Furnishings by Fleet Farm

Big-box hardware stores continue to blur the lines of retail. You can now buy living room furniture, usually the flat-packed, ready-to-assemble kind, at places such as Fleet Farm. But this week, the Farm is featuring a look-alike to Ikea's iconic Tullsta chair ($99) for $80 on sale. The Hartford barrel chair with pillow is regularly $100. The two chairs are virtually identical in size, but Fleet Farm's version weighs nine pounds more.

When Fleet Farm has any of its furniture pieces on sale, the prices can rarely be beat, if the style suits you.

Restaurants offer gift card discounts

More than 50 independent (Heidi's, Kincaid's, Punch Pizza) and chain restaurants (Applebee's, Boston Market, Chipotle) offer discounts of 10 to 40 percent on their gift cards until Dec. 24. The cards make a nice gift and they're a good way to save on future meals for your family. Check the list at my blog at www.startribune.com/dealspotter.

Keep the holidays going and going and going

Stock up on batteries for the holidays now to avoid paying more at the last minute or disappointing the kids. Consumer Reports found that the Energizer Advanced lithium battery was a good value for cameras. The cost is $5.40 per pair, but its longer life span makes it cheaper per picture than some alkalines. Since most alkaline brands share the same life span, try less expensive store brands such as Ikea or Kirkland Signature at Costco. Only the Walgreens Supercell alkaline was judged worse than average.

The Dollar Stretcher website (www.stretcher.com) recommends buying a battery tester (about $10 at Radio Shack). When the remote isn't working, check each battery. Typically, only one battery is dead. You'll save money by replacing only one battery instead of all of them. Rechargeables are a good option when replacing them often in toys, for example. Consumer Reports recommends high-capacity recharging models at 2,350 milliamp hours or less.

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