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An inside look at top retailers and the consumers they covet

'Phantom/ Opera' sequel tickets scarce but $40 ticket lottery in progress

At the end of the stage version of "Phantom of the Opera," the Phantom and his obsession, Christine, live on to uncertain fates. The vague conclusion invites a sequel, which Andrew Lloyd Webber penned for hungry fans.


"Love Never Dies: The Phantom Returns" comes to the Orpheum in Minneapolis June 26 to July 1. Tickets remaining are scarce, but fans can still score a ticket that would normally cost up to $145 for $40.

In less than one minute, according to Hennepin Theare Trust, anyone can enter a chance to win one or two tickets. " Register by noon Monday.  A limited number of pairs and scattered single tickets will be drawn for each performance. Patrons choose which performances to attend but can only win once. Winners and losers will be notified by email by 1 p.m. Tuesday. Winners must pay for their ticket(s) by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

To register for the lottery, click here or go to www.luckyseat.com/loveneverdies-minneapolis/.

The plot synopsis, according to Hennepin Theatre Trust, is as follows. It's 1907, a decade after the Phantom's disappearance from the Paris Opera House. He now lives in New York City, taking in the freak shows of Coney Island. 

Still very much involved in music and his obsession for Christine, the Phantom anonymously lures the struggling family (Christine, hubby Raoul and young son Gustave) from Paris to New York with promises of financial rewards.  

How good is Bed, Bath & Beyond's version of Amazon Prime?

How many Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons are you hoarding? You know, the "20 percent off one item" coupons that come in the mail or the "$5 off any $20 purchase" coupon? Some BBB customers could easily have nearly a dozen going back to 2016. Why keep an expired coupon? Bed, Bath & Beyond accepts its own expired coupons.

Earlier this year Bed, Bath & Beyond introduced its version of a loyalty program, called Beyond+. Pay $29 a year to join and get 20% off every purchase made in store or online. It's a lower annual fee than Amazon's $119 per year or Restoration Hardware's Grey Card loyalty program, which charges $100 annually for a 25% discount. 

“We’re going to see more of this,” said Dave Brennan, professor emeritus at the University of St. Thomas Institute for Retailing Excellence. “It’s a way to lock in customers and keep them from going elsewhere.”

People often balk at an annual fee, but even one purchase can recoup the cash. For example, a $150 BBB purchase will result in a $30 savings with a Beyond+ membership. But the consumers who have a stash of those 20% off coupons or $5 off coupons may want.to use them up before joining. Since the 20% off coupons are for a single item, the membership may be a better idea for someone buying a new house, renting a first apartment, or going off to college. 

"We know how much our customers enjoy our 20% off one item coupons," said a Bed, Bath & Beyond spokesperson in a statement. "We wanted to be able to offer our most loyal customers an easier way to receive 20% off their entire purchase and free standard shipping on all of their purchases!"

Membership has some caveats. The discount does not include more than 100 brands listed online including Breville, Dyson, Under Armour, Vitamix, Weber, diapers, and baby food. To be fair, those brands are also excluded when using one of the 20% off coupons.

The free shipping on items ordered online is great, but heavy items such as furniture, are excluded.

Companies such as Costco and Sam's Club allow full refunds on membership if a customer is not happy. Loyalty programs are a bit different. Bed, Bath & Beyond offers no refunds on memberships, pro-rated or otherwise. The company also auto renews the memberships. 

On the positive side, Bed, Bath & Beyond remains a very consumer-friendly retailer. Its return policy is among the least restrictive in retail today. There is no time limit on most returns with a receipt. The stores have a receipt lookup system for purchases made within a year if the buyer can remember which credit card was used. Returns without a receipt get store credit for the current selling price minus 20 percent. 

Consumers holding off on joining while they still have a stash of expired coupons may find that at some point the store will no longer accept the expired ones. It seems likely that the company will put out fewer coupons to encourage sign-ups in the loyalty program.