Dollars & Sense columnist John Ewoldt searches the Twin Cities and beyond for bargains and strategies to spare you time, money and hassles.
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Posts about Home Furnishing

Cost Plus World Market returning to the Twin Cities

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: August 8, 2012 - 1:18 PM


When was the last time a national retailer left the Twin Cities only to return three years later? The only example I can think is the one that landed in my email box this morning, thanks to deal spotter Ginger Klietz of Fridley. She spotted the Cost Plus World Market sign going up in Roseville. The store's grand opening is scheduled for Sept. 13, although representatives from World Market did not return calls to confirm.


A representative from the city of Bloomington confirmed that the former location at 494 and France will also be re-opening, but no date was available. 


Back in 2009, Cost Plus closed all of six Minnesota stores, including Bloomington, Roseville, Maple Grove, Minnetonka, Woodbury and Rochester. Other Twin Cities store re-openings could not be confirmed yet. Let's hope the new stores also include the wine and beer shops, which offer excellent sale prices on good, inexpensive choices from around the globe.

In May, Bed, Bath & Beyond announced plans to buy Cost Plus, which has 259 stores.  

Thymes is not having a warehouse sale this year

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: July 25, 2012 - 11:27 AM


Arguably the most popular warehouse sale in the Twin Cities, the annual Thymes soaps and scents sale, will not be happening this year, according to company email. "In previous years we sold discontinued or obsolete inventory," the company said in its email. "This year, we do not have enough product for such a large sale."


Instead of the October sale, the Thymes is throwing its customers a bone with an online sale featuring a small selection of products at 70 percent off, including Ambersweet Orange body lotion, Juniper Berry and Sandalwood candles, mists, reed diffusers and potpourri, and assorted Magnolia Fig and Vetiver items. It's a far cry from the 20 fragrances and hundreds of assorted items featured in the warehouse sales. The online sale continues through July 31. Shipping is free for orders of $75 or more. 


Here's one more spot to get Thymes merchandise at discounts of 50 percent or more: the Goodthings' warehouse sale Thursday through Saturday in White Bear Lake (July 26-28). About a dozen gift sets of the lavender and rose scents will be on the shelves, said Goodthings' co-owner Tyler Conrad.

All Goodthings departments are represented, including bath, bar, candles, home, garden, kitchen, women’s clothing (small to large) and shoes, children’s and jewelry. Brands that rarely go on sale will also be discounted 50 percent, including Mariposa and Julia Knight servingware, Baggalini travel bags and Built neoprene oven mitts and camera cases. Shoppers who remember standing in the heat waiting to get in last year can take comfort in this year’s larger air-conditioned warehouse. It’s at 4444 Centerville Rd., Suite 115, White Bear Lake, 651-426-8006). Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.


Menards succumbs to dry winter. Snowblowers on clearance

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: February 8, 2012 - 3:42 PM


Now that the winter is shockingly mild and dry, many of us assume that next winter will be more of the same. If you believe that, then there's no reason to check out

the snowblowers now on sale at Menards. 


If you believe instead that next winter could be another dose of sore backs, parking restrictions and ice dams, then head to Menards where nearly all snowblowers are on clearance, including single and two-stage models by MTD, Poulan and Murray.You can save $60 to $200 on most models. That might sound paltry, but snowblowers typically aren't a high profit margin item, "Taking $25 off a snowblower might be half our profit," said Mike Frattalone of Frattalone Hardware stores. 

Menards is offering discounts that probably won't get much better until March. But there is one opportunity coming sooner: The Richfield location will begin its "closing for remodeling" later this month. One employee said the closing sale will start Feb. 18. That means everything in the store will be an additional 10 or 15 percent off, including the snowblowers. 

(FYI, some departments such as lighting are already gearing up for the closing sale by discounting display models 25 percent now.)


