• United States


Dec 16, 20023 mins

Take advantage of holiday deals to outfit your office for 2003

Since much of the small business gear you need consumers are also buying for their home offices, now’s the time to snap up those holiday deals meant to lure shoppers to the mall. Here’s how.

First, begin at one of the many Web deal sites. As I write this, advertises a Dell 2.0-GHz Intel Celeron computer for $350.55, after coupons and free shipping. offers a Canon Powershot G2 Digital Camera (4 megapixels) at 58 stores; prices range from $489 to $818., and all offer deals for the clever. made headlines recently when it published after-Thanksgiving sale prices before the stores released them. Wal-Mart and others threatened “copyright” violation lawsuits, but that’s another story.

Auction sites are another great place to snag hot deals. EBay and seem to have the market cornered on refurbished technology dealers, including Dell Financial Services and Sears. My latest purchase, a refurbished IBM PC 300 PL Pentium III with 128M bytes of RAM, a 6.4G-byte hard disk, and keyboard/mouse just arrived today. The total price, including $25 for shipping? $147. If you dislike auctions, refurbished systems or want a hotter machine, it took me 30 seconds on eBay to find a brand-new 1.7-GHz Pentium 4 with 512M bytes of RAM, a 20G-byte hard disk, DVD and CDRW player, speakers, etc., for a “Buy It Now” price of $429. Remember, auctioned doesn’t have to mean used.

While we hate seeing e-mail subject lines screaming “80% off!” look for the ones from Dell offering 15% off your next PC. Add that to its free shipping offers, and buying next year’s computers on this year’s tax deduction looks pretty good.

Some of these deals have nothing to do with the season. Microsoft, notorious for its heavy-handed licensing program, now realizes that small businesses signed up far less often than larger ones this year. If you’re large enough to have an official Microsoft or reseller contact and you want to save money, tell them you want the Open Value program, including the no-interest payment options. Or switch to Linux, which is what Microsoft is afraid you’re already doing.

I make it a habit to sign up for marketing information from good companies, which is why Dell keeps sending me tempting e-mail offers. Everyone needs office supplies, so I signed up at Office Max and Office Depot, and regularly get discount offers via paper and e-mail. Both routinely offer up to $30 off a $150-or-more purchase. Need extra laser printer cartridges? Two almost always add up to $150 or more, and they don’t spoil sitting on the shelf.