<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago Business News - Money, Financial & Corporate News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/business http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Wed, 04 Mar 2015 16:46:39 -0600 Wed, 04 Mar 2015 16:46:39 -0600 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Negotiation 101: Get the Most Out of a Tough Conversation]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 09:12:41 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/handshake_web.jpg

For most people, negotiations happen every day at work, and topics are often varied, covering a wide spectrum – not just at your annual review over salaries. But whether you’re the employer or the employee, negotiations can be difficult to navigate. Both parties seek a positive outcome without negatively impacting the relationship.

To set yourself up for a successful negotiation – one with an outcome that’s in your favor – brush up on your negotiating skills with these tips from Addison Group, a nationwide provider of staffing services.

Identify your wants and needs before walking into the meeting. What do you need to consider the meeting a success? Get an idea of the outcome you’d like from a meeting and then reverse engineer your approach. Enter negotiations in a non-emotional way. You can meet your objective and leave the negotiation feeling like both parties won even in difficult negotiations.
Do your research. Preparation for the negotiation is crucial. For example, if you’re focused on negotiating salary, find out the salary ranges of other people in similar roles in your area. Websites like salary.com is a good place to start. It’s also important to know the cost of living in the area, especially if you’re moving to a new location. This should be reflected in the salary. Consider requesting relocation assistance if necessary. In non-salary issues doing your homework is equally as important- know the facts and approach a meeting without emotion.
Listen. Ensure that the conversation is a dialogue. While one party certainly can lead the discussion, they should avoid dominating the conversation. It can put you at a disadvantage if the other party feels like their input is not being heard. Negotiating takes collaboration, so it’s important to allow everyone to speak their mind. A great tip in negotiating is letting the other party know you are listening to them by restating their thoughts. For example, “If I hear you correctly, you would be supportive of (a raise/working on this project/my working at home) if I could (take on more responsibility/show that I have mastered the software/have a dedicated office and be available from 9-5).” By restating the other party's thoughts and concerns it shows you have listened and want an outcome that is mutually beneficial.
Stay positive. Unlike in an interview where the best practice is to reflect the posture, tone and other non-verbal cues your counterpart uses, in a negotiation, it’s best to maintain a positive attitude throughout the discussion. If the other party becomes defensive or aggressive, sustain a positive and calm demeanor.
Negotiation results. If negotiations go well both parties feel successful and the business relationship is strengthened. However, in the case where you did not achieve your desired outcome you need to ask yourself did the other party understand your view? If so, was the other party reasonable but perhaps did not have control to make changes? If the outcome was less than desirable and the other party was the barrier to a win-win situation you have to ask yourself how important is the issue and does the outcome warrant a next step and void of emotion make the best business decision.

Knowing how to negotiate your way to a successful outcome requires practice and preparation. But if done correctly, you might be surprised with the results! You’ll also be walking away with a valuable and powerful skill.

Bridget O’Connell is a Regional Vice President at Addison Group, a nationwide provider of professional staffing and search services. Bringing the best to the best, Addison combines a national network and localized service for broad reach with a personal touch. Specialized practices deliver the right candidate at the right time in Administration & HR, Engineering, Finance & Accounting, Healthcare, and Information Technology. Addison has received Inavero’s Best of Staffing award for both Client and Candidate service for the past four years. Learn more at www.addisongroup.com.

Photo Credit: NBC Local Media]]>
<![CDATA[Oprah's Harpo Studios in Chicago to Close]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 04:31:46 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/harpo2.jpg

Oprah Winfrey plans to close Harpo Studios in Chicago this year.

Winfrey announced the news Tuesday, laying out a timeline for the closing of her West Loop TV studios, where her iconic show was filmed.

“Harpo Studios in Chicago was not just my home but also my life for nearly 30 years," she said in a statement. "I’ve spent more time there than anywhere else. I am so proud of what we created. It has been a blessing in my life and I thank everyone who has been a part of this great run. I am now looking ahead to inhabiting the new space on The Lot in California and carrying on the legacy of Harpo Studios with OWN programming.”

Presidents of OWN and Harpo Studios, Erik Logan and Sheri Salata, said the studio should be closed in Chicago by December.

"We have been fortunate to have this spectacular city of Chicago as our home for over 25 years and are thankful to everybody who has been a part of this great company," the pair said in a statement.

Last March, Harpo Inc. announced it had entered into a purchasing agreement with Sterling Bay Cos. for the four-building campus on Chicago’s West Side.

"We have entered into a purchasing agreement with Sterling Bay for the four-building Harpo Studios campus in Chicago's West Loop," Harpo told Crain's in a statement at the time. "We expect the transaction to be closed in 30 days. The property will be leased back to Harpo for two years and the studio will continue to produce programming for OWN."

Winfrey first came to Chicago in 1984 to the morning talk show, "A.M. Chicago." A month later, the show was No. 1 in the market, and renamed "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in 1985.

Winfrey moved to Harpo Studios in 1990 and is credited with transforming the once-gritty industrial area to a neighborhood filled with families and trendy restaurants.

Winfrey filmed "The Oprah Winfrey Show" at the studio from 1990 to 2011, when she ended the talk show to start her cable network.

In 2011, then-Chicago Mayor Richard Daley named the street outside Harpo Studios "Oprah Winfrey Way."

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Chicagoans Make List of World's Billionaires in 2015]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 16:10:54 -0600 2015 Rank: #216
Net Worth: $6.5 billion
The Chicago resident began trading in his Harvard dorm room during the 1980s before founding the successful Chicago-based global hedge fund firm Citadel LLC. Griffin's local presence extends to philanthropic donations to institutions such as the Art Institute and a five-year term on the University of Chicago's Board of Trustees.]]>
2015 Rank: #216
Net Worth: $6.5 billion
The Chicago resident began trading in his Harvard dorm room during the 1980s before founding the successful Chicago-based global hedge fund firm Citadel LLC. Griffin's local presence extends to philanthropic donations to institutions such as the Art Institute and a five-year term on the University of Chicago's Board of Trustees.]]>
From Michael Jordan to the Pritzker family, here are billionaires with Chicago ties named to Forbes World's Billionaires List for 2015.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons]]>
<![CDATA[Hot Doug's to Return to Chicago for One Day]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 18:50:02 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/doug+sohn.jpg

It has been nearly five months since the beloved Hot Doug’s closed its doors for good, ending an encased meat era in Chicago, but it appears the famed hot dog stand will return for one day, and one day only.

