,445  in merchandize from Neiman Marcus.  I wanted to understand what made her do it, and at some point I will write about it.

But in researching shoplifting techniques, I found quite a few threads about the electronic/magnetic anti-theft tags that are now put on products of all kinds, from books to electronics (though items of clothing use a different kind).  There are actually several types of these, some hidden within the products.   They are made so that they will be detected by sensors near the exit, which will be if the tag is activated.   When you purchase the product, the checker deactivates it to avoid the beeping.  Shoplifters, as you can expect, try to remove these tags and avoid the beep.  They shouldn’t bother.

The problem with these systems is that they are not sophisticated.  They are often, if not always, calibrated in a way that is not exclusive to the tags used by a given store – so they will be beep if you pass the sensors with an active tag from a product that you bought elsewhere.  Moreover, the deactivation process doesn’t always work, so the sensors may beep when you go by with a product you have actually purchased.  Stores know this, and while they may request patrons to stop (though this is rare), they won’t force the issue.  What generally happens is that the honest shoppers (and inexperienced shoplifters) will stop to have their bags searched.

It may be that these devices deter shoplifting by incompetent shoplifters (which may be a good thing if it stops potential shoplifters from trying it in the first place), but they also present an inconvenience to shoppers.  For one, the implication is that all shoppers may be shoplifters, a “guilty until proven innocent” philosophy which is both baseless and dangerous in what should be a free society.  For another, it embarrasses honest shoppers publicly, as many people do interpret the “beep” as evidence of shoplifting.  Moreover, it makes shoppers waste time.  Needless to say, I disapprove of these devices just as much as of having “greeters” demand to see your receipt and bags when you exit a store.  I’m writing this article to let you know that you too, my honest reader, can just ignore them.

I have a friend that has the same philosophy but is a little more daring than I.  He took one of these devices that had not been deactivated and placed it in his wallet.  Pretty much every time he goes into and out of a store the device makes the sensors beep.  Sometimes he getslooks from the sellers or guards, but never once has he been stopped.  Stopping him, after all, might make the store liable for a claim of false imprisonment.  While stores have a “merchant privilege” of stopping you if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that you have stolen something, the sensors have too many false-positives to make any suspicion reasonable.

There is actually a protocol that merchants should follow to support actual arrests and convictions for shoplifting and avoid false arrest charges.  Neiman Marcus loss prevention agents followed this protocol to the letter when they detained Mary Hayashi.  As there was no question that she had shoplifted, she plead guilty to a misdemeanor to avoid a felony conviction.  She got a slap on the wrist for doing it, though, and she still may be able to salvage her political career: she’s currently running for Alameda County Supervisor.