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Total Wine opens in Burnsville; Maple Grove may be next

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: September 11, 2014 - 11:43 AM

Total Wine in Burnsville opened Wednesday evening (Sept. 10) to a robust crowd. Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz, city council members and Total Wine co-founder and president David Trone welcomed customers and dignitaries as they cut the red ribbon to officially open Minnesota's second Total Wine superstore. A Roseville location opened in March. The new location is the chain's 106th store.

The Maryland-based wine, beer and liquor retailer plans to open its next store in Nov. in Woodbury. The long-delayed decision for the Bloomington location at 494 and France Av. endured another test on Wednesday with a day-long public hearing. "Everyone had their due process," said Sandra Johnson, Bloomington's city attorney. Trone said little about the meeting except that, by request, he changed the ownership of Total Wine to include only him and his brother Robert, eliminating any inclusion of their children as owners in trust.

Bloomington city attorney Sandra Johnson explained that the reason for the ownership change was due to Bloomington city code being stricter than state law. "Minors are not qualified to be owners," she said.

Now Johnson and Total Wine will provide a summary document to the state administrative law judge, who will make a recommendation on granting Total Wine's license. The issue may finally be decided at the city council meeting on Oct. 20.

Burnsville city council person Suzanne Nguyen said that city attorney Joel Jamnik never saw any reason to deny a liquor license to Total Wine. The process in Burnsville, Roseville and Woodbury has gone much more smoothly than in Bloomington.

Total Wine originally talked of having five to eight stores in the Twin Cities. After Roseville, Burnsville, Woodbury and Bloomington, it appears that Maple Grove may be the fifth. After saying that he was interested in northwest metro, Trone confirmed to me that he had indeed visited Maple Grove on Wednesday.

The Total Wine store in Burnsville is slightly larger than the Roseville location. It is filled with more than 8,000 types of wine, 3,000 spirits and 2.500 beers. During the grand opening, festivities include live music and tastings through Saturday, Sept. 13. The store is located in Burnhaven Shopping Center at 820 W. County Rd 42, near Target.

Costco offers deal for new members--$146 value for $55

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: September 9, 2014 - 4:07 PM

If you've been on the fence about signing up for a new Costco membership, the wholesale club is trying harder to get you on their side. In a LivingSocial promo that started Tuesday, Sept. 9, Costco will throw in several freebies for new customers who buy a $55 membership.

Similar to a Sam's Club's promo last year, Costco will throw in a $20 Costco cash card, and coupons for a free apple pie, rotisserie chicken and a 30-pack of bathroom tissue that will be mailed in 4 weeks after signing up. Costco also throws in three free months of identity theft protection. Read the fine print on that one--service through Identity Guard automatically renews for $13.49 a month unless you call to cancel. I am guessing that you can avoid that hassle if you never enroll in the first place. Enrollment is probably not automatic.

The warehouse club says the value is $146 for $55. Last November Sam's Club offered a similar membership offer for $45 with free pie, chicken and scalloped potatoes worth $85. Costco's offer is apparently worth more because of the $42 for ID Protection. And 30 rolls of TP ought to be worth $15 or so.

It's good for one year and it can be used anywhere in the U.S. The membership voucher has to be activated by Dec. 15.

The promo is expected to continue for seven days, according to LivingSocial, but it could be terminated earlier. It is not valid for renewals of existing memberships.

Thymes warehouse sale will be held a month earlier

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: September 9, 2014 - 4:03 PM

The on and off Thymes warehouse sale is ON for this year, but being held a month earlier than usual in September. The company skipped a full-scale warehouse sale in 2012 and held a scaled back one last year.

The sale will be held Sept. 25-27 in Edina at 4660 W. 77th St., near Pentagon Park. Hours will be 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thurs-Fri and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

The sale was moved to Edina to accommodate the large crowds at last year's sale, said Cindy Andersen, vice-president of operations at Thymes in Minneapolis. She expects a larger amount of inventory at this sale compared to last year. "We've had a lot of packaging changes and discontinued some items to allow for more inventory at the sale," she said.

The sale is typically a savings of 50 to 75 percent on soaps and scents, including body washes, lotions, candles, diffusers, bubble bath and gift sets. Prices are usually grouped at $3, $5, $10, $15, $20 and up, although some items may get additional discounts on the last day.

It's a popular sale so prepare to wait in line before the doors open in the morning or wait in line at the registers, maybe both. Last year about 200 people stood in line before the doors opened on the first day. It's a little like Black Friday.

