Steve: I guess it depends on the content of your writing; in other words, if what you are writing is a description of a store's merchandise, when they have sales, etc., then I think accepting a discount is okay, since it is hard to see how the discount would greatly affect what you write (although even here you by definition are making decisions, such as which stores to even mention, how much space to give, the tone of the information, etc). However, if you start to venture into the realm of making recommendations, then I think there is a problem. I think that journalism should carry with it a very high standard of propriety and disclosure; if there is ever a possibility that your advice is being influenced by the acts of the people/stores about whom you are writing, I think there is a problem. The big issue that Marc's comments have raised is that the individuals in question are seen (and portray themselves) as experts, and the assumption is that their advice and opinions are uncolored by financial incentives. What is the difference between accepting a free suit and just taking a bribe to write positive comments? While you could argue that the free suit allows the "journalist" to learn about the proprietors' merchandise, I think the bottom line is this looks too much like a "quid pro quo"; what do you think the proprietor would say if the journalist wrote scathing comments about the merchandise' s quality after giving it away. I almost guarantee that the proprietor would feel cheated and mislead. While the "journalist's" opinions and comments might be unaffected by these gifts, even the appearance of impropriety is unacceptable. Perhaps you should get a copy of the standards and ethics of something like the NY Times and see what they allow; I'll bet they don't allow anything like this. I also don't quite see how accepting a discount is okay just because you are writing about discount fashion; if the discount isn't available to me or somebody else who walks in off the street, I think this justification is a red herring. Should an author of an article about how to bargain for a good deal on a new car accept a free car (i.e. a 100% discount) from a given dealership? Unfortunately, the ethical standards of journalism seems to have declined in the past few years; I encourage you to think about how you hope others would behave if you were going to rely on their advice. If there is the possibility of bias (not the likelihood or certainty), I say it is best to avoid the behavior -- if you want to call yourself a journalist.