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 Furniture

Blu Dot discounts everything 20% through Nov. 8

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: October 20, 2010 - 11:36 AM

Save 20 percent on all Blu Dot home furnishings through Nov. 8. You can shop online or at Roam Interiors (813 Glenwood Av., Mpls., 612-377-6465) across from International Market Square in Minneapolis, but Roam does not carry the entire Blu Dot line.

Cheapskates looking for a bigger discount than 20 percent are probably wondering if a Blu Dot warehouse sale is imminent. Not that I know of. I was told that the next sale probably won't be until spring 2011. 



When is a furniture sale a really good sale?

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: October 7, 2010 - 11:45 AM

After buying a new home recently, I have been shopping for some new furniture. I've been haunting Gabberts' Odds & Ends, Schneiderman's, Hom, Odds & Ends, Design WIthin Reach, Ikea and  Macy's.

As you can see I shop the moderate and the pricey. Furniture is such a difficult thing from which to determine value. It's difficult to evaluate quality on upholstered furniture, so I often find myself shopping based on color and style.

A sale is a relative thing though. Was Becker's Groupon coupon a good deal yesterday ($35 for $100 value)? Better than Design Within Reach's semi-annual sale with many items 15 percent off? On the surface a 65 percent discount beats 15 percent. But what about quality and longevity? Becker has frequent sales; DWR does not.

I could blather on about DWR's quality, but if you don't plan to keep furniture for a long time because you get tired of it or the kids ruin it, why pay more? Furniture shouldn't be disposable, but even expensive furniture can be easily ruined by pets, kids or careless adults.


Let's face it, once furniture leaves the showroom/warehouse, it's our problem. Maybe we should all shop for furniture at Costco or Sam's where it's always returnable. Except that it's too big. Do all of their customers live in 3,000 square foot homes?





What do you think of Restoration Hardware's new look?

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: October 4, 2010 - 6:14 PM

The people guiding Restoration Hardware have cojones--I'll give them that. The company's leaders radically changed the look and the feel, raised prices, and switched to larger-scale furniture. All this in a recession when Americans are finally buying smaller homes with less square footage.

Counter intuitive brilliance or just plain stupid? We'll see. I went to the store in the Galleria in Edina today. On a Monday afternoon, it was packed and customers weren't buying towels or knobs. They were special ordering big ticket items. Maybe the store was busy because today is the last day of the "spend $500 and get $100 off'" sale.

The new look is masculine and Ralph Lauren-ish. Most of it is handsome, well-designed stuff that is.....made in China. Still, the Oviedo leather chaise ($1,995) and the Mayfair Trunk Secretary ($2,995) are stunning. The secretary is a brilliantly designed trunk that unfolds into a desk/office. Paneled in vintage cigar leather, it would make me want to spend more time in my home office. 

The store's former departments are replaced by vignettes. Maybe you'll find towels next to the Oviedo chaise if the color matches the leather. If not, maybe they have have them in back. The knob wall has been replaced by a smaller display case at the registers. The reed diffusers and other scented accessories? I didn't see them.

They might still be in the redesigned store somewhere, but the new look is much darker, er, moodier. I will probably get used to it, but remember how brightly lit the old store was?

I can understand why the store needed to change. It was virtually unchanged in the last decade with one exception--more and more merch was made in China. Same price point, but often lower quality.

Sometimes I think if RH offered a lifetime warranty on its goods it could justify the prices, but on furniture, I think I''ll keep looking around for something similar in style but smaller in scale and easier on my budget.

Any other Restoration Hardware fans feeling just a little bit abandoned in the new store?

A good time for furniture deals

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: June 3, 2010 - 11:53 AM


Everything except the bedding is included for $2,400, reg. $11,870 at the Sale Room

Everything except the bedding is included for $2,400, reg. $11,870 at the Sale Room

Everything except the bedding is included for $2,400, reg. $11,870 at the Sale Room

Everything except the bedding is included for $2,400, reg. $11,870 at the Sale Room

 Here are a trio of good deals on furniture going on now through Saturday, from high-end to moderate, traditional to contemporary.