See "The Book of Mormon" at the Orpheum for $25 through Sept. 14

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: August 22, 2014 - 2:38 PM

Hennepin Theatre Trust's ad blitz for " The Book of Mormon" at the Orpheum Theatre has been buzzing for months, but the $25 ticket option is a more subtle nod. Tickets are regularly $65 to $173 with fees unless you are one of the lucky persons whose name is drawn in a lottery two hours before curtain time. They can purchase 1 or 2 tickets for $25 each (cash only).

You will need a little luck on your side. About 50 to 100 people typically show up to claim 10 or 20 pairs of tickets, based on availability. People bring their significant other or friend to the drawing to increase the chances that one of their names will be drawn.

Here's how it works: Two and one-half hours before show time, people can obtain a drawing ticket to print their name and the number of tickets desired on it. The drawing is held two hours before the show starts. Winners must be present at the time of drawing to claim the tickets. They must show ID, which will be checked when the tickets are redeemed, to discourage winners from scalping the $25 ticket, said Karen Nelson, HTT's communication director.

If your name is drawn, you are not required to purchase the tickets if you're unhappy with the seat location, Nelson said, but you can't choose another seat. The seat assignments given to each winner are random, so the first person's name to be drawn doesn't necessarily get the best available seats.

The lottery/drawing system is rarely used with HTT's Broadway shows. Only "Wicked" and "Book of Mormon" have done so. Other shows may be subject to a student rush, but Nelson does not expect that a student rush will be added during the show. That is up to the show's promoters, not Hennepin Theatre Trust.

However, those who don't win tickets in the drawing may want to check with the box office to see if unsold seats may be discounted.

The shows runs Tuesdays through Sundays until Sept. 14. It won 9 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and features book, music and lyrics by "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

Twin Cities' Office Depot/Office Max store closings start to leak out

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: August 8, 2014 - 12:31 PM

Over the noon hour on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis Thursday, several people saddled with brightly colored sandwich boards on their shoulders announced that everything in the Office Depot downtown was up to 70 percent off. A store employee confirmed by phone that the store is closing Sept. 6. It's one of three closings in the Twin Cities confirmed by employees but not the company.Everything is currently marked 20 to 70 percent off.

Office Depot/Max expects to close about 400 stores by 2016.The company now has about 1,600 stores. In 2013 Office Depot completed the its purchase of rival chain Office Max. Areas that have both an Office Max and an Office Depot are vulnerable to one or the other closing.

Office Depot has not formally announced any specific store closings yet, but store employees answering the phone Thursday in the downtown Minneapolis Office Depot, the Eden Prairie Office Max, and the Maple Grove Office Depot confirmed their closings. Employees indicated

a Nov. 15 closing in Eden Prairie and a November closing in Maple Grove.

An employee said that Burnsville and Coon Rapids Office Depot locations would also be closing, but managers in Burnsville and Coon Rapids locations would not confirm or deny the closing. Each city currently has an Office Depot and an Office Max location, making a closure of one more likely than in suburbs with a single store.

An Office Depot Max representative would not confirm the closings of any of the five stores. "For competitive reasons we are not providing specific store location information at this time," said Julianne Embry, a senior public relations manager in an e-mail. In an earnings call on Aug. 5, Office Depot Max confirmed that 165 of the 400 locations will be closing by the end of this year. The company expects to save at least $100 million from the closings by the end of 2016. It had previously reported a $75 million expected savings.

Gas prices inch upward. Time to dust off the best savings tips

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: July 3, 2014 - 4:51 PM

Let's assume you aren't going to walk, take a bike or hitch a ride on public transportation. You're going to take an automobile that runs on gasoline. Expensive gasoline.

Apparently those summer blends cost more to, ugh, blend, so what's the owner of a gas slurping, Volt-Prius-Leaf-hating beast supposed to do?

Clip coupons. Pay with a credit card that offers rebates. Fill up on Tuesdays.

Yeah, don't expect miracles when it comes to savings on gas. These tips aren't new, but maybe you forgot them.

1. Fill up earlier in the week--on Mondays or Tuesdays, said Patrick DeHaan at Gasbuddy.com. Gas prices typically rise later in the week except when conflagrations break out in the Mideast or the Midwest refinery.

2. Choose a credit card with a 3 to 5 percent rebate on gas purchases. Credit.com compares some of the best ones.

3. Collect the coupon fliers in the papers from Holiday and Quik Trip. You can save a nickel or more per gallon, but save even more using tip #4.

4. Go to Holiday or Super America stations on Tuesdays when most participating stations will double not only their own coupons but also competitors' coupons. One caveat--if the competitor's coupon says you get a dime off per gallon with the purchase of a car wash, you will need to purchase a car wash to get the discount.

5. Use an app such as Gasbuddy that locates the cheapest gas near you.

Have a safe holiday weekend.

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