Finding low-cost, reliable auto repair

A recent survey by indicated that Minneapolis car owners pay about 14 percent more for auto repairs than the national average, but owners can find fair prices if they're willing to shop around and negotiate. The AutoMD site helps by telling owners how much auto repairs should cost based on their vehicle and getting multiple quotes from area shops on the repairs you request. To its credit, AutoMD does not accept payment from any listed companies but makes money through online advertising.

For a faster way to find an auto repair shop that's been rated excellent for quality of work and reasonable repair costs, look for the Fall 2011/Winter 2012 issue of Twin Cities Consumers' Checkbook, a nonprofit consumer agency. It's free at most public libraries or available for $10 at Barnes & Noble or at Checkbook rated 332 local repair shops based on 8,500 consumer reviews and more than 1,200 undercover price checks. About 12 percent of the 332 shops got the highest marks for quality and reasonable prices.

The fall/winter issue also includes ratings of dentists, pest control services, hardware stores, tailors, banks and furniture stores. To order a copy by mail for $14, call 651-646-2057.

Finally, coupons for healthful food

Shoppers who buy organic know there are fewer coupon options, but don't overlook the Chinook Book. The 2012 edition now available contains more than 400 coupons, 100 more than last year. Also new this year are 300 additional coupons for iPhones and Androids. Buy a book ($20) and download your code from the book at Besides favorites such as Lunds/Byerly's, co-ops, Fresh & Natural, notable savings include Spoonriver, Ngon Vietnamese, Pizza Luce, Aveda Institute (free haircut with color), Amtrak (10 percent off an Empire Builder trip) and several Organic Valley coupons.

Most of the coupons are for restaurants, supermarkets and retailers in Minneapolis and St. Paul, but there are also 27 coupons for western suburbs and 20 for northern suburbs, and plenty of manufacturers' coupons to be used anywhere. Redeeming just a few of the 50 coupons in the entertainment and family section, including the Guthrie, the Jungle and the Children's Museum, can pay for the book.

It can be purchased through fundraisers at schools and churches or at co-ops, Lunds, Byerly's, Kowalski's and Whole Foods. For more information call 612-455-8380 or

Candles, art glass and holiday warehouse sale

Europa Import (1360 E. County Rd. E, Vadnais Heights, 651-486-6860) has one of the Twin Cities' best warehouse sales for furnishing your home before the holidays start. Ball candles, tapers, tea lights and holiday candles, mostly from Denmark and Germany, will be $3 to $8 (regularly $6 to $20). The sale includes wrought-iron candle holders, holiday glassware, rustic ornaments ($3 to $6) and European preserves, cookies and coffee ($4 and $6). Non-holiday gifts include art glass ($5 to $30) and serving trays ($5 to $20). Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, and Nov. 18 and Dec. 2 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Nov. 19.

John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633 or If you spot a deal, share it at