<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago Business News - Money, Financial & Corporate News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/business http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Sat, 19 Apr 2014 10:32:14 -0500 Sat, 19 Apr 2014 10:32:14 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Group Urges Walgreens to Leave Illinois for Europe]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:28:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/walgreens+sign+edit.jpg

Walgreens is under pressure to move its Illinois-based headquarters out of the country.

A group owning nearly 5 percent of the company's shares wants the pharmacy chain to consider relocating to Europe, according to the Financial Times, to reduce Walgreens' taxable income in the U.S.

After the company's previous refusal to move, the group lobbied management at a private meeting last week in Paris, the Financial Times reports.

Goldman Sachs Investment Partners and hedge funds Jana Partners, Corvex and Och-Ziff reportedly were at the meeting, and sources told the publication talks were constructive.

The shareholders want to use their stake in Swiss-based Alliance Boots, 45 percent of which Walgreens acquired in 2012, to change its domicile to Europe.

The move, called a tax inversion, could increase earnings per share but analysts say it could have political resistance in the U.S.

<![CDATA[United Airlines Ranks Third in Consumer Complaints]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 12:53:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/United-Continental-merger.jpg

Chicago-based United Airlines came in third in a ranking of airlines with the most complaints last year, according to a research report.

The report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, released Thursday, ranked 13 major airlines in the United States by the number of complaints per 100,000 passengers.

The rankings come from 2013 data, but the research group has data from the past five years. United Airlines has consistently stayed at the No. 2 and No. 3 ranking during those years.

The airline with the least amount of complaints is Southwest Airlines, which has held that ranking for the past five years. Spirit Airlines has consistently had the most complaints all five years.

The report found that most complaints were about delayed or canceled flights. Over the past five years, the number of these complaints has increased overall. The report also noted the increase in complaints about crowding of seats, gates, runways and airways.

"When airlines cut corners, it causes all sorts of headaches for passengers," Laura Murray, a consumer associate for the research group, said in a press statement. "These complaints show that the airlines and policymakers should act to improve service."

Complaints about baggage have dropped since 2009, and fewer reports of mishandled bags have been sent to the Department of Transportation.

The report unsurprisingly found that the number of complaints about flight problems correlated with the airline's statistics for on-time performance. In the past few years, United Airlines has dealt with major delays due to computer glitches, prompting passengers nationwide to file complaints.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[IKEA Buying Illinois Wind-Energy Project]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 11:24:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/452348899.jpg

IKEA's U.S. subsidiary is buying a long-planned wind-energy project in eastern Illinois as part of the company's initiative to offset its power use with renewable energy generation.

Rob Olson is chief financial officer of the Swedish furniture retailer's U.S. business. He says IKEA plans to have Hoopeston Wind up and running by 2015. The company says the 98-megawatt wind farm should generate enough electricity to offset all of its U.S. power use.

IKEA and many other companies such as Google and Walmart have announced plans in recent years to use more renewable energy.

IKEA won't say what it is paying for the Hoopeston project. It is buying it from Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy. That company will operate the wind farm.

IKEA becomes the yet-to-be-built project's third owner.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Food Ordering Company GrubHub Soars in Debut]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 09:39:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/grubhub+screenshot.jpg

Wall Street appears to be in the mood for takeout.

Investors sent shares of online food ordering service GrubHub Inc. jumped 51 percent to $39.20 in early trading in its stock market debut Friday.

GrubHub and its rivals are changing the way people order takeout from restaurants. Instead of calling a restaurant, people can order their next meal online or through a few taps on a smartphone app.

The Chicago company raised $192.5 million after pricing more than 7.4 million shares at $26 per share. That's above the company's previously expected range between $23 per share and $25 per share.

The stock is trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "GRUB."

<![CDATA[Target 5: Investigating the Issues That Affect You Most]]> Tue, 08 May 2012 14:57:53 -0500 ]]> <![CDATA[$martMoney]]> Tue, 08 May 2012 09:08:56 -0500 ]]> <![CDATA[Hot Dog Lovers Unite For Chicago Emoji]]> Wed, 26 Mar 2014 17:01:55 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/hot+dog+emoji.jpg

The dog days may soon be over in the world of emojis, thanks to Chicago hot dog restaurant Superdawg.

General Manager Laura Ustick began a campaign earlier this year to advocate for the creation of a hot dog emoji, and the campaign has attracted national attention. Emoji are the colorful pictures and icons used in electronic messages to communicate things, from feelings to food.

The current dictionary of emojis contains food symbols of all kinds, including pizza, sushi, French fries and ice cream. Somehow, the traditional American cuisine -- the hot dog -- has been left out.

Ustick noticed a demand for the emoji after witnessing Twitter discussions about the absence of a hot dog. Since then, she has joined the conversation and created a prototype for the emoji.

"We take our hot dogs very seriously," Usick said.

Ustick's design for the hot dog is meant to appeal to hot dog lovers all over the world, but its lack of ketchup is a tribute to her Chicago roots.

In her appeal for the emoji, Usick has enlisted hot dog restaurants and food celebrities all over the country, including Vienna Beef, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council in D.C., Detroit's Singing Hot Dog Man and competitive eater Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti.

Ustick believes the hot dog emoji belongs with the rest of them, so she has been using social media sites like Twitter and the Facebook page "Hot Dog Emoji Coalition" to get the word out.

"The emoji is a universal language, and the hot dog is a universal food," she said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Groupon Launches Fund to Restore Swedish Water Tower]]> Fri, 21 Mar 2014 13:19:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Swedish_Museum_Tower.jpg

Chicago-based Groupon wants to see a symbol of Andersonville's identity restored.

The company on Friday launched a campaign to restore the historic water tower that, up until Thursday, stood atop the Swedish American Museum.

In a 13-hour effort, crews removed the tower because it was damaged throughout the course of our long winter. Water in the tank, painted to resemble the Swedish flag with a blue background and yellow cross, is believed to have frozen during the winter and damaged the bands holding the tank together.

A page on Groupon's website -- www.groupon.com/andersonville -- is collecting donations through the end of the month "to fully restore" the tower once it's been repaired. People can donate in $10, $25 or $50 increments, the company said, with 100 percent of the money raised going to the museum. Groupon will take care of the credit card fees.

Lesli Proffitt Nordstrom, the museum's marketing manager, said it wasn't immediately known how much it would cost to restore the tower, which now sits in the museum's parking lot. Experts are slated to examine the tank in the coming week to determine what can be done with it, she said.

"In the event that it can't be repaired, we want to make sure that whatever we put up there is equally striking," she said.

Groupon said similar restoration projects in the past have cost up to $200,000.

The loss of the tower, which was erected in 1927 and remained functioning, was "really catastrophic for us," Proffitt Nordstrom said.

A symbol of the tower is included in the logo for the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, and Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) called it a "a treasured symbol of the Andersonville community" in an email to constituents.

Groupon officials approached the museum late Thursday to coordinate the details of the funding campaign. Donations can also be made to the museum through the website at SwedishAmericanMuseum.org.

<![CDATA[Now Hiring: 350 Jobs Open At Bridgeport Mariano's]]> Wed, 19 Mar 2014 17:07:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Marianos_park-ridge.jpg

Mariano's recently took over several former Dominick's locations in Chicago, and the chain is hiring.

Next up: the new location in Bridgeport. The store hosts a job fair Saturday to help fill 350 new positions.

Mariano's partnered with the Instituto del Progreso Latino to host the 10 a.m.-3 p.m. fair. The store is hiring people of all experience levels, from entry-level jobs to management positions.

The former Dominick's store, located at 3145 S. Ashland Ave., was acquired by Roundy's, Inc. in December after Dominick's announced it was leaving the Chicago market.

The Bridgeport location is one of 11 former Dominick's stores being converted into Mariano's.

Mariano's says it will have created 10,000 jobs in four years.

The job fair will be held at the Instituto del Progreso Latino at 2520 S. Western Ave.

<![CDATA[Chicago-Based Calumet Photographic Shutters U.S. Stores]]> Thu, 13 Mar 2014 14:53:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CES_Thursday_P8.jpg

A Chicago-based photography store has closed its doors and filed for Chapter 7 liquidation.

Calumet Photographic, which sells and rents photography equipment and supplies, announced on its Facebook page Thursday that it will immediately close its stores in the United States.

“After 75 years of business it is with a heavy heart that we announce our immediate closing in the United States (our European stores will continue),” the company wrote. “It has been a joy to share our passion for photography with you all of these years. We'll miss each other and we'll miss all of our customers. Thank you for everything.”

At the same time, the company's website and Twitter pages both disappeared.

The company listed between $50 million and $100 million in assets and between $10 million and $50 million in liabilities, according to its bankruptcy filing from Wednesday.

While some commenters responded to the "goodbye post" with sympathy and sadness, others claimed employees and customers were not told of the news until after the stores closed.

