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Forever 21 hits the big time

BY CSA STAFF

Fast-fashion retailer Forever 21 on Friday opened its 91,257,-sq.-ft., four-level flagship store in Manhattan’s Time Square amid much fanfare and hundreds of fans lined up around the corner to get in. Its opening makes it the largest single-brand apparel store in Manhattan.

The doors opened at 10 a.m., but many shoppers took their place in line many hours before. The store’s regular hours will be from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., allowing tourists to shop the store into the late hours of the night.

When shoppers finally entered the store on Friday, dozens of employees yelled, clapped and welcomed each person as though they were a celebrity. The star-treatment continued on each of the four floors when shoppers stepped off of the escalator.

To celebrate the launch, Forever21 featured a live DJ, a free manicure booth and gave shoppers an exclusive Forever21 Times Square location tote bag.

The store — which occupies part of the space formerly occupied Virgin Megastore — boasts a clean, sleek look and features a yellow taxicab and other icons of Manhattan throughout the space. It also houses all the company’s brands in store-within-a-store departments.

Other features include a Stud Room, whose walls are covered with 3,000 gold studs (the area features studded apparel) and the kids’ department, complete with tree house and glass jars filled everything from marbles to gumballs. Lingerie is displayed in a feminine setting, enhanced with lavender walls, crystal chandeliers and cabbage rose-wallpaper. There are some 150 fitting rooms.

Sales projections for the flagship’s first year are expected to surpass $100 million.

With nearly 500 stores, Forever 21 still has plenty of room for expansion in the United States, where it sees the potential for some 1,000 locations. The chain also is thinking globally, and has opened stores in Japan and China. It will enter Europe by yearend, with locations in the United Kingdom (in Framingham) and Dublin.

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NRF welcomes card swipe fee fix

BY CSA STAFF

WASHINGTON The National Retail Federation announced that it welcomed a House-Senate conference committee’s decision to include a fix for rapidly rising debit card swipe fees in the final version of financial services reform legislation approved early this morning.

“The conference committee has struck a blow for small retailers and their customers,” NRF SVP and general counsel Mallory Duncan said. “For years, these soaring fees have been taking billions of dollars out of consumers’ pockets and driving up prices. This is unsustainable. With this conference report in hand, Congress has an opportunity to stand up for Main Street businesses and consumers and rein in the greed of the big Wall Street banks and credit card companies.”

 

“If adopted by Congress and properly implemented by the Federal Reserve, this legislation will put an end to retailers being forced to accept ‘Visa dollars’ that are only worth 98 cents today and whatever Visa decides they’re worth tomorrow,” Duncan said. “This bill will take us a lot closer to a dollar really being a dollar again.”

 

The conference report includes an amendment sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., that would require the Federal Reserve to set regulations resulting in “reasonable and proportional” swipe fees for debit cards. The Fed would be required to take into account banks’ actual costs for processing the transactions and the fact that paper checks drawn on the same accounts are paid at face value.

Swipe fees – officially known as interchange fees – are a percentage of the transaction charged by card company banks each time a card is swiped to pay for a purchase. The fees average between 1% and 2% for debit cards and 2% or more for credit cards.

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Kroger helps USO thank the armed forces

BY CSA STAFF

CINCINNATI Kroger announced that it is partnering with the USO to thank the men and women of the armed forces and their families.

Through mid-August, customers and associates at participating locations of the Kroger family of stores will be able to show their appreciation and gratitude to service members by donating spare change in specially-marked coin boxes at check stands. All of the funds raised will support the broad range of programs and services the USO provides to military personnel and their families, the company reported.

 

The campaign will run in select Kroger stores in Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas; in Ralphs and Food 4 Less stores in California; in Dillon Stores in Kansas and Missouri; and in Baker’s stores in Nebraska. Roughly 1,300 stores will participate.

“We are deeply indebted to our service members and their families for the many sacrifices they make on a daily basis on behalf of all Americans.  Kroger is honored to partner with the USO to thank our military families for all they do,” said Lynn Marmer, group VP corporate affairs for Kroger.

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