Dollars & Sense columnist John Ewoldt searches the Twin Cities and beyond for bargains and strategies to spare you time, money and hassles.
Email us if you see a great deal. Include your name, city you live in and info on the deal you spotted.
Find deals on our Steals + Deals Facebook page and find me on Twitter.

Posts about Department stores

New shirt shrank. Any retailers still give refunds w/ no receipt or tags?

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: August 31, 2011 - 8:49 AM

Have you gotten to the point where you dread trying to return a defective item to a retailer? I say "trying to return" because many retailers won't accept defective merchandise anymore. "Call or write the manufacturer," they say. If you're lucky, a retailer may consider returning a defective item on a "case by case basis."

Even retailers who might accept an item for a refund will make the customer feel as if he or she is trying to take advantage of the policy. And I'll freely admit that many consumers have exploited retailers' liberal return policies. Ask anyone who's ever worked behind the customer service counter at Target, and they will tell stories that make any person embarrassed at how we are.

So the best I expect to hope for is the nice customer service person or salesperson who gives me the "I can't believe you're doing this" look and then says "We don't normally do this, but I'll make an exception."


So there I was at the counter  trying to return a Hugo Boss polo shirt that had shrunk in the dryer, I'd thrown away the receipt and the tags and had even ripped out the tag with an extra button attached to it.  Could I have returned a shrunken polo shirt without a receipt or tags to Target? Okay, dumb question.


My dread had a happy ending because I bought the shirt at Nordstrom. I don't shop there very often, so I was worried that maybe its customer-friendly policies had changed. The saleswoman was able to look up the purchase at the computer terminal with my credit card number since it was made within 30 days. And she was pleasant, apologetic even, by saying "Hugo Boss shirts often shrink in the dryer." 

There's something to be said for doing business with a retailer that unequivocally stands behind its products. They deserve our business. Besides Nordstrom, I'd also put Costco and Sam's Club on that short list. More than a few catalog retailers also belong on the list including Lands' End, L.L. Bean, Vermont Country Store and Cuddledown. Many other retailers also have liberal return policies but not quite 100 percent satisfaction guaranteed. I'd include Bloomingdale's, Home Depot, J.C. Penney, Kohl's, Lowe's, Macy's and Menards. I've heard from several readers who have had good experiences at Wal-Mart too, although it's difficult to pin down their policy.

Note:  Returns without a receipt can be a lot easier when an item is charged on a debit or credit card. If the purchase was made 30 to 90 days prior, it will still be on record. Some retailers go out even longer.

Anyone else want to give a shout out to a retailer or catalog merchant that provides superior service on returns?  


The Galleria's Selection Sale offers more than clothing closeouts

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: February 3, 2011 - 10:04 AM

Most of the merchants in theGalleria in Edina are having the equivalent of a sidewalk sale through Saturday, Feb. 5. It's not really a sidewalk sale. I can't see Galleri's merchants going for something like that.

Nor are they calling this a "crazy days" sale. Instead, the shops of distinction are calling it the "The Selection Sale."

Huh? I don't quite get the name, but the deals are worth a trip. Most of the clothing stores are having additional markdowns on fall/winter clothing, but the non-clothing stores have some surprising discounts.

Brass Handle, which has a large selection of decorative hardware and bath accessories, discounts most stock items 25 percent.

Gabberts takes an additional 15 percent off in Odds & Ends

Epitome Papers has an 20 percent off sale merchandise and 10 percent off regular-priced merchandise.

Scandia Down takes 20 percent a selection of pillows, comforters and linens.

Art Resources takes 40 percent off select artwork.

Large stores such as Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware and Barnes & Noble did not list special offers during the sale, but all have some clearance.


Best makeup bargains from cosmetics cops. Pricey isn't always best.

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: January 12, 2011 - 10:24 AM

From the guy who doesn't know the difference between a foundation and a powder, I offer some buying tips from Paula Begoun and her cosmetics cops team. She has come up with "100 Best Makeup Buys" including foundations, moisturizers, concealers, powders, blushes, bronzers, eyeshadows, eyeliners, mascaras and lipsticks.

100 Best Makeup Buys! Color Yourself Gorgeous - A Special Report by Paula Begoun and The Cosmetics Cop Team

I like Begoun because many women spend a lot of money on makeup and Begoun tests enough makeup to know that the pricey products aren't always the best. And here's another important tip of hers: DON'T BE AFRAID TO RETURN A MAKEUP PRODUCT, EVEN IF YOU'VE USED IT. Most department stores, drug stores and Wal-Mart will give a refund if a receipt is provided. (Target will not accept opened cosmetics for returns.)

Okay, sorry about the all caps, but women need to be more aggressive with cosmetics companies.

 Paula Begoun's best makeup buys can be found here, including a superior pressed powder for only $3.49 (from Aldi!), the best bronzing powder that's only $2.99, one of the few eyeliners (eye pencils) worth its higher price ($18), a $1.99 mascara that provides long, defined lashes, and Paula's personal favorite matte lipstick ($22).

Another reason I like Begoun's advice is that unlike the recommendations from beauty magazines, she's not beholden to advertisers. She does, however, include 12 of her own Paula's Choice products in the list. 

Does anyone who doesn't work in the cosmetics industry have an opinion about Paula's picks?  Heck, add your two cents even if you work in the industry but it's nice if you disclose it.

Save 50-90% at Macy's bridal gown clearance; 65% at Neiman's

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: July 8, 2010 - 10:32 AM

Macy's downtown Minneapolis is discounting about 50 couture gowns 50 to 90 percent including Vera Wang, lazaro, Romona and Watters. An appointment is needed. Call 612-375-2162.

Since we're thinking couture, the pre-sale at Neiman Marcus' Last Call sale is in progress (Minneapolis, 612-339-2600). The sale doesn't officially start until Wednesday, July 14, so if you beat the rush now, your purchases will be held and charged on the 14th. Everything has been "hard marked" according to store manager Catherine Loose, but items in women's contemporary might get an additional 25 percent discount. Ask a salesperson if you're not sure about contemporary items that qualify. Overall, discounts are up to 65 percent off throughout. 

Macy's Rosedale store open 24 hours

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: December 21, 2009 - 8:01 AM

By Randy A. Salas

If there don't seem to be enough hours in the day to finish your holiday shopping, Macy's is answering your call. The department store's Roseville location is staying open 24 hours a day from this morning through Wednesday. That's 83 straight hours after adding in Thursday, when the store closes at 6 p.m. Note, though, that this is at the Rosedale Center location only. That makes it one of only 12 Macy's staying open around the clock nationwide.


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters