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Retailers applaud AG Schneiderman’s ‘organized retail crime’ takedown

ALBANY, NY – Retail Council of New York State President and CEO Ted Potrikus today issued the following statement:

Retailers throughout New York State today thank Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, his team, and all law enforcement partners for the hard work leading to the arrest of leaders of an organized retail crime ring operating in and around the state.

Obviously, organized retail crime hurts stores, but consumers are most significantly at risk whenever these organized rings take hold. They steal and repackage baby formula, health and beauty aids, food items, and other products that we use every day.

Congratulations to Attorney General Schneiderman for his commitment to keeping shoppers, retail store employees, and retailers safe. We’re eager to work with him and all of law enforcement to keep the light on this issue.

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Retailers applaud Governor’s bag moratorium

ALBANY, NY – Retail Council of New York State President and CEO Ted Potrikus this evening issued the following statement:

Retailers in New York City and throughout the state thank Governor Cuomo for making the difficult decision to tap on the brakes on the New York City plastic bag fee.

We respect the complexity of the decision and we pledge to work constructively with him and with state lawmakers as they seek a statewide, comprehensive response to environmental concerns.

Thank you, Governor Cuomo.

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Retail Council of New York State Ÿ| 258 State Street Ÿ Albany, New York Ÿ 12210 Ÿ| www.retailcouncilnys.com

Retailers support Governor’s ‘marketplace’ sales tax plan

“It’s not a new tax” says Council President

The Retail Council of New York State today urged lawmakers to approve as written a proposal from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Budget seeking to require “marketplace providers” to collect New York’s state and local sales taxes on merchandise shipped in to the state from out-of-state sellers.

“It is not a new tax or a new fee,” said Retail Council President and CEO Ted Potrikus. “Nor is it a tax on the Internet. It simply applies the state’s existing nexus law to a new and growing Internet sales platform.”

New York adopted the “click-through nexus” law in 2008 to require certain out-of-state or online merchants to collect tax on sales of their own merchandise. That first-in-the-nation law is the template for statutes in nearly two dozen other states and survived court challenges up to and including the New York State Court of Appeals.

“The budget proposal simply would require the largest cyber marketplaces to collect tax on all sales to New York buyers,” Mr. Potrikus said. “The collection obligation would be no different from that currently imposed in New York on consignment shop owners and auction houses which, like the marketplace platform, facilitate sales and control the cash register. They’re best suited to collect tax on sales by the sellers they assist.”

The budget proposal would require online marketplaces with more than $100 million in annual sales to collect and remit tax just as consignment shop owners and auction houses now do. Estimates show that improved enforcement of existing tax laws would result in some $275 million in FY 2018-19.

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Retailers bash bid for 10% workers’ comp rate hike

State Fund overcharges demand full actuarial study

ALBANY, NY – As New York’s Department of Financial Services reviews input from its June 27 hearing on a recommended 9.8 percent rate increase for workers’ compensation insurance, the Retail Council of New York State wants instead an industry-wide actuarial study before the DFS considers any further rate increases.

The Retail Council said no review would be complete without a careful examination of the New York State Insurance Fund (SIF), a major provider of workers’ compensation insurance in the state.

“New York employers continue to endure a chronic and significant workers’ comp crisis,” said Retail Council President and CEO Ted Potrikus. “Rates in the private market continue to go up while coverage opportunities continue to decline. The State Insurance Fund keeps shifting rates, dividends, reserve balance requirements, and other rate components without regard for the employers they affect and without statistical justification.”

Among the issues driving the Retail Council’s concern and request for SIF inclusion in such an industry-wide study is recent legislation allowing New York State to derive budget funds directly from surpluses in the SIF.

“That law alone seems to make SIF less an insurer than they are an annex of the Division of the Budget. The Governor’s office shifted $1.75 billion from the SIF to the General Fund in 2013 and wrote it off to ‘assessment reserves held by the SIF that would no longer be necessary.’ That’s an open-ended grab that they can now repeat without legislative approval. Of course they want to sock away as much money into the SIF as they can – money that should stay with the state’s employer community.”

Mr. Potrikus cited an independent actuarial analysis commissioned by the Retail Council and a second employer group in 2014 and updated in 2016 which showed some Council members overcharged by the SIF by as much as 20 percent. The groups commissioned the study in conjunction with their effort to create a new insurance entity to provide workers’ compensation at a lower cost.

