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A Tale of Two Blinkies...

Posted by on Apr. 3, 2013 at 2:21 PM
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A Tale of Two Blinkies...

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." - Charles Dickens

Let me tell you a little story about point-of-purchase coupons that appear in dispensers near various products at the supermarket. Couponers have long referred to these coupons as "Blinkies," because the dispenser has a small red LED on the side blinking and beckoning to the shopper.

For as long as I can remember, the Blinkie dispensers have been maintained by SmartSource. They actually call them SmartSource Coupon Machines, and if you've ever pulled a coupon out of a dispenser in a store aisle, you've seen and used one.

In Chicagoland, SmartSource Blinkie dispensers have always been found at both Jewel and Dominick's, the two major grocers in this area. However, Jewel recently made a significant change to their point-of-purchase coupon dispensers, and they are no longer contracting with SmartSource to place coupon dispensers in their stores. In the middle of June, the SmartSource coupon dispensers quietly disappeared -- perhaps you noticed.

In their places, we have new coupon dispensers maintained by Valassis (RedPlum.) The new dispensers look somewhat similar to the old ones, but unlike the SmartSource Coupon Machine, they do not dispense a certain amount of coupons to a user. The SmartSource coupon machine actually has an electric eye and won't dispense more than two unless you move away from the machine and reapproach it as "someone else." With the Valassis dispenser, there's simply a slot in which you can stick your finger in and pull out as many coupons as you'd like. This can be good and bad. Good that you can get multiples easily if you need them -- bad in that the dispensers will clear out much more quickly. Also notable? The Valassis dispensers don't have a blinking light on them. (Will we still call them "Blinkies?")

As for the coupons themselves, they don't look terribly different -- they're still Manufacturer coupons. However, it will be interesting to see what kinds of products we're offered coupons for, as the products that advertise with Valassis have traditionally been different than the ones that advertise with SmartSource. Will we lose point-of-purchase coupons for General Mills, Kraft, Yoplait and Pillsbury at Jewel? Quite likely.

Dominick's continues to be serviced by SmartSource, adding a new element to the shopping and coupon-seeking game -- and the deal-making game too. I can already foresee deal posts that begin, "Grab two $1-off-2 Cinnamon Toast Crunch Blinkies at Dominick's, and then use them at Jewel, where General Mills cereals are part of a $25/$10 Catalina." If anything, consider this a reminder to keep your eyes open when shopping at either store, as the coupons in their respective dispensers are now going to be very different -- and yet, with both being manufacturer coupons, we won't necessarily be using them at the same store in which we picked them up.

So, back to the often-quoted first line of a famous book, and also the opener of this post - "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.": The best? We have more point-of-purchase coupons available, potentially for different products, than we have in the past. The worst? We have to do much more legwork to chase them all.

by on Apr. 3, 2013 at 2:21 PM
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workathome1
by COUPON DIVA on Apr. 5, 2013 at 12:55 PM

 Good to know

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