Hallmark Keepsake Christmas Ornaments & Website Issues

I have been a Hallmark Keepsake Christmas Ornament fan since the late 1980’s when we discovered them. I was in Jr high at the time and the thought that a Christmas tree ornament could commemorate anything you want it to was liberating and fun. We ended up buying several ornaments each year until we had a full Christmas tree of just Hallmark Ornaments and white lights. We still buy hallmark keepsake ornaments every Christmas if they continue the series that we like. The classic cars, classic trucks and classic historic airplanes are three that my brother collects. He is determined to have a transportation only tree at some point, and after 15 years he is getting close to that. My mom and I prefer more winter and holiday themed ornaments and have bought some of the light and magic hallmark Christmas ornaments over the years.

This year might be the one exception to the rule, and it is mostly Hallmark’s fault. For some reason they don’t carry hallmark Christmas ornaments at Jewel food stores anymore. Maybe they aren’t as popular anymore? Maybe people have gotten tired of collecting them? Anyway there are also no Hallmark stores in downtown Chicago where I work and none in Oak Park where I live. So, trekking out to get these is getting more complicated. I wanted to order them on the Hallmark Website and in addition to the site being horribly organized and impossible to finding things THEY DON”T EVEN SELL THEM ONLINE!!! (what kind of organization system classifies ornaments by which series is starting and ending when everyone else just knows them by the cars theme? or their subject matter)  WTF? Why wouldn’t a site like Hallmark have an ecommerce site? After all they have done to promote their brand they use the website just to drive people to an offline store? Have they learned nothing about the Internet since 1996??

I am an internet marketer so this is my business to know how people use the internet and what they want, and I can tell you for sure they do not want to have to shut off the computer, find their car keys and drive an hour to a flipping store. It is called point and click buying and last year more than 31 BILLION dollars were projected to get exchanged for goods online at Christmas. Why would Hallmark not want a piece of the pie? I think old people making risk averse decisions like this for a large company (who don’t know how or want to spend money to develop a website) end up screwing the company in the long run as they totally alienate the younger demographic. I can’t see the myspace or facebook generation being lured to a store to buy something when they twitter that they have to go to the bathroom online. I wish Hallmark would wake up and smell the propane and get with the way real people do business and shopping online.

National Marketing Email Unsubscribe Day September 1st on Labor Day

Get your life back (and time) from your inbox. Unsubscribe from email newsletters and marketing messages on Labor Day September 1st.

I am proposing that everyone take (an hour or so of) time on Labor Day to clean out your overloaded email boxes and unsubscribe to the emails you always delete or file to read and never come back to. If you have not read it in a month or longer or you delete the email newsletter or marketing messages every time you see them, just scroll down to the end of the email window and click the unsubscribe link.

I think that everyone has the best intentions when they subscribe to email newsletters and marketing messages. I have subscribedto a lot of them over the years and only this week did I finally get to my breaking point when hundreds of messages were commonplace after only a few days away from the computer. Most were from companies I had purchased things from in the past, social networking sites that send you an email every time something happens, blogs which send updates via feedblitz and news sites that send news and links as they happen. Oh and the ubiquitous google alert on anything I was a fan of or working on at that moment. There were also some marketing newsletters from publications that write about the industry that I work in but as time has gone on some were relevant and others, not so much. Sometimes you also have to subscribe to and email newsletter in order try it and see what info they send. If you get all kinds of stuff that isn’t helpful, it’s time to unsubscribe.

I am guessing I unsubscribed to around 100 email newsletters. Everything from travel sites with airfare updates to flights to Paris to the Anthropologie and Nordstrom sale newsletters. (I’m sad to see those go but I never buy anything there, too expensive) I aim to take back the 3-4 hours a week it took to weed through all these alerts and updates on everything from celebrity news to Chicago entertainment options. I still get some alerts and some emails I am actually using but we will see if I can weed it out further and regain another hour of my week back.

If you think about it, you only have so much free time after work and why would you want to be mildly entertained by marketing messages when you could be out living your life? Or writing your own email messages to real live humans.

Update: I went from 150 messages in a weekend and 100 messages a day to 45 messages in a weekend and about 40 messages per day in the email account that was in question. I still have another email account I have not completley pruned and my work email that also needs pruning but this is a start! Information overload and email overload have been taking place too long. I aim to get my time and life back.

Update: I just spent the last 2 months ignoring this email box after it was initially pruned. What happened? I got 2,000 email messages and had to spend my christmas vacation cleaning it out. I took about 3 hours on 12/20 and about 3 hours on 12/29 to read, skim, file, delete and unsubscribe through this list of 2,000 emails. I also had to change alerts to weekly from daily and reroute some newsletters that are useful to a new email address I use more often. I hope now that the box won’t need as much maintenance but as soon as I get the list down more marketers seem to get my address and start emailing me. Most of what I unsubscribed from today was newsletters I never signed up for in the first place. Some were others I had a hard time letting go of (Etsy and Chicago Mom’s Blog) but knew it wasn’t going to get read.

