From merchandising and advertising to real estate and technology, business reporters offer insight into the latest trends and people that define today’s top retailers.

LCD panel class action claimants, you may get your check by Nov.

Posted by: John Ewoldt under Technology Updated: September 17, 2014 - 4:11 PM

The wait is almost over. Your check is almost in the mail. About 30,000 Minnesotans filed claims in Dec. 2012  to collect $45 to $90 for each flat panel LCD TV, laptop and monitor purchased between January 1999 and December 2006,

The refunds are being issued because of a class action lawsuit against nine LCD screen manufacturers such as Hitachi, LG, Sharp, Samsung and Toshiba, who were found guilty of price fixing.

Almost two years and numerous appeals filed and dismissed, a San Francisco Court will consider a motion on Oct. 17 to start sending checks to claimants. The $1.1 billion settlement will be dispersed, minus lawyers' fees, to 235,000 consumers and businesses in 24 states.

San Francisco attorney Joe Alioto, who co-led the case against the manufacturers, did not want to say definitively that claimants would start getting their checks in November. "I've learned to never make an assumption before a court ruling," he said with caution. But Dan Shulman, a lawyer at Gray

Plant Mooty in Minneapolis, one of a dozen law firms that managed the settlement,  said, "There are no impediments to the distribution of the money. We just need an order from the court."

Once the court gives the okay to start distributing checks, it is estimated it will be within four weeks, according to an e-mail distributed earlier this week to claimants.

Shulman said claimants will get $45 for each laptop or monitor and $90 for each TV, which is less than earlier reports of $75 per monitor and $150 per flat panel TV. After lawyers' fees, about $750 million will be distributed.

Original claims had to be mailed or submitted online by Dec. 6, 2012. Claimants whose address has changed since then can go to the LCDclass.com website to change it. They will need the claimant ID number provided when the claim was made online. (An e-mail was sent with the subject line " Confirmation of receipt of your online LCD Flat Panel Consumer Claim.") Claimants can also call 1-855-225-1886 to get their number if it cannot be found. (Press 7 for a representative after the two minute recorded message.) The address must be changed online with the claimant number. It cannot be changed by phone.

Total Wine opens in Burnsville; Maple Grove may be next

Posted by: John Ewoldt under Retail Updated: September 11, 2014 - 11:43 AM

Total Wine in Burnsville opened Wednesday evening (Sept. 10) to a robust crowd. Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz, city council members and Total Wine co-founder and president David Trone welcomed customers and dignitaries as they cut the red ribbon to officially open Minnesota's second Total Wine superstore. A Roseville location opened in March. The new location is the chain's 106th store.

The Maryland-based wine, beer and liquor retailer plans to open its next store in Nov. in Woodbury. The long-delayed decision for the Bloomington location at 494 and France Av. endured another test on Wednesday with a day-long public hearing. "Everyone had their due process," said Sandra Johnson, Bloomington's city attorney. Trone said little about the meeting except that, by request, he changed the ownership of Total Wine to include only him and his brother Robert, eliminating any inclusion of their children as owners in trust.

Bloomington city attorney Sandra Johnson explained that the reason for the ownership change was due to Bloomington city code being stricter than state law. "Minors are not qualified to be owners," she said.

Now Johnson and Total Wine will provide a summary document to the state administrative law judge, who will make a recommendation on granting Total Wine's license. The issue may finally be decided at the city council meeting on Oct. 20.

Burnsville city council person Suzanne Nguyen said that city attorney Joel Jamnik never saw any reason to deny a liquor license to Total Wine. The process in Burnsville, Roseville and Woodbury has gone much more smoothly than in Bloomington.

Total Wine originally talked of having five to eight stores in the Twin Cities. After Roseville, Burnsville, Woodbury and Bloomington, it appears that Maple Grove may be the fifth. After saying that he was interested in northwest metro, Trone confirmed to me that he had indeed visited Maple Grove on Wednesday.

The Total Wine store in Burnsville is slightly larger than the Roseville location. It is filled with more than 8,000 types of wine, 3,000 spirits and 2.500 beers. During the grand opening, festivities include live music and tastings through Saturday, Sept. 13. The store is located in Burnhaven Shopping Center at 820 W. County Rd 42, near Target.

