Seattle area startups refine the daily-deals model


scrutiny over daily deals has been generating headlines recently, the digital
coupon craze is here to stay. Even as Groupon finds itself in the midst of an SEC investigation of its profit metrics, other companies are plowing ahead with offerings that tweak the model

Seattle-based ChoozOn aggregates
coupons to help consumers cut through the clutter in their in-boxes. ChoozOn’s
site was launched in April and the company has just secured its first round of
angel funding. Meanwhile, Kirkland’s
Pirq launched Thursday morning, addressing redemption concerns
associated with the current daily deals model.

ChoozOn integrates social
networking into its site by creating “deal clubs” in which users can
bargain hunt together. “Choozers” can follow what others are shopping for and
make recommendations of products.

Pirq users
are told about deals near them based on cellphone GPS tracking. They then
“commit” to deals nearby, and scan a Microsoft Tag with their mobile devices.
The deal is redeemed on the spot.

merchants have complained about delayed or duplicate redemption of daily-deal
coupons as well as a lack of repeat business. Pirq’s model tries to eliminate
these hassles. It also controls traffic flow to a business by limiting the
hours during which deals are offered and redeemed.

Pirq’s new
app benefits the company as well: While deeply discounted deals often have
companies like Groupon borrowing against themselves, the instant redemption
feature of Pirq protects Pirq as well as merchants.

In contrast
with ChoozOn, which tailors deals to users based on their brand preferences,
Pirq focuses on proximity-based deals, taking advantage of GPS tracking through
mobile devices.

Making use of this smartphone feature
is the latest trend in the daily deal and app world: Even Groupon’s founders
are hopping on board, investing in WhosHere, a social media app that lets users
text-message nearby strangers.

Shopping from phones is another
emerging trend. “By 2015 consumers will spend about $119 billion on goods and
services bought via their mobile phones,” says James Sun, CEO of Pirq.

Life & Style: Dressed to Impress

Life & Style: Dressed to Impress

SAM rejoins the fashion-exhibit trend with a stylish tribute to Yves Saint Laurent.

The idea of fashion as artistic expression isn’t exactly new. But museums have latched on to it in a big way, ever since the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York surprised itself in 2011 with a record-shattering show on the work of the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen.

Fashion exhibits — as distinguished from fashion shows — are now all the rage in museumland. The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) mounted its first major fashion exhibit in 2013 with Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion. Bellevue Arts Museum closed a successful three-month run of Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair in August. EMP Museum has the eye-popping World of Wearable Art running through January 2, 2017. 

And now SAM is back with Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style. Colorful and stylish without being over the top — just like an Yves Saint Laurent design — the YSL exhibition provides via 110 outfits a thorough examination of the French designer’s 40-year career as high priest of haute couture.

The reason for such thoroughness is that Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé, saved everything. From sketches and swatches to actual garments and accessories from each year Saint Laurent was designing — 1962 to 2002 — the SAM exhibit is a fashionista field trip.

Yes, the Mondrian cocktail dress from 1965 is here. Ditto the women’s tuxedo (1966) and the women’s pantsuit (1967), which helped move from outré to de rigueur the notion of women wearing slacks for dress-up occasions. Exhibit guest curator Florence Müller of the Denver Art Museum succesfully conveys Saint Laurent’s belief that garments should reflect attitude.

And whether the garments — even Saint Laurent’s exquisite pieces — move fashion from craft to art in the esthetical conversation is ultimately immaterial. As the fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi told CBS News when the Jewish Museum in New York City showed Mizrahi’s own work earlier this year, “Good work meets a level. … Good work deserves to be looked at.” 

Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style
Through January 8, 2017. Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave.; 206.654.3100;