The Home Depot near Menards in Bloomington has not begun to discount its snowblowers yet. But don't let that discourage you from making an offer. After calling the Home Depot on New Brighton Boulevard. in Minneapolis, a manager asked which model had my interest. "Ariens," I said, knowing that Consumer Reports rated most of them highly in its February issue. "Come in in and make an offer on a floor model" I was told. Apparently, it's a lot harder to send back floor models than the ones in the box. Plus, you don't have to pay extra to have it assembled. Make any offer you want, but I'd start the bidding at 15 percent less than sticker. 


By the way, you might want to reconsider if you're looking at the Poulan Pro 21-inch Single Stage on sale at Menards for $299, regularly $399. It gets the lowest overall score of the 33 blowers rated in Consumer Reports. It received poor ratings for snow removal speed, plow piles and distance. Surface clean, controls and handling were rated average.


You'll have less luck with clearance sales at smaller, independent dealers. Most can return the boxed blowers to the manufacturer. Or sometimes a manufacturer will take them back to sell them in areas with a lot of snow (think Denver). But check Frattalone's too. Some of the models are already on sale. Best of all, the selection is still good too, said Frattalone.


CB2 opens in Uptown with plenty of items already on sale

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: December 12, 2011 - 11:17 AM



CB2 opened in Uptown Saturday to large crowds. The line for the chance to win a $1,000 shopping spree was longer than the lines to buy something, but I saw lots of knitted poufs ($90 ottomans) being rung up.


What surprised me is that many items are already on sale. With the store opening so late in the season, it's because the company put them on sale at the other stores and online where they've been available for a lot longer. Even though they're new to us, we get to take advantage of the sale right away. Score.

In my article introducing CB2 last week, I compared the affordable modern home furnishings company to Ikea, but I suspect that some Ikea shoppers balked at some of the prices. Still, for my money, CB2 gets the style crown without much of a fight. Too many of Ikea's accessories have a "craftsy" look while CB2's look more "crafted" and fine tuned.  

Accent pillows, vases, sculptures and framed prints (Jackie O and James Dean) are just a few of hundreds of items

on sale. Not all items on sale online are in the store, but you can always ask if the item  can be brought into the store at no extra charge to save yourself shipping fees.


If you're wonderting what the store's guarantee is, it's too soon to tell. Reps say that they will do whatever it takes to make it right but that doesn't necessarily mean a refund. One store rep told me that if the cushions on a piece of upholstery were matting down after six or 12 months, for example, the store wiould replace the cushioning. 

Let me know your experiences with CB2 so far. 

One more thing: the store has a small parking lot with about 10 free spaces which were always full this weekend. It's also easy to to drop off and pick up an item if all the spots are full. And one last thing: why no entrance from Calhoun Square? That's a big miss.   


When is CB2 opening in Uptown? November? Next year?

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: September 15, 2011 - 7:29 AM



Crate & Barrel's more contemporary Gen Y sibling, CB2, will be opening soon in Calhoun Square Minneapolis. Not "soon" as in later this month but soon as in 2 to 6 months. What's new about that? The store that was reported to open mid November might not open until January 2012, according to Courtney Mullin, senior account manager at HL Marketing in Los Angeles.The CB2 website indicates a "spring 2012" opening which is even a little further out.


From the looks of the empty, incomplete shell at Hennepin and 31st St. where it is being built, a mid-November opening seemed optimistic. No doubt every business in Uptown is hoping for the influx of traffic that a new store opening will bring if it opened during the holiday shopping season.

One reason for the delay might be CB2 trying to do too much at once. Stores in Toronto and Eastside New York are also slated for the fall openings, according to the website. Still, Mullin said that there is still a possibility for a November opening. "It has not been ruled out," she wrote in an email Wednesday.

Meanwhile, at least one home furnishings retailer will be opening in Uptown before Thanksgiving. Roam Interiors, the modern furniture and accessories store that used be near IMS on Glenwood Avenue will open October 1 in the old Booksmart location, said owner John Stedman. Roam will carry Blu Dot, Alessi, Gus, chairs by Magis and Kartell, and Jonathan Adler accessories, furniture, rugs and lighting.

Roam, and eventually CB2, will join Design Within Reach, Nadeau, and Go Home Furnishings stores in Uptown.


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