The Chicago Tribune reports Hot Doug’s owner Doug Sohn will serve his meaty sensations once again on May 16 for Paulina Meat Market’s Hot Doug’s Appreciation Day.

The Lakeview meat market at Lincoln and Cornelia avenues, which once produced a number of sausages for Sohn, will bring back their Hot Doug’s specialties and serve some of the sandwiches that made the former Avondale eatery a staple in Chicago.

Sohn told the Tribune he won’t be cooking the sandwiches, but will be “designing the sausage” and “chit-chatting” with guests.

For the diehard fans who once inked their Hot Doug’s love with a promise of free sandwiches for life, well, that offer apparently stands on this special day.

Photo Credit: Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Social Reaction to Chargers-Raiders Stadium News]]> Fri, 20 Feb 2015 15:33:25 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chargers+raiders+stadium+rendering+13.jpg

News that rival professional football teams the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders are joining forces on a proposal that could have them share a Southern California stadium surprised many when it broke late Thursday.

By Friday, some players and officials had taken to Twitter to share their thoughts on the plan to build a $1.7 billion stadium in Carson, California, if the teams' efforts to construct their own new venues in their respective hometowns fall through.

Here's a look at some of the reaction seen so far:  

Shareece Wright, starting cornerback for the Chargers tweeted: 

Kevin Faulconer, mayor of San Diego had a four part message to share: 

Shawne Merriman, former Chargers linebacker said: 

Corey Liuget, the defensive end of the Chargers said: 

Photo Credit: MANICA Architecture
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<![CDATA[Target 5: Investigating the Issues That Affect You Most]]> Tue, 08 May 2012 13:57:53 -0600 ]]> <![CDATA[$martMoney]]> Tue, 08 May 2012 08:08:56 -0600 ]]> <![CDATA[Elite Jumping Horses of Cuba ]]> Thu, 19 Feb 2015 10:32:39 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP247924812525_CubaHorses.jpg Already renowned for fine rum and fancy cigars, Cuba is carving out a new luxury niche that is attracting Latin American elites to the communist-run island: elite jumping horses.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Auctions Off Bottle of Big Mac Special Sauce]]> Wed, 04 Feb 2015 03:02:34 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcdonalds+sign+new+1.jpg

A Big Mac may only cost a few dollars at McDonald’s, but when it comes to the fast food chain’s Big Mac Special Sauce, things get pricey fast. 

McDonald’s Australia has apparently decided to auction off the first of 200 bottles of their “legendary” sauce on eBay and bidders are emptying more than just their pockets for a chance to purchase the limited-edition bottle.

“For too long Big Mac Special Sauce has been trapped in a beautiful, delicious burger – now we’ve set it free!” the auction page states. “This bottle is #1 of only 200 being produced worldwide, and they won’t be sold in restaurants.”

By Tuesday morning bids had reached nearly $18,000 with more than seven days left to bid.

As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, 135 bids had been placed for the 500-milliliter bottle, the highest being $23,100 (AU).

The world’s largest hamburger chain said 100 percent of the auction sale price will go to the Australian branch of Ronald McDonald House Charities.

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<![CDATA[Boeing 747-8 Picked as Next Platform for Air Force One]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 16:50:07 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/020810+Boeing+1.jpg

An aircraft from Chicago-based Boeing was once again selected to fly the President of the United States.

Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James, said a Boeing 747-8 will serve as the next presidential aircraft, commonly known as Air Force One.

"The presidential aircraft is one of the most visible symbols of the United States of America and the office of the president of the United States. The Boeing 747-8 is the only aircraft manufactured in the United States when fully missionized meets the necessary capabilities established to execute the presidential support mission, while reflecting the office of the president of the United States of America consistent with the national public interest," James said in a statement.

Research determined that only two four-engine platforms meet the requirements for Air Force One—the Boeing 747-8 and the A380, manufactured by Airbus in Toulouse, France.

Officials say modifications will need to be made to the aircraft before it can serve as Air Force One, a process that will likely also fall in the hands of Boeing.

"This decision is not a contract award to procure 747-8 aircraft," Col. Amy McCain, the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program manager, said in a statement. "We still need to finalize the overall acquisition strategy and conduct risk reduction activities with Boeing to inform the engineering and manufacturing development contract negotiations that will define the capabilities and cost."

The Air Force wants to own enough of the technical baseline to allow competition for "sustainment throughout the aircraft's planned 30-year life cycle," a release from James’ office said.

"The current fleet of VC-25 presidential aircraft has performed exceptionally well, a testament to the Airmen who support, maintain and fly the aircraft," James said. "Yet, it is time to upgrade. Parts obsolescence, diminishing manufacturing sources and increased down times for maintenance are existing challenges that will increase until a new aircraft is fielded."

The release said affordability will be a key part of the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program.

"The program will use multiple strategies, such as the use of proven technologies and commercially certified equipment, to ensure the program is as affordable as possible while still meeting mission requirements." James said. "We will insist upon program affordability through cost conscious procurement practices."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Frank Meats Patty Opens in Former Hot Doug's Home]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 11:54:53 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/222*120/frank+meats+patty+sign.jpg

Friday marks the day when the former home of famed encased meat eatery Hot Doug’s officially becomes Frank Meats Patty.

The new restaurant, which offered free food to its first 20 customers Friday morning, looks to give meat eaters an entirely new experience.

Frank Meats Patty is owned by the group behind Fatso’s Last Stand and Lockdown Bar & Grill, and judging by their menu, will likely aim to be a more traditional burger and hot dog locale, shifting away from the wild ingredient-filled meals, extremely long lines and unusual hours boasted by their Avondale predecessor.

But traditional shouldn’t be confused with boring.

In their menu posted online, the restaurant offers meals ranging from Single Fatso burgers to the “Ooey Gooey” burger, Char Cheddar Dogs, a Shrimp Po’ Boy, a game burger of the month (this month’s is a buffalo sausage burger with pepper jack) and more.

The restaurant also showed off on social media a new Duck Foie Gras sausage burger with caramelized onions, truffle mustard, roasted shallots, cherries and Foie mousse. Need we say more?

The transition may officially mark the end of an encased meat-eating era at California and Roscoe, but it also looks to be the start of a new meat age.

Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com
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<![CDATA[Target Launches New Plus-Size Clothing Line]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 15:51:24 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/240*120/AVA+VIV+Header.jpg

Target has announced plans to unveil a new clothing line designed specifically for plus-size women.

The line, expected to arrive in mid-February, was designed by Target's in-house design team and features "stylish basics along with trend-driven statement pieces that fashionistas will love," the company said in a release Wednesday.

Similar to Target’s other apparel line, the new AVA & VIV clothing will be updated monthly, with prices ranging from $10 to $79.99.

“Target is synonymous with great design, and with the launch of AVA & VIV, we’re stepping up our fashion game for our Plus-size guests,” Stacia Andersen, senior vice president of merchandising, apparel and accessories at Target said in a statement. “From stylish original prints to the attention to detail and fit, this line is meant to impress and we can’t wait to share it with our guests.”

As part of their latest line launch, the Minneapolis-based retailer enlisted the help of a blogger who once called for a boycott of the company. Chastity Garner, along with fellow plus-size bloggers Gabi Gregg and Nicolette Mason, were hired to help promote the line and give feedback on the newest collection.

Last August, Garner announced she was boycotting Target after the company released their Altuzarra for Target collection.

"Year after year, season after season, you put out these gorgeous designer collections and you almost never include a plus range. Every time each of these collections is about to be released it feels like a slap in the face," Garner wrote. “You may ask, ‘Is there any way I will take you back?’ I will take you back, when and only when, you include true plus sizes in your designer range collaborations. Until then, I will take my money elsewhere."

The line will be available on Target.com on Feb. 22 and will arrive in stores mid-February through March, the company said.

Photo Credit: Target
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<![CDATA[McDonald's Workers File Civil Rights Lawsuit]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 12:11:52 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/mcdonalds-sign1.JPG

Several McDonald’s workers filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the company Thursday alleging a “widespread pattern of racial and sexual discrimination and harassment” at some stores.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia by 10 former employees, claims the company last May simultaneously fired more than a dozen black workers from three Virginia stores who “didn’t fit the profile” desired at its restaurants.

“All of a sudden, they let me go, for no other reason than I ‘didn’t fit the profile’ they wanted at the store,” plaintiff Willie Betts, who was a cook at one of the McDonald’s, said in a statement. “I had no idea what they meant by the right profile until I saw everyone else that they fired as well. I worked at McDonald’s for almost five years, I was on time every day at four o’clock in the morning to open the store, and I never had a disciplinary write-up. They took away the only source of income I have to support my family.”

The complaint claims highest-ranking supervisors regularly called one of the locations the “ghetto store,” referred to black workers as “ghetto” and “ratchet,” and disciplined them for rule infractions that were forgiven when committed by white workers. One supervisor allegedly touched female workers on their legs and buttocks, discussed sexual activities with female workers and offered better working conditions in exchange for sexual favors, according to the complaint.

It further alleges that the McDonald’s Corp. representative who conducted regular inspection visits at the stores had learned of the terminations soon after they occurred on May 12, but took no action. The stores were located in Clarkesville and South Boston, according to the suit.

“We asked McDonald’s corporate to help us get our jobs back, but the company told us to take our concerns to the franchisee – the same franchisee that just fired us,” plaintiff Pamela Marable said in a statement. “McDonald’s closely monitors everything we do, from the speed of the drive-through line, to the way we smile and fold customers’ bags – but when we try to tell the company that we’re facing discrimination, they ignore us and say that it’s not their problem.”

Several workers say they contacted their local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People last year to report the harassment and discrimination.

“The treatment of these McDonald’s workers seems like it’s out of another era, but sadly the racism is a reality they are confronting today,” Rev. Kevin Chandler, president of the South Boston Chapter of the NAACP and Vice President of the NAACP Virginia State Conference, said in a statement. “The South Boston NAACP will stand with these fired workers until McDonald’s takes responsibility for the inhumane treatment these workers faced in its stores.”

Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald’s said it has not seen the lawsuit and “cannot comment on its allegations, but will review the matter carefully.”

“McDonald’s has a long-standing history of embracing the diversity of employees, independent Franchisees, customers and suppliers, and discrimination is completely inconsistent with our values,” the company said in a statement. “McDonald’s and our independent owner-operators share a commitment to the well-being and fair treatment of all people who work in McDonald’s restaurants.”

The complaint filed Thursday brings harassment and discrimination claims under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Section 1981.

“This is a problem that goes far beyond these stores in Virginia – it’s a problem with McDonald’s business model itself when workers at the company have nowhere to turn,” Kendall Fells, Organizing Director of Fast Food Forward, said in a statement. “McDonald’s has the power to fix this problem, but instead it chooses to skirt its responsibility and hide behind its franchise model.”

In response to the suit, the Fight for $15 movement launched a toll-free national hotline Thursday for McDonald’s workers across the country to report alleged incidences of harassment and abuse at their workplace. Workers can report the incidents by calling (855) 729-2869.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[U.S. Gas Prices Falling Below $2]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 09:36:46 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/gas-prices-461831632.jpg

Falling gas prices could drop even lower in the week ahead, with the national average dipping below $2 a gallon, according to one group that tracks prices at the pump.

But those planning a road trip may want to fill up their tanks fast, as the low prices are expect to drive away in the coming weeks.

The national average for gas prices, currently at $2.05 a gallon, is expected to drop to no lower than $1.95 a gallon by next week, the website GasBuddy said Wednesday. Prices have not fallen this low since March 25, 2009, the group said. Prices at more than 50 percent of gas stations in the United States have already hit the $2-or-less mark, Gregg Laskoski, a senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy, said in a statement.

However, as the weather starts to get warmer and people start to travel and spend more time outside, demand for gas will also start to pick up by early February, increasing gas prices, analysts say. In February, gas prices should rise 30 to 50 cents per gallon due to the increase in demand.

Nevertheless gas prices are expected to remain much less expensive than in recent years, where prices were close to $4 a gallon as opposed to the coming months where prices will be closer to $3 a gallon. 

"We should start to see the national average bottom and stabilize in the coming days or weeks, but not months," according to Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy, said in an interview.

Michael Green, Manager at AAA Public Relations identified two main contributing factors to the declining prices at the pump— an economic slow down and an oil game with Saudi Arabia.

