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 Going-outta-biz sales

Which weekend sales are worth a look?

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: April 1, 2011 - 10:27 AM

 Going-out-of-business sales: Just a reminder of retailers whose doors will be closing soon: Borders Books (50 percent off or more), Ultimate Electronics (40 to 70 percent off), and Inizio Gifts in Minneapolis, where everything is 30 percent off.



The hottest trend to hit kidswear, toys and accessories is the consignment sale phenom. These aren't bricks and mortar consignment stores. They're occasional sales held twice a year. Local families price their own goods (clothes, toys, maternity, strollers, bouncy seats etc) that are in good condition, and sellers get a larger percentage (about 70%) than permanent stores give (around 50%). At the Just Between Friends sale from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, pickers have carefully looked for stained and recalled items and removed them from the sale. A lot of shoppers wait until Saturday (April 2) when most items are half-price. The sale is at the Eagan Community Center (1501 Central Parkway, Eagan). It will be packed on Saturday, guaranteed,



Haskell's famous Nickel Sale starts Saturday. Keep in mind that although the words "nickel sale" are still used, this is no longer a "buy one bottle at regular price and get the second one for a nickel." Every bottle that is on sale is at the same price so you don't have to buy two if you don't want to. The bottles on sale now end in 5-$11.95 for example. Another reason to visit on Saturday, April 2 between 1-6 p.m. is the more than 50 wines open for sampling at all locations.



If new flooring (carpet, hardwood, vinyl, tile) is in your budget, you might want to head to ProSource on Saturday, April 2. The semi-annual sale doesn't run until Thursday through Saturday of next week (April 7-9), but you'll be able to shop without the hordes if you pre-shop now. You can choose what you want before then and have then wait until the sale to ring it up. To find a ProSource showroom near you, call Jack Rubenstein Wholesale Co. (952-922-4781) . ProSource is open only to the trade, so call Rubenstein to get information. The showrooms are large with plenty of selection. If you've found a lower price on flooring locally than through Rubenstein during the semi-annual sale, let me know. And that includes Empire.

Inizio Gifts is closing in Minneapolis. Everything is 30% off or more.

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: March 24, 2011 - 8:40 AM

Minneapolis is losing another gift shop.Inizio Gifts (2309 W. 50th St., Mpls., 612-886-3535) is closing at the ned of April. Everything in the store located near Broder's Pasta is discounted 30 with some clearance items discounted 50-60 percent.



The going-out-of-business sale just started this week, so the store is still well-stocked. There is plenty of spring inventory, including clothing. Popular sellers include jewelry, greeting cards (Mother's Day, Father's Day, graduation and baby birthdays), Thymes bath and body products, candles, baby things, and gift books.

The discount percentage probably won't increase for a while since the store won't close for five weeks. 

FYI, Restoration Hardware on Grand Avenue in St. Paul is down to its final days. The store closes either Friday or Saturday, March 25 or March 26, I was there on Tuesday and everything was 70 percent off. There were still odds and ends left, including brown bath robes (the cashmere robes are history) in small and medium unisex sizes, home numbers, oversized brass letters, glass vases, curtains, rugs, rug samples, and lots of lamp shades. Will the final discount be 90 percent? We'll see.  

Roundup of good weekend sales

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: March 11, 2011 - 10:03 AM

 During Herberger's Goodwill Sale, donate clean clothes and bedding in good condition and get coupons toward the purchase of new merchandise. Now through March 23. Coupons are for 10, 15 or 20 percent off nearly everything in the store, including cosmetics and fragrances. Register at MillionActsofGoodwill to receive a coupon for even larger discounts.



 Everything at Restoration Hardware (791 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-228-3033)  is 50 percent off. The store is expected to close soon. The Galleria store in Edina will remain open and is not having a closing sale. 

 The Extreme Warehouse sale on Saturday and Sunday at the actual  Warners' Stellian warehouse (550 Atwater Circle, St. Paul, 651-222-0011) can be a good deal. Some of the items are purchased just for the sale and others are marked down just for the sale. People with smartphones who can quickly do price comparisons online will be able to judge the deals best. It's a good time to check out high-end appliances that rarely go on sale, such as Wolf and Viking. Even the highly-rated and highly-expensive Miele vacuums will be discounted at the sale. Get in line early for the best selection. The sale is from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.



The Twin Cities Pet Expo (Minneapolis Convention Center, $9) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday includes entertainment and seminars, but the best value is all of the free or low-cost pet food samples. Bring a strong bag to carry all of the cat or dog food you can carry. I also pick up as many coupons as I can. Sometimes an exhibitor will you out one or two coupons, but I ask for more of any brands my pets really like. (And the exhibitors are always happy to give out a few more). But go early on Saturday if you can, because the samples dry up later in the show. I don't know if they "restock" on Sunday mornings, but I assume some is held back.