“First we find out that the SIF is overcharging our members, and then they slam the brakes on the new entity we tried to form by rejecting our repeated overtures to work together to provide our members with meaningful rate relief,” Mr. Potrikus said. “Making matters worse, they then put up a roadblock to employer capital being held by the SIF.”

“That about face tells us that neither the SIF nor the DFS have an interest in helping employers,” he said. “I think they’re far more interested in turning the State Insurance Fund into some kind of Wall Street firm designed to maximize investments for future general fund raids.”

Mr. Potrikus added, “Clearly, there is something wrong in the current workers’ compensation marketplace. Band-aids aren’t working. We had a long-term solution to help Main Street retailers and restaurants, and there was zero interest in helping us reach that goal. Perhaps the moratorium and study we want will shed light on what’s going on.”

New York has the obligation to review and either accept or reject the rate filing of the rating board. The Retail Council is hoping the application will be rejected on the basis of a lack of credible information, and that such decision will be the catalyst for the unprecedented study they urge.

 

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About the Retail Council of New York State

New York’s voice of retail represents thousands of member stores of all size and variety, offering money-saving group programs and government relations to its members. For more information, visit retailcouncilnys.com.

Merchants applaud new law combatting organized retail crime

ALBANY, NY – Retail Council of New York State President and CEO Ted Potrikus issues the following statement applauding Governor Cuomo’s approval of a law giving prosecutors an important new tool in the fight against organized retail crime (Chapter 63, Laws of 2016):

Organized retail crime isn’t the same thing as personal-use shoplifting. These are professional thieves who steal merchandise, use stolen personal information and credit cards, print bogus receipts, and come up with hundreds of other ways to get product into the black market. Retailers lose billions annually to ORC, but it’s the consumer who’s more at risk when thieves repackage, relabel, and resell merchandise that is expired, improperly stored, or otherwise tainted.

It’s important to note, too, that ORC gang leaders prey on today’s opioid abuse epidemic. They know that there are people on the street willing to do whatever they can to get a few dollars for their habit. They’re an easy target for the fences, who pay the addicts a few dollars to go into the stores and steal based on a list of products in demand on the black market.   Diabetic test strips, razor blades, face creams, smoking cessation products, baby formula, power tools, laundry detergent, designer clothing – they’re all in demand, easily concealed, and valuable.

The law signed today by Governor Cuomo will make it tougher for ORC gangs to travel from county to county on their stealing sprees. We thank him for recognizing the danger to consumers and the cost to merchants, and we are grateful to Assemblyman Michael Cusick and Senator Michael Venditto for their dedication to shepherding the measure through the Legislature.

This is an important first step in combatting ORC and all its ancillary dangers.

[Note: Chapter 63 of the Laws of 2016 grants jurisdiction and venue for a pattern of organized retail crime incidences transpiring over a number of contiguous jurisdictions. The law also defines “organized retail crime” with specificity in statute. Read the measure in its entirety at this link.]

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About the Retail Council of New York State

New York’s voice of retail represents thousands of member stores of all size and variety, offering money-saving group programs and government relations to its members. For more information, visit retailcouncilnys.com.

 

Retail Council statement on minimum wage, paid family leave

ALBANY, NY – Retail Council of New York State President and CEO Ted Potrikus issues the following statement on today’s announcement regarding an increase in the state’s minimum wage and implementation of paid family and medical leave:

We commend Governor Cuomo, Speaker Heastie, and leaders Flanagan and Klein for the extraordinary time and energy they spent considering the various proposals circulating in Albany to change the minimum wage and paid family leave laws.

 The Retail Council participated actively throughout those discussions, and although we have members concerned about continued economic growth in our state, the deal as announced addresses constructively many of the concerns we raised. We appreciate this because we respect the high priority Governor Cuomo and many in the state Legislature placed on raising the minimum wage and establishing a statewide system for paid family and medical leave.

 We remain committed to working closely with the Governor and Legislature to set a business climate for New York that promotes continued economic growth for our state and attractive shopping opportunities for our customers.

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About the Retail Council of New York State

New York’s voice of retail represents thousands of member stores of all size and variety, offering money-saving group programs and government relations to its members. For more information, visit retailcouncilnys.com.

