Free Haircuts, Gas and Bowling: A Roundup of Midsummer Freebies

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To drum up business in the lazy dog days of summer, retailers are offering deals such as free haircuts for kids, free gas, free bowling, and free ice-cold refreshments. Here’s a hot list of current freebies.
Free Play Time at Disney Stores. The Summer Play Days promotions at Disney Store locations launches on Monday, July 23, at 2 p.m., and special in-store events take place every day through August 26. Activities vary from day to day, and consumers are encouraged to contact their local store about the day’s events. Kids who attend four Summer Play Days get a special free gift. Then again, considering the location—and all of the Disney detritus for sale in every direction—this is one of those “freebies” that’ll probably wind up costing parents a bundle, especially for families that attend four or more times.

(MORE: Forget Black Friday: Here Comes ‘Back to School Saturday’)

Free Back-to-School Gear. Staples is continuing its back-to-school giveaways and deals this week with free pens and free mechanical pencils once manufacturers’ rebates are factored in. When making a purchase of at least $5, there are also 1¢ packages of erasers and 1¢ packages of index cards. These deals are strictly in-store offers only; check your local store’s specials or the circular from Sunday’s newspapers for details. With a Toys R Us promotion, meanwhile, customers get a free lunch kit (worth up to $9.99) when buying a backpack for $12.99 and up. There are plenty of school supplies available on a buy one, get one free basis as well.

Free Haircuts. Through, salons at JCPenney locations are offering free back-to-school haircuts to all children heading into K-6th grade this August. Many shoppers may be surprised to hear that the new “no coupons” JCPenney is involved with such a freebie. Plenty of shoppers may also be surprised to hear that you can get your hair cut at JCPenney.

Free Gas. Through August, CVS is giving out $10 gas cards to customers who make $30 worth of certain purchases on select weeks. Check your local weekly ad for specifics.

(MORE: A Store Without a Checkout Counter? JCPenney Presses on With Retail Revolution)

Free Tea. Thursday, July 26, is Free Tea Day at McAlister’s Deli locations around the country. The chain is expecting to give out more than 225,000 free 32-ounce cups of “McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea” (one per customer) at over 300 restaurants in 22 states. No registration or coupon is necessary. Just show up on Thursday, and collect your free refreshing tea—simple as that.

Free Bowling. Register at, and (you guessed it), kids get to bowl for free this summer. Two free games of bowling per day are available for each child at bowling alleys around the country. Times allowed for free games, age restrictions, and other details vary depending on location. Meanwhile, sign up at for a free game of bowling on National Bowling Day, Saturday, August 11.

August 11 also happens to be another marketing event called “Back to School Saturday,” when stores and malls are expected to host deals and freebies to attract back-to-school shoppers.

(MORE: 10 Things You Should Be Buying Used)

$1 Movies. While not free, a summer-long deal from Regal Entertainment Group represents quite a good value: On Tuesdays and Wednesdays this summer, tickets to 10 a.m. showings of films such as “Hugo” and “Puss in Boots” are just $1 apiece at participating theaters around the country.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.