 Want a good deal on a Friday night fish fry? Here are six restaurants that serve an all-you-can-eat fish fry for $10 or less: Dean's Tavern (1986 Rice St., Maplewood, 651-488-6868, $9), Fireside Lounge (1288 S. Robert St., West St. Paul, 651-457-6397, $9), Groveland Tap (1834 St. Clair Av., St. Paul, 651-699-5058, $10), Meister's Bar & Grill (14808 Oakhill Rd., Scandia, 651-433-5230, $8), Philander's Grill & Bar (1000 U.S. 10, Prescott, Wis.,715-262-3828, $10) and Ras' on Main (855 Davis St., Hammond, Wis., 715-796-5270, $9).



Do companies like Ultimate Electronics overcharge during GOB sales?

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: March 2, 2011 - 8:10 AM

It's a common lament that retailers jack up prices during a going-out-of-business sale. The original MSRP or manufacturer's suggested retail price is inflated to make the sale price look better. This is a common practice at furniture store and Oriental rug GOB sales.

But is it true at the GOB sales going on now at Ultimate Electronics and Borders stores? Ultimate is closing all of its stores, including Twin Cities stores in Edina, Woodbury, Maple Grove, Burnsville and Roseville. Borders is closing some of its stores, including locations in Maple Grove, Richfield, St. Paul and Minnetonka.

It's nearly impossible for a bookstore to jack up the MSRP when it's clearly printed on the book jacket. When I checked at the Richfield store on Monday, most books, CDs and DVDs were discounted 20 percent, romance paperbacks were discounted 30 percent and greeting cards and photo albums were discounted 40 percent.



I went online to see if I could get cheaper prices than at Border's sale. The good news/bad news is that I could find cheaper prices online in all of the four examples I priced, including the books "Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That," "JD Salinger: A Life" by Kenneth Slawenski and "Life" by Keith Richards. All three titles could be found discounted by 30 to 60 percent (new copies, not used), including shipping costs. All of the deals were found at Amazon Marketplace, which includes third party sellers. The CD, Josh Groban's "Illuminations" was $15.20 at Border's sale, $14.74 (shipped) at and $11.46 (shipped) at Prices were obtained via

Why is this good news/bad news? It's good news because you can find cheaper prices online (and the convenience). The bad news is that this is the reason we lose local retailers. 

Electronics prices are never as transparent. A lot of cynics or disgruntled consumers might assume that Ultimate's MSRP's are jacked up. I did not find that to be the case in the six items I price checked. All of the MSRP's were exactly what I found online. I believe that Ultimate's prices and discount percentages are legitimate. In general, when Ultimate is discounting an item 10 percent, you can easily find it cheaper online. At 20 percent discounts, it's a toss up and at 30 percent, Ultimate is cheaper than most online sources. Most of Ultimate's current discounts are 10 to 20 percent with some accessories and parts at 50 percent off. 



At the Edina store on Monday, a Samsung Blu-ray player (model BD-C5900) was discounted 10 percent to $206.99. At it was $156 (including shipping, no tax). At Electrozone it was $127.77 (no tax, free shipping). I found these prices using Pricegrabber. 

A Panasonic 50-inch plasma TV (model TC-P50S2) was $897 at Ultimate, reg. $1300. Amazon had it for $986.66 (free shipping, no tax) and Electrozone had it for $884 (no tax, free shipping). Yes, you can save about $80 ($13 plus tax on $897) by ordering online, but have fun with the return if the item proves defective.   

Sometimes, UE was cheapest. A Klipsch subwoofer (SW-308) was $559 (a 30 percent discount). Crutchfield was selling it was $799. 

Overall, a 30 percent discount or more at Ultimate is worth considering. At Borders, I'd wait until books are discounted 40 percent before rushing out.

What's been your experience at these sales or any other GOB sale?



All books at Biermaier's GOB sale are $1 or less

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: February 21, 2011 - 1:57 PM

You can get a 20 to 40 percent discount at Border's going out of busines sale, or you do a lot better at an independent's GOB (going-out-of-business sale).

The remaining stock at Biermaier's Books (809 4th St. SE., Mpls., 612-378-0129) is $1 or less. Owner Bill Biermaier says about 50,000 used books in excellent condition remain. Paperbacks are even cheaper--20 for $5 or three for a buck. Nearly all sections are still well-stocked. Only poetry has been decimated, Biermaier said.



The final sale ends Feb. 28.


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