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By Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun | December 18, 2010
Walmart's size and clout have long enabled it to make waves in retailing, and this holiday season was no exception when the world's largest retailer's decision to offer free shipping had ripple effects. When Walmart announced earlier in the season that it wouldn't charge to ship nearly 60,000 items from its website, with no minimum purchase, other retailers were forced to follow to compete. Best Buy, the electronics chain, was just one that responded by also offering free shipping.
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BUSINESS
By Lorraine Mirabella and The Baltimore Sun | October 1, 2014
Offenbacher Aquatics Inc., a regional retailer of patio furniture, grills and fireplaces, has been acquired by a private equity buyout firm that plans to expand the chain and upgrade stores and the online presence. Antson Capital Partners LLC, based in Baltimore, said Wednesday it acquired the Lanham-based retailer's seven stores, in Maryland and Virginia. Financial terms were not disclosed. "Offenbacher's has strong name recognition and presents us with a substantial opportunity to increase market share in the region and expand our footprint," Andrew Cohen, an investor who was named chief executive officer of Offenbacher, said in the announcement.
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BUSINESS
Lorraine Mirabella | December 17, 2012
  Thousands of retailers are offering free shipping today, with delivery guaranteed by Christmas Eve. But which retailers are the most reliable when it comes to shipping during one of the busiest weeks of the year? One survey, based on shipping times in November, shows Zappos, Staples and OfficeDepot.com leading the way, delivering packages in one day, on average. The survey shows that JCPenney.com took the longest, an average of nine days. Others on the slower end of the spectrum included store.Apple.com, with a six-day average, Target.com, with six days, seven hours, and Walmart.com, with six days, 16 hours.
NEWS
September 24, 2014
A store touting the combination of furniture and entertainment opened its second location this week in Anne Arundel County in the Cromwell Business Park near Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The Sofa Store/Big Screen Store was first conceived as a prototype store two years ago in Towson, combining the retailer stores owned by Cary and Kevin Luskin. The Luskins opened The Big Screen Store in 1996 and now have 11 locations in Maryland and Virginia. “The combination concept provides customers with the ability to shop and plan for a redesign or upgrade of their living room, great room, den or basement all in one spot,” said Kevin Luskin, co-owner.
BUSINESS
Lorraine Mirabella | June 17, 2013
Retailers plagued by slow sales might want to seek customers outside the U.S. -- places, for instance, such as Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. Those countries top a 2013 ranking of developing countries for retail investment by consultant A.T. Kearney. "South America is blossoming," the report says, thanks to increased consumer confidence amid a strong and growing middle class, controlled inflation, sustained economic growth and continued economic and political stability. Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Yves Saint Laurent, Emporio Armani and Calvin Klein opened or have plans to open stores in Uruguay.
BUSINESS
By Andrea K. Walker | andrea.walker@baltsun.com | January 2, 2010
When Walmart wanted to get the word out that it had received a huge shipment of the most sought-after toy just in time for the year-end shopping season, the retailer turned to its more than 400,000 Facebook friends first. Through teaser messages on its Facebook page, followers were asked to guess the mystery product that would soon be stocked on shelves. When Walmart revealed that the toy was the robotic hamster Zhu Zhu pets, it posted up-to-date messages and videos on when the toy would reach stores.
BUSINESS
By Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun | November 15, 2010
Shoppers with upscale tastes but shallow pockets are finding more shopping choices with a recent resurgence in outlet and off-price stores being rolled out by major retailers. Discount shopping isn't new. Bargain shoppers have trekked out to outlet malls for decades seeking discounts. Stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls, who buy leftover goods from department stores and other places and sell them at a markdown, have prospered during the weak economy. But retailers are discovering new opportunities in discount and outlet shopping as frugal consumers are being more careful about what they spend and retailers are looking for ways to grow.
BUSINESS
Eileen Ambrose | December 28, 2011
So, the reindeer sweater from Aunt Emma this Christmas isn't quite your style, so you and thousands of others are now in the process of returning gifts. Which retailers provide the speediest returns? STELLAService, which rates the customer service of online retailers, put them to the test. The company ordered and returned several items to the top 25 retailers from various parts of the country during the weeks before Christmas. The fastest: Amazon.com, whose returns averaged 4.3 days.
BUSINESS
Lorraine Mirabella | November 19, 2013
In what's turning out to be one of the more competitive holiday retail seasons in recent memory, retailers are tripping over one another to be first with Black Friday deals. And they're not waiting until Black Friday, or even Thanksgiving, when more retailers then ever will be open. On Tuesday, Walmart announced a "pre-Black Friday" Friday. Not that it's likely to equal the real one, but for those who don't want to wait, Walmart's sales event starts at 8 a.m. this Friday, both in stores and online.
BUSINESS
Lorraine Mirabella | August 6, 2013
Sales at the nation's chain stores are expected to show a 4.1 percent gain in July, an improvement over the 2.5 percent sales increase a year earlier, Retail Metrics is reporting. Retail demand has improved since spring along with improvements in housing, employment and consumer confidence, the research firm said in a report today. Most retailers are slated to release monthly results, which measure sales at stores open a least a year, later this week. Mall traffic slowed in July, but extremely hot weather gave a boost to summer clearance merchandise, Retail Metrics said. Tax-free holidays in 12 states also helped.
