Today is Cyber Monday, when people turn to their computers for holiday deals — and also the day when the Maine Deal debuts on

The Maine Deal will offer goods or services from local companies with discounts of at least 50 percent, said Michelle Lester, vice president of advertising with MaineToday Media, the parent company of The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. Similar deals will be offered at and, the websites operated by MaineToday Media’s other papers, the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal.

Lester said the deals will change daily, except for weekends. Readers can sign up for daily e-mail notifications of deals with links to the Maine Deal site, which can also be found on the home pages of the three papers.

Typical deals, she said, might be an offer for half off a massage from a local massage therapist, or two-for-the-price-of-one gift certificates for a local restaurant. Other offers might be from family entertainment venues or stores that sell beauty products, Lester said, but she declined to identify the merchants because they’d like customers to be surprised when their offers come up.

Lester said some national companies have offers similar to the Maine Deal, but the local versions should appeal to customers who prefer to do business with locally owned and based businesses.

“We felt that we could do a better job, being here and being local,” Lester said.

In most cases, MaineToday Media will handle the transactions for the merchants, she said.

Tom Schwarz, manager and chef of the Muddy Rudder restaurant in Yarmouth, the kick-off company for today’s Maine Deal, said the promotion provides a way for the business to both keep existing customers and attract new ones, particularly during the holidays when people are busy with other tasks.

The restaurant’s gift certificate offer, he said, works well either as a holiday gift or as a way for a family to take time out during a hectic season to eat out together.