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 Sample sales

An early jump on the Thymes warehouse sale in October

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: September 7, 2011 - 9:20 AM



One of Twin Cities-based Thymes most popular scents is Frasier Fir. (Thymes created its own spelling for "fraser.") Today only, the Frasier Fir candle WAS 50 percent off if you used the promo code frasier641. It's a great winter scent and very authentic.

Unfortunately, thosuands of the candles were sold in a few hours and the promo was discontinued by 9:15 a.m., but you can sign up for early notifications at their website at the bottom right corner of the homepage.


You rarely find the Frasier Fir line at the famous annual warehouse sale, but I have seen some of the other items in the line (not the candle). This year the sale will be Oct. 6-8 at the same location as last year at 63 St. Anthony Parkway, Mpls, 55418,

It's a hugely popular sale. Go early and try to check out quickly or be prepared to wait  in a long line. Hours at the sale are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday (Oct. 6-7) and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 8).

Bachman's and Goodthings warehouse sales are both worth a stop

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: July 28, 2011 - 10:09 AM

It's about time Bachman's brought  back its warehouse sale. When it ended in 2005, it was getting to be a lot of "special purchase" merchandise brought in for the sale but not a bargain worth tweeting about.

The sale that opens at noon today is an improvement. Some of the merch is still special purchase, such as Christmas wrapping paper and ribbon at 50 percent off. (Apparently, some shoppers like this, but c'mon, shouldn't Christmas in July be 70 percent off?)

The patio furniture is also mostly special purchase  too, but I'm sure it will be a popular seller. There is a lot more of it than in previous sales. The quality looked similar to Home Depot to me, but the prices were fairly low. Some seat cushions are only $5. 

What are some of the best values? Tropical plants in the nursery at 60th & Lyndale are 75 percent off (purple fountain grass, hibiscus), a selection of plant chemicals and mosquito repellants are 90 percent off, and live large plants (palms, dracenas, sansevieria) are 50 percent off or more,  


There is a large amount of vintage stuff that is half off such as game tables, rusted iron lattice, driftwood tables and chairs made from bleached teak, lamp bases, milk glass shades, wash basins, and punch boards.


Garden items included statuary benches, Liberty Plus Cordless Mosquito Defense Systems for $347 (reg. $695), fountains, bubblers and tumbling composters

Other sale items: artificial flower stems 50 percent off and assorted gifts and glassware.  

Most of the items are in the nursery area but don't miss more trop[ical plants just outside the nursery and a selection of about a dozen trees (8-10-ft. elms and linden) for only $20. And the Lemons & Leftovers area in the main store is still fully stocked. One interesting vintage item: Slide projector carousels with a round mirror in the center marked half off. 

It's too early to say if Bachman's will bring back the warehouse sale next year, said Larry Pfarr, Bachman's Idea House coordinator.


Another good sale worth a  visit is Goodthings gifts in White Bear Lake. The sale is in the former Outdoor Cooking Store space on 4th street by Abbott Paint. All items came from the store's inventory. Some are scratch and dent (80 percent off or more) but most are onsies or small quantities of giftware, clothing, women's shoes, toys, and seasonal items. at 50 percent off. You won't find JM Paquet upholstered furniture at such low prices anywhere else (an eclectic, colorful pastiche of fabrics on chairs, loveseats and ottomans). If you're looking for Catstudio towels or glassware for Minnesota, don't bother. I didn't see any nearby states represented.   



For more information about both sales, check out today's Steals+Deals.

Weekend deals on everything from water park passes to gun classes

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: June 24, 2011 - 3:23 PM

Here are this weekend's deals:

ID Design at 212 3rd Av. N., Suite 106, Mpls., 612-317-0045 will discount everything in the classic contemporary home furnishings store 20 percent through Sunday, June 26.

The Bead Monkey at 50th & France in Edina and Grand and Victoria in St. Paul is clebrating its 18th anniversary with 30 percent off everything except classes, services and gift cards.



So what if it's not warm enough to go to the beach. Get a deal on a full day pass at the Water Park of America at the Radisson Hotel in Bloomington on Crowdcut. It's only $19.



