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Shopping at fall fairs: Are you really getting a good deal?

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Woodstock Fair

CROMWELL — As cooler winds begin to blow the pages of the calendar into autumn, Connecticut State Fairs are already under way, offering festivals, entertainment and events for every member of the family.

Aside from the mid-way and the menus of carnival foods, fall fairs also offer small boutiques selling handmade crafts, businesses displaying their products and services, some of which can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Fall festivals offer a rich opportunity to do some home and early holiday shopping, and Connecticut Better Business Bureau reminds consumers to use the same caution at the fairgrounds as they use day-to-day before signing a contract or making a costly purchase.

You can find a full list of Connecticut Fairs here.

Connecticut Better Business Bureau President, Paulette Scarpetti, urges consumers to avoid making a quick decision without doing their research.

“Visitors can find some very alluring merchandise and services on display. Consumers should consider these exhibits a starting point.  Once you are interested in buying something or signing a contract, it is important to determine whether you are being offered a good deal by a business with a solid reputation.”

BBB has a checklist if you are considering purchasing a big ticket item at a state fair:

  • BBB Business Reviews are optimized for smartphones.  While at the fair, take a moment to check out the business at bbb.org to see if it has a record of pleasing its customers or a pattern of complaints.  This also gives you the opportunity to verify whether a company that displays the BBB logo is in fact a BBB Accredited Business.
  • Ask about for a written copy of the company’s refund and exchange policies, as well as the business’s contact information and physical location in case you have to return or exchange merchandise after the event.
  • Do some comparison shopping to determine whether you are getting a good deal, keeping in mind that the least expensive item may not always be the best value.
  • Don’t be pressured to buy.  After the demonstration or sales pitch, give yourself some time to think about the purchase.
  • Ask the vendor if a sale price will be honored after the fair.  If so, you will not feel pressured to purchase the item on the spot in a “one time only” discount.