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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.

Last minute air fare deals out of MSP

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: July 1, 2014 - 2:10 PM

Saturday I wrote about the high cost of summer airfares. I also included several tips for saving time and money this summer when flying. A couple of them were condensed due to lack of space, including this one: For flights out of MSP, sign up for Sun Country, IcelandAir, Delta and Sprit's e-mail or Twitter alerts.

Here's where to sign up on Delta.com. You'll need a Delta logon and passsword to sign up.

At IcelandAir, signing up for sale alerts is simple as providing your e-mail address. Why IcelandAir? It's a great place to get less expensive fares to Europe.

Sun Country offers Wing It! fares on Tuesdays. Sign up here. Today's fares for the holiday weekend include the following:

 These fares must be booked by 11:59 PM CT (Central Time) on July 1, 2014. (Fares are priced one-way.)

Destination Fare From Minneapolis / St. Paul To Minneapolis / St. Paul
Chicago $60*
July 5, 2014
July 7, 2014
Lansing $60*
July 8, 2014
July 4, 2014
Washington, D.C. (DCA) $100*
July 5, 2014
July 8, 2014
Boston $110*
July 4 & 8, 2014
July 4 & 8, 2014
San Diego $130*
July 3, 2014
July 7, 2014
New York City (JFK) $140*
July 5 & 8, 2014
July 5 & 8, 2014
San Francisco $140*
July 4, 2014
July 7, 2014
Los Angeles $160*
July 4, 2014
July 6, 2014
 

Galleria adds four new retailers

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: June 26, 2014 - 5:29 PM

The Galleria in Edina has added four new retailers since February, including J. McLaughlin, which opens Friday, June 27. J. McLaughlin offers a tailored, somewhat conservative line of clothing for women and men. The Minnesota location is the only one in the five state region (MN, IA, SD, ND and WI). The company, which has about 90 stores nationwide, chose Minnesota for its strong fan base, said mall retail leasing manager Jennifer Smith in a statement. It is located next to Hammer Made.

Russell + Hazel, Lululemon, Allen Edmonds and David Yurman  opened between February and May.

Existing stores Fawbush's and Pumpz & Co. have remodeled or expanded. Fawbush's boutique completed its refresh in late winter. Pumpz' build-out of a new location across from Coach will be completed in the fall.

Bloomington Total Wine store not expected to open before Nov.

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: June 23, 2014 - 2:15 PM

The Total Wine store in Bloomington that was supposed to open December 2013 may finally open one year after originally planned.

Since December the Bloomington location of the wine superstore has been held up in wrangling with the Bloomington City Council and objections from the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association. Total Wine pulled its application in April and refiled it May 21 with the city of Bloomington to smooth the process.

Those self-imposed delays mean that a public hearing won't be held until late September or early October, said Bloomington city attorney Sandra Johnson. After the hearing the license still has to be approved by the city council. "City staff has agreed to do everything we could to shoot for a council decision in early to late November," she wrote in an email.

Once the license is granted Total Wine can stock the store in a matter of days, but no alcohol can be stored on the premises until after a license is granted.

Ed Cooper, vice president of public affairs & community relations for Total Wine wouldn't speculate on a late November or December opening after all of the licensing issues the company has encountered. But he is confident that the Burnsville location in Burnhaven Mall will open in September.

A hearing on the liquor license in Woodbury (7150 Valley Creek Plaza) will be taken up at a city council meeting on Wednesday, June 25. The Woodbury Bulletin reported that the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association plans to send a representative to object to Total Wine's application.

"We've learned to expect pushback in Minnesota," said Cooper. "It would not surprise us if competitors come to the meeting and ask the city of Woodbury to do their bidding for them. They [liquor store owners] are afraid of competitors."

The Roseville location, which debuted in March in Rosedale Marketplace, is the only location in Minnesota that is open.

Macy's Ridgedale re-opens restaurant with nod to St. Paul River Room

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: June 13, 2014 - 10:51 AM

Cross off another item on the punch list for Macy's Ridgedale consolidation. The popular Lakeshore Grill has been moved and  is now open after being closed for several months. The new space includes an outdoor patio for nearly 50 diners, an updated menu that doesn't leave out fan favorites, and  a horseshoe-shaped bar accented by the Waterford chandelier from St. Paul's River Room restaurant (the store closed in March 2013).

"We brought back the chandelier as an homage to our history," said Warren Wolfe, group vice-president of Macy's Foods. "We added the sphere around it to contemporize it in the modern surroundings."

The menu still includes faves such as chicken pot pie, Minnesota wild rice soup and popovers, although the puffed pastry has not been miniaturized at the Ridgedale at all locations. "The recipe is the same, just a smaller version," said Wolfe. Otherwise, expect a few menu tweaks to accommodate changing tastes, including some bolder flavors, expanded ethnicity and vegetarian and gluten-free options.

In addition to the restaurant on the second floor, a new Taste Bar Cafe on the first floor offers house-made soups, baked goods, beverages, salads and sandwiches to go and a large assortment of sweets with plenty of casual seating.

The remodeling started when Macy's consolidated its main Ridgedale store with the now demolished men's and home store and added 84,000 square feet to its existing building. The former men's + home location will make way for a new Nordstrom and other tenants to be announced. Nordstrom plans to open in November, 2015.

The newly expanded Macy's is expected to be completed in August.

Restoration Hardware catalog weighs as much as a shot put

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: June 11, 2014 - 2:53 PM

I just received the biggest catalog I've ever received: a 15 pounder from Restoration Hardware with 3,200 pages in 13 sections.

This kind of retro marketing seems backward or forward....I can't decide which. Most retailers are dramatically pulling back on the number of catalogs they mail out due to the Internet.  But Restoration Hardware is going back to the days when retail shops were showrooms and everything has to be special ordered and shipped to the home.

Then there is the issue of paper. In a time where sending out a 3,200 hundred page catalog might seem environmentally insensitive, RH spins the accusation into cotton candy by arguing that the big catalog drop is actually environmentally friendly because, according to a company email, sending only one catalog per year equates to a lighter carbon footprint.

Last year the catalog was only half as large but RH CEO Gary Friedman said the expansion will make consumers think, "Wow, these guys have a lot." By that logic, Sears and J.C. Penney ought to bring back their general merchandise catalogs to pull themselves out of a deep, deep hole.

Despite my grumbling, Friedman knows what he's doing. He probably knows that at Williams-Sonoma, (Pottery Barn, West Elm) 70 percent of sales are catalog driven. Or that women aged 18 to 30 love catalogs as a way to interest them in a brand, according to a survey by Kurt Salmon.

When Friedman took over as CEO of RH in 2001, the company was almost bankrupt. During the recession he raised prices and quality when everyone else was lowering theirs. In 2013 the company had record profits of $69 million up 52% from the previous year, according to SEC filings.

His latest change is to add more design centers similar to the one that opened in Boston last year, a 40,000 square foot megacenter complete with cafe, wine bar, fountains and art installations. The company wants to add even more of them, including rumors of one at the Galleria. The Edina store already gobbled up its back room storage areas and expanded the showroom. A much larger store could be in its future.

Luxury retail analyst Pam Danziger said that RH really understands how affluent American want to decorate their homes. "They understand people who are house-proud," she said.

Apparently, that means putting down the "Atas Shrugged" for the weekend and picking up Restoration Hardware's 13-parter.

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