Anne forwarded a Times article (reg.req.) about how gift cards are bad for everyone except the retailers:
The financial-services research firm TowerGroup estimates that of the $80 billion spent on gift cards in 2006, roughly $8 billion will never be redeemed—a bigger impact on consumers," [financial-services research firm TowerGroup] notes, "than the combined total of both debit- and credit-card fraud." A survey by Marketing Workshop Inc. found that only 30 percent of recipients use a gift card within a month of receiving it, while Consumer Reports estimates that 19 percent of the people who received a gift card in 2005 never used it.
So I should start selling gift cards: $20 redeemable in puppy-petting time. I'd make a mint, and Parker would get lots of belly-rubs.