Want to know how a cheapskate's mind works? Step into my head for a minute.
I want a couple of chairs and ottomans at Crate & Barrel, but they're not on sale. I will not pay full-price on something that will probably go on sale in the next 6 months. But there's gotta be a way to save 10 to 15 percent now.
"Ten to 15 percent?! You can squeeze a nickel a lot harder than that! What about Target or furniture consignment shops? You call yourself a cheapskate. You're an embarrassment to penny pinchers everywhere!"
Get out of my !*&%!! head. I'm in charge here!
Where was I? Oh yeah, I'll look for the 15 percent off coupon that C&B sent late last year when I moved.
"Really? You can't even find the Target circular from last Sunday. How do you expect to find a coupon from last year?"
Agreed. Time for plan B. I ask a salesperson at C&B--will these items be going on sale soon? Salesperson tells me about a custom goods sales starting Aug. 8, which may or may not include the items I want.
that sell them. Discounts are usually 5 to 20 percent. I try Craigslist first because that's the easiest. I try to buy a gift card with $346.47 on it for $310. Guy agrees to meet me in the Galleria to verify the balance but never seems to be available to meet. I give up and head to eBay for a coupon. (Crate & Barrel periodically mails out coupons for 10 to 15% off regularly-priced merchandise when people have moved to a new home etc.)
On eBay, there were about 50 coupons for sale for Crate & Barrel last week from 10 to 20 percent off with the bidding starting at 99 cents. Why did I never think of selling them on eBay before? Duh. The "Buy it Now" prices range from $5.99 (10%) and up. I have no patience to join in a nickel and dime bidding war over a coupon. I choose "Buy it Now" and purchase a 15% off coupon for $7.
Earlier last week my coupon arrived in the mail. (Some sellers just email you the promocode number.) I went to C&B on Sunday and decided on two ottomans and a couple of accessories totalling about $400. I got nervous as the salesman started to punch in the discount code, worried that the code would no longer be valid.
But the transaction went through flawlessly WITH the discount of about $60. Not bad for a $7 investment.
I could have saved even more purchasing a discounted gift card, but I'm still nervous about purchasing those on eBay. Maybe I'll use one of the discounted gift card websites and report back.
Herberger's new clearance center in Maplewood is open for business. The official grand opening isn't until Friday, but the outlet opened "softly" on Wednesday.
Most of the customers were in the neighborhood and noticed the "now open" signs, including Denise Aljets of St. Paul who thought the outlet's prices were "better than Wal-Mart's."
It's the mid-line department store's first free-standing outlet store, although there is a smaller clearance center on part of the second floor in the St. Paul Midway location. Parent company Bon-Ton operates 271 department stores in 25 states, including Younkers and Carson Pirie Scott, but the new Herberger's outlet is only the 4th outlet in the chain. .Bon-Ton has two Carson Pirie Scott clearance centers in Chicago and one Boston Store outlet in Milwaukee.
The 27,000 square foot space in a former OfficeMax includes a large selection of ladies, kids and men's clothing, accessories, shoes and home goods at discounts of 60 to 80 percent. All of the merchandise comes from full-line Bon-Ton stores (Herberger's, Boston Store, Elder-Beerman and others) that went unsold at the end of last year's spring/summer season. None of the goods are special purchase items made specifically for the outlet, said store manager Brian Schinke.
The clearance is located in the Birch Run Station shopping Center at 1717 Beam Ave. in Maplewood. The store is open 9;30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays. Call 651-777-6134 for more information.
Target Corp. has certainly come a long way with its e-commerce efforts. Two years ago, the company’s website couldn’t even properly process orders following the roll out of its Missoni collection.
Fast forward to 2013. As of the first week of November, all 1,800 of Target’s stores in the United State offer consumers the ability pick up merchandise in the store that they had ordered online.
Buy Online, Pick Up in Store is not exactly new: Best Buy and Macy’s have long offered the service. But given its ambitious timetable—CEO Gregg Steinhafel told analysts during the summer the retailer planned to complete the roll out by Black Friday—Target not only finished the job but finished it a good three weeks early.
Amy Koo, a retail analyst at Kantar Retail, expressed skepticism that Target could complete the project in such tight timeframe. But the company seems to have adopted a more cautious approach to the rollout, she said.
Unlike the launch of the redesigned Target.com in 2011, the retailer has not heavily publicized the debut of Buy Online, Pick Up in Store. Back then, critics argued that Target did not adequately test its website to see if it could handle all of the heavy traffic the Missoni collection was bound to attract.
This time though, Target opted for a “soft launch” to first the test the service on employees and some customers.
“Target did not make a big splash, which makes it easier for them to first get the hang of it ,” Koo said. “It’s a real good thing to ease into it rather than make a big blowout statement.”
Even now, the service remains rather low key. Koo said a store she recently visited was only filling 10 to 15 orders a day.
