Friday, November 22, 2013

Top Bradenton, Manatee Job Success Stories of 2013

From left, futurist Jack Uldrich, Bradenton Area EDC President Sharon Hillstrom and EDC Chairman Jack Rice. Photo provided by  Manatee Chamber of Commerce.

The business community turned out Thursday night for the annual Bradenton Area Economic Development update and a night of back patting. There was a lot of well deserved pride in the room.

You've already heard about most of it, too, and probably read the success stories in the Bradenton Herald.

The keynote speaker Jack Uldrich, shown above, gave some simple but powerful advice on business trends: think exponentially. Uldrich, speaking at the event held at the Bradenton Area Convention Center in Palmetto, specializes in forecasting trends, and gives himself the fancy title of futurist. Essentially, when looking at new and emerging technologies, think about and create adaptive uses for your industry to build disruptive technology. For instance, how to use nanotechnology to charge an electric car in minutes.

Here are some of the top stories on bringing jobs to Manatee County this year and those who have managed to think big and bring big jobs with them:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

PlayStation 4 could cost $553 in Kmart rent-to-own program

Kmart shoppers file into the Bradenton store at 
6 a.m. on Thanksgiving in 2011.
 (File Photo by Paul Videla/Bradenton Herald)
Kmart is going to start offering a rent-to-own program for merchandise in time for the holiday shopping season, making the retailer function like a Rent-A-Center or Aaron's.

Kmart announced that it is partnering with Whynot Leasing, LLC, to start a rent-to-own program nationwide starting Nov. 22 to let customers take home merchandise now and pay as they go, including doorbuster specials on Black Friday.

But yes, there is a catch. And despite the no-credit requirement, you're essentially being screened as if you're being checked for credit.
Thanks to interest charges, this means that $400 PlayStation 4 I wrote about in today's Herald, could cost $553, which also includes a balloon payment at the end of the lease.

Here are the details of the program:

  • Merchandise has to cost $150 
  • Eligible merchandise includes home appliances, mattresses, ready-to-assemble furniture, lawn and garden equipment, consumer electronics, seasonal toys, sporting goods and service plans. 
  • Merchandise is brand-new and not refurbished 
  • You must be 18 years old or older 
  • Have to make $1,000 or more a month 
  • Have a social security number or tax identification number when applying 
  • First payment made at store, then electronic monthly or bi-weekly payments 
  • After five months, lease can be bought out 
  • A balloon payment/lease premium is charged at the end of the lease 
About that interest--it's based on the price plus the length of the lease. Here's an example from a Kmart spokeswoman of how the charges could break down for a $400 product:

  • $400 (or a combination of items totaling $400) looks like 
  • 10 bi-weekly payments of $33 over 5 months = $330 
  • Balance owed PLUS Lease premium at the end of 5 months = $220 
  • Total cost to own = $553 
The lesson here is if you're impatient, it will cost you. And if you want to avoid excessive interest charges, make higher payments or more frequent payments.

Layaway option

Layaway is still offered without service fees at both Kmart and its sister store Sears for a limited time, but the waived fee promotion ends before the Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales. A non-refundable cancellation fee applies.

At Kmart, free holiday layaway is valid on new layaways through Nov. 23 and a 12-week layaway option is available for purchases $300 and more. Sears layaway has the same terms, except the 12-week layaway has to be for purchases $400 and more. After that, the fees will apply, and a deadline for layaways with seasonal merchandise (like ornaments, trees) are typically during the first week of December.

Holiday Hours

Kmart is opening earlier than most stores on Thanksgiving by opening at 6 a.m., and will not close until 11 p.m. on Black Friday. Sears will open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving and close at 10 p.m. on Black Friday. The doorbuster deals will be available until 1 p.m. on Black Friday.

That's 41 hours straight of shopping at Kmart. Goodbye, Macy's Day Parade.