“So my wife is just told NOT to come to work.. she's out of a job.. NO HR mention, NO mention of final paycheck, NO mention of what to do about insurance? NOTHING?! Really???” one commenter posted.

“Calumet didn't have the decency to tell there [sic] employees what was happening they had to show up at work to find out it was closed. How about treating your employees with respect,” another said.

Some customers were questioning how they can retrieve equipment left at the store for repairs or be refunded for recent purchases.

“So I have an outstanding order will I be receiving it or be getting a refund, would be kind of nice for the people who did support the business to know!?” one commenter posted.

“I still have a camera in the repair shop there. How will I get it back?” another commenter wrote.

A few hours after their original Facebook post, the company said they were exploring opportunities to reopen “select locations.”

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bad News for Amazon Prime Members]]> Thu, 13 Mar 2014 15:52:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/amazon-453056767.jpg

If you've ever wanted to sign up for Amazon Prime, you have a week to do so before a big price hike takes effect.

The cost of a standard "Prime" membership is set to set you back $99, up from $79. The $20 rate increase is Amazon's first since the program launched nine years ago.

Prime membership has expanded over the years to include free two-day shipping, free video streaming and a Kindle lending library.

The online retailer detailed the price changes in an email to subscribers. If an existing member's renewal occurs before April 17, 2014, the subscriber will be charged the previous rate of $79 (and $99 for renewals thereafter).

Amazon student memberships will cost $49 and "Prime Fresh" memberships will remain at $299. Prime Fresh members get free same-day and early morning delivery of orders over $35, including fresh grocery and local products found on AmazonFresh.com. It's currently only available in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The standard membership price bump now makes Amazon Prime slightly more expensive than Netflix, which runs just under $96 per year, based on a monthly $7.99 subscription cost.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Winter Delays Wendella River Tour & Taxi Boats]]> Wed, 12 Mar 2014 08:05:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/wendella-boats-ice.jpg

Chicago's winter of record-breaking snow and cold has delayed the opening of river boat tour and taxi season.

Wendella Cruises were expected to start operations on Friday, but the fleet is stuck in ice along the Calumet River. Company president Michael Borgstrom said the boats are surrounded by ice that is up to 20 inches thick.

"In addition, Lake Michigan is iced over, making our annual trip from the shipyard an impossibility," he said.

The company set April 4 as the new start date. It's the first time in the company's 80-year history that the season has been delayed.

Wendella operates the popular Combined Lake and River Tour, Chicago River Architecture Tour, Chicago at Sunset Cruise and the Chicago River Experience Tour. The company also operates the Chicago WaterTaxi that provides scheduled water transportation service seven days a week from the Union Station and the Ogilvie Transporation Center to Michigan Avenue, Chinatown and North Avenue at Goose Island.

The federal government's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor reported that ice spread across 93.29 percent of the lake's surface area on Saturday.

Photo Credit: Wendella Boats]]>
<![CDATA[U of C Tops Northwestern in Business Grad School Rankings ]]> Tue, 11 Mar 2014 11:19:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/university+of+chicago+getty.JPG

Two Illinois business schools swapped spots in this year's U.S. News & World Report ranking of best graduate schools in the country.

The University of Chicago's Booth School of Business moved up to No. 4 from last year's sixth place, and Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management moved down to No. 6 from fourth.

Both schools were topped by Harvard University, Stanford University and the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania, which all tied for the No. 1 spot. The Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology ranked fifth after tying for fourth last year.

Chicago's part-time MBA programs also were noted in the list, published Tuesday.

"The Haas School of Business at University of California—Berkeley, Chicago's Booth School of Business and Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management again came in at Nos. 1, 2 and 3, respectively."

As for the best online graduate business programs, the top spot went to Indiana University—​Bloomington (Kelley).

See the full rankings here.

<![CDATA[Boeing Shares Drop Amid Search for Missing Plane]]> Mon, 10 Mar 2014 14:45:44 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP201588954901.jpg

Shares of Chicago-based Boeing were down more than two percent in Monday morning trading, the first business day after one of its aircraft disappeared over the South China Sea.

As of midday, shares of Boeing were down $3.24 to $125.31.

It's been nearly three days since a Malaysia Airlines'-branded Boeing 777-200 vanished with 239 people on board. Despite an intense, international search, authorities still have not found any wreckage of the aircraft.

There was no sign of trouble before it disappeared Friday evening, and no distress signal was sent.

The Boeing 777 is regarded as one of the industry's safest planes. The National Transportation Safety Board has logged fewer than 60 incidents involving the aircraft since mid-1997, most of them minor.

