Outlet stores

Some of the best outlet stores in Twin Cities aren’t in malls

There are many bull markets and bear markets, my first year university economics professor shared EF Schumacher’s essay book “Small Is Beautiful: A Study in Economics as if People Mattered”. I remember his appreciation for small businesses when I shop at local independent outlet stores.

The offers in these stores are often better than in malls with 100 stores. And I can park near the front door. Here are some of my favorites and other frugalistas in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas:

• My nomination for the most overlooked outlet is Herberger’s Clearance Center (1731 Beam Av., Maplewood, 651-777-6134). On a visit two weeks ago, most spring / summer clothing for men, women, and kids was closed for $ 8 or less, regularly $ 20 to $ 80 in the full-price store. Another result? No commodity is a special purchase. Everything comes from the full-price Herberger stores or other stores of the parent company Bon Ton.

The store, which is Herberger’s only liquidation center, just opened last year. Store manager Brian Schinke said it was an “amazing” start. The housewares and bedding departments are strong, but the men’s department does gangbuster business, he said. The brands (Chaps, Ruff Hewn, Jones New York, DKNY, and Osh Kosh) aren’t as high-end as the superlatives Opitz Outlets in Minnetonka and St. Louis Park, but the discounts are often better. For more savings, ask for coupons.

• Who is a better judge of thrifty places for home improvement projects than a house pinball machine? Robin Staloch of Wayzata thinks Building Materials Outlet (3045 Sibley Memorial Hwy., Eagan, 651-454-8840, www.bmomn.com) is the handy person’s candy store. A regular customer for ten years, she likes the low prices on windows, doors and woodwork. The warehouse and lumber yard cover 250,000 square feet. Recent acquisitions include more windows (a popular item for people who build cabins from scratch), porcelain tiles, pavers, and stone retaining walls. Note: All purchases have a 12 percent buyer’s premium added. There are also online auctions.

• The recently expanded Room & Board store (4600 Olson Hwy., Golden Valley, 763-529-6089) is by far the most popular of the Twin Cities furniture stores. Every Saturday and Sunday morning, dozens of fans driving European sedans and sipping lattes fill the entrance during the opening. Almost the entire collection appears sooner or later: sofas, chairs, patio furniture, accessories, bookcases, desks and rugs. If the first 30% markdown isn’t enough, show up the following weekend and there might be an extra one.

• If you’re looking for more modern furniture, try the new Blu Dot store (1323 Tyler St. NE, Mpls., 612-354-7964). Smaller than the Room & Board outlet, it’s a welcome addition to Blu Dot’s philosophy that modern furniture should be less exclusive and less expensive. The point of sale offers discounts of 20-70% on samples, prototypes, returns and discontinued styles. Crowd scenes are expected this opening weekend.

• If you’re heading south, don’t miss the seconds in the Faribault Woollen Mill store (1500 2nd Av. NW., Faribault, 507-412-5510, www.faribaultmill.com). Full-priced blankets, throws, scarves, and accessories are also there, but seconds and discontinued styles or colors are 40 percent off. It’s a 45-minute drive to the subway for an iconic Minnesota brand. Close on Sunday.

• When it comes to scenic drives and icons, Bargain Bill’s (2106 19th St., Rice Lake, Wis., 715-234-3505, www.bargainbillsinc.com) comes highly recommended by Hollie Yeager of Minnetonka. On rainy days at the family cabin in Cumberland, she searches for deals in the huge warehouse with something for everyone. It offers housewares, cleaning supplies, kitchen utensils, snacks and sweets, pet items and crafts. “It’s a scrapbooker’s dream,” she says. “Furniture and flooring aren’t rock-bottom prices, but the people who have cabins nearby like it when they deliver. “

If I missed out on a few favorite bargains in the metro area or near the cabin, send me your picks for possible follow-up.

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