REAL ESTATE

Virgin Mobile opening first 10 retail stores on Friday, could prompt rollout

BY Staff Writer

Chicago — A Thursday report by Bloomberg said that the Sprint-owned pay-as-you-go carrier Virgin Mobile will open 10 retail stores on Friday in Chicago, as part of its plan to leverage iPhone’s expansion into the prepaid wireless space.

With the openings, Virgin Mobile will become the second U.S. prepaid service to offer the Apple device, following the iPhone’s debut at Leap Wireless International on June 22.

The new stores, said the Bloomberg report, also mark a strategy shift for Virgin by opening its own stores rather than relying on retailers such as RadioShack and Best Buy to market its services.

“We think there’s good demand for high-end devices like the iPhone in the prepaid market,” Sprint CEO Dan Hesse told Bloomberg. “Our expectation, based on preorders, is that the iPhone will do very well on Virgin.”

Spring said the 10 Chicago stores opening Friday could lead to a national rollout.

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News

Lowe’s donates $250,000 for wildfire and flooding relief; launches social media campaign

BY Staff Writer

Mooresville, N.C. — Lowe’s said Thursday it is donating $250,000 to the American Red Cross as part of its efforts to provide relief from the wildfires in Colorado and the flooding damage from Tropical Storm Debby in Florida. The home-improvement retailer has already been on the ground assisting local communities affected by both disasters.

In addition to the $250,000 donation, Lowe’s is also launching a social media support program to aid disaster victims. For every Facebook Like and Twitter Retweet received on the Lowe’s disaster-specific posts, Lowe’s will donate a pair of work gloves, up to a total value of $50,000, to the American Red Cross to distribute to residents and emergency officials.

“The fires in the Western part of the country and the severe flooding in Florida have affected the residents, including many of our employees, in communities surrounding our stores,” said Joan Higginbotham, Lowe’s director of community relations. “By partnering with organizations like the American Red Cross, we can ensure help is there for those who need it the most.”

Donations to the disaster relief program enable the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to victims of disasters. In the days and weeks to come, Lowe’s said it will continue to work with the Red Cross to aid in the recovery of individuals and families affected by the wildfires and floods.

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OPERATIONS

Duckwall-Alco officially changes names to Alco Stores

BY Staff Writer

Abilene, Kan. — Duckwall-Alco said Thursday it is officially changing its name to Alco Stores, Inc. An amendment at Wednesday’s annual shareholder meeting was approved. The company’s ticker symbol on NASDAQ is now “ALCS.”

The 111-year-old chain has 216 locations in 23 states, mostly in small-town environments. Plans are on tap to open five new stores in fiscal 2013 and eight underperforming stores are slated to be closed.

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