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City mom bargain shops for all parents

New Westminster mom's website fits the bill for flexible at-home work

If there's one constant in the parenting world, it is this: parents are always on the hunt for a good bargain.

There are those rare few - think Upper East Side New Yorkers or Hollywood celebrities -who figure that $1,400 is a good price for a diaper bag, but for most parents, budgeting is as much a necessity as a good stock of baby wipes and a handful of teething toys.

And with changing technology, it's not enough to keep an eye on the flyers or hit up the end-of-season sales.

That's where New Westminster resident and mom-of-two Danielle Connelly comes in.

In 2007, Connelly created Mother of a Deal, a website aimed at gathering the best deals in Canada, both in store and online. Aimed primarily at parents, the site features everything from clothing sample sales to promo codes for online discounts, to information about in-store sales and the occasional money-saving tip for readers.

The website is updated constantly, with a newsletter that goes out to email inboxes for readers who request it.

The intent, says Connelly, is to help people stay "in the know" about the best deals - without having to do all the running around themselves.

And it's working: the site has continued to grow in popularity, helped along by word of mouth from readers impressed by the content and timeliness.

In the meantime, the website has provided Connelly with the flexibility she craved to balance - as much as is possible - family and business.

Question: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Answer: My name is Danielle Connelly (St. John), I live in New Westminster with my husband and two young boys (five and seven). I grew up an Army brat, but with both my parents being from South Burnaby this area was always home.

Ending up in New Westminster has been the best thing. As Mother of a Deal continues to grow, my husband has actually stepped up and is doing the accounting side of things.

Q: How long has Mother of a Deal been in operation?

Since 2007, but it was only after taking the small business program at Douglas College in 2008 that things started getting serious.

Q: How did it get started - what was the motivation for doing this?

A: I was looking for a way to keep in the mix of things career wise, exercise my Mommy brain a bit, but still work from home. I looked at doing contract work in marketing and communications but really wanted the opportunity to learn more about running a business online. A girlfriend of mine made the suggestion to me to start a deal hunting site for moms when we were chatting about career options, and as soon as she suggested it I went home, came up with the name, bought the domain and started working to mix my love of deal hunting and saving money with the online world. The rest, they say, is history.

Q: The Record last spoke to you in spring 2010 - how much has changed since then?

A: Well, at the time I had just partnered with another local mom, Heather McGrath, to work with me at Mother of a Deal. We ended up buying another web business together - True Cuddles - and have since (very amicably) ended our partnership, with her keeping True Cuddles and myself going back strictly working on my first love, Mother of a Deal.

My sons have also both started school full-time, so now is really my year to grow and develop and focus on this business with the time and flexibility I didn't quite have back then.

Q: What kind of feedback do you hear from your website visitors?

A: Mostly how much they love getting the scoop on all the deals. It's hard for moms to stay on top of everything with their families and households, plus know where and when the deals are happening, so Mother of a Deal is a one-stop resource to help save money and time.

Q: Is most of your website traffic return visitors?

A: The traffic is about two-thirds return and one-third newcomers. It's great to see the traffic grow and that when people get on to the site they like coming back.

Q: What kind of "deals" seem to be the most popular?

A: Sample sales, coupons and free offers are definitely up there in popularity. I also have a lot of fun running contests and giveaways for Mother of a Deal subscribers, and everyone seems to love those.

Q: From a personal level, why does this work for you in your own life in terms of work-life balance?

A: Hmmm, I think making it work is a constant struggle. Working from home is very rewarding, but it's challenging to really draw a line in the sand between personal and work time. That perfect "balance" still eludes me, but really the benefits far outweigh any negatives.

Q: From a business perspective, how profitable is it at this point?

A: It's a growing business, and while the cash flow doesn't replace a full-time salary, I don't work full time hours and have the flexibility to set my own hours and be around for my kids.

Like many businesses, a lot of the revenue generated goes right back into the operating stream to continue growing it.

And you know, I really can't put a dollar figure on how much I've learned throughout this process.

As opposed to a six-year gap on my resumé from being at home with my kids, I have a solid portfolio and have gained a huge skill set and business network with Mother of a Deal.

Q: How do you hear about most of the deals - do you just keep your eye on all the "usual suspects" or get tips from readers?

A: Let's just say my inbox is a lot to wade through every morning! But that's part of the service Mother of a Deal provides, wading through it all to find the best deals for moms. There's lots of feedback and input, too, from readers, which is great. There's nothing better than knowing that someone is out "there" and being able to interact with a subscriber or website user. That's why Facebook is so great, it's a direct outreach to moms, and there's been a lot more interaction through that.

Q: Have their been plans for expansion? Changes? Anything new coming up? (Either from the behind-the-scenes end or that readers would notice on the site?)

A: I'm in the early stages of a full-scale website overhaul. It's been nearly five years now, and technologies have changed a lot. I'm also planning on reaching out to the Mother of a Deal community in search of a review panel for products and services. Plus I'd like to hire someone in the new year to help with writing and/or ad sales for the site. It's a lot to keep up with, and the time seems right.

Q: If you could say one thing to all of your readers, what would it be?

A: Thank you for all of your support, and please keep spreading the word! If you've saved money from using the site, have some awesome money-saving tips or have a great idea for the site or anything else, I'd love to hear from you.

Mother of a Deal is online at www.

Christina Myers covers family and parenting for The Record and Burnaby NOW newspapers. Check out her parenting blogs online at www. and