Academic Leigh Speaking

A professor, four kids, and a crash course in work/life balance

Groupon Guilt January 25, 2013

I’ve been troubled lately. I’ve bought some Groupons recently, mostly for yoga classes, and now I’m starting to feel really guilty about it. When it was the local Bikram hot yoga studio, and I was going with my friend Liz, and I had a very tight budget, I didn’t feel that guilty–mostly because I didn’t enjoy hot yoga that much. But then I read this article from Slate about how Groupon is not particularly good for businesses, and I thought about my own practices. And then I bought three more Groupons for various yoga studios.

Forces are colliding though. The first studio was excellent–East meets West–and the teachers were terrific. I thought, “If I decide to buy a class pass, it would definitely be here.” They are about a 10 minute drive from my house. Then I realized a Groupon was going to expire soon, so I started going to Ashtanga Yoga at Heart and Soul Yoga which in no traffic is 15 minutes away and 30 in Wednesday night at 6:30 traffic. I love it. The teacher is tough, but it’s far and expensive. Then there’s one that I haven’t started yet, but the studio is walkable from my house.

Where’s the guilt you wonder? What’s up with this downward dog navel-gazing? The point is this: I visited my friend Lindsey’s yoga studio over MLK weekend, and I realized, if I value yoga as a practice, you should make your financial commitment to the teacher/studio who speaks to me and that I value. Most yoga teachers do it as a passion project, but they invest in their experience, space, and time, and that should be compensated. So, I’m going to finish out the groupons, because I can’t bear to waste them, and I’m going to try to choose a place to be a repeat customer–for them and for me (and for Lindsey whose studio would be my everyday place if I didn’t live 700 miles away).

And the only other place I’ve bought a groupon is Target portraits, and I think they did better than I did. But the pictures were cute, and it was pretty low stakes. Again though, it makes me think that photographers are a lot like yoga teachers and need to have their work valued. Aarrgh! There is no guilt-free “deal” in sight.

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5 Responses to “Groupon Guilt”

  1. Bob Says:

    I’ve yet to return to any business I’ve visited with a Groupon or Living Social coupon. I check the restaurants on Yelp, and most have reviews that are mediocre at best. I’m back to word of mouth for restaurants and businesses, including my yoga instructors. (Though I did use Angie’s List recently to find a doctor.)

    • leighj Says:

      I haven’t tried them for food, but I’ve genuinely liked the yoga places. Do you go in ABQ? Where? I liked High Desert.

      • Bob Says:

        Thanks to our School Improvement Grant from the NMPED, we have free yoga for staff & students after school on Tuesdays & Thursdays here at West Mesa. We also have yoga as an alternative to Community Service for students on in-school suspension. (Thank you, Ben.) The High Desert around the corner from our house in the valley closed about a year ago. HD is now just one of many studios. I go on Saturday mornings to a class at Orange Yoga, way north on 4th, near Paseo del Norte. I haven’t been yet to DragonFly Yoga on Rio Grande just off of I-40. Grassroots Yoga is a new one close to your old house, near the Highland Theatre. And it seems like there’s hot yoga everywhere.
        We’ve exploded in yoga.

  2. I don’t feel guilty buying a groupon once, but I’m conflicted about buying groupons to the same place multiple times. For example, there’s a tea store here in Raleigh that I discovered through a groupon about a year ago. Six months later, they ran another groupon. I ended up not buying it because I think the point is to attract new customers since (like you pointed out) businesses tend to lose money on groupons, and I can’t imagine a store that specializes in tea is making a huge profit. But the money savings for myself would have been nice!

    • leighj Says:

      Well said. Right now I’m justifying them as, I’m just trying out places to see which I like best, but really they offer so many that I can just keep trying places. Ummm tea.


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