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Prepare for the Western Idaho Fair: Shop wisely

Dale Dixon: BBB Alert
Dale Dixon: BBB Alert

It’s mid-August, school is around the corner, days are still near 100 degrees, and all your neighbors are avoiding Chinden and Glenwood whenever possible. That can only mean one thing: It’s time for the Western Idaho Fair!

Whether you’re looking forward to seeing the farm animals, taking an exciting carnival ride, checking out the impressive contest winners, or chowing down on anything and everything deep fried, the state fair is a highlight of summer. And who could forget the live concerts? The fair offers something for everyone, especially shoppers looking to snag some great deals from local vendors.

Many of us will make an entire day out of the fair. With so much to see and do, how could you fit it all in a few hours? You might find yourself in the commercial vendors section, where you will see an overwhelming amount of products to buy. You can find some great deals and get to know local businesses, though you also may be inclined to make a quick decision. Before you make any purchases, keep these Better Business Bureau smart buying tips in mind:

Do your research. With a smart phone, look up a company’s BBB Business Review on Also, look for the BBB seal. Some BBB accredited businesses may display it on their booths.

Know the company’s refund and exchange policy before you buy. If possible, get the policy in writing.

Know where the company is located. Ask for the physical location and telephone number, in case you need to return or exchange an item.

Shop around first so you can compare prices. The least expensive item may not always be the best value.

Don’t be pressured to buy on the spot. After a demonstration or sales pitch, take time to think about whether you are getting a good deal and if the purchase is needed.

Ask the vendor if a sale price will be honored after the fair or event. If so, you will not feel pressured to buy the item on the spot.

Know the limits of the “cooling-off rule.” The Federal Trade Commission’s “Cooling-off Rule,” which allows people three days to cancel a purchase, does not apply to the following purchases at fairs: Purchases under $25, insurance, securities, real estate, motor vehicles, or arts and crafts.

I don’t think there’s any recourse for eating too much sugar, but that’s why the fair is only once a year, right?

Dale Dixon is chief innovation officer for Better Business Bureau Northwest. 342-4649,