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SMART SHOPPERS GET QUICK-READ HELP

It seems everybody's squeezing a dollar these days, so two Utah authors have written "Smart Shopping," a quick-read, quick-reference guide to discount stores in the state.

Each store gets one page with addresses, hours, a brief description of the authors' observations about merchandise and other things, as well as the payment methods the store accepts, return policies and more.It covers everything from running shoes to bridal gowns to computers.

The book was written by Carolyn Kenney and husband Timothy Aebi. They used a research team to find genuine discount stores through an initial phone screening. The authors also visited every store themselves, checked it out and interviewed staff before writing their observations.

"We visited about 500 stores, but only about 300 made it into the book because they didn't qualify," Kenney said.

Their definition of a "discount store" is one that carries merchandise priced 10 percent below the usual retail price all the time, not just during special sales.

"We had to have some kind of cutoff point. There were a lot of stores we thought were discount stores, but we found they weren't after we delved into it further," Kenney said.

Utah seemed like a good place for such a book. For one thing, "the economy seemed right" and also because parents here - who often have large families - need help finding bargains.

The book includes the authors' opinions written in the first person, but the book contains no advertising and the authors say that no business paid to be included.

The project also interested them both personally.

"I just like to shop, and I'm always interested in high-quality merchandise, but getting it at a good deal," said Kenney, who is a marketing consultant with her own business that has offices in Salt Lake City and Oakland, Calif. Her husband, works for a communications company and commutes between his offices in Salt Lake City and Hayward, Calif. With a house in California and an apartment here, they divided their time between the two states.

The book project was challenging, Kenney admits, noting that they did this six months before they got married - along with working their regular jobs and planning a wedding.

"We were engaged when we wrote it. We figured if we didn't kill each other in this process, it must have been meant to be," Kenney said, laughing.

Response to the book has been positive, Kenney said. The volume includes a postcard that buyers can use to join a shopping network and get a newsletter.

If it sells well enough, the couple would like to update the book annually. x

The book, which costs $11.99, was published by Shadow Mountain, a subsidiary of Deseret Book.

There was one drawback: Kenney kept finding bargains and snapping them up. Her fiance kept telling her, "You're just supposed to be doing a site visit, not buying," Kenney recalls.

She said she couldn't help it.

"I found some things that were just great deals and obviously, I use the book myself," she said.