 

 

Credit Card Processing Security Alert from VeriFone

Verifone continues to receive reports that scammers are posing as Verifone Help Desk agents and asking customers to “test” their payment terminals with phone cards.

How it works:
Merchants receive a phone call from someone posing as a Verifone Help Desk associate stating that they need to test the payment terminal with a phone card. The fraudster asks the cashier to authorize several phone cards by providing the Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) located on the card for verification. The merchant is left responsible for any expenses associated with purchases that are then made with the stolen cards/PINs.

It is important that you know that the Verifone Help Desk:

Never requests PIN information over the telephone.
Never insists that merchants “authorize” a phone card

Help protect your organization by following these simple steps:

  • Be suspicious of “urgent” communications asking you to confirm or provide personal or financial information over the phone (or email).
  • Always verify unsolicited callers. If a caller asks you to disclose information, make payments, process transactions or make changes to systems or terminals, be sure to:
    • Ask the caller to identify the company they represent and details of their office number.
    • Use the internet, verify the number and other information they provide.
    • Talk to your supervisor/Head office, payment provider or terminal manufacturer before you proceed.

Retail Council statement on Governor Cuomo’s minimum wage announcement

Retail Council of New York State President and CEO Ted Potrikus today issued the following statement on today’s announcement from Governor Cuomo calling for a legislated statewide minimum wage that would reach $15/hour:

Governor Cuomo could not have been more clear in January that a minimum wage increase stood among his highest priorities.  He put on the table what we thought to be a reasonable and responsible legislative proposal, and we supported it at that time.

Retailers are concerned about the effect of a $15-an-hour threshold on the industry’s ability to create and provide jobs. We acknowledge, though, that all workers deserve a level playing field.

 

The proposal as we understand it provides a ramp for employers to prepare for the new wage. It looks to be a longer-term extrapolation of the proposals we have supported in the past, and we appreciate Governor Cuomo’s continued consideration of the need for a practical statewide legislative response to what can be a highly-charged issue.

We see value in the Governor’s proposal and look forward to continuing our dialogue with him on this issue.

Retailers ready to welcome Canada for coupon promotion

Governor boosts retail tourism and New York’s merchant community

With some 200 retailers signed on so far to Governor Cuomo’s initiative to promote New York as a shopping destination for Canadians looking for great deals and unique shopping experiences, the Retail Council of New York State today urged every merchant to get involved.

Governor Cuomo’s “I Shop NY” initiative runs from March 22 – April 6.

“People visit New York for all the great reasons that we see in every promotion from I Love New York and Governor Cuomo,” said Retail Council of New York State President and CEO Ted Potrikus.  “Now we can share with Canada all the great reasons why they should visit often and ‘shop New York’.  I know that everyone will find lots of reasons to come back often.”

The partnership with I Love NY finds merchants offering a downloadable “flexi” coupon to give shoppers access to special discounts on in-store purchases in participating stores throughout New York.

“Every merchant in New York should be on board,” said Alayna Alderman, Vice President of The Record Archive in Rochester, New York (http://www.recordarchive.com) and a member of the Board of Directors of the Retail Council of New York State.  “We know that the Record Archive and the entire Rochester area are destinations for music lovers and record shoppers from all over the country.  Governor Cuomo’s program delivers our message – and the message of the entire retail industry – to our friends north of the border.  We’re looking forward to welcoming new visitors and excited to be a part of the program.”

Mr. Potrikus said the promotion is open to all retailers in New York.

“This isn’t just for Retail Council members,” he said.  “We’re proud to be the conduit between the state’s diverse merchant community and Governor Cuomo’s initiative.  We’re excited to add any retailer to the roster of participants offering this great promotion.”

Retailers interested in adding their store to ‘I Shop NY’ can call Michelle Bruck, the Retail Council’s Director of Communications, at 518-465-3586, or e-mail her at mbruck@retailcouncilnys.com.

 

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Retail Council partners with I Love NY to boost NYS retail

Governor Cuomo today announced the “I Shop NY” initiative, a partnership with the Retail Council of New York to promote New York-based stores and businesses to Canada and boost the state's economy. This year, "I Shop NY" will take place March 22-April 6.

