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January 30, 2008

Shopping Costco for furniture

If you're a Costco shopper, you know that the center of the store is the spot where you can find home furnishings --- everything from sofas to outdoor furniture.

We bought a beautiful Sligh tall case clock a few years ago for $1,800, a price not too far above wholesale. (Most of what we saw in regular stores were about $5,000.) It was a special event, "The Clock Roadshow," and they delivered the timepiece as well as balanced it. Even more amazing -- this was Labor Day.

For those of us with this kind of positive furniture shopping experience, we've been waiting for Costco to expand its home stores. But right now it looks unlikely. HFN, a trade publication for the home furnishings industry, reported recently that five years after opening its first Costco Home, the company is still testing the concept. The first store in Kirkland, Wash. was followed one in Tempe, Ariz. Combined they do more than $100 million in sales. The stock is 70 percent furniture. The rest floor coverings, housewares, bedding and home decor.

Shoppers can still buy a variety of furnishings, like the photo at right, from, but most of us like to sit on the furniture and check the quality before ordering. What Costco needs is feedback from customers. Do you want to see a Costco Home in South Florida? Start a campaign. Let them know that you want to see more of the kind of savings we found with the clock.

-- C.V.S.

P.S. This photo is from and features a two-pack of Veronica microber chairs for $699.99.

POSTED IN: Home Decor (77)

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January 28, 2008

Nothing to wear to work

By Marcia Heroux Pounds

Liz Claiborne, please look down upon the retailers from your perch in heaven and gift them with your common sense. There’s nothing to buy to wear to work anymore.

Claiborne, who died last year, noted as the designer of professional work-wear, yet affordable for women. There’s been a dearth of it of late.

I’ve scoured the racks of Macy’s, Loehmann’s and smaller mall stores in a desperate search for work clothes. Instead, I’ve found shirts and blouses that sport plunging necklines. Who are they designing for?

Quality is also lacking: The design is laughingly young and the material wears out with a few washings. And don’t get me started on finding a dress - a near impossibility.

Designer clothing is one way to go: The quality is better, but the price tag steep.

Last Saturday, persistence paid off: I finally found a pair of work-suitable Michael Kors’ straight-legged gray dress pants at Macy’s marked down to half price and then another 40 percent off.

Anybody else having trouble finding decent clothes to wear to work?

POSTED IN: Women's Clothing (131)

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January 23, 2008

When to shop Ikea

Last weekend my husband, Carter, decided that he couldn't wait any longer to visit the new Ikea store in Sunrise. He claimed he wanted to look for furniture, but I know deep in my heart that it was really the Swedish meatballs with ligonberries that was his siren call.

We left our home in Delray on Sunday afternoon to make the long trek out 595 only to find that traffic was backed up to the highway with potential Ikea shoppers. It was also backed up in the other direction along NW 136th Avenue.

The only parking available was at the overflow lot at BankAtlantic Center, about 5 minutes from the store. We didn't want to fight the crowds and gave up. We drove to Stork's in Wilton Manors for coffee and dessert instead.

So when's the best time to go? An Ikea spokeswoman told me the best time to go is the middle of the week in the middle of the day. Got that? Let me know if it works.


P.S. I'll just have to wait to see if I can find these Superfin vases at $2.49 each that I saw on the Website.

POSTED IN: Miscellaneous (36), Shopping Advice (99)

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January 22, 2008

Giving you the sack

wholefoodsbag.jpgI was picking up some echinacea at Whole Foods in Plantation this morning and at the checkout I was given one of Whole Foods' adorable new reusable shopping bags.

Green and free -- bonus!

They're giving away the bags (extra bags are 99 cents each) because the store is phasing out its plastic bags (they'll still have paper bags).

These bags are much cuter than their other reusable bags -- they have a bit of an Orla Kiely vibe to them.

POSTED IN: Deals & Steals (282), Eco shopping (13)

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January 21, 2008

Making your own discounts

It's no news to any of us who pay the bills that we may be in a recession whether the White House or any of the pundits are ready to admit it.

