Thursday, November 20, 2014

Macy's unveils Black Friday deals online

Macy's is counting on both the power of online and SpongeBob to make its registers ring for Black Friday.

The retailer, which has a store at The Mall at University Town Center, unveiled Thursday its Black Friday doorbuster deals at Deals range from 60 percent off men's outerwear , kitchen appliances $8 to $10 after rebate and up to $150 off Dyson vacuums.

Macy's will open starting at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving. and door busters will last through 1 p.m. Black Friday then another set of specials Saturday, Nov. 29 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The big holiday item Macy's is pushing is SpongeBob SquarePants and a holiday plush that can be had with Patrick and Plankton finger puppets, at In-store, customers can scan special hang tags to unlock SpongeBob content.

“This year, we’re adding another level of entertainment to our highly anticipated Black Friday doorbusters and specials,” said Martine Reardon, chief marketing officer at Macy’s. “As customers navigate their shopping route throughout the store, they will be able to score digital gift codes offering instant wins via Macy’s mobile app. This element of surprise along with a playful new commercial featuring our official holiday ambassador, SpongeBob SquarePants, is certain to add a new element of fun to our customers’ shopping experience on Black Friday this year.”

Macy's is also giving away instant win prizes by using the store's mobile app. Customers can scan QR codes in-store to enter the instant win experience during doorbuster hours and customers will see if they have won a digital gift code worth $10, $25, $50 or $250.

At the end of each hour, a new pool of prizes becomes available and customers can play again. See rules and alternate method of entry at Customers can text “APP” to 62297 to download Macy’s mobile app.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Old Navy, Rue 21 coming to Sarasota Square mall

Old Navy will make its return to south Sarasota when it opens inside the Westfield Sarasota Square mall.

Old Navy filed a building application Wednesday with Sarasota County to open a new 13,616-square-foot store in the mall. Old Navy once had a store in the Sarasota Pavilion but closed in 2012 and is now home to a Bealls Outlet.

Old Navy, a member of the Gap family, also maintains a store at 117 N. Cattlemen Road in the District at University Town Center.

Old Navy will join H&M in the spring as well as Rue 21, which also filed building permits with Sarasota County this month.

The Pittsburgh-based company offers clothes and accessories for young adults

Rue 21 also has a factory store in the Ellenton Premium Outlets.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mall at University Town Center to open Thanksgiving

The Mall at University Town Center at its opening on Oct. 16. FILE PHOTO
After getting stuffed with turkey, shoppers can stuff themselves inside The Mall at University Town Center for Thanksgiving this year.

The new two-level mall announced Tuesday that it will open from 6 p.m. to midnight Thanksgiving then reopen 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday. Not all stores will be open during that time and others, including department stores, will have their own hours.

For instance, Crate & Barrel announced this month that none of its stores will open for Thanksgiving while Macy's will open at 6 p.m.

Deals and hours for individual stores will be posted at Some of the specials posted on the mall's website include get $50 for every $150 spent at Tommy Bahama, 30 percent entire purchase at White House | Black Market and up to 50 percent off select cell phone cases plus receive a free screen protector with any purchase at Cellairis.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mall at University Town Center H&M to open Dec. 1

Swedish-based clothing store H&M will open Dec. 1 inside The Mall at University Town Center.

The mall made the announcement on Facebook this week, signaling the largest tenant to open before the holidays. H&M occupies 24,000 square feet on two floors at the mall and will have its own escalator to move between each level.

H&M will giveaway up to $300 in gift cards to the first 200 shoppers in line and have some opening day specials starting at $5, according to the mall.

Also, shoppers who bring in a bag of unwanted clothing are entered to win a gift card valued up to $100.

As you can see above from sister paper The Bellingham Herald in Washington, H&M grand openings are quite the event.

Pure Barre to open West Bradenton studio

Exercise studio and women’s clothing store Pure Barre has announced it will open a second Manatee County location.

Pure Barre will open inside the Fresh Market-anchored Promenade shopping center at 6745 Manatee Ave. W., and is hiring teachers, according to the studio’s Facebook page.

Another franchise in Manatee County is also in a Fresh Market-anchored center, both controlled by Benderson Development, at 5275 University Parkway.

The studio is expected to open sometime from mid-December to early January, the owners announced at

The upscale fitness center offers 55-minute and 75-minute exercise classes that are typically geared toward women though men are welcomed. The Spartanburg, S.C., company has more than 200 studios nationwide.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Bealls Black Friday 2014 ad leaked

Black Friday ad leaks have returned allowing some shoppers to get as giddy as a music fan seeing a set list posted from their favorite band before a concert.

And if you're a fan of Bradenton-based Bealls, you're in luck. leaked what appears to be this year's Bealls ad.

Bealls will open 6 p.m. Thanksgiving and stay open through 11 p.m. Friday, according to the ad, then reopen 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday. The biggest draw is that every store will raffle off a Guy Harvey paddle board worth $1,500. The first 200 customers in each store between 6  p.m. and 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving will be entered to win, according to the ad. Those customers will also receive a $5 coupon.

The Thursday sales from 9 p.m. to midnight will offer 60 percent off most items in the store including toys and holiday home items. Then midnight Thanksgiving to 7 a.m. Black Friday, a coupon is included for 60 percent off clearance items, that goes down to 50 percent off from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday.

