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 Department stores

The best discounts at Herberger's Goodwill sale are today

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: March 7, 2012 - 9:39 AM

Many women and more than a few men were disappointed when they discovered that cosmetics and fragrances were not included in Bloomingdale's going-out-of-business sale at Mall of America. The rule is that cosmetics is usually a leased department, which means that it is not required to participate in sales.

But there's an exception to every rule and Herberger's is the one to break it.


Today, March 7, through March 22 you get a coupon for each piece of used clothing or home textile you bring in for Goodwill. Each coupon allows you to get a discount of 10 to 25 percent off each item, including cosmetics and fragrances. On March 7 only, you receive two coupons for each item donated.


The coupons can be redeemed for 20 percent off any item in apparel, shoes, accessories or fine jewelry, 15 percent off fragrances and cosmetics, and 10 percent off an item in electronics, Tech Trek, small electrics, health and wellness, fashion watches or toys. For an even better discount, download this coupon to get an extra five percent off one item in jewlery or cosmetics and fragrances. The coupon can also be used for online shopping.

What's excluded in the coupon offers? There are no discounts on Incredible Value merchandise, Tempur-Pedic mattresses, service departments, previously-purchased items, special orders and gift cards. Also, no coupons can be used in conjunction with another coupon or special offer. 

If you're not a regular shopper at Herberger's and are wondering if they carry your favorite brand of cosmetics or fragrances, check this list.   Supplies may vary from store to store.

There are 20 Herberger's in Minnesota, including Midway in St. Paul, Northtown in Blaine, Rosedale, Southdale, Southtown in Bloomington and Stillwater.

Downtown deals at Neiman's, Sawatdee, Gap, Banana Republic & Uber

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: January 17, 2012 - 1:28 PM



 Neiman Marcus' last call sale is in the final day of its pre-sale.  You can beat the crowds today, and put merch on hold, but you cannot take the merch with you until tomorrow. The signs say "Up to 65 percent off" with most of the prices I saw at the 65 percent discount. That's more generous than I've seen in the past. Most of the men's clothing and gifts that caught my eye got the 65 percent markdown.


Don't forget Last Call on 4 on the 4th floor, where today only, everything that is an additional 30 percent off, except for items already marked down for clearance. If you can't make it today, check back over the weekend when one item is discounted 40 percent with a postcard. Just ask for a postcard at the registers on the 4th floor to get the discount.

Uber Outlet across from Bachman's at 60th and Lyndale has offered good deals on stuff for babies and men' The outlet is closed for a short while after the holiday, but a temporary store in the Minneapolis skyway has opened with clothes and accessories for newborns to size 10. Sample savings: Ugg-inspired glitter boots ($10, reg. $35), formal girls' dresses ($10 and $14), leisure wear ($6 and $12, reg. $38), onsies ($5, regularly $29), and shoes for $10. The temp store is located on the skyway level at 601 Marquette (Quebec Six Building, 612-869-0930) across from Vescio's

restaurant near Taco John's. It's open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays.



Everything at Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy is 30 percent off today online. Use code NEWYOU. Sometimes the stores (in the IDS Center downtown Minneapolis--BR and Gap) will honor the online discount code. You at at least scout out the deals in the store and order online. Free shipping on orders of $50 or more.


In St. Paul, Sawatdee has a good deal on Google Offers today. Pay $7 for $20 worth of Thai food and drinks. The deal is good only at the St. Paul location in Lowertown. You can get the most for your cash from 4 to 6 p.m. daily during happy hour when taps, rails, house wine and Jameson beer is $3 or two for Thai Wednesdays when you get an appetizer plate, two select entrees and a bottle of house wine for $34, I'll warn you--I have had trouble accessing the Google Offers site early in the day, even after they've sent their daily deal.Later in the day when they seem to be

available, I've moved on.


How good are Bloomingdale's quitting business deals?

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: January 9, 2012 - 9:39 AM


More than 100 people stood outside the three floors of Bloomingdale's waiting for the mall doors to be raised on Sunday morning. Signs throughout the store indicated that everything is discounted 10 to 40 percent and nothing was held back.


Well, that's not quite true. The entire cosmetics department is held back from the discounts. You can still buy cosmetics or fragrances but not at a discount. Still, that's no surprise. Cosmetics rarely go on sale except during Herberger's Goodwill sale. Macy's didn't discount them in 2009 when its Brookdale store closed. Another item, David Yurman jewelry, was pulled from the counter and is no longer available.


Shoppers who had done some pre-shopping before the sale started Sunday were disappointed. As far as I could tell, everything that was on sale Saturday was no longer on sale Sunday. That meant that a winter coat that was on sale at 50 percent off Saturday was 40 percent off Sunday. There was no stacking of discounts unless the item was on clearance, which is permanently marked on the price tag. For example, a line of Hudson Park sheets were marked 40 percent off before the going-out-of-business sale started. Now they're an additional 30 percent off. Anything on clearance, and there isn't much, is the best deal going in the store as of now. There is a fair amount of clearance in costume jewelry and women's.

Those disappointed in the first set of markdowns is wondering when the next round will occur. Bloomingdale's spokeswoman Marissa Vitagliano would not confirm the frequency. On Sunday, one salesman speculated that the next markdown will be in a week.

In my opinion, the best deals, besides clearance, are in the gift department where pieces by Kosta Boda, Waterford, Kate Spade and Oiva Toikka birds from Finland are 20 percent off. Women's premium denim from 7 and Citizend for Humanity and Joe's are 20 percent off. Tumi luggage, which rarely goes on sale, might be another deal but I did not confirm the discount percentage.

For more info, go to my article about the hits and misses in the sale.

What did you think of the sale?


When good stores close, it's the best employees we miss the most

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: January 6, 2012 - 10:09 AM


I may write a lot about the deals in local retail stores, but I don't make a point to schmooze a lot of their employees. Getting too close to employees can compromise reporting. Getting to know a salesperson really well can also mean feeling compelled to spend more money just to be nice.

So when a retail store closes, I feel bad for its owner and employees but I rarely know many of them personally.

Recently, that changed. A couple of stores have closed or are closing where I have known its employees for more than a decade.


Dave Smittkamp of Dave's Furniture World closed his 12 year old store in Richfield last month. Smittkamp had some of the lowest prices anywhere on mattresses in the Twin Cities. He didn't inflate the regular price to make the sale price appear even better. And his showroom, while never as shiny or sophisticated as typical furniture store's, was always clean. I've seen other mattress outlets with scuffs and tears on their beds with prices no lower than Dave's.


But mattresses are now sold by hardware stores (Menards) and warehouse clubs. Their prices are not as low in my experience, and they don't have the space to let you lie down on them, but they are more conveniently located.

I also liked how Smittkamp brought his “Ahoy Mateys!” parrot to work. Here’s hoping the unsinkable Smittkamp will resurface soon. 


Bloomingdale's starts its closing sale Sunday and will close its MOA store permanently March 17. One department can't carry a whole store, but the bedding department was always was of the store's busiest. I attribute that to the expertise of its sales staff, especially Madlen and Sue (I never learned their last names). Both are extremely knowledgeable about features and quality. They are rare examples of sales people who aren't afraid to share their opnions, even if was less than complimentary to a Bloomie's brand. And they were always happy to offer to special order something from another store if MOA didn't carry it. Best of all, they were happy to share when something might be going on sale soon.


In all of my years of shopping there, they were the type of model employees who are always busy with a customer or making the department look first-rate. They are the type of sales people who made me feel good about their store. They will be missed.

A good deal on a stainless Kitchenaid mixer for $199 at Bloomie's

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: October 28, 2011 - 8:32 AM


The Friday/Saturday sale at Bloomingdale's at Mall of America looks to be one of its best if you're looking for bedding or bath items. All towels, including high-end brands such as Abyss and Christy are on sale, but Bloomie's own platinum line is a good towel too.

For sheets, an excellent entry level choice is the 425 thread count Essentials line. All sizes in solid colors are $60 for a set in either percale (crisp almost crunchy), or sateen (soft, silkier). But many other lines are discounted 50 to 75 percent inlcuding Court of Versailles, Barbara Barry, Diane Von Furstenberg, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.

Sheets are often a hit and miss purchase but Bloomingdale's satisfaction gaurantee is worthy of the old Dayton's policy. if you're not happy for any reason, keep your receipt and bring it back.






Bloomingdale's always marks down several small appliances to low prices during their sales, but compare them against online prices at Amazon. One good deal is the Kitchenaid Pro 450 4.5 quart lift stand mixer (model #KSS455pssm) in stainless steel finish for $199.99 Several other colors are available online in the same size for $249 to $269, and white is available for $199 at Amazon. But if the stainless color works, this is a savings of about $40 over the lowest online prices. According to Bloomie's ad, it is regularly $355 and it includes a pouring shield and crank to lift the bowl. You also get a $20 Bloomingdale's gift card with mixer purchase. The ad says limited quantities. Call 952-883-2500 to check stock. Or you can order it online but you'll pay an additional $16 in shipping costs.






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