Business analysts said they don't expect the Malaysian incident to have a dramatic affect on that record unless a flaw is found to have caused a problem.

"This is the best international plane ever built yet -- it's got an impeccable track record after 20 years and over 1,200 deliveries," Richard Aboulafia, vice president for analysis with the Teal Group in Virginia, told USA TODAY. "It's typically used on international routes, and it's established a new standard for international safety."

The 777 had a nearly spotless record before the crash of an Asiana Airlines flight at San Francisco International Airport in July. In January 2008, a British Airways 777 crash landed short of the runway at London's Heathrow Airport. No one was injured.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Gossip App Disabled After Chicago Schools Cite Bully Behavior]]> Fri, 07 Mar 2014 11:51:55 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/yik+yak.jpg

A social media gossip app was disabled in Chicago after local high school administrators and parents expressed concerns that the app was used for cyber bullying.

Yik Yak, an “anonymous social wall” that allows users to post and share their comments to a live feed with other users in a local radius, stirred controversy because of reports that students use the app to bully other students. The app was disabled Thursday, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Prior to the disabling of the app, some schools in the Chicago area took action to try and keep the Yik Yak off their campuses, and several sent letters to parents.

New Trier Township High School district said Wednesday they blocked the app from their wireless network.

In a letter to parents, Denise Hibbard, principal at the Winnetka campus, and Paul Waechtler, principal of the Northfield campus, said officials made the decision to block the app due to the “harmful and inappropriate comments we have seen, in some cases naming other students.”

Though access was blocked on the school’s network, students could still view and post by turning off the wireless option on their device and using their own mobile network.

“Unfortunately, these apps make it impossible to trace the source of comments, and as a result teens often feel emboldened to target fellow students or make lewd or otherwise damaging posts,” the letter read.

Users must be 17 years old to download and post on the live feed, which resembles that of a Twitter feed. A push notification appears during the download process asking a user to confirm they are older than 17, and the user must hit a “confirm” button to continue downloading.

“No profiles, no passwords, it’s all anonymous,” the app’s description reads in the iPhone App Store.

And New Trier wasn’t the only school reporting an issue with students abusing the anonymous feed.

Lake Forest High School also sent out a letter Wednesday to inform parents of issues with the app and encourage them to delete it from students’ phones. The high school also blocked the app from their wireless network.

“Sadly, we have found that this app is allowing students to verbally abuse each other as well as faculty and staff at LFHS,” Principal Barry Rodgers wrote. “Our faculty and Student Council will be addressing this issue at school. We ask that you have a meaningful conversation with your son/daughter. We also recommend deleting the Yik Yak app and reviewing the apps on your child's phone.”

According to Yik Yak, the anonymity feature was implemented to eliminate discrimination on posts.

“Your popularity, race, gender, sexuality, and looks don’t mean anything on Yik Yak,” app officials wrote in a blog post.

<![CDATA[Jewel-Osco Buys 5 More Chicago-Area Dominick's Stores]]> Thu, 06 Mar 2014 16:50:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP985800088575.jpg

Jewel-Osco’s parent company is buying five more shuttered Dominick's stores in the Chicago area, the company announced Thursday.

New Albertson’s, Inc. plans to remodel and reopen the following stores, two of which were included in Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Grocery Store Task Force priority list:

  • 3243 S. 115th St, Merrionette Park
  • 1763 Howard St, Chicago
  • 800 NW Highway, Fox River Grove
  • 345 S. Rand Road, Lake Zurich
  • 424 W. Division, Chicago

The move signals the first project for Shane Sampson, who New Albertson’s, Inc. announced has been appointed president of the Chicago-based Jewel-Osco Division. Sampson is currently president of Albertson’s Boston-based Shaw’s Division and will fill the role held by interim Division President Jim Rice since January 2014.

"Sampson and his leadership team will focus their efforts on creating stores to fit the neighborhoods they serve," the company said in a statement.

Dominick's parent company, Safeway, announced in October its decision to pull its 72 stores out of the Chicago market because of poor sales.

Mariano's purchased 11 of the stores, and four Dominick’s stores have since re-opened as Jewel-Osco supermarkets.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Oscar Gift Bags Include Chicago Hair Transplants]]> Thu, 27 Feb 2014 10:38:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/academy79471262.jpg

None of this year's major Oscar nominees are from Chicago, but some of the losers may be making the trip here post-awards show. No, not to film a new movie, but rather to get hair transplants.

