Building Materials Outlet expands on-site, online

  • Article by: JOHN EWOLDT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 29, 2009 - 8:37 AM

We spied great deals on rugs, landscaping bricks and pavers at Building Materials Outlet in Eagan.

It has been a couple of years since I last reported on Building Materials Outlet, one of the best deals, if not the best deal, for do-it-yourselfers looking for new building materials.

Returns, overstocks and discontinued items from distributors and manufacturers are discounted up to 80 percent off regular prices. A 12 percent buyer's premium is tacked onto the marked prices. It's a handyman's dream for its selection of Andersen and Pella windows, patio doors, vanities, molding, trim, stair parts, wood and laminate flooring, lumber and sinks. If you're not a do-it-yourselfer, you can still find good deals on carpet, area rugs and other items that don't need a builder's expertise.

BMO has doubled in size in the past three years, to 200,000 square feet, adding more granite, slate, decking, flooring and kitchen cabinets. The company recently added an online auction (www.bmomn.com). Current online items include fireplaces, landscaping stone, cedar decking, tile, doors and hardware. Twin Cities residents can avoid freight charges by picking up items in Eagan. Online auction items will have a "buy it now" feature and remain on-site for 10 to 14 days. Online buyers also pay a buyer's premium. The site will also have in-store specials. Sign up for an online newsletter with information on new shipments.

In the store are scores of categories to check out; I researched two. BMO currently has a large assortment of more than a dozen landscaping bricks, retaining wall blocks, patio squares and edgers in various colors. Some are labeled "seconds" because of minor color differences that did not pass quality control but do not affect quality or durability, said BMO President Lynn Ribar.

(Note: Although prices listed are for singles, BMO requires the bricks to be purchased in pallets only. If you have a small job, it might not be cost-effective.)

In a price comparison with BMO, Menards in St. Paul on University, Home Depot in Bloomington and Lowe's in Plymouth last week, I generally found BMO's prices to be the lowest, Menard's close behind and Home Depot and Lowe's higher. For example, red paving bricks were about 44 cents each at BMO, compared with 49 to 79 cents at competitors, but you have to buy 486 of them on a pallet at BMO.

Larger pieces were a better deal at BMO. For example, retaining-wall bricks (16- by 10- by 6-inch) are $3.11 each at BMO (price includes the 12 percent buyer's premium), $4.87 at Home Depot and $4.98 at Lowe's. (BMO buyers must buy 36 per pallet.) The 16-inch-square patio blocks (2 inches thick) in a variety of colors and patterns were cheapest at Menards ($2.49 each). Bullet edgers are 56 cents each at BMO (includes buyer's premium), 300 per pallet. Similar colors at competitors ranged from 92 to 98 cents each. BMO's best deals are irregular-shaped flagstone patio blocks in a red/charcoal hue for $2.80 each (includes buyer's premium), 75 per pallet. Lowe's price is $5.98 and Home Depot charges $6.79 each. Area rugs and runners are also a good deal. Some are wool; others are nylon. The selection includes four sizes of area rugs and two runners for $55 to $66. I checked one Gulistan runner priced at $55 (includes buyer's premium) that was $150 online. Larger sizes were originally priced up to $250. Patterns are traditional and contemporary.

Building Materials Outlet (2795 E. Hwy. 55, Eagan, 651-454-8840, www.buildingmaterialsoutlet.com or www.bmomn.com for the online auction). Open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mon., Tues., Thu. and Fri.; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wed., and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sat.

John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633 or jewoldt@startribune.com. If you spot a deal, share it at www.startribune.com/blogs/dealspotter.

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