The slow economic growth in Asian countries like China, Japan and in Europe, especially now with talks of Greece leaving the Euro Zone, means that the demand is weak in those countries, while the supply continues to remain high in North America, Green said.

He also said one goal of oil-producing  countries within the Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, may be to create a situation where oil drops so much that U.S. production of oil will decline so that it will no longer be profitable to produce oil in America. Saudi Arabia, OPEC's largest member, is hoping to regain the market share that they’ve lost, he said.

“Currently, there is more supply than there is demand so prices are low. In past years there has been more demand than supply,” Green said. “Since last April gas prices have been declining for a record 118 days in a row, which is the longest streak of daily consecutive declines.”

Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[How McDonald's Fries Are Made]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 12:27:00 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/McDonalds-fries.jpg

If you were wondering how McDonald’s fries are made, or what they’re made of, you’re not alone.

As the world’s largest hamburger chain tries to shed its reputation of being “junk food,” the company released a video showing the process behind the making of their popular French fries, with the help of Mythbusters' Grant Imahara.

The YouTube video is the latest in a series of videos as part of the Oak Brook-based chain's recently launched marketing campaign to address common questions about its food, such as whether the beef has worms (the company's answer: "No. Gross! End of story.")

Last month, McDonald's USA President Mike Andres outlined improvements the company is working on, including the simplification of ingredient labels. Without providing details, he said to expect some changes in early 2015. The remarks came after the company reported a 4.6 percent decline in U.S. sales for November, capping two years of struggling performance.

"Why do we need to have preservatives in our food?" Andres asked, noting McDonald's restaurants go through supplies quickly. "We probably don't."

Andres said McDonald's is looking at different cooking and holding procedures to enhance the appeal of its core items, as well as shrinking the number of ingredients it uses. He noted McDonald's restaurants go through supplies quickly, meaning it may be a relatively easy task.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Plans for Woodfield Mall Renovation Revealed]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 13:39:50 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000010660720_1200x675_386627139956.jpg Officials on Tuesday revealed plans for a major renovation at Woodfield Mall this year.]]> <![CDATA[Plans for Woodfield Mall Renovation Revealed]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 13:39:58 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/222*120/woodfield+mall+rendering.jpg

Officials on Tuesday revealed plans for a major renovation at Woodfield Mall this year.

The nearly $14 million project, dubbed a “style evolution,” looks to give the mall modern updates and improve traffic flow for retailers and customers, according to the developer Audrey Thompson, regional vice president at Simon Malls.

“It was important for us to maintain Woodfield’s unique environment,” Thompson said.

The renovation plans include replacing much of the mall’s brick features, particularly those in Center Court, adding an elevator and replacing two existing elevators, adding two escalators, and revamping the seating areas throughout the mall.

“It will be a complete update of the center,” Thompson said. “It will improve the visibility for our tenants. It will also greatly enhance the traffic and flow for our customers and visitors.”

Thompson also noted that the renovation will include new signage for shoppers, flooring replacements and other “aesthetically pleasing finishes.”

The changes are expected to be made this year, but the mall plans to remained open during construction, said General Manager David Gott.

"We’re pretty excited because what we’re talking about today is the continuing evolution of Woodfield Mall," Gott said. "This style evolution that we’re talking about here isn’t just good news for the customers, it’s good news for the local economy."

The mall currently features nearly 300 stores and restaurants, according to its website.

The mall’s last renovation was reportedly 20 years ago, when 50 stores were added, including a three-story Nordstrom.

Last month, officials announced plans to add a Pac-Man inspired restaurant.

“Woodfield mall is the hub of our downtown,” said Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson. “We are viewed as a downtown of the northwest suburbs.”

<![CDATA[Target to Shut Down Stores in Canada]]> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 11:02:32 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/453903966.jpg

Target is shutting down in Canada.

Target Corp. Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell said Thursday that the company was unable to find a realistic scenario in which the 133-store Target Canada would become profitable before at least 2021. It is Cornell's first major move since becoming CEO in August.

Cornell, who's been tasked with maintaining the retailer's momentum and reclaiming its image as a purveyor of cheap chic fashions and home decor, said it was a difficult decision "but it was the right decision for our company."

"We have determined that it is in the best interest of our business and our shareholders to exit the Canadian market and focus on driving growth and building further momentum in our U.S. business," he added.

Cornell said Target Canada worked hard to fix its operations and improve its relationship with customers, but that it didn't see the changes it was looking for over the holiday period.

Target entered Canada in 2013. While operations there improved before the holiday season due to changes in pricing and product assortment, Target still wasn't satisfied with its performance.

Target faced problems from the get go when it entered Canada. There are costly regulations, a slow economy and increasing competition. Its experience in Canada hasn't been unique, though. Big Lots Inc. and Best Buy Co. have shuttered stores there and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has seen its sales in Canada weaken.

The retailer said Thursday that it anticipates approximately $5.4 billion in fourth-quarter losses from discontinued operations in Canada. It foresees about $275 million of losses on discontinued operations in fiscal 2015.

Target expects cash costs for the exit to be between $500 million and $600 million, with most of those costs taking place in fiscal 2015 or later. The retailer said that it has sufficient resources to fund the expected costs.

Target Corp. currently has 17,600 employees at its 133 Canadian stores. It has 1,801 stores in the U.S.

The company said that it is seeking court approval to voluntarily make about $59 million in cash contributions into an employee trust. Once approved by the court, the proposed trust would give almost all of Target's Canada workers a minimum of 16 weeks of compensation, including wages and benefits coverage for employees not needed for the entire winding down of the business.

Target Canada stores will stay open during liquidation.

Target Corp. anticipates its exit from the Canada market will increase its earnings in fiscal 2015 and beyond and boost its cash flow in fiscal 2016 and beyond.

Target also announced that it now foresees fourth-quarter sales at U.S. stores open at least a year up about 3 percent. Its previous outlook was for an approximately 2 percent increase. The chain said its raised forecast was due to its performance for the holiday period including November and December. The Minneapolis company said that it had higher traffic and better-than-expected online sales during the period.

Sales at stores open at least a year is a key gauge of a retailer's health because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

Target anticipates fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.43 to $1.47 per share.

The company's stock gained $4.21, or 5.7 percent, to $78.54 before the market open.

