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Tracking the Positive

BY Marianne Wilson

I’ve had it with bad news and dire predictions. Maybe I’m just an incurable optimist, but there are some promising developments going on out there, both from new and established players.

The challenge is breaking through all the gloom and doom. So I’ve decided to use this space to celebrate some positive news. I’m not saying it signals a return to the days of plenty or of 200-store (and beyond) rollouts. But it does illustrate, as does our cover story, which begins, that the death of the retail industry has been greatly exaggerated. Read on:

  • Teen apparel retailer Aeropostale is introducing its new, value-oriented kids format, P.S. from Aeropostale, in the New York City metro area, with 10 locations due to open by yearend. If the initial stores are successful, expect the company to roll out the format nationwide.
  • Beauty Brands, a 52-unit Kansas City, Mo.-based chain, plans to double its store count to about 100 during the next few years.
  • Best Buy Co. selected the Dallas-Fort Worth market to open the first of its 40 stand-alone mobile phone stores. The Best Buy Mobile stores offer services from AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, as well as a slew of companies with pre-paid offerings, all under one roof. The stores are set to roll out next in Boston, Houston, Los Angeles and Miami.
  • Jos. A. Bank will open 30 to 40 stores in fiscal 2010, up from 10 to 15 units this year, as it looks to take advantage of increased opportunities in the real estate market.
  • Dollar Tree plans to open 220 namesake stores and 20 Deal$ stores in 2009, and plans to eventually have 5,000 to 7,000 locations long term. It currently has some 3,717 stores in 48 states.
  • Lee Jeans has opened the first store in its 120-year history, at The Crossings Premium Outlets, in Tannersville, Pa. Three additional outlet stores are due to open during the first half of 2010.
  • Limited Brands’ Henri Bendel is growing its mall-based accessories, beauty and gifts format, with upcoming stores planned for Los Angeles; Costa Mesa, Calif.; Dallas; Short Hills, N.J.; and King of Prussia, Pa.
  • Lululemon Athletica will test a new concept, Ivivva Athletica, this November, opening freestanding stores in Vancouver, Victoria and Calgary (Canada). The brand will be targeted at girls aged 6 to 12, and feature products made for such activities as gymnastics, dance, figure skating and soccer.
  • Junior apparel retailer rue21, which filed an IPO in September, plans to open 100 stores this year.
  • Sprouts Farmers Market plans to add at least 12 more stores in Texas, Colorado and California this year and next, and might expand in Arizona in 2011.

I’m sure there are plenty of other good-news developments out there. If you have one yourself, drop me a note!

And now for some horn blowing: Chain Store Age will hold its 46th annual SPECS Conference on March 7 to 10, 2009, at Gaylord Palms, Kissimmee, Fla. Covering store planning and design, construction and facilities management, SPECS combines one-to-one networking opportunities with a top-drawer educational program.

SPECS is really like no other conference. But don’t take my word for it. Make it your business to attend. At a time when being on top of your game is more crucial than ever, SPECS can give you and your associates an edge.

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Walmart brings back $10 toys

BY CSA STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Walmart announced that it is bringing back its $10 toys section in all stores and expanding its $10 holiday assortment this year to more than 100 toys.

According to the company, the $10 toys assortment is the first of several programs Walmart will announce this holiday season to bring 12 weeks of added savings in a year that has been increasingly tough on consumer wallets.

 

“With the popularity of our ’10 for $10′ toy program last October, we knew it was important for customers that we bring it back and offer an even greater amount of $10 toys this year,” said Laura Phillips, chief toy officer and VP toys for Walmart. “We began working months ago to ensure we could also introduce many toys at just $10 for this holiday program, as well as roll back prices at a time when our customers were ready to make purchases.”

 

Toys in the $10 assortment include Transformers Action Figures, board games and Play-Doh.

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ECRM names new VP general merchandise

BY CSA STAFF

CLEVELAND, Ohio ECRM has named Cheryl Gherlone VP general merchandise. Gherlone joined the ECRM team in June of 2009, assisting with various sales related responsibilities and researching potential new events. In her new position, Gherlone will work jointly with Paul Wendling of ECRM. This organizational change will become effective on Oct. 1.

Prior to joining ECRM, Gherlone held the position of marketing manager for Longs Drug Stores, with responsibility for general merchandise including stationery, electronics, housewares, hardware, automotive, soft goods as well as liquor & beverages.

 

“With such a solid background, Cheryl will be an exceptional complement to ECRM and the GM category. We look forward to her expertise to lead the advancement of this important category. Her leadership will strengthen our ability to improve existing GM shows and expand show offerings in 2010,” said Charlie Bowlus, CEO of ECRM.

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