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Sport Chalet to be acquired by owner of Bob’s Stores, EMS

BY Marianne Wilson

Meriden, Conn. — Vestis Retail Group, made up of the East Coast-based Bob’s Stores and Eastern Mountain Sports, has signed an agreement to acquire Los Angeles-based Sport Chalet.

The acquisition will create one of the largest sporting goods retailers in the United States, with more than 150 stores and $800 million in total sales (for the 12 months ended December 31, 2013). The combined company, through its three distinct brands, will have a national footprint. Sport Chalet will continue to operate stores under its existing brand name; no store closures are planned.

Craig L. Levra, chairman and CEO of Sport Chalet, will remain in his position at Sport Chalet and continue to run the business out of Los Angeles, reporting to Vestis CEO Mark Walsh. Vestis’ corporate headquarters will remain in Meriden, Connecticut.

"For the past year, we have methodically explored a wide range of options to position Sport Chalet for growth and to further our strategic initiatives," Levra said. "We believe Vestis is the ideal partner given its base of stores in the Eastern U.S. and synergetic vendor relationships and inventory platforms. We believe we will be very well positioned to compete in today’s retail environment as part of a larger organization with significant scale advantages and broad geographic reach."

Vestis is owned by Versa Capital Management.

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Newegg now accepting Bitcoin payments

BY CSA STAFF

Online consumer electronics retailer Newegg has begun offering its 25 million registered users the ability to pay for 10.5 million products using the bitcoin digital currency.

The new payment capability is being offered through a relationship with BitPay, a payment service provider specializing in the bitcoin digital currency.

“Newegg’s customers are among some of the earliest bitcoin miners and are enthusiastic proponents of the crypto-currency. Adopting bitcoin as a payment method is another way we’re responding to our customers’ diverse needs,” said Soren Mills, chief marketing officer for Newegg North America. “Working with BitPay to implement a bitcoin payment option at Newegg was a seamless process and our partnership gives us the capabilities we require for high-volume e-commerce.”

Newegg said it chose BitPay because of the company’s reliability and scalability. With BitPay’s platform, Newegg can accept bitcoin payments and also handle refunds and payment exceptions with the most powerful bitcoin application programming interface (API) in the industry. BitPay’s focus on building enterprise-grade merchant tools helped the company achieve 99.99% uptime that is unrivaled reliability in the industry, according to a Newegg statement.

“Our mission is to make bitcoin every merchant’s favorite form of payment. Forward-thinking merchants like Newegg allow bitcoin enthusiasts from around the world to shop with ease,” said Tony Gallippi, BitPay’s co-founder and executive chairman. “Newegg has been the most requested retailer from the bitcoin community and our collaboration will serve this pent-up demand.”

When completing an order on Newegg.com, customers can now select “bitcoin” from the list of available payment methods during stage two of the order process. Orders processed using BitPay can be completed using a variety of methods. For example, if a customer has digital wallet software installed, that customer can complete an order by clicking the “Pay with Bitcoin” button. If a customer’s digital wallet is stored in a smartphone, a QR code can be scanned on the Bitcoin Payment page to complete the transaction. Or, if a customer’s digital wallet is hosted on the Web, the customer clicks the “View Address” link to display the digital wallet address and send the bitcoin amount due.

With the addition of Newegg, BitPay said it now serves more than 35,000 merchants. The company has raised more than $32 million in venture capital funding and to continue its growth plans to hire 70 new employees this year.

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DealsPlus expands digital mission with products

BY CSA STAFF

No longer content as a social platform for sharing promotional offers, DealPlus.com has relaunched its site to include new capabilities for users to feature curated assortments of merchandise.

DealsPlus said the major overhaul of its site doesn’t alter its core identity as a social platform for sharing coupons and deals, but will give users the ability to create, curate and share their own collections of products. Collections will make it easy for users to find inspiration from like-minded members of the community and when they do new functionality will allow them to “admire” collections and find targeted deals, according to the company.

“By adding collections and the ability for users to upload links to blog posts and other content, we are creating a platform that brings content creators and deals together,” said DealsPlus CEO Kiha Lee. "The way we see it, the future of e-commerce is a seamless blending of content with products in a way that isn’t forced."

As part of the new release DealsPlus will begin working with celebrity and expert collection curators. One of the company’s launch partners is Angela Peters whose produces a popular beauty blog called Hairspray & Highheels. Her collection will focus on makeup and great beauty deals.

"I’m really looking forward to working with DealsPlus, it’s another channel for me to deliver the beauty tips that my readers love, while also providing them with money saving tips and deals,” said Peters.

DealsPlus launched in 2006 as a crowd sourced social shopping site where members can find, share, discuss, and enjoy the best deals and coupons from around the web. The company contends it has the most engaged community of any shopping site on the internet but does not elaborate on how it arrived at that determination.

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