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American Girl builds an entertainment empire

BY CSA STAFF

Middleton, Wis. The North Point Mall in Atlanta, Ga., has opened its doors to the first national American Girl Boutique and Bistro.

Inside a 12,000-square foot space, girls can enjoy all aspect of the American Girl experience. In addition to shopping for product, the young guests can treat their doll to a new hairstyle in the Doll Hair Salon or participate in classes and seminars. All the commotion around can be quite exhausting, but American Girl Brands, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel Inc., has anticipated that, so they have created a 77-seat casual Bistro that caters brunch, lunch and dinner to the girls and their chaperones. The menu includes Star-Shaped “Stellar” Pizzas, Creamy Four-Cheese Macaroni for the girls, Grilled Pacific King Salmon and Chicken Paillard for chaperones and “Bitty Bites” menu for the littlest American Girl fans.

The best part? Play doesn’t have to end during meal time as the Bistro ensures the dolls are invited to dine next to their owners. Each doll has her own  ‘treat seat’ and doll-sized menu. “American Girl Boutique and Bistro is our opportunity to celebrate with even more girls and provide them with a fun, new way to enjoy the American Girl experience,” said Ellen Brothers, president of American Girl.

By combining the dining option with a toy retailer, American Girl has created destination shopping. Luring its customers to spend hours and hours at the store. The company, known for child/toy interaction as part of the shopping experience, is building its presence by enticing adults to interact, even if it involves just ordering desert. Before long, the American Girl Boutique and Bistro may become a destination vacation spot that brings parents and children together.

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Sears Holdings ceo unhappy with 2Q

BY CSA STAFF

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. Sears Holdings today reported net income of $176 million, or $1.17 per diluted share, for the second quarter ended Aug. 4, compared with net income of $294 million, or $1.88 per diluted share, for the second quarter ended July 29, 2006. The company attributed the decline in its second quarter results from the same quarter last year to lower operating results at both Sears Domestic and Kmart, which were partially offset by improved operating results at Sears Canada.

“We are disappointed with our second quarter results. Our gross margins came under pressure from sales declines and increased promotional activity, and as a result, our net income was significantly below last year and our expectations,” said Aylwin Lewis, Sears Holdings’ ceo and president.

Sears Domestic’s comparable-store sales declined 4.3% for the quarter, while Kmart’s comparable-store sales declined 3.8%. Total domestic comparable-store sales declined 4.1%. The company reported lower sales across most merchandise categories at both Kmart and Sears Domestic, partially offset by increased sales of women’s apparel at both Kmart and Sears Domestic, as well as within consumer electronics and footwear at Sears Domestic. For the quarter, total revenues declined $0.6 billion to $12.2 billion in fiscal 2007, as compared to $12.8 billion for the second quarter of fiscal 2006.

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Lane Bryant pres. joins Christopher & Banks

BY CSA STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS Former Lane Bryant president Lorna Nagler will join Christopher & Banks as president and ceo effective Aug. 31. She will replace Matthew Dillon, who resigned from his position as president and ceo and as a member of the board of directors today. Nagler has also been elected as a member of Christopher & Banks’ board of directors effective Aug. 31.

Nagler most recently served as president of Lane Bryant, a division of Charming Shoppes. Before joining Charming Shoppes in April, 2002, Nagler served as a senior vp and general merchandising manager for apparel and jewelry at Kmart Corp.

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