Photo Credit: Lucas Oleniuk/ Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cadbury Changes Recipe for Creme Egg, Outrages Fans]]> Mon, 12 Jan 2015 16:45:40 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/484044769.jpg

Cadbury Creme Egg fans received some rotten news this week.

Cadbury, owned by Illinois-based Kraft, has changed its recipe for the Creme Eggs and will no longer use its signature Dairy Milk chocolate for the treats' shells.

The gooey chocolate treats, long considered an Easter candy staple, will now be made with “a standard, traditional Cadbury milk chocolate,” a spokeswoman for Kraft's Mondelez International said in a statement.

“The fundamentals of the Cadbury Creme Egg remain exactly the same – delicious milk chocolate and the unique crème centre that consumers love,” the statement read. “We have always used a range of milk chocolate blends for different products, depending on their shape or consistency.”

The change, which only applies to Cadbury eggs in the United Kingdom, sparked outrage from fans of the iconic candy.

“The product that Americans know and love and can find this time of year has not changed,” said Anna LIngeris, a spokeswoman for The Hershey Company, which manufacturers and distributes Cadbury products in the United States.

According to Cadbury’s website, the company makes about 500 million creme eggs a year, nearly two-thirds of which are consumed in the UK.

The recipe change is not the first upset for lovers of the “yolk-filled” chocolate candy, as it comes shortly after news that packages would now come with only five eggs instead of six.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Local Company Chosen as Dessert Sponsor for Golden Globes]]> Fri, 09 Jan 2015 18:34:29 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000010522271_1200x675_382564419630.jpg A suburban company was chosen as one of the dessert sponsors for the Golden Globes. LeeAnn Trotter reports.]]> <![CDATA[Major Renovation Planned for Woodfield Mall]]> Thu, 08 Jan 2015 13:35:18 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/woodfield_mall_black_friday.jpg

Woodfield Mall is expected to undergo a major renovation this year.

According to reports, the suburban shopping center has applied for a construction permit for the project, which is estimated to cost at least $13.8 million.

The Chicago Tribune reports details surrounding the renovations aren’t being released yet, but the plans will be unveiled at a private breakfast on Jan. 20.

The intended upgrade is slotted to take place in 2015, but likely won’t include an addition or amusement park-type amenities, the Tribune reported.

The mall currently features nearly 300 stores and restaurants, according to its website.

The mall’s last renovation was reportedly 20 years ago, when 50 stores were added, including a three-story Nordstrom.

Last month, officials announced plans to add a Pac-Man inspired restaurant.

Photo Credit: WMAQ]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago-Area Bank Rolls Out Smartphone ATMs]]> Fri, 02 Jan 2015 14:02:49 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/atm-keyboard-generic-0716.jpg

Say goodbye to ATM cards and hello to your smartphone.

Rosemont-based Wintrust Financial started 2015 off with a technology statement, rolling out 190 “cardless cash” ATMs that allow customers to withdraw cash with their smartphones, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The machines will use software from FIS, a technology provider, to make the transactions possible.

According to the Tribune, customers can use their mobile app to set how much money they want to withdraw from an ATM. Once at the ATM, they sign into the app on their phone using a four-digit password, select the cardless cash option, which will open their camera and take a photo of a QR code on the ATM. Once they snap the photo, they then submit it to the app and the ATM will dispense their cash and send a receipt to their device.

In total, the process reportedly takes about 10 seconds to complete.

The new technology started for Wintrust customers at 29 machines, including one at the Madison Street branch in Chicago’s Loop, on Nov. 24 and is set to go live at all 190 ATMs by the end of February.

Experts tout the move as the future of banking. Mercator Advisory Group states in its “2015 Outlook: Banking Channels” report that they expect “increasing convergence of ATMS and mobile banking.”

BMO Harris Bank has also been testing the mobile cash technology with its employees and plans to begin using it with customers in the first quarter of 2015, the Tribune reports.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[No, McDonald's Isn't Ditching the Big Mac]]> Tue, 23 Dec 2014 16:32:59 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcdonalds+sign+new+1.jpg

No, McDonald’s is not getting rid of the Big Mac.

Following news that the world’s largest hamburger chain planned to trim its menu, a story posted on Daily Buzz Live claiming the Big Mac and apple pies were among the items being removed quickly went viral.

The hoax story cited a fake tweet from the Oak Brook-based fast food chain's account that read, “It is with a heavy heart that we must announce that the Big Mac will no longer be apart of our menu. It is our sincerest apologies.”

Despite the grammar errors, and a disclaimer on Daily Buzz Live stating “a few stories are works of complete fiction,” the piece went viral on social media, concerning eaters.

McDonald’s took to their Twitter page to dispel the rumors Tuesday.

Earlier this month, McDonald's revealed plans to trim its menu, review its cooking methods and maybe even get rid of some of the ingredients it uses to change perceptions that it serves junk food.

Starting next month, McDonald's USA President Mike Andres said McDonald's will cut eight items from the menu and reduce the number of Extra Value Meals from 16 to 11. CEO Don Thompson and Andres didn't say exactly what will get the axe, but they noted favorites like the Big Mac likely won't disappear anytime soon.

McDonald’s did not respond to NBC Chicago’s request for comment.

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<![CDATA[Analysis: Eateries With Most Failed Inspections]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 12:07:19 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Trinity-Bar-chicago-1.jpg

More than 50 licensed Chicago restaurants failed inspections at least three times each this year, a review of city data shows.

Six of the eateries -- Trinity Bar, Taj Mahal, Hana Restaurant, Fischman's Wagyu Wagon, Nueovo Leon Restaurant, and Lawndale Food Market -- each failed four separate health inspections.

While the information is readily searchable on the City of Chicago Data Portal, it was Brandon Harris, a graduate student at the University of Chicago, who analyzed the information to come up with the easy-to-read comparison.

The number of fails doesn't necessarily mean a restaurant will be forced to close. Harris said his analysis revealed "a lot of missing and duplicated values." Additionally, a restaurant can fail an inspection for not being open when an inspector pays a visit.

Still, the data can give potential diners an idea of how well an eatery operates.

For example, Trinity Bar, on the 2700 block of North Halsted Street, failed an initial annual inspection on March 6, the data shows. The problems at that time included "excessive food debris" in the cooler and food that was stored at potentially unsafe temperatures.

