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Alco Stores files Chapter 11, to sell or liquidate

BY Marianne Wilson

Coppell, TexasAlco Stores Inc. on Sunday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, with plans to liquidate or sell the business.

The 113-year-old retailer and its subsidiary, Alco Holdings Ltd Liability Co., filed voluntary petitions for relief in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division. It listed assets of $221.7 million and debt of $161.6 million.

Alco said Wells Fargo intends to provide it with a $110 million revolving credit facility and a $12.6 million secured term loan so it can repay some debts and continue operating.

In court papers, the discounter cited the impact of the “lingering economic slowdown” on its customers, the majority of whom live in small towns and rural areas, and increased competition. Alco, which operates nearly 200 stores, said it hoped to sell its profitable locations and liquidate the others.

Alco is seeking approval to have Tiger Capital Group LLC, SB Capital Group LLC and Great American Group WF LLC together make an initial bid in a bankruptcy auction. The winning bidder will serve as liquidation agent to conduct store closing sales at some or all of the stores.

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REI optimizes app experience

BY CSA STAFF

Outdoor enthusiasts have been given a host of new capabilities on REI’s newest mobile app – including the ability to check snow conditions at popular ski destinations.

The recently introduced iPad app offers an optimized shopping and product research experience and gives users access to a broad and inspiring product selection of the top brands in camping, backpacking, cycling, climbing, skiing, fitness and more. In addition to a store locator tool and product availability engine for those who prefer to buy at their nearest REI, iPad users will experience product imagery with more detail than ever before with the use of pinch-and-zoom and other native functionality.

“The best outdoor experiences take planning and that work often begins online,” said Brad Brown, REI’s SVP of digital retail. “Whether you’re scheming about a fall hike or getting ready for a season on the slopes, our apps deliver the information you want, when you most need it.”

According to the company, 75% of those who buy in REI stores also visited an REI digital property as part of their research and purchase decision.

One of the coolest features of the new app is an improved REI Snow Report feature that helps skiers and snowboarders know the details about their favorite slopes before heading to the mountain. Designed to leverage national and international resort feeds, users identify favorite locations and choose from intuitive alerts, such as new snow, weather forecasts and snow depth. Push notifications present engaging content, while trip planning with friends is easy through the social media sharing feature, according to the company.

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Online urgency comes to Amazon Prime

BY CSA STAFF

Amazon has sweetened the value proposition for its Prime members this holiday season by offering a 30 minute head start on select Lightning Deals on Amazon.com and daily sales events at MyHabit.com.

The early access deals feature is the latest enhancement to Amazon’s Prime membership which is best known for providing free two day shipping to members who pay a $99 annual fee. The feature brings elements of the competitive shopping behavior to Amazon by creating a sense of urgency to make purchases before the goods are gone.

“Holiday shopping has become synonymous with deal shopping and this holiday, we’re adding new ways for customers to find special gifts for everyone on their list with savings throughout the season,” said Greg Greeley, vp of Amazon Prime. “With early access deals for Prime members, we are providing our most frequent shoppers with a first look at some of the best offers from Amazon and MyHabit this holiday, and all year.”

Amazon Prime members will find Lightning Deals eligible for early access marked "Prime Early Access Deal" on Amazon.com. Lightning Deals are limited time promotions running throughout the day on hand-picked items. Prime members are also invited to shop MyHabit daily sales events early. MyHabit is a unique fashion and lifestyle destination offering up to 60% off designer brands and new discoveries for women, men, kids and home. Most events start daily at 9:00am PST and last 72 hours, or while merchandise lasts. Prime members will be able to access these deals starting at 8:30am PST. Membership on MyHabit is free.

“We know customers love discovering the variety of fashion and home brands available on MyHabit, and we are thrilled to offer Prime members a first look at our incredible selection at truly incredible prices,” said Daren Hull, general manager for MyHabit. “This holiday, we are increasing the selection of daily sales events and Flash Finds, our best deals of the year, which feature unique brands and products that are rarely discounted.”

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