Macy's celebrates Ridgedale remodeling completion with freebies

Posted by: John Ewoldt under Department stores Updated: September 10, 2014 - 9:42 AM

The first 300 customers to walk through the west doors at Macy's Ridgedale on Wed., Sept. 10 will receive a $10 Macy's gift card. Two of the recipients will get $500 each. Doors open at 10 a.m.

Macy's began moving the men's and home annex into a larger Macy's footprint back in February. The newly expanded and remodeled Macy's inhabits 290,000 square feet, about the same size as the two stores combined, but store manager and vice-president Scott Bartos said the selling space is larger because two locations don't have to duplicate lunchrooms, stockrooms and loading docks.

The women's dresses department has doubled in size, while women's shoes and cosmetics departments such as Chanel, Dior, and Impulse are substantially expanded. Men's Polo Ralph Lauren, Nautica and Calvin Klein have also been expanded. New lines/shops include the Ryan Seacrest Distinction collection, Macy's Home Collection Finest, Finish Line and Locker Room by Lids. The popular Lakeshore Grill has moved but sports the Waterford chandelier from Macy's St. Paul River Room, now closed. A Taste Bar Cafe on the first floor

offers house-made soups, baked goods, salads and sandwiches with plenty of seating.

The former men's and home annex has been demolished to make way for a new Nordstrom that will open fall 2015. Back in 1995 Macy's predecessor Dayton's moved into the vacated Carson Pirie Scott, which pulled out of the Twin Cities market. At the time, many believed Dayton's took the space to keep Nordstrom out of Ridgedale.

Costco offers deal for new members--$146 value for $55

Posted by: John Ewoldt under Retail Updated: September 9, 2014 - 4:07 PM

If you've been on the fence about signing up for a new Costco membership, the wholesale club is trying harder to get you on their side. In a LivingSocial promo that started Tuesday, Sept. 9, Costco will throw in several freebies for new customers who buy a $55 membership.

Similar to a Sam's Club's promo last year, Costco will throw in a $20 Costco cash card, and coupons for a free apple pie, rotisserie chicken and a 30-pack of bathroom tissue that will be mailed in 4 weeks after signing up. Costco also throws in three free months of identity theft protection. Read the fine print on that one--service through Identity Guard automatically renews for $13.49 a month unless you call to cancel. I am guessing that you can avoid that hassle if you never enroll in the first place. Enrollment is probably not automatic.

The warehouse club says the value is $146 for $55. Last November Sam's Club offered a similar membership offer for $45 with free pie, chicken and scalloped potatoes worth $85. Costco's offer is apparently worth more because of the $42 for ID Protection. And 30 rolls of TP ought to be worth $15 or so.

It's good for one year and it can be used anywhere in the U.S. The membership voucher has to be activated by Dec. 15.

The promo is expected to continue for seven days, according to LivingSocial, but it could be terminated earlier. It is not valid for renewals of existing memberships.

Thymes warehouse sale will be held a month earlier

Posted by: John Ewoldt under Retail Updated: September 9, 2014 - 4:03 PM

The on and off Thymes warehouse sale is ON for this year, but being held a month earlier than usual in September. The company skipped a full-scale warehouse sale in 2012 and held a scaled back one last year.

The sale will be held Sept. 25-27 in Edina at 4660 W. 77th St., near Pentagon Park. Hours will be 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thurs-Fri and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

The sale was moved to Edina to accommodate the large crowds at last year's sale, said Cindy Andersen, vice-president of operations at Thymes in Minneapolis. She expects a larger amount of inventory at this sale compared to last year. "We've had a lot of packaging changes and discontinued some items to allow for more inventory at the sale," she said.

The sale is typically a savings of 50 to 75 percent on soaps and scents, including body washes, lotions, candles, diffusers, bubble bath and gift sets. Prices are usually grouped at $3, $5, $10, $15, $20 and up, although some items may get additional discounts on the last day.

It's a popular sale so prepare to wait in line before the doors open in the morning or wait in line at the registers, maybe both. Last year about 200 people stood in line before the doors opened on the first day. It's a little like Black Friday.

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