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Eerie Photos Of Abandoned Shopping Malls Show The Changing Face Of Suburbia

Originally posted on SHOPPERVUE :

By Seph Lawless

By Seph Lawless

A sad reality in many parts of America. Once the almighty shopping mall could do no wrong.  Now with urbanization in full tilt and eCommerce usurping  the casual weekend mall trip, it’s now increasingly becoming a relic of the past.


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Save Money On Your Back To School Shopping Supplies!

It might seem hard to believe that the back-to-school shopping season already is upon us. In some places, summer break just started a few weeks ago. But in many areas of the country, kids will be heading back to the classroom in early August. That means parents need to start finding room in their budgets now for paper, pencils, backpacks, clothing and other items.

To help you save money we have compiled a short list of states that will be offering tax free days to help you save money.

Florida: August 1-3. Purchases of clothing (up to $100 per item), school supplies (up to $15 per item), and computers and computer accessories (applies to the first $750 per item) exempt.

Georgia: August 1-2. Purchases of clothing (up to $100 per item), computers and related accessories (up to $1,000 per item) and school supplies ($20 per item) exempt.

Iowa: August 1-2. Purchases of clothing and footwear less than $100 per item exempt.

Louisiana: August 1-2. The exemption applies to the state sales tax on the first $2,500 of the purchase price of most individual items. Local sales taxes may apply.

Maryland: August 10-16. Purchases of clothing and footwear $100 or less per item exempt.

Mississippi: July 25-26. Purchases of clothing and footwear less than $100 per item exempt. The cities of Crenshaw, Enterprise and Heidelberg aren’t participating.

Missouri: August 1-3. Purchases of clothing (up to $100 per item), computers and computer peripherals (up to $3,500), computer software (up to $350) and school supplies (up to $50 per purchase) exempt. Local taxes may apply.

New Mexico: August 1-3. Purchases of clothing (less than $100 per item), school supplies (less than $30 per item), computers ($1,000 limit) and computer hardware ($500 limit) exempt.

Oklahoma: August 1-3. Purchases of clothing and footwear less than $100 per item exempt.

South Carolina: August 1-3. All purchases of clothing, footwear, computers, linens and school supplies exempt.

Tennessee: August 1-3. Purchases of clothing ($100 or less per item), computers ($1,500 or less) and school supplies ($100 or less per item) exempt.

Texas: August 8-10. Purchases of clothing, footwear, backpacks and school supplies less than $100 per item exempt.

Virginia: August 1-3. Purchases of clothing and footwear ($100 or less per item) and school supplies ($20 or less per item) exempt.

To see a complete list of tax-exempt items and to get more details please visit your states offical goverment webiste. Happy shopping!


Strange Stories from the customer service counter…

You can’t return that: Strange stories from the customer service counter
Consumers expect easy returns, but some customers take that beyond the limit.

In this age of the consumer, easy returns are a basic expectation, with all kinds of implications for customer loyalty and the bottom line.
But, while consumers generally expect returns to be convenient and generally not questioned, whether they’ve bought online or in the store, a few really take that to the limit.

Well-worn, not worn well
One of the most daring set of returns are the ones attempted after the window has closed. And while the merchandise may be worn, the reasons for the return are often unabashedly honest. There’s the woman who tried to return stained jeans because her roommate “borrowed them without asking,” or the one who returned frayed and dirty shoes after she’d only “worn them around the house.”
Then there are habitual “deshoppers” or “wardrobers,” who essentially borrow items from retailers by buying them, keeping the tags on, and returning them after the reason for the purchase, like a party, is over. The practice is contributing to retailers’ $8.8 billion-a-year return fraud issue.
Some retailers are cracking down on previously liberal return policies, so as not to be taken advantage of by customers like these. But L.L. Bean continues to embrace a satisfaction guarantee policy that allows the return of 10-year-old sweaters, used backpacks, and worn boots. While it’s an expensive sales approach, the companyvalues its positive effect on public relations.

Things can get disgusting
Crotch-stained jeans are bad, but how about the man who returned a grill, with the steak still on it? And, it took a while for this drugstore retailer to figure out that one of its regular customers was habitually returning painstakingly reboxed — but used (used!) — enemas.

I believe in Magic!
For some customers, returns policies invite a grey area. You must return something within 30 days? It’s only been 32! Need a receipt? Maybe not. Certainly, a lot of customer loyalty can be cheaply attained by meeting reasonable requests that technically skirt a retailer’s official policies.
But sometimes a customer is simply expecting a magic trick, as when one women insisted that her photos should be in color, despite taking them with black and white film.

Things can get scary
Shoppers can get frustrated and even angry, sometimes legitimately so, if a retailer’s product or service fails to meet their expectations. But sometimes it’s the customer who’s attempting a clearly fraudulent return who becomes the mostunreasonably hostile.
Such customers might resort to yelling, using racist slurs or other abusive language, or even physical threats.
Retailers should ensure that their associates are well trained to handle customers, even unreasonable ones, so that they know what steps to take if things escalate. Sometimes that means deferring to a manager or calling the police.

But it almost always requires a healthy sense of humor.

Shared from WWW.RETAILDIVE.COM created by Daphne Howland

What’s your secret to success? 5 habits of SUCCESSFUL retailers

There’s a saying in retail that the “customer is always right”. While this motto is often relevant for retailers and other business owners alike, letting customers call all the shouts won’t make a retailer successful. And while every merchant is different and every store has it’s own demands and goals, the following habits are repeatedly observed among many successful retailers.