This year, the notoriously extravagant gift bags for Oscars losers include a voucher for Chicago surgeon Dr. William Yates' hair restoration procedure. Dr. Yates says he is one of the few surgeons in the United States who performs the procedure using the new-age equipment known as ARTAS, and he wants to share the love.

The procedure is less invasive and the recovery time is much shorter than hair transplants with plugs, he said.

"I wanted to introduce the stars to the new technology," Dr. Yates said.

Valued at $16,000, Dr. Yates' gift is the most expensive item in this year's gift bags. It barely edges out the second most expensive gift -- a $15,000 walking tour of Japan.

This is the first year Dr. Yates is participating in the gift-giving tradition, but his practice is not the first Chicago-area company to do so. Schaumburg-based chocolate company Chocolatines is participating for the fifth time this year.

The expensive gifts are meant to console the losers in the categories of Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Director. The host -- this year Ellen DeGeneres -- also receives a bag.

But the benefit isn't solely for the losing nominees. The companies who give away their products for free also see the potential for celebrity endorsement.

Although hair transplants aren't items that can fit into a gift bag, per se, it's possible they will be a hit. Everyone over the age of 30 has suffered from some degree of hair loss, Dr. Yates said, and this includes most of the major nominees.

The surgeon first got the idea to gift his services to the Oscars when he was working at a hair restoration clinic in Beverly Hills before he moved to Chicago. That's where he saw the celebrity interest in such procedures.

Dr. Yates has performed his procedure on local celebrities and athletes, but he has yet to perform it on A-list celebrities. He is not nervous, however, about the prospect of taking responsbility for the hairs on the heads of Leonardo DiCaprio, Judi Dench, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.

"Everybody's hair is the same to me," he said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[20-Foot "Trump" Letters To Be Hung on Trump Tower: Report]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2014 14:34:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Trump+Tower.JPG

Donald Trump apparently wants to see his name in lights over Chicago.

The real estate mogul plans to erect 20-foot-tall, illuminated letters spelling "TRUMP" on the south side of the Trump International Hotel & Tower, Crain's Chicago Business reports.

Trump told Crain's the stainless-steel letters will be added just below the 16th-floor terrace and be back-lit with LED lights. In terms of timing, his name will face the Chicago River "very shortly," he told the publication.

Crain's reports the city approved the letters last fall, and the weather prevented them from being erected sooner.

Trump said his lit-up name won't block any city views, but an architect and preservation activist told Crain's they worry about the size and the scale.

Trump said he think it will be beautiful.

The 92-story skyscraper, which houses a hotel and condominiums, stands 1,389 feet tall and is Chicago's second-tallest building.

<![CDATA[Oops, Groupon Adds One More to List of U.S. Presidents]]> Mon, 17 Feb 2014 13:13:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/alexander+hamilton2.jpg

Groupon announced a President's Day deal on Saturday to honor a particular president: the one whose face appears on the $10 bill.

In a press release, Groupon said it wanted to honor Alexander Hamilton, "undeniably one of our greatest presidents." But Hamilton, of course, was never a president.

"Groupon is always serious about helping our customers save money, and saving $10 is no laughing matter," Groupon public relations representative Nicholas Halliwell said in response to the error. 

The coupon company offered $10 off a $40 purchase through the weekend, but Groupon would have been better off giving a $5 or $20 discount to honor presidents Abraham Lincoln or Andrew Jackson.

Hamilton never held the office of Chief of State, but he could at least boast of presidential company. He was the first Secretary of Treasury under George Washington, who took notice of him when he was just a teen.

Referring to him as "President Alexander Hamilton" and "our money-minded commander-in-chief," Groupon quickly elevated Hamilton's status from founding father to president of the Untied States

Hamilton played an important role in the early days of the United States. He fought with George Washington in Valley Forge, served a year in Congress, penned more than half of the Federalist papers and expertly handled the post-war financial crisis that enveloped the new nation after the Revolution.

Hamilton's achievements certainly deserve commemoration of some kind, but perhaps it should be reserved for the Fourth of July, or another more relevant holiday.

<![CDATA[Whole Foods To Open in Old Dominick's Stores in 2015]]> Mon, 17 Feb 2014 14:06:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/whole_foods.JPG

It will be awhile before Whole Foods opens in the seven old Chicago-area Dominick's stores it purchased.

The grocery chain's new stores won't open their doors until 2015, according to Crain's Chicago Business. Some of the locations, including the storefronts in the Streeterville and West Loop neighborhoods, posted signs announcing the 2015 opening.

