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Jacob Passy | A Bit Off

Groupon gift groupie

Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2012 07:11

It’s undeniably that time of year, folks. The time when all you want to do is shop. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and everywhere you go there are ads touting the latest deals for holiday shopping. Whether or not you celebrate a holiday this time of year, it’s almost impossible to avoid the pressure to buy and buy.

But let’s face it: As college students, we barely have enough time to even think of a gift to give someone, let alone go out and buy it. It doesn’t help that finals are regrettably right around the corner.

The other day, when I was clearing my inbox of the holiday−fueled spam hawking the latest reduction in prices, I paused looking at one email — the daily Groupon email. If you’re like me, when you get these emails, they almost automatically find their way into the trash folder.

You probably signed up for the email updates when you heard about that one great deal for that place you always go to. I mean, who doesn’t want a 51 percent discount at Diva Indian Bistro? As you quickly discover, though, nine times out of 10 the deals that day will be for places you’ve never heard of.

So when I saw this email and was thinking of my holiday gift list, it hit me. Groupons make the perfect holiday gift. That’s because when you give someone a Groupon, you’re giving him or her a chance to explore.

Seriously, if you go to the website you’ll learn about tons of different places you’ve never heard of. True, many of the deals on the site are for your run−of−the−mill acupuncturists or nail salons. But if you take the time to sift through the deals that are available, you can find some really neat places. For instance, take The Book Shop in Ball Square. Now, when you generally think of the business in this square, you think of food, like Sound Bites or Lyndell’s or True Grounds.

But there’s more to this square than meets the eye, and I never would have considered that had I not seen the deal the used bookstore is featuring on Groupon right now. For $15, you can get $30 worth of merchandise at the store. And with books costing as low as $2.99, that’s a pretty nice deal.

For me, though, Groupon is not just about the deal. It’s about finding an affordable excuse to go exploring. As I’ve learned this semester, it’s hard to gather the motivation to root out these largely unseen local establishments, and it can be a bit pricey on top of that.

Plus, you’re not always guaranteed to find a new place that you like. I’ll put it this way — some of these lesser−known destinations should probably stay that way.

The ease and affordability that Groupon provides is priceless. It helps you to find these places, but also prevents you from spending an arm and a leg for what may not be a great time. I don’t want to detract from your enjoyment of your Groupon gift, but I can’t vouch for every single business that uses the service.

So while every place you visit with one of these coupons may not be the best, you may be lucky enough to find your next favorite thing — to take an idea from Oprah.

Okay, I admit that it may be a bit weird to give a Groupon as a gift to someone else. Instead, let this be your holiday season gift to yourself. And at the end of the day, if it’s getting you off campus and helping you to explore the world around Tufts, how bad could a gift like that really be?

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Jacob Passy is a senior majoring in international relations. He can be reached at Jacob.Passy@tufts.edu.

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