I’m usually not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. If you’ve got something free, I’ll definitely look into taking it (though that leads me to me collecting a fair amount of junk). That said, this is the time of year where everyone posts great Veteran’s Day meals and deals.
As I’ve mentioned many times before, my wife is in the military and though she’s not a veteran, she qualifies for many of these deals. Over the years we’ve tried to take advantage of them. “Try” is often the operative word. We’ve found that going anywhere near an Applebee’s, one of the top advertisers, is a mess. Wait times are often over an hour long. I’ve seen them set up tents outside with coffee for the people waiting.
Last year, we went to Chili’s. Chili’s has a similar deal, but we’ve found it to be less crowded if you get there at 5PM. By around 5:30 it started to fill up and a line formed. (It may vary based on location.)
I took a long-look around because I think I noticed something interesting.
I asked my wife, “Do you see any single military men here in a group?” She thought maybe she saw one couple on the other side of the restaurant, but couldn’t be sure. I saw table after table filled with families, 3 or 4 people at every one. It occurred to me that this is almost exactly the kind of deal that you’d get with an Entertainment Book coupon… a buy one, get one free dinner. And as I covered previously, it is questionable whether the Entertainment Book saves you money. Restaurants do these deals because it packs the house and they’ll make up the cost of a free meal on drinks and the other meal. Now if 7 military guys go out in one group and fill up a restaurant, they are going to lose some money. However, it didn’t look like that was happening. My wife noted that military often marry younger – they get a pay bump when they have a spouse as a dependent.
So in the end, while it is a good deal, I find it more of an amazing marketing gimmick to pack the restaurant for one day. Considering that Tuesday is usually a very light day for restaurants this is likely to be profitable.
Another “deal” that caught my eye comes from Home Depot. They do a bit of advertising for their 10% discount on Veteran’s Day. For a long time my wife would save up her Home Depot purchases to get the savings on that day. What they don’t advertise as loudly: Military gets 10% at Home Depot every day.
Again, I don’t mean to look a gift horse in the mouth. I love free. I just find these marketing gimmicks very interesting. It’s certainly great from a public relations point of view as everyone loves a patriotic cause. I just wonder if people are getting the value they think they are.
Personally, I’m going to make a donation to the USO for Veteran’s Day. That’s my go-to military charity along with the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). From experience, I know the value military (and their families) get every time they step in a USO at an airport… it’s tremendous. And I can’t barely keep a dry eye when I see what the WWP does.