It’s hip to be thrifty - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

It’s hip to be thrifty

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Posted: Sunday, February 20, 2011 2:00 pm | Updated: 10:41 am, Wed Jun 6, 2012.

It isn't often a CEO's business card title reads, "Cheapskate." According to Lily Wang, co-owner of the penny pinchers, frugality is downright hip. Her Internet-based business, www.the-penny-pinchers.com, features free coupons to save money at a broad range of locally owned Arizona businesses.

"Now, in the wake of the economic downturn, people who never thought twice about using coupons can't imagine paying full price for anything," Wang said.

In 2009, she, along with her business partner, Braden Andreas, launched the online coupon source to help consumers cut costs. The response from both coupon enthusiasts and advertisers was so robust Wang soon left a tenured corporate job, and the two haven't stopped since. Since then, the website has signed on more than 500 locally owned venues and counting.

"Our business plan proves a win-win for everyone," Wang said. "We have three primary goals: first, to provide a vehicle through which consumers gain quick and easy access to coupons; second, to bolster the local economy; and third, to offer an affordable avenue for advertising," Andreas said.

"It's a great way for a small business with a tight budget to develop a piece of collateral," Wang added.

Advertisers sign on to promote a "dollars off" coupon showcased on the site for a period of 12 months, encouraging repeat business. Then the penny pinchers ask for each company's logo to create template coupons for consumers to print.

Wang said the most salient advantages associated with their site include privacy and efficiency.

"We don't require passwords or logins, and there are no annoying pop-ups or links. The site features hundreds of coupons organized by varied genres, and there is no membership fee; just print the coupons when you're ready to use them. People often wonder if there's a catch, but there isn't one."

While social media plays a role in promoting the Internet-based business, both she and Andreas spend plenty of face-time with the local community, according to Wang.

"What we love to do most is partner with small- to medium-sized events throughout the year where we get to meet our fans," Wang said.

Most recently the penny pinchers dished out coupons at the Barrett Jackson auction and Celebrity Catwalk for a Cause. Next up, appearances at Ballet Arizona and Buy Arizona First.

As small business owners themselves, Wang says she and Andreas are motivated to propel the success of others. To that end, the penny pinchers joined up with Local First Arizona (LFA), a non-profit organization providing community education and advocacy, encouraging consumers to shop locally to keep profits in Arizona. Recently, the penny pinchers awarded Ahwatukee Carpets a year-long subscription to LFA.

"I'm grateful for their sponsorship, and thrilled to have our business showcased by LFA," said Traci Tartaglio, owner of Ahwatukee Carpets. "I supported buying locally long before it was vogue."

"We often host contests and give away prizes on our Facebook and Twitter pages," Wang said, adding that they want to show that saving money is fun and cool.

"We hope to attract more fans and businesses to our online community of cheapskates."

Longtime Ahwatukee Foothills resident Diane Meehl is an independent writer and active volunteer. Reach her at dianemeehl@cox.net.

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