Sunday, December 30, 2007

Gift Cards

Geek with a .45 hates them, likening the gift card to giving someone foreign currency. On the other hand, Billy Hollis at QandO and myself (and the rest of America) gave them as presents. Why? Because this year people in my family specifically asked for them. Foreign currency? If you keep with that analogy, wouldn't real gifts be some type of barter system?

The key with gift cards is to treat them like gifts not like they're cash. Make sure you buy someone a gift card to somewhere they shop. Do not buy them one from somewhere you shop. For that matter if you're mailing it to someone out of town, make sure they have that store within convenient shopping distance. My sister gave my wife and I several gift cards to Trader Joes. It's a wonderful establishment and I'm sure my sister loves it, but the nearest one is 30 minutes of highway from us and we never shop there anyway. Amy's Grandmother gave me a gift card to Books-A-Million for Hanukkah a couple years ago. The nearest BAM is on the other side of Baltimore so spending it was problematic.

And despite what they say at Geek's, cash is a horrible gift. It generally says "I didn't spend any effort buying this gift." In comparison, a gift card says "I bet you like to shop here, buy yourself something on me." I've given someone cash once in recent memory. I thought they might have a better use for cash than an extravagant item, because the recipient had just been laid off. Looking back, it was probably a crappy present and I should have just bought him something nice.

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