Wednesday, March 7, 2007

March 7, 2007

I received my dividend summary in the mail this week from the major outdoor retailer I call Acronym. This is a follow up on a November post about the challenges of finding gear in Chicago.

Here is an excerpt from the post:

I like Acronym in general and prefer to spend there because it offers cash back on every purchase (I signed up for this program in late 2005). But this location is so abysmal that I can't stomach making the 30-minute ride again.

I spent $386.63 at Acronym in 2006, my first full year as a member. It cost $15 to become a lifetime member. My major purchases in 2006 were a pair of Merrell light hikers and an REI running jacket. My dividend came to $20.19. I also received a 20 percent off coupon good through April 1. REI is the nation's largest consumer cooperative. I'm not entirely sure what this means. It's not a nonprofit, but it doesn't have shareholders either. There is more detail here.

I like the co-op idea, but I'm a little disappointed in the dividend. Nearly half of my purchases ($161.68) were deemed 'nondivendable.' Sale items fall into this category, and I must have picked up a few along the way. Acronym also attempts to entice you into signing up for the Acronym Visa card. Non-Acronym card usage actually results in a 2 percent lesser rate for qualifying purchases. The general rate is 10 percent on eligible cash purchases.

Fortunately, the coupon and dividend certificate are redeemable online. I'm guessing I've made my final trip to the Niles Acronym location. It's moving to Northbrook in a few months.

Also, this is a fun time of year on the Illinois birding message board (IBET). Earlier this week, someone mentioned that woodcocks are displaying in southern Illinois. There have been almost daily updates on red-winged blackbird flocks moving north. Birders in the Chicago area have been reporting sandhill crane flyovers. A hermit thrush was seen as far north as Kankakee. There also was a report of snow drops flowering in the Jarvis Sanctuary in Lincoln Park. There's a coating of snow on the ground, but signs of spring are emerging.

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