My wonderful talior has been forced to close his store and take a job at the department store. Other small businesses with slow sales are likely to follow.

But, when business is bad, if you're a savvy shopper you may be able to save some money. My husband, Carter, and I were out shopping on Sunday and found a wonderful piece of art for the bedroom. I almost choked when Carter asked, "Is this your best price?" After all. it was a small shop, not an antique store. (I taught Carter that this phrase is the polite way to get an antique dealer to lower his price.)

No one was more shocked than I when the salesclerk said, "I can take 10 percent off."
The result: We saved about $23.

Try it. Just be sure to be polite and don't push if the person behind the counter says "No."

-- C.V.S.

POSTED IN: Shopping Advice (99)

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January 20, 2008

He had a dream, but I don't think it was this


(Screen shot of an e-mail from Home Shopping Network)

A little tacky, don't you think?

POSTED IN: Miscellaneous (36)

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January 18, 2008

Rockstar parking at Town Center mall

Parents and grandparents with kids in tow now have rockstar parking privileges at Town Center mall in Boca Raton.

The mall will offer its best parking spots -- located in the designated Up Front Plus! parking area -- and free valet services to those visiting the mall with children starting Monday and lasting through Mother's Day.

Up Front Plus! parking is located at the mall's main entrance near the Grand Lux Cafe. Free valet services are located at the Legal Sea Foods entrance. Children 12 and under must be present and the services are subject to availability.

-- Jaclyn Giovis, Staff Writer

POSTED IN: Shopping Advice (99)

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January 15, 2008

Liz Claiborne CEO sheds light on Perry Ellis deal

By Jaclyn Giovis, reporting from the National Retail Federation’s 2008 annual convention and expo in New York

NEW YORK – It was significant news when Miami-based menswear designer Perry Ellis announced last Tuesday plans to buy two Liz Claiborne women’s wear brands – Laundry and C&C California – for $37 million. The deal brings Perry Ellis back to its roots in women’s apparel and opens up opportunity for expansion in contemporary fashion.

But I wondered why Liz Claiborne would shed two brands that are so well-known to young, fashion conscious females – even if they were pocketing $37 million. And I was curious to know how hard Perry Ellis had to fight to win the deals.

I got the answers last night, when I rubbed elbows with Liz Claiborne CEO Bill McComb at a cocktail hour at the 21 Club in New York. He talked about the challenge of having to choose which brands to sell and which ones to keep, as the company looked to focus its efforts on a smaller collection of labels.

“None of the brands were bad,” McComb said. “They all offered opportunity for growth.” In the end, the decision to sell Laundry, a moneymaker in women’s dresses, and C&C California, was a “very tough decision,” he added.

That should make Perry Ellis – who apparently fought hard to seal the deals – feel good.

“When we started the process there were over 100 prospective buyers,” McComb said. “It was competitive all the way down to the end.”

And now that Perry Ellis has re-entered the women’s contemporary apparel category, McComb says Liz Claiborne will be watching its new competitor.



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January 13, 2008

Veggies in your kitchen


Who says you only have to eat your veggies? Crate & Barrel has these leafy green ideas for making your kitchen a healthier looking place.

I love these Herb Bowls ($14.95 each). You can get them in basil, rosemary, sage and oregano and you'll swear you've added a sprig of the real thing to your food.

For cleanup time, there are these Lettuce and Tomato Dishtowels ($8.95 for a set of two) in graphic green and red. Yum.

POSTED IN: Tableware (13)

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January 11, 2008

Scratch and Dent Sale on Kids Furniture

Expecting a baby or know someone who is? Bellini Baby and Teen Furniture may be the place to stroll to this weekend (Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 12 and 13). Bellini at Boca Center in Boca Raton is advertising a “scratch and dent” sidewalk sale. Boca Center is on Military Trail, one mile north of Palmetto Park Road.

These aren’t the beautiful cribs, twin beds and dressers in its showroom, but inventory that has a chip or other minor damage. How long does a kid sleep in it anyway?

For the bigger children, check out the sale inside the store: twin bedroom sets for the princess in your family for half off ($700 to $1400).

