In today's column about the quality of the fair deals, I mentioned several good and not so good deals at the fair.

 

The Little Giant ladder, for example, is about a 15 percent savings over online prices (on sale on the second floor grandstand). I mentioned that cheaper models by Little Giant are available at Costco and Sam's Club. Just a little more about each. Costco also sells the accessories such as the telescoping plank, wall stand off, leg leveler and the work platform for less than at the fair. Costco sells the Megalite Model 17 ladder for $200 (either online or in stores), which extends to 15-feet. Even non-members can order the ladder and accessories from Costco.com (plus a 10 percent surcharge).

 

The smaller Little Giant model that Sam's Club sells for $150 is a Model 15 which extends to 13-feet. It holds up to 250 lbs., while Costco's model holds up to 300 lbs. Sam's Club does not allow non-members to order online.  Although Sam's Club sells the Little Giant in its stores, I could not find the item on its website.

As I mentioned in my article, it never hurts to ask a salesperson how good the deal is. Sometimes the excitement of the fair catches us with defenses down. I generally believe that smart shoppers will find deals just as good if not better after the fair.

 

One example of that was at the Garage Floor Coating booth on the second floor of the Grandstand. Salesman Dave Outcelt said that the deal offered at the fair is the same one offered at fall home and garden shows and the Dairy Fair. Curious about the price of a poly coating on your garage floor? Outcelt said it would be about $1,000 per stall, so figure about $2,000 for a 2-car garage.

 

Often times, cheaper is not better. One of the fair deals that might seem hard to pass up is a set of Hotel 1600 sheets for $35, ANY SIZE. Those with a king or queen-sized bed might think, "great deal" but know first that the "1600" name does not apply to thread count. They are made to "feel like" a sheet with a 1,600 thread count, said a salesperson. But the sheet is a blend of of cotton and microfiber. Poly doesn't breathe like cotton, so if you like a cool sheet, you won't like these. They will sleep hotter than cotton. The sample they had on display for feel looked to me like it was starting to pill. I'd spend a little more cash for an all- cotton sheet set at Tuesday Morning, which has excellent clearance prices.

Your own examples of best and worst deals at the fair?

BTW, my colleague Kara McGuire, who writes Kablog and a personal finance column on Sundays in the business section, and I will be at the fair today (Monday) at 3 p.m. talking shop with couponista Carrie Rocha of "Pocket Your Dollars" and Chris Farrell of MPR's "Marketplace Money." Come on over and say hello at the Star Tribune booth today.