The Canadian tourism market is the number one source of tourism in New York; Montreal is only 60 miles away from Plattsburgh, New York. Canada ranks first in visitor spending in the state, with 76 percent of Canadians indicating shopping as their choice activity when traveling here.

"I Shop NY" will also be promoted via I LOVE NEW YORK and will include television and digital advertising in key Canadian markets to encourage travelers north of New York’s border to visit the state for a shopping getaway. The video can be viewed here.

The Retail Council of New York State coordinated the participation of more than 200 stores in the effort and enabling I LOVE NEW YORK to offer a downloadable, “flexi” coupon to give shoppers access to special discounts and rewards on in-store purchases. The coupons are available at www.ILOVENY.com/ishopny.

Retail Council welcomes new President and CEO

Ted Potrikus begins new role September 1

ALBANY, NY – Retail Council of New York State Chairman Tom Zapf of Macy’s today announced that Ted Potrikus becomes the statewide trade association’s new President and Chief Executive Officer beginning September 1, 2014.

Mr. Potrikus succeeds James R. Sherin, who retires after serving the Council’s President and CEO since 2004.  Mr. Sherin’s retirement caps a 30-year career with the association.

“I know I speak for all of our members when I thank Jim Sherin for his decades of dedicated service to New York’s retailers,” Mr. Zapf said.  “We’re pleased to appoint Ted as the Council’s new President and CEO. He’s been with the Retail Council since 1989 and knows well the needs and interests of retailers large and small throughout the state.  He has learned well with Jim as his mentor over the years and we look forward to a smooth leadership transition.”

“It’s an honor to have the Board’s confidence as we embark on an ambitious new era at the Retail Council,” Mr. Potrikus said.  “Like the industry we serve, our association faces unique challenges in the years ahead.  I know that our Board of Directors and all of our members will help guide the Retail Council through these challenges to new growth and new opportunities.  I’m excited to take the reins.”

Mr. Potrikus, 51, joined the Retail Council in 1989 as its Director of Public Affairs.  He most recently has served as the Council’s Executive Vice President and Director of Government Affairs, representing the association before state and local legislatures, in the press, and in a wide variety of public functions.  Mr. Potrikus and his wife, Angela, live in Niskayuna, New York.

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Retail Link – March 2014

The Use of Arrest and Conviction Records in Making Employment Decisions

Wednesday, March 26 at 10:30 a.m.
Presented by Christopher Hoyme, Partner, Omaha, NE Office Jackson Lewis LLP

HoymeChris2012In the last 20 months, there have been significant changes in the law governing the use of criminal background checks for hiring purposes. It is crucial to make sure you are in compliance with these laws, or your business could face investigations by and penalties from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (EEOC) as well as private class action litigation.

This webinar will bring you up to speed on this important issue, including:

  • Background check do's and don'ts: You'll be alerted to the hot button issues on which the EEOC is currently focusing
  • Answers to key questions: Can you use criminal history, credit history, educational background or unemployment data to disqualify job applicants?
  • Use of arrest and conviction records: Learn how to use the new EEOC Guidance to help you establish policies and procedures regarding the use of arrest and conviction records in making employment decisions.
  • References: Find out what the Feds are saying about employment and character references for individuals with prior offenses.

>>Register for the March 26 Webinar

Coming up in April!

Employing people with disabilities
Wednesday, April 16 at 10:30 a.m.
Presented by Candice Alder, Rocky Mountain ADA Center

AlderCandiceThis webinar will provide valuable information that will help expand your pool of prospective employees and answer questions you may have about what you can and can't do under federal law when hiring people with disabilities.

Among the areas to be covered:

Recruitment of employees with disabilities: what you need to know about the application process, and suggestions on working with disability organizations to recruit employees
Common misconceptions regarding hiring and retaining employees with disabilities: get the facts on important issues such as what whether employees with disabilities can be required to meet the same job standards as employees who are not disabled

How to address employment-related barriers through reasonable accommodations: learn what you can and can't ask about accommodations, what steps you should take to accommodate an employee with a disability so they can perform their job, and how simple and inexpensive most accommodations actually are

Tax incentives: discover what types of tax credits are available for making reasonable accommodations

>>Register for the April 16 Webinar

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50_50 Retail Link ad

How the EBT provider change will affect retailers

New York State’s Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program will switch providers later this year, from J.P. Morgan Chase to Xerox, and it will affect all retailers who accept EBT in New York State. The Retail Council is working with the state and Xerox to make sure anyone affected is aware of the coming changes.

