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In Marketplace

"This is the kind of coupon that you're not embarrassed to use," says founder Christin Cilento Ladky.

In Marketplace

City Tins founders Tara Laatsch (left) and Ladky.

In Marketplace

Each pack offers 22 $10 coupons.

In Marketplace

I love the process, and the restaurants' response has been wonderful," says Ladky.

City Tins puts new spin on traditional restaurant coupons


There's nothing wrong with coupon books, either the small ones you buy or the free ones that show up in your mailbox. But there's nothing particularly fun about them, either.

Enter City Tins, the brainchild of Milwaukee marketing consultant Christin Cilento Ladky and her business partner, Tara Laatsch.

For $25, City Tins are a unique pack of 22 Milwaukee dining gift certificates, each for $10 off your tab. They're printed on cardboard coasters, creatively designed and emblazoned with great photography. They come in a metal tin with a "dinner spinner," which promises to help solve your dining dilemma.

It's really not much more complicated than that, and the coasters aren't subject to black-out dates. Only one coaster can be used per table, and a minimum purchase of $25 is required. They can't be used on tax or tip.

Ladky hopes, at this price point, they'll make the perfect gift.

"I think $25 is a nice retail number that says seems to work for people," says Ladky.

So what makes City Tins more fun than a typical coupon book?

Value aside, it doesn't hurt that City Tins feature 22 of the area's best and most eclectic cuisine, including COA, Hinterland, Kil@wat, Nakakusa and Water Buffalo. According to Ladky, the Diablos Rojos restaurants -- Café Hollander, Café Centraal and Troacadero -- were the first to jump on board.

But why 22 restaurants?

Says Ladky, "We wanted to cut it off at 20, but two restaurants really wanted in. We made that concession -- but ultimately, it was how many coasters we could fit in a tin."

In other words, this is not a coupon book for $1 off your drycleaning when you purchase $100 worth of alterations.

"We're kind of the 'anti entertainment book,'" says Ladky. "That's meant to bring a boatload of anything for everyone."

Instead, for now, City Tins focuses only on great Milwaukee restaurants.

"This is the kind of coupon that you're not embarrassed to use."

Ladky hopes to expand the City Tins concept into other genres, too.

Logical offshoots include nightlife and entertainment, but for now, the partners have their hands full. They do all the work themselves, from sales to design to photography to assembling "dinner spinners," mostly in Ladky's basement. She says the restaurants pay a participation fee to cover the costs of development, but her primary source of revenue is through retail sales.

And business is booming. Ladky released the tins last summer and so far has sold more than 500 tins.

"I love the process, and the restaurants' response has been wonderful," says Ladky.

"It's about the art, it's about the kitschiness and it's about promoting the city in a creative way," says Ladky, who got the idea from other cities that make coupon books out of decks of cards.

City Tins are available boutiques and restaurants across the area, including Beans & Barley, Locker's Florist, Goldi's and Well Spa.

Ladky also sells City Tins online at citytins.com.


Talkbacks

philmasterson | March 12, 2010 at 4:54 p.m. (report)

Seriously? So much commotion over a few coasters? These are kind of cool; though likely environmentally-unsound. And, if these are places you'd go to anyhow; you'll likely spend $25 when you visit. So, use the coupon and save 40%. Nice gift. Nice thought. Good variety (merchants).

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javajavajava | March 2, 2010 at 7:56 p.m. (report)

I hope that I never receive a gift that is a bunch of glorified overpriced coupons...how tacky!! I suppose the giver thinks that they are giving me something. As the receiver, I would have to use 3 of the coupons( just so the "giver "could break even) which totals at least $75 (the mininum that I would have to spend is $25 per restaurant) just to save $30 . So actually the gift that was so kindly given to me has now cost me $40. Oh, I can't forget the tip...there goes another $15 because a person can't consider the coupon deduction as part as the tipping amount. And gas money and perhaps parking. so your silly little coasters have now cost me $75 and you shelled out $25 for cutesy wutesy coupons. Great Gift idea, maybe you should just ask me to use my credit card before you fleece me for more of my money. Oh. now matter how you dress up a coupon....it is a coupon. Your server still thinks that you are cheap and so does your date!

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lavachequilit | March 1, 2010 at 9:40 a.m. (report)

Love the CityTins! Very cool idea in a groovy looking tin. I'm just sad that half my coasters have been used already!

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LegallyBlonde | Feb. 28, 2010 at 9:27 p.m. (report)

Love the city tins. Great idea and execution.

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yankoca | Feb. 28, 2010 at 8:48 p.m. (report)

Since when has the economy been doing so well that people should opt for a "coupon that (they)'re not embarrassed to use" (per a founder) instead of one that they seemingly should be ashamed to redeem. This founder implies that being a tear-out or paper-clipping coupon redeemer is uncouth. I would argue that it is fiscally, environmentally, and morally more responsible than purchasing a tin that may save certain types of people public humiliation. The humiliation lies not in coupon redemption and smart spending; people should be embarrassed by over spending their means and trying to maintain an illusion of something they are not.

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