I never walk into a store anticipating I’d ask for a discount, but I have become much more aware that many people are amenable to giving you one in the right circumstances.
It used to be that your status as a savvy shopper was predicated on whether you knew best how to wrangle every last mile, point, and freebie out of your credit cards. Now we’ve moved on to a more 21st century metric: how much you can make from promo codes.
I sat down stiffly and Miss Patricia immediately grabbed my cold hand, tracing lines. Someone was watching Spongebob Squarepants on the TV in the next room, which instantly destroyed any supernatural ambience. The first thing Miss Patricia said out loud was: “Who’s Michael?”
Our very own Jazmine Hughes is in the New Yorker magazine being brilliant about our secret fantasies as grown-ups, which have far less to do with sex than with work and money:
UNLIMITED TIME OFF FROM WORK FOR VARIOUS PRESSING MATTERS “Excuse me, boss?” you say, as you knock on an already open door, since your company believes in open-door policies, catered lunches, and summer Fridays. She—it has to be she, because you’ve always worked for a woman—looks genuinely happy to see you, and encourages you to take some freshly cut fruit, because you live in a place where harvests are bountiful. “Take as much as you want!” she says. “The harvests were bountiful!”
You don’t hesitate with your request. “I noticed this morning that I’m getting pretty behind on my issues of The Economist,” you say. This is not a lie. You regularly read The Economist, and you find typos every time, too. “Could I have a few days off to catch up?” Your boss gives you ten, and some more fruit. …
TRADER JOE’S PEANUT-BUTTER CUPS GO ON SALE “Marked down to $3.50? I better get two!”
A MEET-CUTE, WITH PERKS You’re walking down the street, furiously tapping away on the screen of your Latest Coolest Phone model, when you bump into an actual model, one not famous enough to place but well known enough that your nemesis, whom you haven’t seen since third grade and who walks by at this exact moment, does a double take. The model apologizes, and holds out his somehow muscular hand for a handshake. You two stand on the street and talk easily, like old friends or familiar neighbors who talk to each other only in the elevator, and he eloquently explains to you the difference between a traditional I.R.A. and a Roth I.R.A.
To this, I can only add, “free Diet Coke in the office,” “someone really old who lived a full, happy life dies and leaves me all their frequent flier miles,” and “Babygirl teaches herself to read, preferably while figuring out how to use and clean the potty, leaving me free to write novels and/or watch British miniseries.” Also maybe “waffles burn calories.”
Amazon wants you to win you back. In addition to a new Prime Music Streaming service and a deafening whisper campaign about the super secret mystery Kindle smartphone it might have up its sleeve, it is also launching Smile, a program that allows you to choose a charity the store will support. Thanks, guys! But wouldn’t it be easier to treat authors, publishers, and maybe even employees a little better?
Starbucks, another massive corporation that has gotten flak for taking over the world and putting the little guy out of business, is trying to drum up some goodwill of its own in a very unusual, but more direct, way: subsidizing undergraduate education.
Starbucks will provide a free online college education to thousands of its workers, without requiring that they remain with the company, through an unusual arrangement with Arizona State University, the company and the university will announce on Monday. The program is open to any of the company’s 135,000 United States employees, provided they work at least 20 hours a week and have the grades and test scores to gain admission to Arizona State. For a barista with at least two years of college credit, the company will pay full tuition; for those with fewer credits it will pay part of the cost, but even for many of them, courses will be free, with government and university aid. …
Many employers offer tuition reimbursement. But those programs usually come with limitations like the full cost not being paid, new employees being excluded, requiring that workers stay for years afterward, or limiting reimbursement to work-related courses. Starbucks is, in effect, inviting its workers, from the day they join the company, to study whatever they like, and then leave whenever they like — knowing that many of them, degrees in hand, will leave for better-paying jobs.
Investing in your employees as a business strategy happens to be good PR. Win-win-win. Is Bezos taking notes?
Help crowdsource funding for a bar and in return, get free beer for life. Crazy? CRAZY LIKE A FOX. The strategy worked brilliantly for Northbound Brewpub in Minneapolis:
Amy Johnson and her two business partners needed to raise $220,000 to secure a bank loan and fulfill their dream of opening a restaurant that served beer brewed right there at the pub. They went to investors who offered to give heavily for a voting share in the restaurant. But since the potential investors had no experience in the restaurant industry, the owners backed away.
And then came the idea from some friends and family who wanted to help out. “They were, like, ‘I’ve got a few grand, but I don’t have too much money,’ ” Johnson recalls. “And people kept saying this over and over, and we latched onto the idea. Why not just take a couple grand from everybody and then we’d have all the money we’d need?”