Retailers accept EBT cards in two ways. Larger chain stores typically have an integrated system, meaning their regular credit card terminals can also accept EBT cards. Smaller stores and independently owned stores are loaned EBT processing equipment. Therefore, the migration from J.P. Morgan to Xerox processing will be different for each type of retailer.

Stores with integrated processing equipment

These stores will not have to make any hardware or software changes, either in their stores or on their servers. Xerox will work with your third party processor to redirect the transitions during the (to be determined) conversion period, and all contracts with Xerox will be handled through your current third party processor. Xerox will manage any claims and adjustments after the conversion.

During the Conversion

While the onus will be on Xerox to make sure the conversion process goes smoothly on the back end, the conversion will require the EBT system be down for an undetermined length of time. Xerox estimates the outage will last between eight and 12 hours, and they will do their best to ensure that it take place during slow business hours. During this time, any customer attempting to make a purchase with an EBT card will be told their card has been declined.

New York State’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) will notify all EBT cardholders in the days and weeks leading up to the outage. However, we anticipate some cardholders will still attempt to make purchases. Xerox and OTDA suggest you post clearly visible signs on doors and at cash registers to notify customers before and during the outage and train cashiers and customer service employees on how to deal with customers who are trying to use EBT. We suggest any stores that use the Store and Forward process turn it off for the duration of the outage.

Stores with state-provided equipment

The process for retailers that accept EBT and have a terminal provided to them by New York State or J.P. Morgan will be a bit more hands-on. These retailers should receive an agreement in the mail to each store. Please note that owners who have multiple stores will not receive all the agreement paperwork, but rather the stores themselves will each receive individual agreements.

If you are an owner with multiple retail locations, each accepting EBT using rented terminals, and would like to receive all paperwork at a single location, please let us know and we can communicate this to Xerox.

The agreement must be filled out and returned to Xerox. This agreement includes standard language that cannot be edited, along with a W-9 form that must be filled out exactly as the IRS has the information. Banking information will also need to be submitted to Xerox in the form of a voided check (not a deposit slip).

Once Xerox receives the agreement, W-9 and banking information, they will send out new EBT terminals. These will be essentially the same as the current terminals and will come with setup instructions and a help line phone number if you need further assistance. There will also be a pre-paid return label in the package that should be used to return the old EBT terminals to J.P. Morgan.

How the Retail Council can help

Xerox and NYS OTDA have reached out to us to help facilitate this process and make sure it goes as smoothly as possible. We will update you with any information, including the anticipated timeline, as we receive it over the coming months. Xerox and OTDA will also be sending information to the retailers directly. As mentioned before, any information you have that would streamline the process, including a single address for multiple businesses, please let us know.

If you have any questions about the process, or if you want more information, please do not hesitate to reach out to Council Government Relations Associate Alison Walsh at (800) 442-3589 or awalsh@retailcouncilnys.com.

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Member Spotlight: Vidler’s 5 & 10

This article first appeared in the May/June 2012 Retailer.

vid1What do a giant sculpture of the Vidler on the Roof and a yodeling pickle have in common? They are two unique items you will find at Vidler’s 5 & 10 in East Aurora, N.Y. Robert S. Vidler Sr. opened “The Fair Store” in 1930, according to family legend, so his mother-in-law could buy a spool of thread somewhere closer than Buffalo (16 miles away). By 1945, Robert felt confident enough in the store’s success he renamed it Vidler’s 5 & 10 and proudly displayed the family name. Robert’s sons, Robert Jr. and Edward, carried on the successful family business for decades and today the store is managed by Ed’s children, Bev and Don. Don tells us what it’s like to be a part of this treasured destination and how he and Bev have enhanced the store while maintaining its unique tradition. Read more>>

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The Workplace Hotline
By Richard D. Landau, Esq., Jackson Lewis LLP

Question mark in handsThe following article reflects some common questions and sensible answers for Council members:

Richard Landau is a partner in the White Plains and Albany offices of Jackson Lewis LLP, labor and employment counsel to the Retail Council of New York State.

Q: We’re having a problem with overtime. Some employees are refusing to work it, stating that we can’t require it. Others are saying that they must get time and a half if they work more than eight hours on any day. Are they right?