Manatee County Kmart and Sears locations

Kmart, 7350 Manatee Ave W, Bradenton

Kmart, 6126 U.S. 301, Ellenton

Sears, DeSoto Square Mall, 303 US 301 Blvd, Bradenton

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ellenton Premium Outlets Black Friday Deals

Stores at the Ellenton Premium Outlets will be open Thanksgiving night again this year to get a jump start on Black Friday specials. (2011 File photo/Bradenton Herald)

Stores at the Ellenton Premium Outlets are already rolling out their Black Friday deals, and I'm here to help guide you through some of the highlights.

As with last year, some stores are opening as early as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, which falls on Nov. 28 this year, and a smaller bunch at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., before the Midnight Madness begins. The outlets are located off of US 301 and 60th Ave. E at 5461 Factory Shops Blvd.

The best deals I've found so far include some freebies, cheap underwear, and heavily discounted jackets, boots and handbags.

For those looking for some fresh skivvies, Jockey is offering $10 door busters and HanesBrands is offering 50 percent off any one item. Le Creuser is giving away a free kitchen tool for the first 100 customers who buy something on Thanksgiving through 8 a.m. Black Friday, but who are they kidding -- those tools will be gone in the first two hours.

Wilson's Leather is giving customers 60 percent off the entire store plus 30 percent off your entire purchase, making winter jackets, wallets and iPhone cases an attractive option this season. U.S. Polo Assn., also has some great deals for polos under $10, sweaters for under $20 and sportshirts and blouses for under $16.

And finally for the feet, Naturalizer is giving 50 percent off boots on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

(For Ellenton Premium Outlet's Black Friday hours read this entry.)

Here are some of the offers posted by stores on the Ellenton Premium Outlets website. Many of the stores not listed here have specials running throughout the month and some into December:

Nov 27 - Dec 1
Take 25% off your entire purchase and take advantage of Doorbuster specials - select styles marked down*
*Cannot be combined with any other offer, coupon or promotion. See store for details.

Calvin Klein
Nov 28 - 29 (until 2am)
Take an additional 15% off 
2am-10am: Take an additional 10% off
Entire Store 10% - 60% off 

Dooney & Bourke
Nov 28
Exclusive Lexington Shopper $99 
Nov 29
50% off the entire store plus the Exclusive Lexington Shopper $99 

Fragrance Outlet
Nov 28 - Dec 1
Free Fragrance with any purchase of $50 or more 

Nov 28 - 29 (until 10 a.m.)
50% off ticketed price of any one item 
One offer per customer, one visit only. Not valid on Gift Card, internet or catalog purchases, previously purchased merchandise or in conjunction with a full Rewards Card or Birthday discount. Not redeemable for cash or cash back. Not valid in conjunction with HBI employee discount or in conjunction with any other coupon offer or promotion. Not redeemable for cash or cash back. Coupon cannot be doubled.

Nov 28 - Dec 1
$10 Door Buster Deals Plus, 40% off Entire Store*
*Door busters valid while supplies last and from available stock. 40% offer excludes clearance and Jockey bra styles 6701-6705. 

Le Creuset
Nov 28 - 29 (until 8 a.m.)
Save 30% Off Entire Purchase plus a Free Kitchen Tool for the first 100 customers who make a purchase* 
*Offer cannot be combined with any other discount or sale price. Some new items may be excluded from discount. Offer not valid towards purchase of gift cards. Free Kitchen Tool offer is available while quantities last.

Nov 28 - 29
All Handbags 50% off original price 
All Boots 50% off original price

Nov 28 - Dec 1
50% off entire store

Nov 27 - Dec 1
$20 gift card with your purchase of $100
All Reebok Footwear Buy one, get one for $19.99 Some exclusions may apply
50% off men's and women's sweats and fleece
$9.95 Men's Long Sleeve Tees
$9.95 Women's Body Wear Bra Tops and Tanks
50-60% off All Apparel Clearance
Buy one, get one Free on All Hats and Bags

Tommy Hilfiger and Tommy Hilfiger Kids
Nov 29 - Dec 1
40% - 60% off Entire Store all Weekend*
*See in store for full details.