Habit One: Prioritizing is Key.

Retailers are busy folks, with those not in the industry often misjudging just how much is on their to-do-lists. From ordering inventory to researching market trends to merchandising displays to training staff and planning in-store events to scheduling online marketing and more, running a retail business means constantly having something to do. With this in mind, successful retailers recognize the value in scheduling what is necessary to do and eliminating what is not. This also means recognizing that while some responsibilities are more enjoyable than others, all responsibilities must be prioritized to effectively run a successful retail business. Scheduling time limits and deadlines – even as your own boss – can help make retailers stay focused and on schedule, eliminating extra time spent where it shouldn’t be.

Habit Two: Letting Go Is a Must.

With a lot on a retailer’s to-do-list, who has time to dwell on the past? Sure, it’s easy to fall into this habit when mistakes are made or opportunities are missed. But more importantly, it’s better to learn from these scenarios. Retailers are bound to make poor inventory investments or have a slow month; however successful retailers analyze these situations as opportunities to learn from versus beat themselves up over. It’s important for retailers to move forward since after all, their customers already have. One of the best ways to do this is lean on data, which successful merchants implement into their store operations through a variety ways. This often includes incorporating a point of sale (POS) system, using social media monitoring software and tracking customer loyalty. The more retailers know through hard data, the better they are in supporting their customers.

Habit Three: Training Staff is Vital.

Stores spend a lot of money to open their doors and keep them open, which is why it always surprises me when a sales associate has no idea how to support the customers in their store. The people of any business are the faces of that brand… whether they want to accept that role or not. As employers, it’s key to understand this reality and train associates to best represent their stores. Retailers who successfully run their businesses recognize the value in their associates and not only train them, but train them often. New hire trainings are very important, but don’t stop there. Opportunities to train staff can range from store operational procedures to customer service updates to product training to seasonal staff meetings and more. The key is to invest time and dollars into your employees to reap the rewards of strong associates and as a result, strong sales.

Habit Four: Knowing the Competition is a Priority.

Whether it’s your big box competitors or your local Main Street stores, successful merchants know who their competition is. And while it would be easy to simply read about their competition, savvy retailers take the time to actually visit the stores that compete with their business. Analyzing their product assortment, customer service experiences, in-store displays, online shopping opportunities, special events, dress code, store packaging, visual displays and overall consumer impressions are just a few of the things smart retailers look for when it comes to checking out their competition. Often, this type of routine analysis allows retailers to recognize new industry trends, missed opportunities, new strategies to compete for sales and other ways to stay afloat in the competitive retail marketplace. Note – what they don’t do is ignore their competition. Consistently analyzing the constantly changing retail environment is key.

Habit Five: Shifting Store Inventory is “Okay”.

Often, retailers open a store because they love a particular product category and as a result, they enjoy buying inventory to sell in their stores. Unfortunately, this isn’t always a recipe for retail success. Merchants who have become successful and more importantly, stayed successful, are willing to shift their inventory plans to accommodate their customers versus themselves. This may mean eliminating a product line or an entire category of inventory, as well as introducing a new product category that even the retailer is surprised by. When merchants listen to their customers, react to consumer trends, work with their vendors and respond to what their customers want, they are able to more effectively buy inventory for their stores. Using data will once again help monitor this, as well. And as a result, retailers are able to sell more.

Finally, successful retailers typically have one more thing in common… and that is the acceptance that they can’t run their stores alone. For some, this means hiring great people to effectively manage all the necessary operations of their stores. For others, this means investing in outside consultants, service providers or companies that can aid their retail stores in a variety of ways that the store owner alone cannot. For all, however, it means willingly investing in people and companies to help their stores achieve success. And on a final note, each of these habits wouldn’t exist without the willingness to accept change. Recognizing that retail is always evolving and that consumers are, as well, can help retailers stay competitive and relevant in today’s modern marketplace.

Written by Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle -shared from http://www.forbes.com

America’s Birthday Sparks Big Savings!

The 4th of July holiday is a great time to bust out the fireworks, spend time with the family, grill up some meat and if you can find the time do a bit of shopping! Savvy shoppers know that the 4th of July is the best time of the summer to save on warm weather essentials, everything from patio furniture to grills to the season’s most stylish threads will be on sale.

What you should be buying on sale-

Summer Clothes- Macy’s will be offering discounts of 25%-50% off stylish swimware. Khols will be ofering it’s Star Spangled Sale on clothing for the whole family.

Outdoor Home Goods- Home Depot will be sales of 50% off patio furnitire online w/ free ship to store offers. Walmart will be offering big savings on their grills and smokers.

Indoor Home Goods- Sears will be offering the best prices on Mattresses with their take up to 60% off Fourth Of July Matresses Spectacular sale. Home Depot will be slashing prices on major appliances with thier Red, White & Blue Sale. Lowes will be offering up tp 30% off. hhgreg will be taking 30% off appliances, electronics & furniture.

And don’t forget to look for any left over Winter & Spring Items as well. With back to school just around the corner the stores will be needing to make as much room as necessary for new inventory.

Search for coupons and use comparison-shopping websites to save even more money and make sure you are getting the best deals.

Know of a great Independance Day sale? Let us know in the comments and have a safe and happy Fourth of July from Apoll Retail Specialists.