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Upside to down economy: stores really want us

One positive aspect that came from the failing economy is that stores are competing for our business. One way they are doing that is by matching competitors' prices.

For that reason, when you go into a retailer it is good to know the store's policy about price matching. Many stores will match an ad price only from another local retailer; some include prices found online. Learn the store's policy to get the best deal you can.

Below are some major retailers' policies. There are few things that are standard for price-matching policies:

■ The advertised product must be identical to the one you are buying.

■ You must show proof of the competitor's price, usually by bringing in a physical copy of the ad or, in the case of online prices, a printout of the price.

■ The price you want to match must be current.

■ Some stores exclude some products from their price-matching program.

Target: The chain has a special policy for the holidays. From Nov. 1 to Dec. 16, Target will match the prices found at select online retailers, including Walmart.com, Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, ToysRUs.com and BabiesRUs.com. To qualify, show the online price using your smartphone or a printout of the price. Also, the policy has been extended to Dec. 24 for competitors' printed ads and prices at Target.com, which are sometimes lower than what you find in stores. Read the policy at Bit.ly/S0Pshn.

Walmart: Read the policy at Bit.ly/TnTbFb.

Best Buy: The retailer's policy is fairly standard but includes only select online retailers. Read the policy at Bit.ly/P8cJxg

Toys R Us and Babies R Us: Read the policy at Bit.ly/PrAbae

Deals

■ Visit any participating Krispy Kreme wearing a costume on Halloween, Wednesday, and you get a free Halloween or pumpkin spice doughnut. No purchase necessary. Bit.ly/thn9rF.

■ Download a coupon for a free kids meal at Bob Evans with purchase of any adult entree when your kids wear their costume. Good through Wednesday. Bit.ly/P8fA9r.

■ Get 10 free holiday cards from Inkgarden.com when you enter the promotional code "WinterCards" at checkout; you will still have to pay shipping charges. Get 40 percent off the rest of your order with promotional code "Cards40."

■ In November, get free sitting fees, a free 8-by-10 photo and a free digital copy emailed to you from JCPenney Portrait Studio. Bit.ly/SRUGba.

■ Buy any three Mars chocolate products (8.5 ounces or larger) in one transaction and get a $10 gift certificate to NFLShop.com by mail. Get the form at Bit.ly/TEt8WX.

■ Olive Garden is offering a new promotion. For $12.95 you can get one of five meals to eat in the restaurant plus get one entree to take home. Olivegarden.com.

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