Target is apparently still working out the bugs. A good friend in San Francisco recently complained to this blogger that the item she ordered on the website was not set aside for her when she visited the store.
“Target made up for it though by helping me find the items and helping me wheel them to my car,” she said.
Target Corp. CEO Gregg Steinhafel acknowledges that the retailer suffers from a “price perception” problem in Canada. Consumers readily buy Target’s “discretionary” merchandise like clothes and home.
But when it comes to “non discretionary” items – such as food and healthcare – shoppers assume Target’s prices are much higher than that of Wal-Mart or Loblaws.
For that reason, Target’s Canadian sales have fallen below the company’s original projections. Still, the company’s price perception woes are not exclusive to Canadians.
Over the past three years, Target has struggled with weak U.S. sales during the crucial holiday shopping period. Part of Target’s problem is that the company has not cut prices as aggressively as its competitors, analysts say. Holiday is largely about discounting, but Target has refused to chase what it calls “temporary market share” at the expense of profit margins.
In any case, Target’s prices are probably not materially more expensive than rivals. The company already offers 5 percent off each individual purchase with a REDcard. And Target recently decided to match online and in-store prices of competitors like Wal-Mart and Best Buy, and offer free shipping.
“There isn’t going to be a meaningful change in our [holiday] strategy, because day-in and day ... our prices are competitive,” Steinhafel told analysts during a recent conference call. “We have a very strong value proposition and our circular pricing is even more aggressive than that and we take market leading positions.”
But perception doesn’t always match reality. Target’s prices may be competitive, but Americans looking for deals will likely assume Wal-Mart and Amazon have lower prices, analysts say.
“For the last three holiday seasons, [Target] has performed poorly,” Daniel Binder, a retail analyst with Jefferies & Co., wrote in a recent research note. “This appears to reflect its less aggressive pricing message even as its everyday low prices competitive.”
“We do remain concerned that its less aggressive promotional posture during the biggest quarter may contribute to a loss of mind share with its core customers,” Binder wrote.
In other words, for all of its marketing prowess, Target doesn’t effectively communicate to consumers its holiday prices are just as good if not better than everyone else’s.
To address soft sales in Canada, Steinhafel promised to take quick action to educate consumers.
“We’re going to make sure that our prices get more notice than they have been up to this point,” Steinhafel said. “Part of that was a conscious plan on our part to make sure that we really won in home and apparel and we feel real good about where we’re in those two businesses today, so we’re proud of that fact.”
“Now we have to just turn on the gas a little bit on the other side of the equation to make sure that we’re getting the Canadian guest to understand what great values we offer,” he said.
Steinhafel could easily apply that same logic to American consumers come November and December.
In Chicago, where baseball loyalties are divided between the Cubs (North Side) and the White Sox (South Side), Target Corp. has decidedly pledged its allegiance to the Cubs.
Or has it?
Target enjoys a multi-year marketing deal with the Cubs to support its new CityTarget store, which includes a noticeable bull’s eye logo on the famed ivy and brick outfield in Wrigley Field.
Only one problem: the CityTarget store is technically located on the South Side.
Last year, the Minneapolis-based retailer opened the CityTarget store to much fanfare on State and Madison streets. Designed by famed architect Louis Sullivan and built in 1899, the building, which is a U.S. historic landmark, was home to the Schlesinger and Mayer department store and later Carson Pirie Scott.
But a decision by Chicago’s City Council in 1908 declared Madison street as the official dividing line between the north and south sides of the city. The store sits on the south side of Madison. If the store had opened just 100 feet across the street, Target would have safely been in Cubs territory.
Not that it really matters since there are plenty of Cubs and White Sox fans who live and work on each other’s turf. It's not as if Target would pick a building solely on the basis of baseball loyalties. And some people believe the real North/South divide belongs someplace else.
Still, Target has tried hard to position CityTarget as neighborhood stores with strong ties to the community. And a few people did notice the contradiction, said Brian Kelly, a Chicago-based retail consultant.
Right now, the CityTarget sells more Cubs merchandise than White Sox products. In any case, both teams have losing records and are unlikely to make the playoffs.
In recent months, though, the Cubs and White Sox have ceded considerable shelf space to another Chicago team: the Blackhawks of the National Hockey League, which recently won the Stanley Cup Championship.
So it seems in Chicago retail, geographic loyalties don’t matter so much as winning pedigrees.
Come July, local Target shoppers will see some store employees dressed in black in addition to the usual red and khaki.
These employees make up Target's new Beauty Concierge Service, which provides high level, unbiased beauty advice to consumers.
The program, first piloted in Chicago and since expanded to Los Angeles, will hit 36 stores in the Twin Cities region next month.
Ultimately, Target plans to equip 200 stores throughout the country with the service by the end of the year.