Today's Star Tribune Steals is $20 worth of merchandise at TurnStyle consignment shops for $10. 

Today's Groupon deal is $50 worth of food at Nye's Polonaise Room for 425. I've never seen Nye's on a daily deal site before. Voted "Best Bar" by Esquire magazine.  



Thinking that deals at restaurants, water parks and consignment shops still seem too tame? Try Living Social's $79 deal on Concealed Handgun Certification, shooting time and range time (regularly $160) at Midwest Carry Academy in Robbinsdale.  



As reported in this week's Steals+Deals: Fans of Opitz Outlet might not have discovered its housewares version, the Opitz Lab, aka Paris Flea Market. Instead of designer clothing, it's filled with unique furniture, lamps, art, chandeliers and home decor. Rugs and mirrors are a strong suit. Still a bit of a sleeper sale, only customers on the e-mail list are notified of the occasional sales. Items are slightly flawed or damaged, but discounted 70 to 90 percent. The Lab, which sells non-clothing items for occasional sales, will be open from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 4 to 7 p.m. Monday. Staff cannot help move or load any items. The market is now in its new location at 4838 W. 35th St., St. Louis Park, 952-922-2435.

Seven good sales happening now

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: June 10, 2011 - 10:54 AM

A wide variety of sales is going on now through the weekend.


Mode in Maple Grove  is selling more than 900 items from the highly-regarded Little Giraffe line.  The babies' blankets, towels, little blankys and burp cloths, which are sold in Nordstrom and Oh Baby!, rarely go on sale. The items for $10, $15 and $20, regularly up to $65. The sale will be Saturday (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Sunday (noon to 4 p.m.).


Electric Fetus in Minneapolis, one of the best of the few remaining record stores, discounts everything 20 percent storewide except smoking accessories through Sunday.



JC Penney stores are having a big storewide sale today and Saturday. But you can save even more by getting an additional $10 off any purchase totaling $25 and up (no exclusions). There is a Post-it-type stickie on the cover of today's Star Tribune for the extra $10 off. Use it during the 4-hour steals from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday for maximum savings.

Sherwin Williams in Roseville only (2722 Lincoln Dr., 651-604-9970) will have 40 percent off all paints and stains, 30 percent off paint supplies and 10 percent off wallcovering from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 11.


Cooks of Crocus Hill puts out a tent once a year for its annual garage sale. It runs until 5 p.m. today. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. It's a lot items, mostly marked down about 50 percent, including kitchen gadgets, Wusthof knives, knife blocks, All-Clad cookware and other brands, enameled bakeware, textiles, cookbooks and more. Most items are overstocks, discontinued, samples, or used in the cooking school. I asked if items are marked down on the last day and was told that around 3 p.m. Sunday items might take another markdown if there is still a lot of merch left. Items not sold will be donated to Bridging.   



Tuesday Morning is discounting all of its clearance merchandise an extra 50 percent through Sunday, June 12. The TM just off France Ave. in Minneapolis had clearance items in nearly every department. 


Creative Kidstuff's annual summer sale runs through Sunday. Everything in the locally-owned- children's toy store is discounted 20 percent.




Fun Sisters reschedules tent sale rain date for Saturday

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: June 3, 2011 - 9:07 AM

 Good news if you couldn't make the Fun Sisters's tent sale on May 21. It was canceled due to rain, but the rain date is Saturday, June 4.



A decade ago, a few Twin Cities boutiques sold designer-label knockoff purses and fashion accessories, until they got their hands slapped with fines. Now the surviving businesses sell inexpensive accessories inspired by the more expensive labels. Few have done it more successfully than the Fun Sisters, which started in Minneapolis and expanded into St. Paul, Stillwater and three locations in the Brainerd lakes area. Prices are always low but the best time to shop is during the annual tent sale (4253 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-822-9872) held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 4. Save 50 percent or more on overstocked jewelry, purses and shoes from all seasons. The Minneapolis store, which is generally open the second Wednesday through Sunday of the month, will also be open for the sale. All sales are final.





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