 The Sale Room @ IMS (International Market Square, 275 Market St., Mpls., 612-877-4173) marks down items for a final markdown at 90 dyas. Since the store has been open roughly three months, a chunk of stock is on its last legs. Get a final chance at high-end merch such as a Bolier & Co. bedroom set in espresso finish for $2,400, regularly $11,870. It's a handsome, contemporay steal that includes a queen platform bed, headboard, two nighstands, and two lamps (pictured). Another deal? A Harden chair and ottoman, regularly $4,200 is now $1,624. Still too high? Since these items have to go back to IMS showrooms that don't want them back, owner Sharon Allemong said she might be willing accept, say, $1,500 on the Harden pieces. Open Thursdays through Saturdays.

Hom Furniture is continuing its Memorial Day tent sale through June 8 with an additional 10 percent off prices. All locations are participating, but I suggest going to stores with clearance rooms, which usually have a better selection of discounted merchandise. Clearance centers can be found in the stores in Coon Rapids, Lakeville and Plymouth.

ID-Inside Design (211 N. 1st St., Suite 150, Mpls., 612-317-0045) is discounting all of its regular-priced merch 30 percent and all clearance is at discounts of 50 to 80 percent through Saturday.  

As mentioned in Steals+Deals, Blu Dot is having its annual this Saturday. You can tell that the contemporary furniture retailer loves its customers when the employees bring free coffee and doughnuts to the scores of fans waiting in line an hour or more before the doors open. It’s all for the much anticipated annual warehouse sale, which takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the new location (13098 George Weber Dr., Rogers, 612-782-1844).
The space devoted to the sale has doubled — more room for sofas, credenzas, storage, dressers, shelving, bedroom items, dining tables and chairs, desks and occasional chairs. Newbies, don’t worry that you won’t know where to head in the crush when the doors open — maps of the floor plan will be handed out along with the usual “all-items-as-is-final-sale-no-warranty.” Go at least 90 minutes early to get a spot in line. If you arrive at 9 a.m. you'll spend 20 minutes parking and I predict several hundred people will be ahead of you in line. The sale attracts Blu Dot aficionados from as far away as Chicago and Des Moines, said spokeswoman Medora Danz. Part of the appeal is the hope of nabbing a one-of-a-kind prototype that never made it to the catalog. Discounts range from 50 to 90 percent, with prices of $10 to $1,000 after the discount.

All furniture 50% off this weekend. Is that a good deal?

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: May 21, 2010 - 11:12 AM

Becker Furniture World is discounting everything in its stores and liquidation centers 50 percent this weekend. You may have seen other stores such as Hom discounting everything 33 percent. I'm not saying that Becker's 50 percent deal is a better one. I'm not even convinced that Becker's sale is better than another store's every day low price. With furniture, It's a comparison shopper's game.

I recommend that furniture shoppers go the stores they like and then zero in on pieces that interest them. Ask the salesperson for the brand name, model number or name, color and or fabric name. Get as much info as you can and don't make it a secret that you're comparison shopping. It's been my experience that once a salesperson knows you're shopping around, they say "I might be able to do a little better on that."

After you get the model # etc,, call around at other stores and ask if they carry the item you're looking for. Asking for a manager can cut to the chase for getting a good price. For example, if you see a sofa you like at Becker, call Slumberland, Hom, and Schneiderman's too.  If you're shopping at Macy's Home store, check Gabberts too.

Am I alone in this comparison shopping thing? Anyone else done it recently with furniture? It's not easy. If you like Room & Board or Ethan Allen, you can't comparison shop because those are exclusive brands. Ashley has its own stores too, but I believe that it is sold in other stores.

Tell me your comparison shopping tale. I'm especially interested if you included a mom and pop shop too. The small shops and outlets often have competitive prices. With markups so high on furniture, I take the high percentages off as no big deal until I've had a chance to compare what competitors are offering.


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