In these leaner times, the "you deserve it" buying mantra has been replaced with "wait for a sale." Shopping the best sales can mean big savings, if you can wait. Our biannual sales calendar will help you plan for savings on everything from artwork to appliances through year's end. Here are five best bets:
1. Jack Rubenstein carpet, Aug. 3-6.
If your idea of a good deal on carpet is 50 percent off, you haven't been to Rubenstein's sale. I keep looking for lower prices, but Rubenstein still has the rock bottom.
2. Munchkin Markets, Sept. 17-18.
This massive consignment sale is perfect for parents who want to sell the stuff their kids outgrew and parents who want to get great bargains on clothing, toys and accessories. Beats a garage sale any day.
3. The Thymes warehouse, Oct. 6-8.
What is it about the Thymes sale that draws customers like butterflies to flowers? Maybe it's the signature scents; maybe it's the low prices on soaps and lotions. Judging by the lines, it's a sale that few bargain hunters can resist.
4. Warners' Stellian appliances, Nov. 12-13.
This sale offers midrange appliances, but it's also one of the few times that high-end models -- Viking, Miele, Sub-Zero, Wolf, Big Green Egg -- are discounted, too.
5. Judith McGrann, Dec. 26-31.
This gift and clothing shop starts the year with all new items every Jan. 1, but not before customers are treated to a 50 percent storewide discount. What doesn't sell by Dec. 31 is donated to charity. Classy.JUNE
21-July 30: Chanhassen Dinner Theatres show special (Chanhassen, 952-934-1525, www.chanhassentheatres.com). All remaining tickets for shows to "Jesus Christ Superstar" through July 30 are $34 for dinner and the show, regularly $59 to $77.
22-July 5: Opitz Outlet Annex tent sale (4300 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park, 952-922-2435, www.opitzoutlet.com). A big influx of summer merchandise for men, women and juniors, all at 80 to 90 percent off (slight damages). Also about 500 handbags for $10 each.
30-July 4: Albertville Premium Outlets summer sale (Albertville, 763-497-1911, www.premiumoutlets.com/albertville). End-of-season sales at the mall. Other sale dates: Sept. 2-5.JULY
4: Holiday sales at Goodwill, Salvation Army, Unique Thrift Store, Valu Thrift and Savers. Take 50 percent off storewide (some exclusions may apply) at all Twin Cities locations. Other sales: Sept. 5 (includes Arc's Value Village).
9: Mode premium denim sale (7788 Main St., Maple Grove, 763-391-6102, www.shopmodestore.com). Buy three pairs of premium denim for $100 (regularly up to $200 each).
14-17: Galleria clearance sale (Galleria, Edina, 952-925-4321, www.galleriaedina.com). Summer clearance at 17 stores, including cabinet hardware at Brass Handle, a patio closeout at Gabberts, and discounts on all spring and summer menswear at Twill by Scott Dayton.AUGUST
3-6: Jack Rubenstein carpet/flooring sale (952-922-4781, www.jlrwholesale.com). Special pricing from carpet mills during a liquidation event at ProSource locations. Call Rubenstein to get access to the ProSource showrooms, which are normally open to the trade only.
6-7: Tatters storewide sale (2928 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-823-5285, www.tattersvintageclothing.com). Everything at the vintage clothing store is half-price, including men's and women's Levi's, leather jackets and cowboy boots.
11-13: Sample It sale (Days Inn, 7851 Normandale Blvd., Bloomington, 612-377-6967, www.sampleitsale.com). Clothing and accessories for kids, juniors and adults, including Billabong, Volcom and Quiksilver. Additional 25 percent off on the last day. Other sale dates: Nov. 17-19.
12-14: National Camera tent sale (9300 Olson Memorial Hwy., Golden Valley, 763-546-6831, www.natcam.com). Savings on closeout and demo digital and used 35mm cameras, lenses, camcorders, binoculars, picture frames, albums and accessories.SEPTEMBER
1-3: Eversharp knife sharpening sale (344 NE. Taft St., Mpls., 612-379-1300, www.eversharpknives.com). Up to 10 knives sharpened for $1 each, serrated knives $2 and scissors $3.
8-10: David Rosenberg fall/winter clothing sample sale (location TBD, 612-343-3221). Women's, men's and kids' midline clothing and jewelry at or below wholesale cost.
17-18: General Store tent sale (14401 Hwy. 7, Minnetonka, 952-935-7131, www.generalstoreofminnetonka .com). Save 50 percent on the gift shop's scratch and dents, onesies and overstocked items.
17-18: Munchkin Market sale (Washington County Fairgrounds, Building D, 12300 N. 40th St., Lake Elmo, 651-253-0897). Large assortment of consignment clothing, toys and accessories for infants to tweens. For additional fall kids' sales, go to www.mnkidsconsignment sales.com or www.twincitieskidssales.com.
22: Malt-O-Meal cereal sale for charity (IDS Center Crystal Court, Mpls.). About 20 varieties of cereal will be sold for $1 a bag starting at 7:30 a.m. to raise money for United Way.
30-Oct. 1-2: Architectural Antiques storewide sale (1330 NE. Quincy St., Mpls., 612-332-8344, www.archantiques.com). At least 40 percent off everything in the high-end salvage and antiques home furnishings store.OCTOBER
4-7: Stroke of the Heart greeting card warehouse sale (3792 Williston Rd., Minnetonka, 952-945-9495). Locally designed greeting cards with watercolor designs starting at 35 cents, plus boxed notecards ($4.50) and magnets.
6-8: Thymes warehouse sale (location TBD, Mpls., 612-338-4471, www.thymes.com). Discounts of 50 percent or more on overstocked or discontinued body lotions, diffusers and oils, creams, bath salts, colognes, candles, soaps and gift sets.
26-28: Gina B. Designs greeting card sale (12700 Industrial Park Blvd., Suite 40, Plymouth, 763-559-7595, www.ginabdesigns.com). Cards, stationery and gifts discounted 50 to 90 percent.
28-30 and Nov. 4-6, 9-13, Dec. 2-4: Gage & Gage warehouse sale on gift wrapping supplies (660 Industrial Circle, Shakopee, 952-233-2081, www.gagewarehousesale.com). Bows 25 cents or less, gift boxes 20 cents to $2, gift bags 10 cents to $2, plus ribbon, tissue, wrapping paper, napkins and paper plates.
TBD: Angel Foundation attic sale (location TBD, 612-627-9000, www.mnangel.org). A slightly smaller version of the American Cancer Society's mega garage sales. This one, which benefits adults and families facing cancer, is expected to be held in mid-October.NOVEMBER
4-5, 18-19, Dec. 2: Europa Import warehouse sale (1360 E. County Rd. E, Vadnais Heights, 651-486-6860). Scandinavian-style candleholders, candles, gourmet foods, artisan glass, ornaments discounted 40 to 60 percent.
9-12: North Aire Market gourmet foods warehouse sale (1157 Valley Park Dr. S., Shakopee, 952-496-2887). Soup ladies Maggie and Mary offer their dry soup mixes ($4), cheeseball and smoothie mixes ($3) for 40 percent less than in retail stores. Plenty of free samples, too. Other sales: Ask for a map of nearby sales on candles, coffee and gift wrap.
12-13: Warners' Stellian extreme warehouse sale (550 Atwater Circle, St. Paul, 651-222-0011, www.warners stellian.com). Overstocks, scratch-and-dent and special-purchase appliances offered near or below wholesale prices. Manufacturer warranties apply, but all sales are final.
15: CB2 grand opening (3045 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., www.cb2.com). Fans of Blu Dot and Crate & Barrel might like the more contemporary home furnishings of CB2's first Minnesota store.
17-19: Minneapolis College of Art & Design art sale (2501 Stevens Av. S., Mpls., 612-874-3700, www.mcad.edu/artsale). More than 8,000 original works of art for sale for $10 and $1,000. Admission is $150 on the 17th, $30 on the 18th and free on the 19th.DECEMBER
3: Papo d'Anjo warehouse sale (2325 Endicott St., Suite 11, St. Paul, 651-294-3900, www.papodanjo.com). Fall/winter European children's wear for ages 3 months to 14 years.
16: Free shipping day at many of the nation's Internet retailers (www.freeshippingday.com). More than 1,500 of the nation's online retailers participate, including Cabela's, Lands' End, Brookstone, Penneys and Hanna Andersson.
26-31: Judith McGrann storewide clearance (4615 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park, 612-922-2971, www.judithmcgrannandfriends.com). Fifty percent off everything in the gift shop and women's clothing store.