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Avoid the Love Fest Markup

I Love You--Frugal Style.

Valentine’s Day, the annual tradition of expressing your love with dollar signs, is just around the corner. Sure, we could all make our honeys homemade valentines out of doilies and five-course gourmet feasts, but if you’re not crafty or kitchen-inclined, chances are you’re procrastinating (ahem, men) and now scouting for the basics: Cards, chocolates, flowers and entertainment.

Luckily, even with the ridiculous love fest markup, deals can be had if you’re willing to travel off the beaten path. How much is that 28 carat diamond bracelet in the window? Who cares.

Forget Hallmark

At least 160 million greeting cards will be purchased in the U.S. this Valentine’s Day, according to the Greeting Card Association, with the average price per card topping $2.75. Clearly, they haven’t heard of Dollar Tree. At the discount chain’s 5244 Memorial Drive location in Stone Mountain, you can snag two Valentine’s Day cards for $1. The selection is not as extensive as you would find at a specialty card shop or drugstore, but for that price you can ask all the neighbors on your block to “be mine.”

Belgian Chocolates and a Side of Lawn Art

Forrest Gump’s famous line: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get,” couldn’t be more apropos when you’re shopping at Marshalls. Did you know that the discount retailer, famous for selling off-season brand names, also has a gourmet food section? It’s tucked in the back of the store near the picture frames and bloated vases. Better yet, the location at 5370 Stone Mountain Highway in Stone Mountain has several shelves of fancy boxed chocolates, candies, marzipan and truffles on clearance this week. On Wednesday, I found at least 20 bags of Ghirardelli milk chocolate and peanut butter squares for $2 each, scattered boxes of dark chocolate cherries and milk chocolate caramels for $6.50 each and a giant tin of Belgian hand-dipped Oreos for $13.

I think we all have a story of that cheapo ex-boyfriend who bought us disgusting, aged candy for Valentine’s Day (or maybe that's just me). So, I decided to take one for the team and buy a chocolate bar on sale at Marshalls to see if it was past its prime. I’ll let the empty wrapper speak for itself.

A Rose by Any Other Name Wouldn’t Be So Expensive          

I’m always amazed at how florists can get away with jacking up the price of roses come Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, etc. I was all excited to tell you about the best-kept secret in roses — Costco — until I found out that the warehouse club doubles its price on roses in February. For example, a bouquet of two dozen roses normally costs $15.99 at Costco and they last FOREVER. Sadly, Costco Perimeter’s floral manager, Tina Willis, told me this week that the special Valentine’s Day price is $15.79 per dozen roses in any color. Valentine’s Day-themed mixed bouquets of 18 stems, featuring flowers like hydrangeas, lilies, roses and greenery, are $14.99 each. Still, that’s a bargain compared to the $64.99 price tag for a dozen roses quoted to me by Hall's Flower Shop and Garden Center in Stone Mountain. To take advantage of Costco’s prices, you need to be a member or tag along with a member. Costco’s Perimeter location at 6350 Peachtree Dunwoody Road in Atlanta sells the most flowers of any Costco in the world, said Willis, who insisted that the store will continue to replenish flowers throughout the day on Feb. 14.

Get your Skate or Spoken Word On

Get ready for the cheapest V-Day date ever (besides staying in, of course). This year, Valentine’s Day happens to coincide with All American Skating Center’s “bailout Mondays,” where admission is $1 per person and pizza, popcorn and drinks are $1 each after 9 p.m. The rink is located at 5400 Bermuda Road in Stone Mountain.

If you’d prefer to publicly serenade your sweetie with a love poem (major points!) head over to Apache Café, 64 3rd Street N.W. in Atlanta, for a valentine-themed spoken word, music and poetry open mic on Sunday, Feb. 13. Doors open at 7 p.m. and admission is $10 per person for ages 21 and up. Just be sure to come up with something more inventive than “roses are red; violets are blue…”

Deal Detective: A Week of Cheap Thrills in Stone Mountain-Redan

• Regal Cinemas, with locations throughout metro Atlanta, is offering a free drink with popcorn purchase from Feb. 11 to 13. Get the coupon at http://wildfireapp.com/website/6/contests/95304.

• Get $5 off your $25 or more dinner bill at Jade Dragon, 4230 Lawrenceville Highway N.W. in Lilburn, through April 30. Get the deal at http://www.valpak.com/coupons/display/Jade-Dragon/Stone+Mountain/GA/980155/978689.

To send us a hot deal for consideration (at least one week before its expiration date), e-mail margie@margiereports.com.

Amberr Meadows February 12, 2011 at 01:43 AM
Good stuff!

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