Other deals listed include 50 percent off sterling silver and fine silver plate jewelry, $15 off Gloria Vanderbilt Amanda jeans, $9.99 juniors screen tees, $4,99 young men, kids and juniors tees, 50 percent off Disney "Frozen" tees and toys and a $50 Shark steam pocket cleaner.

Are any of these deals enticing enough to get you out of bed and into the store? Comment below.

Just how busy is the Mall at UTC Cheesecake Factory?

I wondered after The Mall at University Town Center opened how busy the restaurants would really be given how much the shopping center was hyped over the past year. And I got my answer at The Cheesecake Factory over the weekend.

I decided to meet up with a friend for coffee and cheesecake Saturday at 9 p.m., just as the mall is closing. I figured that Cheesecake Factory would be cleared out by then. The restaurant closes at 12:30 a.m. on the weekends, so maybe I guessed wrong.

The hostess said it would be an hour wait for a table for two. But get this: The wait was three hours long earlier in the day, according to the hostess.

I've called an upscale restaurant before that had about 20 tables and was told there was a six-month wait. I get it. But, three hours at Cheesecake Factory? 

That's both dedication and frankly, insane for a wait that long. Diners took advantage of the text-ahead seating so they could leave and go shopping and be notified when their table is ready, she said.

Let's say someone really waited the entire three hours. I'm guessing these folks brought along snacks if they came hungry to get a table at the Cheesecake Factory where one entree doubles as two meals. If not, someone would really have to pre-plan the shopping trip by getting their name on the list right after they ate lunch, go shopping for three hours and be hungry in time for a full meal.

A group of ladies was nice enough to walk over and tell me they were getting up so if we wanted to stalk their table, we were welcome to stand by and grab it because the first-come, first-serve high-top bar tables became competitive spots. Thank you ladies. We tried to pay it forward but by 10 p.m., the restaurant was significantly cleared out.

Our server remarked that while he kept busy, at least during that wait people had so much time to read the menu diners immediately knew what they wanted.

Obviously people love and will go to great lengths to eat at their favorite restaurant or to give it a try.

What's the longest you've waited or were willing to wait for a table at a restaurant? Chime in below.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Sam's Club taking broader approach for Black Friday

A Sam's Club member shops for toys. PROVIDED PHOTO
For some retailers, Black Friday doesn't have to be limited to one day.

Warehouse giant Sam's Club is attempting to lure shoppers into its members-only store with both a pre-Black Friday one-day sale and an event to bring in non-members after Black Friday.

Sam's Club announced that a one-day sale for members will start at 7 a.m. Nov. 15 with what the company is touting as Black Friday pricing.

Here's what Sam's Club is teasing for sale that day:
  • 60” Vizio Ultra High Definition Television: $998
  • Jawbone Up24 Wearable Technology: $69
  • .96 Carat Total Weight Diamond Fashion Pendant: $699
  • Hotel Luxury Reserve Collection 1,000 Thread Count Sheet Sets, available in king and queen sizes (Sam’s Club Exclusive): $69.98
  • Frozen Karaoke Set with Full Soundtrack (Sam’s Club Exclusive): $69.86
  • Children’s Frozen Robe and PJ Set (Sam’s Club Exclusive): $17.98
  • Cuisinart 14-Piece Ceramic Cookware Set: $79.98
“We know many of our members are excited to get a jump on their holiday shopping so we’re not making them wait for Black Friday,” said Rosalind Brewer, president and CEO of Sam’s Club said in a statement. “We’re going to bring members new items early and often throughout the holiday season. Our line-up of holiday events invites members to save, and provides all gift givers an opportunity to discover the value of member savings and enjoy new surprises on every trip into the club.”

Sam's Club maintains a Bradenton store off U.S. 301 and State Road 70 at 5300 30th St. E., and a Sarasota store off Fruitville and Cattlemen roads at 300 N. Cattlemen Road.

Sam's Club will be closed on Thanksgiving then reopen 7 a.m. Nov. 28, the day after Thanksgiving. is offering free shipping on Black Friday-labeled items on Thanksgiving, too.

For shoppers who aren't a Sam's Club member, they can shop at Sam's on Nov. 29-30 for an open house both in-store and online. The company is promoting that items will have Black Friday prices, but what those deals are remain to be seen.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Michigan's Erbelli's coming to East Manatee

Michigan-based Erbelli's Gourmet Pizzeria, Italian Bistro & Pub will open its first Florida restaurant in East Manatee.

The pizzeria is in the midst of renovating the former Sopranos of New York at 8744 State Road 70 E in the Ranch Lake Plaza. The restaurant is beside Full Belly Stuffed Burgers and a Goodwill store that is coming soon in the former Sweetbay.

No opening date has been announced, but Erbelli's website lists a 2014 opening, likely putting the restaurant on track to open by the end of the year.

Erbelli's lists the East Manatee location on its website along with restaurants in Kalamazoo and Portage, Mich. The restaurant was founded by Greg Erb 21 years ago, according to Michigan newspapers.

The restaurants offer specialty pizzas, salads, pastas and a buffet. Erbelli's has also won numerous awards from Michigan-based media for both its food and service.

For more information, visit