Whole Foods Market Inc. confirmed last month its purchase of the following shuttered stores:

  • 1 N. Halsted St., Chicago's West Loop neighborhood
  • 255 E. Grand Ave., Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood
  • 6009 N. Broadway Ave., Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood
  • 959 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood
  • 6300 S. Robert Kingery Hwy., Willowbrook
  • 215 S. Route 83, Elmhurst
  • 2748 Green Bay Road, Evanston

A Whole Foods official told the Sun-Times that it may take anywhere from 12-15 months to open the new stores.

Dominick's parent company, Safeway, announced in October its decision to pull its 72 stores out of the Chicago market because of poor sales.

Mariano's purchased 11 of the stores, and four Dominick’s stores have since re-opened as Jewel-Osco supermarkets.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed a high-level task force in Chicago to market the many still-vacant spaces.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chicken-Lovers Camp Out in Storm for Free Chick-fil-A]]> Wed, 05 Feb 2014 12:03:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chick+camp+4.jpg

Some people's love of Chick-fil-A never ceases to amaze.

Armed with tents, heaters and gadgets to pass the time, about 20 Chick-fil-A loyalists on Wednesday morning were outside a new location along Route 83 in Elmhurst, Ill., while Mother Nature delivered another winter blast complete with several inches of snow.

The kicker? The new restaurant doesn't even open until Thursday morning.

Though the elements were brutal, restaurant employees did provide security, access to restrooms and Chick-fil-A food.

The chicken-lovers are all hoping to be among the first 100 people at the restaurant when the doors open at 6 a.m. Those aged 18 and over will receive free Chick-fil-A food for a year.

A company spokeswoman said the new restaurant will bring 65 new jobs to the western suburb.

A Chick-fil-A restaurant in Willowbrook is slated to open next week.

<![CDATA[Judge Denies Motion to Acquit TV Pitchman Trudeau]]> Wed, 29 Jan 2014 13:25:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/219*120/KEVIN_TRUDEAU-10-16.png

Infomercial king Kevin Trudeau suffered another blow in Federal Court in Chicago Wednesday morning as Judge Ronald Guzman refused Trudeau’s motion to be acquitted on contempt charges.

Swimming in legal problems, Trudeau was convicted of criminal contempt last November in connection with his book, "The Weight Loss Cure They Don’t Want You To Know About." In infomercials promoting his book, Trudeau claimed his weight loss system was not a diet, did not involve portion control or calorie counting, could be done at home, and involved a "miracle all-natural substance" which users could get anywhere. He further stated, "when you’re done…you can eat whatever you want and you don’t gain the weight back."

The evidence suggested otherwise.

Specifically, the government alleged that contrary to Trudeau’s claims, the book actually contained instructions for a difficult diet which involved eating only 500 calories a day from a list of restricted foods and which required daily doctor’s appointments and daily injections of a hormone called hCG. That hormone is only available by prescription and has not been approved for weight loss by the FDA.

A jury convicted Trudeau on criminal contempt charges, but he filed a motion for acquittal, claiming the evidence had been insufficient.

Judge Ronald Guzman ruled Wednesday "there was more than sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude that the government had met its burden of proof." Guzman wrote that jurors were given a copy of a 2004 consent order prohibiting Trudeau from making infomercials which misrepresent the content of his books.

The judge noted that Trudeau signed the order, " effectively scotching any argument that he was ignorant of its terms." He also wrote that jurors watched the infomercials, "hearing from the defendant’s own mouth the words he used to describe the content of his book."

"All of this evidence supports the jury’s conclusion that defendant made blatantly false and misleading statements in the infomercials about the content of his book," Guzman said. "Defendant’s speech patterns, manner of delivery, and eagerness to engage the audience all suggest that he understood fully what he was doing."

Guzman suggested that Trudeau anticipated a marketing bonanza from the infomercials. The evidence showed that he sold certain assets to ITV, the company that produced and marketed the commercials, in exchange for a promise to pay him $121 million.

<![CDATA[Alderman: Allow Liquor Sales Earlier on Sunday]]> Fri, 17 Jan 2014 23:12:56 -0500 Alex Brown/flickr.com]]> http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/wine+bottles.jpg

With his eye on luring a new grocery store into her ward, Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th) has reportedly begun talking to colleagues about loosening up the city's restrictions on Sunday liquor sales.

The north side alderman wants to permit the sale of "package goods liquor" beginning at 8 a.m., instead of 11 a.m. on Sundays, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

"I’ve been talking with people who own grocery store chains. I’m kind of getting a primer on how grocery stores make money and don’t make money and this came up. If they’re leaving revenue on the table and they could make more money from something so simple, it’s worth looking at," he was quoted as saying.