That failed inspection triggered follow-up visits on March 13, March 14, and March 20. Those visits also resulted in failed results. Trinity Bar finally received a passing grade during a March 21 visit.

A man at Trinity Bar said "no comment" when asked about the inspection information on Friday morning.

Harris' analysis also easily determined which restaurants were the most frequently inspected and which had two or more failures within one mile of the University of Chicago's Gleacher Center.

Photo Credit: Regina Waldroup
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<![CDATA[Is Your Office Making a Bad Flu Season Worse?]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:18:28 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Sick-Flu_generic.jpg

'Tis the season for holiday cheer, gifts and celebration, but for office workers across the country,  it is also the season of something else: the flu.

As much as 20 percent of the U.S. population battles the flu each year, with workplaces serving as a common breeding ground for the virus. Each season, more than 11 million workdays are lost due to the flu, which translates to $7 billion in sick time and lost productivity, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website.

While employees may claim they’re “not that sick,” a recent Staples Advantage study found that 60 percent of workers who are infected with the virus still feel obligated to show up for work, contaminating everything from doorknobs and faucets to coffee pot handles. It’s a problem for any office but especially challenging for companies with open floor plans, which have been linked to higher levels of workplace illness.

In fact, a recent study published in Ergonomics found that employees who share an office with multiple coworkers are more likely to take short-term sick leave than individuals with their own private space. This shows how problematic the flu can be in open-office environments, which accounted for nearly 70 percent of workplaces in a 2010 survey conducted by the International Management Facility Association.

Fortunately, there are several steps businesses can take to prevent the virus from spreading in their office. These include:

1. Encouraging employees to take the day off or work from home: The Staples survey found that 40 percent of employees feel there is too much going on at work to stay home, while 31 percent said they show up sick because they think their boss appreciates it. Yet more than a third of workers surveyed acknowledged their personal productivity is less than half their usual level when they come to work with the flu – in other words, it’s not worth it. Employers therefore should have the technology in place (e.g., cloud-based file storage, VoIP phone systems, and so on) to enable employees to work from home if they feel it’s necessary. This will help discourage employees from coming into the office and exposing others to the virus.

2. Remembering the basics: It may seem obvious, but basic sanitation – even if it’s something as simple as hand sanitizer – can go a long way in preventing the spread of workplace illnesses. While larger companies often hire cleaning crews to assist with this, smaller businesses may think they’re unable to afford daily cleaning services. What some employers don’t realize is that the cost of these services – especially if they’re only used during flu season – can be offset by increased productivity that would otherwise be lost to employee sick leave. Another affordable alternative to traditional office space is a shared office, where the landlord is responsible for all cleaning duties.

3. Reevaluating your floor plan: Approximately 88 percent of employers in the Staples survey said they encourage sick employees to stay home, but even if they’re able to work remotely, some will inevitably show up at the office no matter how bad they feel. While open floor plans have been lauded for facilitating teamwork and collaboration, they’ve also given rise to new challenges that go beyond illness. People who work in open offices have reported higher levels of stress than those who work in standard offices and frequently say they’re less productive than they would be if they had a space of their own. If a company’s office layout is creating more problems than it solves, it may be time for a move or remodel.

By implementing one or more of these practices, businesses of all sizes can take a proactive approach to flu prevention, maximizing productivity and boosting employee morale.

Frank Chalupa is president and co-founder of Amata Office Centers, Chicago’s largest privately owned office suites provider. Founded in 2002, Amata offers an array of full- and part-time office solutions to businesses of all sizes. With six locations to choose from in downtown Chicago, including the company’s newest center at 150 S. Wacker Drive, Amata offers flexible terms that allow businesses to change and grow as needed. Learn more at amataoffices.com.

<![CDATA[Chicagoan Creates Lesbian Dating App Scissr]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:40:41 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/iPhone8.jpg

There’s Tinder, there’s Grindr and now there’s Scissr.

The new app, which was “designed by lesbians for lesbians,” aims to “create something together that’s mind blowing for lesbians,” according to its website.

Scissr, described as a new “lesbian dating app where woman can connect, share and chat about their local cultural interests and relationship needs,” was sparked by co-creator and Chicago resident Allison Ullrich.

Ulrich, the general manager of Brooklyn Boulders Chicago, told DNAInfo.com the idea was sparked by “life, reality and conversations,” which proved to her that she wasn’t the only woman who struggled with meeting other lesbian women.

She said the app, which she designed with her longtime friend Adam Beck, is intended to be like Grindr, an all-male location-based social networking app, “but classier.”

Similar to Grindr, the app uses GPS to allow users to message nearby users and indicate whether they have a “crush” on them or add them to a private “wish list.”

Users can also indicate the type of relationship they’re interested in, such as love, networking, hookup or friendship.

The app is expected to launch worldwide “soon” for iOS users.

<![CDATA[Low-Wage Workers Continue Push for $15/Hour Minimum Wage]]> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 11:41:37 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chi-min-wage-protest-1.jpg

An employee at a downtown BP gas station closed the store and walked off the job early Thursday to join a group of fast food workers demanding an increase to the minimum wage.

"It was time to fight. It was time to get something done. We need to make a movement to go ahead and get that $15 living wage," said Daryel Eatmonds.

The Chicago City Council earlier this week voted to hike the minimum wage within city limits to $13 an hour by 2019, but the protesters maintained that increase isn't big enough and takes too long to be phased in.

"[The protest] was necessary. It was something we need right now," Eatmonds said.

The low-wage workers and their supports began protesting at the McDonald's restaurant at 600 North Clark Street in the city's River North neighborhood early in the morning as part of a national day of protest.

"At this point what we're looking at is just making sure workers here in Chicago can not only survive but thrive," Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) said after joining the protest at about 7:30 a.m.

The City Council's vote could ultimately by trumped by action by state lawmakers. Some legislators are pushing for a law that would prohibit cities from setting a minimum wage higher than the state level.

Illinois senators on Wednesday approved a proposal to increase the state's minimum wage to $11 for workers 18 and older by 2019. That bill wouldn't impact Chicago's ordinance.

Illinois voters last month approved a non-binding ballot question asking whether the station should raise its minimum wage to $10 from $8.25 by 2015.

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<![CDATA[Jewelry Retailer Lia Sophia Closing Its Doors]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 18:32:44 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/LiaSophia11.jpg

The popular direct-sales jewelry retailer Lia Sophia announced Monday it will be closing its doors this month.