U.S. Polo Assn.
Nov 28 (6 p.m.) - Nov 29 (1 p.m.)
Huge Selection of Men's and Women's Polo Shirts - $9.60
All Men's and Women's Sportshirts and Blouses - $15.99
All Men's and Women's Sweaters - Now $19.99
All Men's and Women's Outerwear - Now $23.99
Entire Store 20% - 75% Off 

Wilsons Leather
Nov 28 - 29
Take 60% Off the Entire Store Plus an Additional 30% Off Your Entire Purchase 

Black Friday 2013: 67 Ellenton outlet stores to open for Thanksgiving

Ellenton Premium Outlets returns with its Thanksgiving and Midnight Madness sales this year. (File photo/Bradenton Herald)

The newfangled tradition of Thanksgiving day sales and midnight sales return this holiday season, and as much fuss as people make about stores being open on turkey day, shoppers still turn out.

Ellenton Premium Outlets, 5461 Factory Shops Blvd., is capitalizing on Thanksgiving sales again with a good selection of stores opening at 8 p.m., 9 p.m., and 10 p.m. (Complete list below.) Those sales feed into the annual Midnight Madness frenzy for Black Friday, where stores will stay open until 10 p.m. The following day stores will open at 8 a.m. and close at 10 p.m., and on Sunday stores will have extended hours from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Fifty-one stores will be open at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving, and 67 stores overall will be open before midnight this year so far -- more could be joining the list. The outlets had 76 stores open on Thanksgiving in 2012, and 55 stores in 2011.

The good news is that Starbucks, Hershey's Ice Cream, Kilwin's and Lindt Chocolate will be opening at 8 p.m. so shoppers can refuel between emptying their wallets.

Heck, why save the shopping rush for Thanksgiving? The outlets now have a Thanksgiving Eve sale on Nov. 27 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The outlets have some new additions for shoppers to peruse this year, too. Vera Bradley opened its third Florida outlet here in Ellenton last week, located on Alligator Court near Kenneth Cole. Crystal jewelry company Swarovski is also new, and Hot Topic will open Nov. 20.

(For Black Friday specials at the Ellenton Premium Outlets, check out this entry.)

After the football game and third serving of turkey, here are your early (late?) bird openings:

8 p.m.: Adidas, American Eagle Outfitters, Banana Republic, Bath & Body Works, Calvin Klein, The Children's Place, Coach, Coach Men's, Cole Haan, Converse, DKNY, Dooney & Bourke, Elizabeth Arden, Florsheim, Fossil, Go! Calendar & Games, Gymboree, Haggar Clothing Co., Hartstrings, Hershey's Ice Cream, Jockey, Jones New York, Justice, Kate Spade, New York, Kenneth Cole, Kilwin's Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream, Kitchen Collection, Lane Bryant, Le Creuset, Lindt Chocolate, Lucky Brand, Michael Kors, New York & Company, Nike, Nine West, Perry Ellis, Polo Ralph Lauren, Quiksilver, Rack Room Shoes, Samsonite, SeikoSkechers, Soma Intimates, Starbucks Coffee, Tommy Hilfiger, TravelPro, U.S. Polo Assn., VF, Vitamin World, Vittles, Zales.

9 p.m. Corningware, Corelle & More, Lacoste, Under Armour, Vans 

10 p.m. Bose, Brooks Brothers, The Cosmetic Company, Store Designer Fragrances & Cosmetic Co. - Lancome, Dr. Scholl's Shoes, Gap, Guess, HanesBrands, J.Crew, Naturalizer, Time Factory, Wilsons Leather 

Here are the rest of the holiday hours from Ellenton outlets:

Holiday HoursMon, Dec 2 - Mon, Dec 23Mon - Sat: 9am-9pm, Sun: 10am-7pm Christmas Eve: Tues, Dec 249am-8pm Christmas Day: Wed, Dec 25Closed After-Holiday Sales: Thu, Dec 26 - Thu, Jan 2Thu, Dec 26: 7am-9pmFri, Dec 27: 9am-9pmSat, Dec 28: 9am-9pmSun, Dec 29: 10am-7pmMon, Dec 30: 9am-9pm New Year's Eve: Tues, Dec 319am-6pm New Year's Day: Wed, Jan 110am-9pm