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Jay R. Longley, Jr.

BY CSA STAFF

When Jay Longley turned 30, he had $200 in his savings account and an idea in his head. The combination turned out to be quite lucrative. Today, at age 63, Longley is the well-heeled CEO of a California company called Rainbow Sandals, one of the top three best-selling brands of sandals in the United States.

The surfer/hang-glider/skier/biker/snowboarder-turned-entrepreneur made his first pair of sandals in 1974, emptying his savings account to buy three sheets of leather. Friends helped him obtain glue and rubber and webbing, and Longley’s first pair of sandals was something unique: a sandal that molds to the wearer’s foot without wearing out or breaking.

For the first year, Longley’s Laguna Canyon Road garage was his workshop. He made six pairs of sandals a day, until a fellow surfer and retail shop owner put in an order for 100 pairs. In 1975, Longley left his garage and set up shop in San Clemente, where Rainbow Sandals are still handmade.

Founder and CEO Rainbow Sandals San Clemente, Calif.Annual sales: $50 million (est. 2007)Type of business: Manufacturer of men’s and women’s leather sandalsAreas of operation: Nationwide

While the surfer footwear hardly became an overnight sensation—it wasn’t until 1999 that Rainbow Sandals evolved from a local favorite to a mainstream trend—the company continued to grow over the decades. Part of what gave the company such staying power was the longevity of its product. “They last so long,” said Longley of his sandals. In fact, to celebrate the brand’s quality and long lifespan, Longley frames and hangs 20-year-old Rainbow sandals people have sent back to him to prove how long they’ve lasted.

Longley doesn’t advertise his sandals—he said word-of-mouth is what sells them—and he doesn’t have bricks-and-mortar stores. Rainbow sandals are sold in retail stores nationwide and via the company’s Web site. In 2006, the company generated about $40 million in sales and projects an estimated $50 million this year. New products are expected to pump sales—besides selling sheepskin boots, Longley has introduced crystal-imbedded sandals geared toward the female shopper. The new bling-themed footwear retails for about $80, while more basic thongs with colored leather retail for $44 to $48. According to Rainbow Sandals’ founder, the company isn’t abandoning its roots, but is playing around with some unique concepts to keep the brand current.

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CompUSA may get a new look

BY CSA STAFF

ADDISON, Tx. After opening a new format store last month, CompUSA may be changing the format of its other stores, depending on customer demand and product interest.

According to reports, the elements found in the prototype store, located in Texas, will be incorporated into other CompUSA locations across the United States.

The nearly 7,700 square-ft. relocation site includes an Apple shop featuring Mac computers, iPods and Apple accessories, and a full-length LCD TV wall.

Additional expansions include extended gaming, which includes an entire wall devoted to the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation3 and Xbox 360 gaming platforms, plus a PC gaming setup to test equipment and play new titles.

While businesses can get their share of support with a specialized services section, all consumers can visit the store’s redesigned IT support area.

“This new store aligns CompUSA’s vision to better serve its three core customers, the technology enthusiast, educated professional and small and medium businesses,” said Gabriela Villalobos, the retailer’s sales and operations evp.

CompUSA announced in April that it would narrow its focus to three core customer groups rather than try to serve a mass audience.

The move was part of a comprehensive restructuring, initiated last February, that included an overhaul of senior management and the closure of half its store base as the privately held chain looked to improve sales and profitability.

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Walgreens withdraws from CVS provider plans

BY CSA STAFF

DEERFIELD, Ill. After many months of talks over low and below-market payment rates by CVS Caremark for four prescription plans, Walgreens has withdrawn as a pharmacy provider from the plans.

Patients affected include members of prescription benefit plans managed by CVS Caremark for ArcelorMittal, Johnson Controls, Progressive Casualty Insurance and Wisconsin Education Association Trust.

Most of the affected members live in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Trent Taylor, president of Walgreens Health Services, the managed care division of Walgreens, released the following statement:

“This is not where we wanted negotiations to lead,” he said. “We’re sorry that our pharmacy patients and CVS Caremark’s clients are caught in the middle, and we’ll do all we can to ensure a smooth transition for our patients to another pharmacy. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to work on resolving this issue with CVS Caremark.

“Leaving a benefits plan is an extraordinary step for us, but it demonstrates how extraordinarily low our payments were from CVS Caremark. We can’t continue accepting reimbursement rates that are drastically below market, while offering patients needed special services such as 24-hour pharmacy access and drive-thru pharmacies.”

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