“We are so proud of building Lia Sophia over the past 28 years into an outstanding company that has empowered women, and whose jewelry has been a favorite of so many,” creative director Elena Kiam wrote in a blog post on the company's website Monday. “However, given the challenging business environment, we made the painful decision to wind down Lia Sophia in the United States and Canada by December 31, and cease operations by the end of February.”

Kiam’s husband, Lia Sophia CEO Tory Kiam, acquired the business from his father Victor Kiam. Victor Kiam, former owner of the New England Patriots, made a name for himself in the 1980s as president and CEO of Remington Products, famously appearing in commercials coining the slogan, “I liked the shavers so much, I bought the company."

Victor Kiam purchased the retailer in 1986 under its original name Act II Jewelry before renaming it to Lady Remington. Following the entrepreneur's death in 2001, the brand was acquired by his son Tory Kiam and his wife Elena. In 2004 the couple relaunched the brand under the name Lia Sophia.

"Most of all, we're proud to be a family company, and to see the names of our daughters, Lia and Sophia, on every box of our jewelry," the company's website states.

Lia Sophia sold its jewelry through a network of local independent sales representatives, relying on in-home demonstrations and a direct-selling approach similar to the practices of Avon and Tupperware.

An outpouring of messages to the company’s Facebook page from customers and employees expressed a mixture of shock, disappointment and appreciation for the products and jobs the company created during its operation.

Photo Credit: Lia Sophia]]>
<![CDATA[Valerie Jarrett Shops Chicago Small Businesses]]> Sat, 29 Nov 2014 18:02:18 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/211*120/Screen+Shot+2014-11-29+at+5.56.46+PM.png Valerie Jarrett, the senior adviser to President Barack Obama, was in her home town on Small Business Saturday shopping at local stores. Jarrett wants to put a spotlight on the initiative. ]]> <![CDATA[Local Shops Ready for Small Business Saturday]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 18:26:06 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/209*120/small+biz+saturday2.jpg

With the Black Friday frenzy coming to an end, small businesses are hoping to reign in on some of the holiday shopping madness.

Local businesses say the popularity of shopping local for the holidays is growing.

“We’ve definitely seen a jump on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday,” said Mel Nelson, owner of the M2 Boutique on Southport Avenue.

Small Business Saturday was started in 2010 by American express. In part to help small retailers during the economic downturn and it continues to grow in popularity.

The US Small Business Administration estimated that customers spent nearly $5.5 billion nationwide in 2012 at small, independent stores during the event.

“America’s small business owners are on the front lines when it comes to creating new jobs and opportunities,” President Barack Obama said in a statement Tuesday. “Their efforts exemplify our Nation’s founding idea that no matter who you are, what you look like, where you come from, or whom you love, if you work hard, you can make it if you try. On Small Business Saturday, we rededicate ourselves to ensuring ours is a country where small businesses can thrive.”

As local shops gear up for Small Business Saturday, experts say shopping trends could be turning in favor of the “mom and pop” shops.

“Perhaps there’s an attitude change more toward people in your neighborhood helping them out,” said Shopping Deloitte Retail Expert Tom Compernolle.

And shoppers agree.

“I do think it’s great having local options where you don’t have to necessarily fight the traffic at the malls you can you know living in the neighborhood just kind of walk over,” said shopper Kristen Castelloni.

“I think people want to cheer on the small guy and not have everything look the same with the big retail boxes,” said shopper Carrie Mondschean.

In Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood, the Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce said a recent study showed the benefits of customers buying into Small Business Saturday.

“For every dollar you typically spend at a local independent store about 60 percent of that stays within the community,” said Rudy Flores with the Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.

<![CDATA[Website Lets Consumers Haggle on Pricing]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 12:56:34 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/greentoe-1.jpg Most consumers hate haggling, and most brick and mortar stores don't even embrace it, but an online venture can make consumers more comfortable over price negotiations. NBC Chicago's Lisa Parker reports.]]> <![CDATA[Businesses Giving Back for More Than the Holidays]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 21:51:08 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Generic+Gifts+Generic+Holiday+Shopping.jpg

Thanksgiving is near, and for many businesses, that means thanking clients, partners, employees, a community and supportive family and friends. But giving back as a business doesn't have to be just a holiday theme.

Some Chicago businesses, professional leaders, and organizations are contributing to the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) movement and incorporating community-building and philanthropic initiatives into their missions, mantras, and even business models.

CSR is an effort companies take upon themselves to appeal to the ethical and social needs of its audience and the broader economy, population, or environment it serves, or serves within.

While CSR has become a widely recognized descriptor of business practices, the intent and impact go beyond responsibility, or obligation. Perhaps “social involvement” may more accurately depict the efforts companies large and small are taking to reduce waste in production, increase environmental sustainability, consider its impact on community, and prioritize people and society while maintaining profitability.

There’s proof that consumers are paying attention to company ideals too. According to Nielsen’s Global Corporate Social Responsiblity Report from June 2014, 55 percent of consumers will spend more for products and services from companies committed to making a positive impact.

If you’re looking for ways to give back year-round as a company, or as an employee, Chicago has several organizations and resources where you can connect with like-minded individuals and learn about how to increase your social impact.

One such group is Illinois B Corps., which represents Benefit Corporations, or companies that are “certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.”

Their website highlights that there are over 1,000 Certified B Corps globally, including well-known companies like Seventh Generation, method, and Patagonia, and nearly 15 in Chicago.

According to Nancy Goldstein, founder of Compass(x) Strategy and one of the Chicago B Corps' community leaders, “the group has been working on showing local business leaders how they can build a better business."

"We want to inspire people to think beyond short term shareholder gains to long term stakeholder gains. That means doing what is right for your customers, your employees, the environment, and your community,” she said.

To find events and resources about building a business that gives back year-round, see below:

Illinois B Corps
Social Enterprise Alliance
Chicagoland Environmental Network
Corporate Responsibility Group
Chicago Fair Trade

Rebecca Otis is a digital marketing strategist and consultant, speaker, and blogger that focuses on using simple marketing tactics to make a significant impact for businesses. You can find Rebecca on Twitter and Google+.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Tips to Avoid Black Friday Shopping Scams]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 20:59:35 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/black-friday-employees-thanksgiving+%281%29.jpg

Black Friday shopping isn't always easy.

