Photo: rakspassion

Some Background

This is just an idea that I have been kicking around. I think it might have legs. I actually searched for two whole minutes to see if it had already been done. I found one, but it wasn’t what I really liked. Rather than bore you all with a design spec, I will tell a little story.

I’ll Tell you a Story

This evening, I was cleaning up my office, and I realized that I needed some plastic storage totes. I see them all the time in sales circulars for dirt cheap at local stores. Unfortunately, I don’t remember when I saw them last. I don’t know which store. I do know that I can find the flyers online, and go through each of them. Although it’s totally awesome to be able to get all the flyers at once, this still seems like only half a solution.

After mulling this around, I decided to go ahead just buy them at the first place I hit tomorrow, and dream up a solution in the meantime.

A Possible Solution – In English

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a website that did the following?

  1. Pull all the sales flyers and circulars from the internet.
  2. Index them.
  3. Allow users to search those indices based on geographical location.

For instance, I need plastic containers. My profile would know where I live, and spit out a listing of all plastic containers in my area. I could also do the same search with “pork chops”, “oranges” or whatever.

That way, I could quickly find the best deal at the time on the items I am looking for. For things I buy all the time, like milk, I could set up an alert that would tell me where milk goes on sale each week.

While I am still in the “I’m thinking out loud” mode, I really think this could be done. Sadly, it would take more than just one guy (me) to do this. I could handle the coding, but not the design or the social engineering of the site. If you are interested in what I am talking about, read the next section.

A Possible Solution – In Dork

Just about everything about this site is simple. No one is going to bust a brain stem on this. There is, however, some work that would need to be done.

Without doing much homework, I am guessing that most store sites (CVS, Walgreen, and the like) do not have an RSS feed of their weekly sales. I don’t really have any interest in figuring out where the sites host their sales, then either scraping their site, or indexing their pdf (well, this might not be too bad.. yeah.. it will). Meanwhile, you would have to monitor each site for any changes in how the code their sites and where they store their info (yick!). It might be better to work out a deal with the store to get access to an RSS feed. I would imagine that the companies would be more than happy to sit down and hear out the pluses on them doing such a thing.

The other problem is that, once a deal is struck and the RSS feed is a reality, anyone else could step in and do the same thing. I also don’t know how I would feel about getting exclusive rights to an RSS feed. That just feels sleazy to me. Be that as it may, I still have bills to pay, and have to have some income coming in. On the other hand, the site could rely on ad revenue.

Anyway, I am still thinking out loud, but I would love to open a discussion on this, and possibly make it a reality with the help of one or two other people.

Let me know what you think.