A: No on both counts! Employers can require employees to work overtime and discipline them if they refuse. This is a policy that should be discussed both in your employee handbook and during new employee orientation. Also, time and a half need only be paid when an individual works more than 40 hours in a workweek and need not be paid on a daily basis after any given number of hours.

Q: Do we have to pay employees for unused sick time when they quit? 

A: Unless your written policy clearly indicates that resigning or discharged employees will not be paid for unused sick time, the Department of Labor would likely construe this ambiguity against you and require that it be paid.

Q: One of our employees has asked if she can work through lunch and leave a half-hour early. We’d rather she not as we need coverage throughout the day. Can we force her to take lunch?

A: While you can’t make her eat lunch, you can require that she leave her work area and not perform any work during her scheduled lunch break. Moreover, while there are some exceptions, New York law generally requires a half-hour meal break towards the middle of the shift for all employees who work more than six hours.

Editor’s Note: This article is provided for informational purposes only. Readers should consult counsel for advice on how these matters relate to their own concerns or questions.

Get More Labor Law Advice – Free of Charge! Jackson Lewis LLP, one of the nation’s preeminent labor and employment law firms, offers Council members a free Workplace Issues Hotline. To use it, simply call the nearest Jackson Lewis Office, White Plains, N.Y. (914-328-0404) or Albany, N.Y. (518-434-1300) – tell the receptionist you are making a Retail Council of New York State Hotline call and an attorney will assist you.

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In This Issue


"We’ve been a Retail Council member for 24 years and have been very pleased. The membership dues have always been well worth the cost. The Retail Council has maintained our low workers’ compensation insurance rates, in addition to the money we’ve received from the Safety Group dividend each year. Whenever we have questions or need additional help we get a response very quickly and our problems always get resolved. I would be surprised to hear anything but positive comments from other Council members.”

Conrad Gordon
Fulton Stores
Brooklyn, NY
www.thefultonstores.com
(718) 622-6278


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Walsh joins Retail Council government relations team

Alison WalshThe Retail Council of New York State announced today that Alison Walsh has joined the association as government relations associate. Ms. Walsh will help manage the Council’s diverse government relations program, tracking and analyzing legislation and working with lawmakers and staff on the wide variety of issues affecting Retail Council members.

Prior to joining the Council, Ms. Walsh served as the assistant director of Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Councils where she coordinated all aspects of the Regional Councils and their funding mechanism. Previously, she was an associate at CGK Partners, a government relations and political consulting firm in New York City, and worked as finance director of the New York State Democratic Committee in 2010. Ms. Walsh also served as deputy finance director on Melinda Katz’s 2009 New York City comptroller race.

“Alison brings with her a strong background in government relations, abundant energy and ability, and, importantly, conversant knowledge of how the state Legislature works,” said Retail Council Executive Vice President and Director of Government Relations Ted Potrikus. “She will enhance the government relations team while working closely with Assistant Director of Government Relations Melissa O’Connor.”

Ms. Walsh earned her master’s degree in elections and campaign management from Fordham University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and her bachelor’s degree in political science from Providence College. She resides in Albany, N.Y.

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Christmas 2013: Hard work, tough sledding

A letter grade of “B-minus” for the holiday shopping season

ALBANY – New York’s retailers used deep discounts, extended hours, and heavy promotions to attract shoppers during the 2013 holiday shopping season, mustering an increase in sales volume of some 3-to-4 percent over a similar time period in 2012.

Merchants surveyed by the Retail Council gave the season an average letter grade of B-minus.

“It’s hard work,” said Retail Council President and CEO Jim Sherin. “The competition gets tougher year after year. Retailers of every size have to be quick on their feet to respond to consumer trends that shift at an unprecedented pace.”

Mr. Sherin said many merchants reported an increasing impact from online sales, on-the-spot price matching through smart phone apps, and more foot traffic from shoppers who try out merchandise in the store and then retreat to their computers to buy the items online.

“Brick-and-mortar merchants are as Internet-and-app-savvy as the traditional online giants, but it’s always a challenge to convince shoppers that they can score as good a deal in the stores as they can online,” he said. “I think we’ll see that message more and more as time goes on.”

Retailers surveyed agreed that the bulk of the shopping took place in the five or six days running up to Christmas, with post-Christmas sales very strong.