With many retailers planning to start Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales on Thanksgiving Day, some even sooner, the Better Business Bureau has listed the top ways for holiday shoppers to avoid scams and hackers.

Do Your Research Ahead of Time

Print out your coupons to have them on hand when you go to the store, ensuring that they can guarantee the low prices they’ve claimed to have.

Only Shop at Trusted Retailers
Shoppers should start with the BBB to check on the seller's Business Review for customer satisfaction at www.bbb.org . When browsing online, look for and click on the BBB seal to confirm that it is a valid and trustworthy source.
Check Store Policies Prior to Buying
Confirming each store’s policies on returns and exchanges will help you decide where to spend your money, avoid costly restocking fees and miss short holiday return deadlines.
Use Your Credit Card
Shoppers are protected under Federal law to dispute any unauthorized charges on their credit card. Same goes for if you buy an item and it is never received. Many card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which you pay nothing if someone steals and uses your credit card number.
Hold On to Documentation of Your Purchase
A printed gift receipt protects the recipient from being denied the ability to return or exchange an item at the full value you paid for it. When shopping online, the BBB recommends saving a copy of the final confirmation page you are brought to after purchasing you item. This saves you from relying on the business to email you a receipt and can serve as a back-up proof-of-purchase if need be.
Make Sure Your Personal Information is Protected
It’s worth taking the time to read the site's privacy policy to understand how your personal information will be used. If you can’t find one, consider that to be a red flag your information may be used and sold to others without permission.  Always look in the address box for the "s" in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the "lock" symbol before paying.
Yes, Some Deals Are Too Good To Be
If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is, especially those showcasing extremely low prices on hard-to-get items.  Go with your instincts. Sometimes the best deal is passing up a scam that would cost you more in the end.

Photo Credit: AP/FILE Photo]]>
<![CDATA[New Lammily Doll Aims to be "Normal Barbie" ]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 11:02:55 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/lammily+fashion+3.jpg

A graphic designer turned toy maker has created what some are calling the “anti-Barbie” and "normal Barbie."

The Lammily doll, which became available for purchase and delivery Wednesday, is intended to show what Barbie would look like if she had the measurements of an average 19-year-old woman’s body.

According to the doll’s website, she “is the first fashion doll that isn’t ‘enhanced.’”

Creator Nickolay Lamm says he started a crowndfunding campaign in March, hoping to develop a doll “with typical human body proportions.”

The idea quickly took off, as more than 13,621 supporters backed the idea, preordering more than 19,000 dolls.

But as the idea developed, Lamm created a new element to the “real life” doll—a sticker extension pack, which is set to become available in January.

The stickers, called Lammily marks, include options to give the doll face acne, freckles, moles, blush, scars, cellulite and even stretch marks.

“Lammily represents the idea of being true to yourself in a world that too often convinces us to pursue an unattainable fantasy,” Lamm wrote on his website.

New fashion options are also set to debut in January.

Photo Credit: Lammily.com
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<![CDATA[Best, Worst Retailers for Black Friday Deals]]> Thu, 27 Nov 2014 07:47:40 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/black+friday3.JPG

With so many stores offering up Black Friday deals, it can be tough to decide where to go.

To make bargain hunting a little easier this year, personal finance site WalletHub has released a list of “2014’s Best & Worst Retailers for Black Friday Deals.”

The list, which the company said intends to “help consumers maximize their savings this year,” is based on a survey of 5,525 deals from Black Friday ad scans from 21 of the biggest U.S. retailers, according to researchers.

The list named J.C. Penney as the top retailer for Black Friday deals, with an average discount of 65.44 percent.

Also named among the best retailers were Macy’s, Rite Aid, Meijer, Sears, Walgreens, Office Depot and OfficeMax, Ace Hardware, Kohl’s and Staples.

Sears was dubbed the best retailer for those looking for deals in apparel, accessories and appliances, Office Depot and OfficeMax had the best discounts on electronics and computers, Macy’s topped the list for discounts on consumer electronics as well as consumer packaged goods, Kohl’s had the best deals on toys and furniture and Kmart was the top retailer for jewelry discounts.

Among the stores with the not-so-great discounts were Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Amazon, Big Lots and Costco, which all had average discounts less than 32.16 percent.

In addition to traditional deals this year, several retailers are offering pre-Black Friday sales and others are extending the shopping event into a days-long affair.

Experts say shoppers are better off mapping out their Black Friday plans beforehand.

“One way of making sure that the sales are real sales is to know ahead of time what exactly we want/need to buy and what the cost is before this event and where the best prices are and then compare them to what is offered on Black Friday,” Tahira K. Hira, professor of personal finance and consumer economics at Iowa State University told WalletHub.

Hira also recommends making a list of needs ahead of time and sticking to that list to avoid overspending.

At least four major retailers were not included in the WalletHub survey as they did not provide data on their Black Friday deals. Those stores include Apple, Home Depot, IKEA and Lowe’s.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Stores That Will Be Closed for Thanksgiving]]> Thu, 27 Nov 2014 07:45:21 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Nieman-Marcus.jpg

With many stores opening earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving, some retailers are keeping their doors shut for the holiday.

Several retailers are closed on Thanksgiving to give their employees the chance to enjoy the holiday before the Black Friday shopping frenzy.

Nordstrom announced that it would be closed Thursday, Nov. 28, "to celebrate one holiday at a time."

“This is how we’ve approached the holidays as long as anyone here can remember,” Nordstrom spokesman Colin Johnson said.

T.J. Maxx and Marshalls have also announced they would be closed on Thanksgiving, but would offer extended hours and new merchandise throughout the holiday season.

"As in past years, T.J.Maxx and Marshalls stores will be closed on Thanksgiving so our Associates can enjoy the holiday with family and friends" Rebecca Leonard, spokesperson for T.J Maxx and Marshalls, said in a statement.

Home Depot also plans to close for the holiday, tweeting "Take time to enjoy food, family and friends, and we'll see you early Friday morning."

In addition, USA Today reports at least 12 other retailers will stay closed for the holiday, including:

  • Coscto
  • Ace Hardware
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Patagonia
  • Dillard's
  • Crate and Barrel
  • Neiman Marcus
  • GameStop
  • Nordstrom
  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Burlington Coat Factory
  • REI

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>