For those concerned about people who'd been out all night buying booze at smaller shops, O'Connor said "there are ways to approach that."
"We could have a minimum square footage [where 8 a.m. sales would be allowed]," he said.

O'Connor's ward recently lost a Dominick's store on Lincoln Avenue north of Foster Avenue.

Photo Credit: Alex Brown/flickr.com]]>
<![CDATA[West Dundee Target Store to Close]]> Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:54:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/74250527.jpg

A Target store in far northwest suburban West Dundee is among eight stores nationwide that will close this spring.

In a press statement, company officials said the store, at 999 W Main St, will close May 3, along with stores in Duluth, GA.; Memphis, Tenn., Orange Park, Fla.; Middletown, Ohio; and two in the Las Vegas, Nev., area.

Some of the employees at those stores -- "eligible" employees, according to the company -- will be offered an opportunity to transfer to another store.

The company said the closures come "after careful consideration of each location's financial performance."

They also come as the big box retailer deals with the expanding fallout of a massive data breach at its stores during the 2013 holiday season. Officials said as many as 110 million shoppers may have had their personal data compromised.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Survive Chiberia? Brag With a Sweatshirt]]> Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:28:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chiberia-sweatshirt.jpg

If you're reading this and you were in Chicago this week, you lived through some pretty brutal weather.


How about bragging about it with a sweatshirt?

Not three days after record-breaking cold gripped the Chicago area, a local online retailer came out with an "I survived Chi-Beria, 2014" sweatshirt.

"Timeliness is everything. You need to be able to jump on stuff quick," said Bernie DiMeo, the founder of Rocco Shirts.

Indeed, the RoccoShirts.com website lists items several Chicago-centric wearables focusing on sports and politics. One, which combines the logos of the Blackhawks, Bears and Bulls, references the injuries which have plagued those teams in their most-recent seasons. It proclaims that the City of Big Shoulders is actually the City of Big Crutches.

The "Chi-Beria" shirts went on sale on Thursday. DiMeo said "about 20 orders" were placed online by 9 a.m. Friday

The original idea came from a graphic DiMeo said he saw online. He gave that inspiration to an art director who finalized the idea: a snow-flake covered Chicago skyline with a thermometer with a sub-zero reading.

DiMeo launched the family-owned business about four years ago after working for an advertising agency for a couple of decades. He said the company was "doing well," and is currently focused on establishing additional corporate customers who can bring in larger orders.

The company's hottest item came shortly after the company launched, DiMeo said. Being alerted to the fact that the White Sox, the Bears and the Bulls had all won major titles in the last 25 years, the company crafted a shirt that honored the teams and poked a little bit of fun at the north side, too.

The shirt read,  "Chicago: City of Champions. ... and the Cubs."


<![CDATA[Eddie Bauer to Close Mag Mile Store: Report]]> Tue, 31 Dec 2013 19:40:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chi-eddie-bauer.jpg

Outdoor apparel merchant Eddie Bauer will close its flagship store on Chicago's Magnificent Mile next month, according to published reports.

The reports, which cite unnamed sources, indicate employees at the store at 600 N. Michigan Ave.
were told the shop will close on January 19.

If the privately-held retailer does leave the space it's unlikely it'll be vacant for long. Experts on the market say new leases are often drawn up as quickly as lawyers can complete the paperwork.

"The Magnificent Mile is very dynamic," said John Chikow, CEO and president of the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association. "We have had closings over the last couple of years that have been replaced almost immediately by other iconic names."

He pointed to recent renovations at Zenga and Ferragamo, and the construction of the new Burberry store, as evidence of the area's appeal.

"The fact that it's so linear, that it's very compact. we had the president and CEO of [General Growth Properties Inc] talk about how his wife told all her friends in India, 'It's so easy to shop on Michigan Avenue. Everything is right there,'" said Chikow.

Eddie Bauer officials declined to comment on the reported closure but said it is continuing its commitment as a strong local partner at its 13 Chicago-area stores.

<![CDATA[Last Call For Many Chicago-Area Dominick's Stores]]> Sat, 28 Dec 2013 09:30:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/dominicks+1108-5.jpg

Get your Dominick's fix while you can.

Many of the grocery chain's 72 stores will close their doors for good on Saturday, leaving an estimated 6,000 workers without a job.

Dominick's parent company announced in October it would leave the Chicago market by the end of the year after poor performance from area stores.