Are you going to unsubscribe to more emails in 2009?

Online Christmas Shopping Coupons

I have gotten most of my Christmas shopping done even though it is not even December yet. I was smart and got online and got things bought the easy way. (without standing in long lines and driving all over the place) I do like shopping online more that shopping in malls this time of year and it’s much more productive. Luckily there are also great sales online and coupon codes for even better deals. Coupon Chief has been a site I have used before that I like because it has coupon codes to stores I actually shop at. One I shop at for myself more than others is Old Navy. They have great deals to begin with and then with a discount it’s almost like you’re getting stuff for free. I also shop a lot at Target for gifts because they have something for everyone. I have been able to find sports stuff for my brother, small kitchen appliances for my mom and well my dad is impossible to shop for. Check them out if you are stuck for what to get your family and friends this Christmas. They might give you some good ideas.

Holiday Shopping Guide Online

This time of year everyone is looking for the best gifts to give and the best deals. It is hard to pick out stuff from crowded department stores and guess what people will like. There is a new blog I ran across called shoppingaddicted.com that reviews products and has some good suggestions for gifts this christmas. It would also be helpful for keeping up with what is new and hot in consumer electronics and some shopping web sites. It’s just gotten started so there isn’t a ton of information yet, but it looks promising. Check out the blog for more info.

WalMart Black Friday Sales & Cyber Monday Deals

walmart, sale, onlineI am starting to get more impressed with WalMart’s ability to change when they are under fire. They have a big article in TIME Magazine this week about revamping their stores and getting the selection tailored to the needs of each community and now I also read that they will be announcing all their sale items online for the Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday sales. (the day after thanksgiving is called black friday because retail stores’ P&L statements go from red to black for the year at that day with the burst of new shopping done. The next monday at work is also a popular day to buy online and it’s called Cyber Monday)

Also new this year is text updates on your cell phone. From mediapost: The site will reveal new items daily. Before the secret items become available, consumers who opt-in by texting the keyword “save” to 96278 (WMart) will get a text message back when Walmart.com reveals the product information on the site. Consumers will find Apple’s iPods and digital cameras from Casio, Cannon and Sony. Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s PlayStation 3, along with an assortment of games, are expected to sell well. There are big-ticket electronics, too, such as LCD TVs from Sony and Samsung and pocket-sized global positioning systems (GPS) from Garmin, Magellan, and tomtom.

This much online presence and change for customers and employees would have been unthinkable a few years ago. It was always the our way or the highway game with them. It is good to see that they will have more flexibility with people’s needs and maybe win some customers back. But now we have to get them to chat with us about that whole import everything from China where there aren’t the same saftey regulations as in the US thing.

Getting a good deal on a new computer

It’s always tought deciding which computer to buy and knowing what a good price is for the options you want. The last time I got a new computer I ended up shopping around for a while and then getting one built for me. I have noticed though that you can get a pretty good computer at a lot less than what I paid a year and a half ago. They can be really reasonable despite all the options. Discount computers are a lot more likley to be available also because the holidays are coming up. If you are looking to buy one soon you should subscribe to some email newsletters from the stores you might buy from. Many places send out email alerts about discounts to members before letting the general public know. Some places even have RSS feeds available that update with new offers throughout the day. This also helps you spot a good deal before anyone else. And lastly there are usually some local newspaper inserts that have discount coupons for some additional discounts from time to time. It’s good to keep your eye out for those as well. All these strategies should get you a good deal on your next computer.

Decorating Ideas

Ugh I have been dragged along on so many trips for home decorating and furniture buying that I am almost happy that I have old furniture now. It really has been a bit much. Yes crate and barrel (what does that name mean anyway?) Macys and John M SMithe’s stores are fun initially but then you really just want to stop battling Saturday afternoon crowds for parking spaces especially since the holidays are coming up. But my friend is still trying to furnish her new home. (heh they bought before the market crashed this fall)

I have to wonder though what makes a good furniture store? Not many of these stores seem to have a lot of buyers when we are there. And at those prices I can see why. How many sofas do they have to sell to make a profit? How many different ways can you twist up posts to make styles of brass and metal beds? Why won’t they listen to me when I suggest hillsdale furniture shopping online instead? Oy! Anyway I have resigned  myself to the fact that I won’t be able to sell my condo any time soon and get a new house or place so it’s just a bit much right now to be spending this much of my weekends shopping with her. I think its time for a new hobby.