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Posts about Home Furnishing

Best and worst deals at the State Fair

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: August 29, 2011 - 8:40 AM

In today's column about the quality of the fair deals, I mentioned several good and not so good deals at the fair.


The Little Giant ladder, for example, is about a 15 percent savings over online prices (on sale on the second floor grandstand). I mentioned that cheaper models by Little Giant are available at Costco and Sam's Club. Just a little more about each. Costco also sells the accessories such as the telescoping plank, wall stand off, leg leveler and the work platform for less than at the fair. Costco sells the Megalite Model 17 ladder for $200 (either online or in stores), which extends to 15-feet. Even non-members can order the ladder and accessories from (plus a 10 percent surcharge).


The smaller Little Giant model that Sam's Club sells for $150 is a Model 15 which extends to 13-feet. It holds up to 250 lbs., while Costco's model holds up to 300 lbs. Sam's Club does not allow non-members to order online.  Although Sam's Club sells the Little Giant in its stores, I could not find the item on its website.

As I mentioned in my article, it never hurts to ask a salesperson how good the deal is. Sometimes the excitement of the fair catches us with defenses down. I generally believe that smart shoppers will find deals just as good if not better after the fair.


One example of that was at the Garage Floor Coating booth on the second floor of the Grandstand. Salesman Dave Outcelt said that the deal offered at the fair is the same one offered at fall home and garden shows and the Dairy Fair. Curious about the price of a poly coating on your garage floor? Outcelt said it would be about $1,000 per stall, so figure about $2,000 for a 2-car garage.


Often times, cheaper is not better. One of the fair deals that might seem hard to pass up is a set of Hotel 1600 sheets for $35, ANY SIZE. Those with a king or queen-sized bed might think, "great deal" but know first that the "1600" name does not apply to thread count. They are made to "feel like" a sheet with a 1,600 thread count, said a salesperson. But the sheet is a blend of of cotton and microfiber. Poly doesn't breathe like cotton, so if you like a cool sheet, you won't like these. They will sleep hotter than cotton. The sample they had on display for feel looked to me like it was starting to pill. I'd spend a little more cash for an all- cotton sheet set at Tuesday Morning, which has excellent clearance prices.

Your own examples of best and worst deals at the fair?

BTW, my colleague Kara McGuire, who writes Kablog and a personal finance column on Sundays in the business section, and I will be at the fair today (Monday) at 3 p.m. talking shop with couponista Carrie Rocha of "Pocket Your Dollars" and Chris Farrell of MPR's "Marketplace Money." Come on over and say hello at the Star Tribune booth today. 



Everything at Bachman's warehouse sale now 75-90% off

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: August 2, 2011 - 9:12 AM


Everything remaining from the weekend sale at Bachman's on Lyndale and Bachman's Cedar Acres is now 75 to 90 percent off. Here's the rundown:

Patio furniture: 75% off


Vintage home decor and gifts: 90% off






Silk flowers and plants: 90% off


Inddor containers: 90% off

Container grown trees $20 and $30 in 10 pound and 25 pound containers.

The sale is going on now and will end at the end of the business day on Wednesday, Aug. 3.

What's new at Ikea?

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: August 1, 2011 - 4:31 PM


The 2012 catalog from Ikea will be arriving within a week or so? What's worth noting in the new catalog.


1. Ikea continues to buck the industry trend by lowering prices on a number of items such as the Somnat crib (was $100, now $80), the Malm quuen bed frame (was $199, now $149), the Tobias chair (was $100 now $80)and the venerable Poang chair (was $89, now $69).



2. Food deals in the Ikea restaurant court represent some of the best new offers. Now through Aug. 21, kids 12 and under eat free (kids meal, $2.49 value). After Aug. 21, kids eat free all day on Tuesdays. Other daily specials are as follows: Mondays a free 99 cent breakfast and coffee from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., Wednesdays BBQ ribs, fries and cornbread for $7 (was $8), Thursdays a quarter roast chicken and potatoes for $2 and Fridays a hot dog and soda for $1 at the bistro. Get your tickets now at the store for the annual all-you-can-eat crayfish party ($10 for adults and $2.49 for kids 12 and under). Two dates are offered this year, Aug. 19 or Aug. 26 from 5 to 9 p.m. The meal includes the crayfish, Swedish cheeses, meatballs, mashed potatoes, and Swedish desserts,  Bibs, paper lanterns and drinking songs included.


3. In a rare nod to American tastes, Ikea has introduced a pillow top mattress series called the Sultan series.There is a 90 day exchange policy, which 30 days longer than most mattress sellers. However, Ikea does not allow a refund unless the item is still is its original packaging

4. Here's a cool website which does not have Ikea's seal of approval.  It's a way for customization of Ikea's furniture with peel and stick vinyl. Choose from their designs, send in a photo or create your own. the cost is reasonable--about $39 shipped for four panels on an Expedit bookcase.

So you want to buy a cheap, used car? Where to start...

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: July 29, 2011 - 4:47 PM

A reader named Charlie recently asked for help finding a used car  about 8 to 12 years old. Here's what I suggested:


1. Go to the library and look at Consumer Reports’ April issues. They will recommend cars up to 10 years old in the section “A reliable used car for every budget.” If you want to look at cars older than 10 years, check out the April issue in 2009 or 2010. (Consumer Reports auto issues only go back 10 years for their recommended cars and cars to avoid. The reliability section with all the red and black dots goes back six years.


2. Also look at “used cars to avoid” in the same April issue of Consumer Reports aka “worst of the worst”  and “worst cars, year by year” in the April 2010 or 2011 issue.

3. Check out auto dealers of your choice or go online to or Check with the Better Business Bureau ( if you’re considering buying a vehicle from a local dealer.

4. Find a mechanic to look over the car. It might cost up to $100, but it’s peace of mind. If a private or commercial seller won’t let you do this, I’d walk away.

Any other suggestions, readers?

Get an early-bird pass to Bachman's warehouse sale Thursday

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: July 26, 2011 - 3:40 PM

The Bachman's warehouse sale is back. The last Bachman’s warehouse sale was in 2005. The garden and gifts retailer replaced it with Lemons & Leftovers departments in most of its larger stores. The latest twist, called the Lemons & Leftovers warehouse sale, will feature current merchandise including containers, pots, gift and home items, vintage pieces and selected live plants. Special purchase items brought in for the sale include patio furniture, holiday wrap, ribbon and women’s scarves.

The sale starts at noon Thursday (July 28) and continues during regular store hours through Sunday in the nursery (6010 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-861-7600), but you can get in three hours early with a pass to members of the eClub. To sign up, go to thewebsite and scroll down to "join Bachman's eClub" in the lower right of the home page, Then send an email to asking for a preview pass for eClub members.

You can also get in early (10 a.m. instead of noon on Thursday) at  a second sale at the Cedar Acres location (23004 Cedar Av. S., Farmington, 952-469-3833). It  includes stone edging, wall block, pavers, fountains, statuary, tropicals and garden decor.

Additional markdowns will be taken on selected items each day at both locations. 


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