Mariano's Fresh Market agreed to purchase 11 of the Dominick's stores marked for closure, and Whole Foods and Jewel emerged as potential buyers for some of the other locations. Centralia Foods said it's interested in 10.

Still, customers are finding it very hard to say goodbye to their neighborhood stores.

At a community event last week, residents gathered to thank the workers with cards, cookies and hugs.

"I want to cry," one woman said. "I had breast cancer in 2006 and they were so kind to me."

Eric Bailey, spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, is especially frustrated with the response from the parent company, Safeway. Bailey blames "their corporate greed" and says there has been little help from Safeway in terms of job outreach for the workers.

Bailey said there is reason for Dominick's workers to worry, noting that Mariano's has so far offered "not one job" to an existing Dominick's worker.

"We really owe the workers," said neighbor Pat Maunsell who wants to make sure those working the day and evening shift realize they will be missed.  

"The employees here are part of our daily lives," Evanston Alderman Jane Grove said. "How often are you here? How often am I here? My family calls it the cupboard."

Photo Credit: Haley BeMiller]]>
<![CDATA[Stores Extend Hours, Offer Deals in Post-Christmas Push]]> Thu, 26 Dec 2013 13:29:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP841015189591%281%29.jpg

The holiday shopping season has already given us Black Friday, Super Saturday and Cyber Monday. This day after Christmas is known as Big Bargain Thursday as retailers around the nation offer great deals to lure shoppers back into stores in the final days of the year.

The day has historically been one where people make returns and exchanges, but several major merchants are making a big push to turn those exchangers into shoppers.

  • Sears is offering 40 percent off appliances priced more than $499 if a store credit card is used.
  • KMart is offering $.50 off per gallon of gas with a purchase
  • At Walmart, select items are 25 to 50 percent off
  • Toys R Us stores are offering buy one, get one 40 percent on some toys
  • At Macys, some men's shirts and suits are buy one, get one free

Other stores announced plans to open early and stay open late to get as many people through the doors as possible.

  • Woodfield Mall opens at 7 a.m.
  • Oakbrook Center opens at 7 a.m.
  • Target pens at 7 a.m.
  • Westfield Old Orchard Mall opens at 8 a.m.
  • Fashion Outlets of Chicago opens at 8 a.m.

Officials said sales during the Black Friday weekend was weak, and Super Saturday -- the Saturday before Christmas -- was down about three percent compared to last year.

Additionally, merchants really want shoppers to use the gift cards that were issued for Christmas. Nearly $29 billion worth -- a new record -- were sold this year.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Residents Host Goodbye Party For Dominick's Workers]]> Fri, 20 Dec 2013 20:01:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/dominicks+thank+you.jpg

Customers are finding it very hard to say goodbye to the workers at Dominick's.

At a Friday afternoon community event to thank the workers, one woman arrived at the Evanston store with a box of cookies in hand, saying "I want to cry. I had breast cancer in 2006 and they were so kind to me."

She's not alone. Loyal customers have set up an appreciation table, complete with a band of local residents, to offer some holiday cheer to the workers as so many face an uncertain future.

For them a trip to the grocery store has been a weekly and even daily ritual. They consider everyone -- the gal behind the deli counter, the bagger, the clerk and the young man who stocks the shelves -- family.

It's estimated more than 6,000 will be out of work when the 72 stores close their doors next Saturday.

Eric Bailey, spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, is especially frustrated with the response from the parent company, Safeway. Bailey blames "their corporate greed" and says there has been little help from Safeway in terms of job outreach for the workers. 

Mariano's has committed to buying 11 of the stores, and now Centralia Foods is interested in 10. Jewel says it only wants four, and Whole Foods may snatch a few.  

That leaves more than 40 stores in the city and suburbs with no future for now. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has set up a task force to market the stores in the city but calls and emails to the mayor's office on Friday about how that task force is going have gone unanswered.

Bailey said there is reason for Dominick's workers to worry, noting that Mariano's has so far offered "not one job" to an existing Dominick's worker. 

The customer thank-you event in Evanston was spread by Facebook and email with dozens of folks arriving with plates of cookies and tears in their eyes. 

"We really owe the workers," said neighbor Pat Maunsell who wants to make sure those working the day and evening shift realize they will be missed.   

"The employees here are part of our daily lives," Evanston Alderman Jane Grove said. "How often are you here? How often am I here? My family calls it the cupboard."

Photo Credit: Mary Ann Ahern, NBCChicago.com]]>