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Posts about Retail

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.

The latest Spirit Airlines experience? You don't want to hear it

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: June 10, 2014 - 10:22 AM

Last weekend I flew to Chicago O'Hare on Spirit Airlines.

Was it a barely-survived-to-tell-the-tale-experience with outrageous baggage fees, long delays without updates, surly flight attendants, back breaking uncomfortable seats and lost luggage?

None of that happened to me, at least this time. My worst fear was a delayed flight, but we left a few minutes EARLY to Chicago and the return flight to MSP left on time. So why might you not want to hear about my experience? Because if you hate Spirit as much as many flyers do, my pleasant experience will contradict your "flyer beware" disasters.

 It was one of those cheap fares advertised for $33 that costs $78 once the taxes are added. I also purchased two Big Seats for $20 each, Spirit's version of a business class seat.

Do I recommend paying extra for one of the Big Seats in the first row, which are almost as big as Delta's business class? Yes, but I only paid an extra $20 one-way. It can run as much as $100 or more on longer flights but you're paying only for the extra room, not free food or drink.

On Spirit's Big Seats, the seat pitch (legroom) is 36-inches (28-inches in Spirit economy). On Delta it's 36-38-inches in business class (30 to 34-inches in economy), according to Seatguru.com.

Spirit's Big Seat is 18.5-inches wide (17.75-inches in economy) compared to Delta's business-class seat at 19 to 21-inches wide. It seemed more than adequate for my 170 lb. frame, but I thought it was even wider  since there are only 4 seats across in the first row compared to six seats across in subsequent rows.

One more plus: the Big Seats also recline, unlike all other seats on Spirit. That's right, Spirit's economy seats do not recline. Since it is in the first row (bulkhead), I was worried that we would get charged for our carryons since we could not put them under the seat in front of us. But no, we were able to put them in the overhead without paying the extra $35 to $45. TIP: you may be able to bring a 2-wheeler to fit in the overhead instead of a fit-under-the-seat piece, but I am verifying this with Spirit. That alone will save you $35 or $45.

Nearly everyone who flies Spirit the first time complains about the bag fees for carryons placed in the overhead as well as those checked ($30 to $40). And those who check luggage at the airport are outraged to discover the fee is $100. But you learn. We brought only duffle bags to avoid the baggage fees--and for a weekend trip they're fine. Still, I will admit that a heavy duffle bag is not nearly as convenient to tote as luggage on wheels.

My worst fear was that we would be delayed. Spirit has one of the worst on-time records in the business. Sixty-four percent of its flights arrive on time compared to an industry average of 80 percent, according to Flightstats.com. Experts recommend taking the earliest flight of the day to minimize delays. Spirit's 6:05 a.m. flight to O'Hare has a 72 percent on-time arrival rate (flight 612). It's 9:30 a.m. departure from ORD to MSP has a 63 percent on-time arrival rate (flight 761). By the ways, those numbers have improved. Three months ago, the same flights had on-time percentages of 51 and 45 respectively.

We were fortunate to have on-time arrivals both ways. Everything went off without a hitch. Even the flight attendants were amiable, funny even. As we taxied to the gate in Chicago, the attendant said "We'd like to thank you for flying Spirit Airlines. We hope you had a pleasant flight. If you have any complaints, please call 1-800-S-O-U-T-H-W-E-S-T."

My only regret was the 6:05 a.m. departure. It meant setting an alarm for 2:45 a.m. and boarding the first light rail train of the day at 4:06 a.m. Luckily, our hotel room was ready when we arrived there at 8:30 a.m. and we didn't even get charged extra for early check-in.

Thumbs up for Spirit this time around. Thumbs down for catching any flight that leaves before 8 a.m. Too early for me.

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