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 Thrift stores

Now open: A used home furnishings/electronics store that pays cash

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: January 19, 2012 - 10:11 AM



I've got at least six photos on my home computer (a cordless phone/answering amchine, an occasional chair, a planter and a bar stool for example) just waiting for me to take the time to put them on Craigslist or eBay. But it's a time sucking hassle to find my password to get in the website, research the product online for salient comments, write the copy, and research similar items to decide on a fair price.


A new store opens today in Minnetonka that takes away the hassle. You can buy and sell household items at New Uses in Minnetonka. Today, Jan. 19, is the first day that shoppers can buy. The store has been open for weeks accepting items to sell.

I went last night for a preview. The store is chock-full of household items and electronics. Well, actually, electronics is only a small part of the store, but the iPods and Nanos were well-priced. Other departments include furniture, kitchen items, small appliances, lighting, artwork, collectibles, baskets and pet supplies, including aquariums.

The same company also owns Clothes Mentor, a resale shop for women's clothing with nine Twin Cities locations that also pay cash.


The store is clean, well-organized, well-lit, and nicely displayed. If you're a fan of Clothes Mentor (women's clothing store), you'll like New Uses. Even though nearly everything is used, the stock is in excellent condition and the store smells good.


One downside: You'll get less money when you sell here than you would selling something yourself on Craigslist. New Uses has operating expenses too and they need to take a cut for selling your item.

Return policy: Seven days with a receipt and tags except for electronics, which are final sale.  

New Uses is at Ridgedale Strip Mall, 13029 Ridgedale Drive, 952-681-7744).


For more info, check out my previous article. So, anyone want to comment on their experience selling items here? Any new buyers?


'Roadshow' uncovers Mpls. treasures

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: July 12, 2011 - 7:49 AM

"Can I walk?" said one lucky attendee as she tried to stand up after a jewelry appraiser put a value of $140,000 to $160,000 on a yellow diamond engagement ring. The owner of the 3.4 carat stone hugged appraiser Lila Bankston as she walked away Saturday during a taping of the popular PBS program "Antiques Roadshow" at the Minneapolis Convention Center.


PDA's (public displays of affection) were all around when an item was appraised highly. Leila Dunbar got a big hug after she appraised a Sonja Henie skating dress for $3,000 to $5,000.


Others, such as Tracy Stone of Golden Valley, left with less exuberance. "I thought it was handmade in Norway," she said of the 6-ft tapestry she brought. Turns out it's machine-made, probably from France, and is a common tourist item worth about $75. Ouch.

The star of the show, besides the yellow diamond, was a Frederic Remington bronze sculpture (right) called "Mountain Man." Although the signed piece lacks a model number, making its exact date difficult to determine, the appraiser put the value between $250,000 and $300,000 at auction. The piece was inherited from the guest's grandfather and has been in the family for 100 years.


Other valuable discoveries included paintings by Franz Roubaud and Victor Higgins valued at nearly $100,000 each. The guest who brought the Higgins Native American painting paid $5 for it.


Saturday's taping will produce three episodes of "Antiques Roadshow"  that will air between January and June 2012. PBS will post the schedule in September on its website.

"Antiques Roadshow" is coming to town. Do appraisers get stumped?

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: July 7, 2011 - 8:57 AM


First, my apologies for getting the location of the "Antiques Roadshow" wrong in today's paper. It will be at the Minneapolis Convention Center Saturday. Click here for the article. Here is some additional information from the show's senior publicist, Judy Matthews.




Do appraisers ever get stumped?

Yes, but they have access to the Roadshow’s traveling reference library. Most bring their own favorite references guides and a laptop. Each specialty usually has at least two apprasers so if one is stumped, the other might know.




What’s the key to the show's success?

It’s the stories people tell about their object. Other similar shows such as "Pawn Stars" are more focused on what it’s worth. Even the people who bring items are interested as much in the history and identification of the item as they are in its value. There’s almost always a surprise if its valuable.


Are the appraisals accurate?

Before taping, appraisers are asked to be sure to put the value in context, The appraisals are explained further on the website. For example, a dealer might give a retail price whereas an auctioneer would give a price based on past auctions. Some items can bring a lot more at an auction, depending on where it is sold. A good auctioneer knows where it might bring top dollar., said Matthews.


Does the show ever follow an item after it’s been featured to see what people did with it?

We considered doing a spinoff of the show where we say what we appraised it at and what it sold at, but we found out that hardly anyone sells their items. They hold on to them, so we didn’t have enough items to discuss for a show.



Half-price day at warehouse sale benefiting local charity

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: June 29, 2010 - 10:43 AM

Today is the last day of the large warehouse sale benefiting local cancer patients. Everything at the Angel’s Attic warehouse sale(1820 Quentin Av. S., St. Louis Park, 612-396-3125) is half-price. What makes this sale better than the "world's largest garage sale" that the American Cancer Society used to hold in October is the quality of the merchandise and the displays throughout each department. The selection isn't as large but it's more manageable to shop.

If you're shopping for furniture, sporting goods, lawn and garden, and electronics, most of it is gone except for a dining room set with leaves and a 4-piece antique white bedroom set with mirror ($100 on sale). But there are lots of antiques, kids clothes, all without rips or stains, men's and women's clothes, collectibles and housewares, said co-chairperson Kay Melemed.

Admission is free. The sale is from 10 a.m. to  6 p.m. today.  


Which thrift stores are for-profit?

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: June 1, 2010 - 11:19 AM

I missed the fact that Savers was among the thrift stores with storewide 50 percent off sales on Memorial Day. Apparently, they've been doing it for years. However, I oticed that new red tagged merchandise, books, housewares and furniture were not included in the "storewide" sale.

Here's a tip since I feel bad about excluding Savers. Starting today, Savers keeps the deals coming with a return of the SuperSavers pass. Customers can earn a coupon good for 30 percent off a future visit by filling the SuperSavers Pass with 15 stamps. Receive one stamp for every $5 spent or every bag or box of items donated. Collect stamps from June 1 to July 31, and redeem them before Aug. 7, 2010. The passes are avaiable at the register when you donate or check out.

FYI, Savers, Unique Thrift and Valu Thrift  are three examples of for-profit thrift stores. All go out of their way to affiliate themselves with certain charities, but they're never quite up front about what percent of their profits goes to charity. If you donate items by dropping them off at a Unique or Savers location, you are doing a green deed by re-purposing old materials rather than trashing them. But if you want to get a charity to get the most bang for its buck, donate directly to the store such as Value Village, Goodwill, Salvation Army or smaller thifts such as Bibles for Missions.

Even if you let Arc's Value Village pick up your donations from your curb, the goods go to Savers, which pays VV a certain percentage based on weight. I don't have a problem with that, but it's something that a lot of people don't know about because the for-profit thrifts don't advertise it.

FYI, today (Tuesday) is 50 percent off all yellow label items and 40 percent off for seniors at Savers.


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