Editor's note: This is John Ewoldt's last Steals and Deals column. Look for his coverage on consumer issues in the Business section.

Cheap gowns, good cause

Want to lend some elegance to a ghastly Halloween costume? How about a pair of long evening gloves for a quarter to set off the Hellboy mask? If that's too subtle, try a beaded cocktail or wedding dress. At the Operation Glass Slipper sale Friday through Sunday, nearly 200 new and used bridal gowns will be $15 to $50. New cocktail and mother of the bride/groom dresses will be $2 to $20.

Shoes, purses, shawls ($1), new makeup and even bolts of fabric for $1 per yard will also be sold. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday (1911 S. Robert St., West St. Paul, 651-994-7989, www. operationglassslipper.org). All proceeds benefit OGS, a nonprofit dedicated to providing prom gowns and accessories at no charge to Minnesota high school girls under financial constraints. No checks.

Early sale on locally made soup mixes

Fans of the Maggie's and Mary's soup mixes normally have to wait until November for good deals on their Creamy Wild Rice, Chicken Dumpling or Chill-Chasin' Chili, but soup weather starts long before then, said co-owner Maggie Mortensen. Save 40 percent on soups ($4, regularly $7.50), cheeseball flavors and desserts. The gourmet foods sale with plenty of free samples (1157 Valley Park Dr. S., Shakopee, 952-496-2887, www.gourmetfoodwarehousesale.com) continues Thursday through Saturday. Another sale will still be held in November. Cash and checks only.

Garage and tent sales

It's the fifth annual garage sale at the Electric Fetus (2000 4th Av. S., Mpls., 612-870-9300, www.electricfetus.com) Saturday and Sunday. Nearly 10,000 items will be on sale, many for $2 or less, including new and used LPs, CDs and DVDs. Besides the bargain-basement stuff discounted 50 to 80 percent, everything in the store is discounted 15 percent. Stick around for the local food trucks and in-store performances.

It's impossible to know if the dry fall will usher in a snowy winter, but Hoigaard's annual tent sale (5425 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park, 952-929-1351, www.hoigaards.com) brings savings in ski and snowboard merchandise. Starting at noon Friday and continuing through Sunday, save up to 60 percent on special purchase and previous year's winter apparel, downhill and cross-country skis, snowboards, helmets and ski bags.

Sample best buys: kids' used skis and bindings at $80 and $100, a women's Obermeyer Desiree ski jacket ($140, regularly $200), and a boys' Spyder Guard jacket ($75, regularly $100). Go to the website for details on slackline demos and visits from freestyle skiers Sammy Carlson and Willie Borm.

Savings for diabetics

Diabetics on a budget or without insurance might want to compare prices on Wal-Mart's new ReliOn store brand. Sample prices include the meter ($16.24), blood sugar test strips ($9 for 50), glucose ($3.98 for 50), lancet device ($5.78) and insulin ($24.88 for a 10 ml. bottle). There are many brands, and patients may prefer one over the other for various reasons, but they are generally equivalent, said Pete Marshall, clinical pharmacist at HealthPartners. Insurance may cover certain brands only, so check with a Wal-Mart pharmacist before switching. Wal-Mart's affordable drug list includes 15 diabetes prescriptions for $4.

John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633 or jewoldt@startribune.com.