Say you still can’t afford those prices? Enter to win a “dream nursery” on Or head to Hoffman’s Chocolates in the same plaza and drown your sorrows in 75 percent-off Christmas candy.

--- Marcia Heroux Pounds

POSTED IN: Home Decor (77), Kids (37)

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January 7, 2008

Miracle cleaning stuff

Last weekend, when discussing a home improvement project with a workman, I learned about a cleaning product that is bound to save you big bucks.

While the friendly workman was there, we chatted about whether we needed to repaint the doors in our 8-year-old house. They were beginning to look a little shabby because of the dirt and grime that appears from everyday use. I tried everything and nothing seemed to work.


"You don't have to spend the money to repaint," said Jim, the moulding man. "Let me show you something."

He came back from his truck with a miracle product called Krud Kutter, and sprayed the worst grime in the door we enter most form the garage. The grime that wouldn't budge disappeared instantly.

Later I read on the Internet that it was selected the #1 cleaner by Readers Digest for cutting grease, grime, oil, tar and wax. It's eco-friendly -- water-based, biodegradable, non toxic and VOC compliant. Suggested retail is about $8 for 32 ounces, but it's well worth it.

Jim suggested The Home Depot, but it's also available at Wal-Mart, Target. Lowes and Ace Hardware.

Does anyone have any experience with this or any other cleaners that save time and do the job?


POSTED IN: Cleaning products (4)

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January 4, 2008

Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons


Have you been throwing away those 20 percent and $5 off coupons from Bed, Bath & Beyond and Linens N' Things after they expire? STOP!!!!

I knew that they both accept each other's coupons. A few months ago I also learned that Bed, Bath & Beyond will accept expired coupons from either store.

But here's the best news: Last week a sales clerk at Bed, Bath & Beyond told me that if you forget your coupons or don't have enough with you on your shopping trip, save the sales slip. Take the sales receipt back to the store with the coupons and you will get the discount. And there's no time limit!

Do any of you out there have any other inside info about these kinds of deals? Please tell us.


POSTED IN: Deals & Steals (282)

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January 3, 2008

The best votive candle

Although I love the look of votive candles, I have had mucho problems with them. They don't last long enough, or they burn unevenly.

Recently, though, my husband found the pefect solution. He was shopping at Albertson's and picked up a "Yahrzeit" Light, a parafin wax candle that burns evenly for 24 hours. From now on, we will buy nothing else, and they were only 99 cents each. Just be sure to remove the label. It's hard to get off so you may need to use a product like Goo be Gone.

I was a little reluctant to share this with you because I was afraid that I would offend some of the Jewish folks who read this blog. But I checked with Jim Davis, our Religion Editor, and he called one of his trusted sources for some feedback.

Here is what Jim found: A rabbi at the Boca Raton Synagogue, an Orthodox congregation, said mentioning a yahrzeit candle shouldn’t be offensive if done in a respectful way. In Jewish tradition, the candles are lighted for a month after a loved one has passed away.

To me, respecting a loved one this way seems like a good idea no matter what your religion.
-- C.V.S>

POSTED IN: Deals & Steals (282)

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About the authors
Doreen Christensen has never paid full price for anything. If there is a way to save on something, she will find it and share how you can save, too. Doreen is a senior reporter covering consumer news, health, beauty and features for the online and print editions of the Sun Sentinel. A 32-year veteran of the newspaper, she previously was a senior copy editor on the universal copy desk. Doreen spends her time off hunting bargains, clipping coupons, gardening and traveling.

Justine Griffin covers retail and marine business for the Sun Sentinel. She is a Tampa Bay native who graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2010. After spending a year covering crime in St. Augustine, Fla., she moved to Fort Lauderdale and made the switch to business journalism. When she’s not writing, she’s riding horses and spending time with her whippet puppy, Josie.

Marcia Heroux Pounds is the Sun Sentinel's workplace columnist when she's not shopping for shoes. She also writes about small business, which allows her to visit many of South Florida's unique shops and boutiques.

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