Joanie Demer | 

Sorry, Bed Bath & Beyond, but Coupons Don't Kill Companies

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I still remember the stainless steel double-decker rotating spice rack from my wedding registry. It was one of many must-haves that led me to create my registry at Bed Bath & Beyond — the only place to register if you were anyone in my peer group in the early 2000s.

It was around that time Adam Sandler made that movie with Christopher Walken where a magic remote control took him through an ordinary Bed Bath & Beyond into a backroom store-within-the-store called ‘Beyond’ and ‘Way Beyond’. That was where the odd Inception-meets-A Christmas Carol storyline unfolds.

Bed Bath & Beyond was having its moment.

And so was its blue 20% off coupon (which famously still worked, even after its expiration date). The coupon had been a staple part of the company’s identity since the 1990’s and after a brief and unsuccessful attempt to roll it back in 2020 (bad timing maybe?), turned out to be a non-negotiable for Bed Bath & Beyond shoppers.

A Bed Bath and Beyond coupon in front of a Kitchenaid

This past Sunday, Bed Bath & Beyond announced to customers via email that it was closing its doors for good after years of struggle. Shoppers were given two days to use their coupons or lose them for good before liquidation begins on Wednesday.

News outlets writing about the bankruptcy today quoted experts declaring the coupon as the company’s downfall. ‘Margins were too small and customers expected to never pay full price, thus an unwinnable business model.’

I call B.S.

Amazon Subscribe & Save gives shoppers a 15-20% discount on basically every item they order at regular intervals every day.

Target releases new gift card promotions every Sunday, most of which give shoppers a $5 gift card for a $25 purchase (a 20% discount).

Over a hundred days a year at Kohl’s, you’ll earn Kohl’s Cash at a rate of $10 on every $50 purchase. . . (another 20% discount).

There are healthy businesses that offer discounts shoppers rely on and expect. (And I wouldn’t be the Krazy Coupon Lady if I didn’t point out that in each example above, 20% is just the beginning of what you can save when you consider additional available coupons for those willing to put in just that extra bit of effort to save even more.)

Sure, there are lots of headlines about coupons going away: newspaper coupons, the much-loved Hobby Lobby and Michaels coupons to name a few. But there are just as many new ways to save.

Even the historically anti-coupon curmudgeon Walmart brought instant rebates into its app this year. Coupons, even if sometimes referred to by another name, are alive and well inside the strongest retailers in the country.

While I’m sad to see Bed Bath & Beyond go… (the more retailers the better in my opinion). I can’t bemoan the store too dramatically. As I told the New York Times today, I haven’t shopped there in years. The prices were so high, the 20% discount didn’t even make a dent.

Bed Bath & Beyond succumbed to the internet and to lack-of-innovation. They weren’t a coupon casualty.

Discounts will always be a part of how stores and brands attract customers. From there, it’s up to those stores and brands to create an experience we’re willing to pay full price for.

So, get over to Bed Bath & Beyond today if you must, but liquidation starts Wednesday and I’m aiming for savings WAY over 20%.

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