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Students save with Groupon discounts

Marisa Iati | Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Students are exploring local businesses and saving money using Groupon, a collective buying website that offers discounts.

Groupon offers discounts for local services ranging from 50 to 90 percent off, Kelsey O’Neill, a spokeswoman for Groupon, said.

“We drive new business and revenue to local merchants while providing customers with deep discounts on new ways to explore their city,” she said.

Sophomore Michelle Yanik began using Groupon last year in her hometown of Raleigh, N.C., and now subscribes to the South Bend offers. She has purchased Groupon deals for local businesses, including Chicory Café and Salon Rouge as well as franchises like Barnes & Noble and Moosejaw.

“Groupons do a great job of promoting local independent businesses,” Yanik said. “It allows people to discover new restaurants and shops in their own community, and from what I’ve read, it’s also a cheap form of advertising for the business.”

Recent Groupon deals in the South Bend area have included Italian cuisine and salon, paintball and tanning services, O’Neill said.

Sophomore Patty Walsh said Groupon has introduced her to businesses she hadn’t tried before, such as Indulgence Pastry Shop & Café in South Bend.

“[Groupon] gives me an excuse to eat off campus more because if I have a coupon I’m more likely to go, and I think I’m getting more use for my money because [I’m] getting deals,” Walsh said. “For example, when [my friends and I] went to Indulgence, we paid $7, but we got $15 worth of food.”

Groupon offers one deal every day, and each deal is available for 24 hours. Customers can sign up on groupon.com to receive daily e-mails specifying that day’s deal, O’Neill said.

“The collective buying concept comes into play because each deal has a tipping point — a minimum number of users that are needed to activate the deal and make it officially ‘on,'” she said. “We encourage users to spread the word about deals via e-mail, Facebook [and] Twitter so all can enjoy.”

Sophomore Charlie O’Leary said he likes that Groupon deals are easy to purchase.

“They send the deals from South Bend right to my e-mail, so I know they’re applicable to me, and all it takes to buy one is a few clicks,” O’Leary said.

O’Leary said he also uses an iPod application for Groupon. The application allows users to visit Groupon’s mobile website and use a given code to purchase deals.

Customers can also visit the website or follow their cities’ Facebook or Twitter pages to see local deals, O’Neill said.

Walsh said Groupon rewards users for recommending deals to other people.

“Groupon has a thing where if you recommend it, you get money back, so the more people I send it to, the more I can benefit,” Walsh said. “If I send them an e-mail and they click on the link, then it bounces back to me, so that’s pretty great.”

Yanik, Walsh and O’Leary said Groupon benefits college students.

“I think Groupons are great for college students living on a budget, especially ones that [are] offered from restaurants,” Yanik said. “Restaurants usually don’t have an equivalent of a store sale. However, with Groupons, you can get that same satisfaction of a great deal.”

Groupon is comparable to its competitors, such as Living Social, O’Leary said.

“I think it’s an equally good service. The idea of having the online gift card that’s accessible and specific to my geographic area is really special,” O’Leary said.

Walsh said she’s grateful for the excuse to escape dining on campus.

“As somebody who doesn’t appreciate the magic of the Notre Dame food system, I definitely appreciate [Groupon],” Walsh said.

There are currently over 30,000 Groupon users in the South Bend area, including Notre Dame students.

O’Neill said Groupon was launched in Chicago in November 2008 and expanded to South Bend in January.