BUSINESS
By Lorraine Mirabella, The Baltimore Sun | August 30, 2014
Target, eBay, Michaels Stores, Neiman Marcus, P.F. Chang's and SuperValu — the parent of Shoppers Food & Pharmacy. It reads like a who's who of American retail and dining, but it's also a list of companies that lost customer data to cyberattacks in the past year. Data thieves are striking with alarming frequency and, more and more, security experts say, they target the places where people shop. The swipe of a credit card, the wave of a mobile phone at Starbucks, logging into retailers' sites via Wi-Fi — increased connectivity, from mobile devices to cloud computing, has opened the door wide for cybercriminals.
NEWS
By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun | August 26, 2014
Liberty Tsakalos, a former corporate treasurer who managed the retail shop of the H&S Bakery, the Southeast Baltimore family-owned business that was co-founded by her husband, brother and father, died Tuesday of Alzheimer's disease complications at her Harbor East home. She was 94. "She was an anomaly of her time. She was a strong woman working in a man's world, which was especially true of the commercial baking industry in the 1950s and '60s," said her grandson Michael Tsakalos of Hunt Valley.
BUSINESS
By Lorraine Mirabella, The Baltimore Sun | August 25, 2014
Back-to-school promotions showed up in many area stores in mid-July. But now that the kids are back in classrooms -- or headed there soon -- the real shopping will begin, one analyst believes. Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for The NPD Group, says this year's shoppers are waiting for school to start. He noted that retail sales in July didn't get the expected bump to help kick off the third quarter. Here's his take: "Parents are prioritizing by purchasing supplies first, then some basic wardrobe necessities and lastly following up with fashion, putting summer aside and purchasing clothing and apparel for colder rather than warmer weather," he said today in an NPD blog post.
BUSINESS
By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun | July 18, 2014
Driver advocacy organization AAA Mid-Atlantic, known for its roadside assistance and insurance and travel services, is moving headlong into a new market in Maryland: automotive repair and maintenance. "It's a major retooling of our retail structure," said Bernhard M. Koch, the group's president and CEO, at the official opening of the group's newest retail shop and mechanic's garage in Columbia on Friday. While AAA will continue to give its seal of approval to independent auto repair shops through its "approved automotive repair network," which includes about 80 shops in Maryland, its own entrance into the market has been expanding at a steady clip in recent years.
BUSINESS
By Michael Bodley, The Baltimore Sun | July 8, 2014
This week another piece of the redevelopment of downtown Towson falls into place as a 90,000-square-foot, 15-screen Cinemark theater ushers in its first moviegoers Thursday. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said Towson Square and the theater are part of an estimated $800 million in private investment that is revitalizing Towson, including the new 52,000-square-foot LA Fitness facility that replaced the old eight-screen AMC theater in Towson Commons. The $20 million theater - the anchor of the 150,00-square-foot Towson Square development - is less than a quarter-mile from one of the region's largest malls, Towson Town Center.
BUSINESS
By Michael Bodley, The Baltimore Sun | July 5, 2014
Juggling the rising cost of textbooks, tuition, food and rent is a little more manageable now for rising University of Maryland, Baltimore County senior Keyerra Jeter, thanks to a June 1 raise in starting pay to $9 per hour for Gap Inc.'s 65,000 employees. "It was difficult, with everything being so expensive all the time, to budget for everything on a minimum-wage salary," said Jeter, an employee of the Old Navy in Waugh Chapel. "I'm just thankful the increase has let me better meet the needs that I have.
NEWS
April 27, 2013
It is amazing that the U.S. Senate has been paralyzed to the extent that it is unable to pass legislation favored by 90 percent of Americans requiring simple background checks on gun purchasers but at the same time is poised to sock it to consumers by requiring Internet marketers to collect state and local sales tax on online purchases ("Click and pay," April 24). While The Sun's editors argue that the present sales tax collection system gives out-of-state Internet marketers an unfair advantage over in-state marketers, they ignore the fact that in-state sellers have an inherent advantage over online sellers: They are closer to the consumer and the point of delivery and therefore have substantially lower delivery costs than out-of-state sellers.
BUSINESS
By Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun | December 10, 2010
There may not be a hot toy craze that has parents fighting in the aisles this holiday season, but that's not stopping retailers from going after the market more aggressively than ever. Retailers are filling their shelves with traditional toys such as board games, building sets and dolls — and not just electronics — an expansion that comes after a tumultuous period in the industry that saw a decline in sales, intense price competition, bankruptcies and the death of the once-top competitor KB Toys.
FEATURES
Tim Wheeler | June 26, 2014
Many supposedly bee-friendly flowers and home garden plants being sold by major retailers have been pretreated with pesticides implicated in bee declines, according to a study by Friends of the Earth and other organizations, including the Maryland Pesticide Network . The study found that 36 out of 71 plant samples - 51 percent - bought at top garden retailers in 18 metro areas across North America - including 1 in 4 plants from...
NEWS
By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun | June 17, 2014
Vernon J. Jones, a former mechanic and car salesman who established the Jones Junction Auto Group in Harford County, which grew to become the largest family-owned retail auto dealership in Maryland, died Monday of complications from Parkinson's disease at his Bel Air home. He was 88. "Vernon was an outstanding man who always had a smile on his face, and he always wanted to help people and give them a good deal on a car," said Jim Helbert, a former Bel Air resident. "I bought my first car from Vernon, and he wanted to make a deal.
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