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An inside look at top retailers and the consumers they covet

Red Wing Shoes' warehouse sale starts Thursday

Leaves turning gold and red, an art festival with 100 juried artists and Red Wing shoes and boots discounted 30 to 70 percent. These are all tempting reasons to drive to Red Wing, Minn. later this week. (It takes about an hour to drive to Red Wing from Minneapolis.)

Red Wing Shoes is having its 4th annual warehouse sale with boots and shoes for men and women. About 15,000 pairs of overstocks and out-of-box shoes will be discounted. Many but not all of the shoes are made in the United States. Heritage, the made-in-USA collection that's popular with celebs such as Ryan Gosling, David Beckham, Chris Brown and Drake, will also be part of the sale.

Sample savings:

2264 Work boot: Originally $275, sale price $100

2263 Work boot: Originally $255, sale price $90

4872 Irish Setter hunt: Originally $205, sale price $100

8111 Iron Ranger Heritage (pictured): Originally $320, sale price $110

875 Classic Moc Heritage: Originally $260, sale price $110

Women's Irish Setter hunting boot: Originally $145, sale price $40.

The sale will be Oct. 8-11 at Plant 1, 229 Potter St., Red Wing, 1-651-388-6233. Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Red Wing retail program manager Mike Rudquist said that all sizes are first come, first served. "Getting to the sale early is best," he recommended.

Red Wing's fall festival of the arts is held Saturday and Sunday.

The truth behind the tale: Did someone really return tires to Nordstrom?

Part of the reason that Nordstrom is legendary for its customer service stems back to the tire story. What is the tire story? Many years ago a customer rolled a pair of tires into a Nordstrom store and asked for his money back. Nordstrom has never sold tires and the guy did not produce any kind of a receipt but legend has it that the guy was given a refund.

Truth or urban legend?

Erik and Blake Nordstrom, co-presidents for the Nordstrom retail stores, both say it is a true story. In town for today's opening of the Nordstrom in Ridgedale, Blake Nordstrom said that the return occurred in the mid-1970s in one of the Fairbanks, Alaska stores.

What makes the story less far-fetched is that Nordstrom had purchased three stores in Alaska from Northern Commercial Company, which did sell tires. "We turned the auto store into a men's store, so when the customer rolled the tires into the store, he had a reason to believe that he had gotten the tires there," said Blake Nordstrom.

Nordstrom isn't sure how many tires were returned or the amount of the refund, but he commended the salesperson who accepted the tires and gave the customer a refund. "He used great judgment," Nordstrom said. "He treated the customer like he would like to be treated."

According to Snopes.com, some say that the founder John Nordstrom was there and saw the salesman give money back to the confused customer, but John Nordstrom died in 1963 and the incident supposedly happened in the mid-70s.

I've always wondered why someone hasn't attempted to duplicate the tire return in the 21st Century just to see how Nordstrom would play it out. Since the Nordstrom in Ridgedale took over part of the space formerly occupied by Dayton's/Marshall Field's/Macy's Men + Home store, maybe someone who purchased a bread machine or something at Dayton's men's + home store after 1995 (when Dayton's took over the Carson Pirie Scott location) should see if Nordstrom will take it back. Even better, if anyone still possesses an item with proof that it was purchased at Carson Pirie Scott in Ridgedale, you could be part of Nordstrom's next legend if you're willing and able to take it back.