“The bigger trend reflected again this year is that the bulk of the Christmas shopping gets done immediately before the holiday itself and/or through the post-Christmas deep discounts,” Mr. Sherin said.

Bright points for retailers during the holiday shopping season: cold temperatures that drove sales of winter weather clothing and sporting goods, and continued popularity of jewelry and collectibles.

Mr. Sherin said surprises were limited during the shortened “official” holiday shopping season.

“We got a little bad weather that slowed things down,” he said.  “We saw a modest increase over last year’s volume, but it was hard-earned and not necessarily indicative of bigger profits.  We saw an increase in online shopping. We saw shoppers disappointed because they waited until the very last minute.  We sold a lot of gift cards.”

“All in all, the B-minus sounds like a pretty fitting description from our members,” he said.

* * *

Hot sellers this holiday season included Alex and Ani bracelets, jewelry items, XBox and PlayStation upgrades, video games, LeapPad, Big Hug Elmo, collectible figurines, winter sports equipment, cold weather clothing, “Duck Dynasty” tie-ins, moccasins, high-end headphones.

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Snow: Good news or bad news?

Winter weather (in moderation) good for sales

ALBANY – New York’s retailers report modest gains to date during this truncated “official” holiday shopping season – up 1 to 3 percent over the same period in 2012 – but all this winter weather could be a double-edged sword as the calendar lurches closer to Christmas Day.

“A little snow on the ground helps sparkle it up and put people in a festive and shopping mood,” said Retail Council President and CEO Jim Sherin.  “A lot of snow on the roads or in the forecast can keep people home and shopping from their computers.”

Mr. Sherin said survey results this week point to New York shoppers in good spirits, looking for bargains, and looking for jewelry – but ill-timed seasonal storms may have dampened a pivotal weekend.

“Things slowed down a lot last Saturday afternoon (December 14) and well into Sunday (December 15),” he said.  “Portions of New York State have been hit pretty hard at other times since Thanksgiving weekend, and retailers in those regions are hopeful that shoppers will turn out in good numbers over the next week.”

Weather‘s paradox might be driving stronger sales, too, with shoppers out looking for winter-weather clothing and sporting goods.

“Without a chill in the air, that merchandise tends to sit on the shelves,” Mr. Sherin said.

He said, “Shoppers know that time is running out – and that doesn’t leave a lot of time for shipping and handling of mail-order or Internet purchases.  Retailers are confident that the weekend ahead could bring some heavy traffic – so for you last-minute shoppers out there, you might want to think about hitting the stores as early as possible!”

Hot sellers so far this holiday season include Alex and Ani bracelets, jewelry items,  XBox and PlayStation upgrades, video games, LeapPad, Big Hug Elmo, “Despicable Me” figures, winter sports equipment, cold weather clothing, “Duck Dynasty” tie-ins, moccasins, high-end headphones

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Summers joins Retail Council as director of membership

Christian SummersThe Retail Council of New York State announced today that Christian Summers has joined the association as director of membership. In this role, Mr. Summers will be the primary liaison to existing members and work to grow the association’s membership base by promoting its many money-saving services and programs available to retailers.

Prior to joining the Retail Council, Mr. Summers served as sales associate manager with Tyler Technologies - Versatrans in Latham, N.Y. Mr. Summers was previously employed as a sales and solutions executive with Xerox in Albany.

“The Retail Council has developed a wide range of competitive business products and services that help save retailers and other independent businesses time and money,” said Retail Council President and Chief Executive Officer James R. Sherin. “Christian will use his focus, experience and enthusiasm to bring these bottom-line programs to the merchants and small business owners who need them.”

Mr. Summers holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the College of Saint Rose in Albany. He resides in Glenmont, N.Y.

About the Retail Council of New York State

The “Voice of Retailing” in New York state, the Retail Council represents thousands of member stores of all size and variety, and offers money-saving group benefit programs and government relations advocacy to its members. For more information about the Council, visit retailcouncilnys.com or Facebook.com/RetailCouncilNYS.

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Retail Council statement

Retailers have had many constructive, forward-focused conversations over the past few weeks with the National Action Network, the National Urban League, and their partner organizations. Today's announcement is just the start of a renewed good-faith partnership, and we look forward to the dialogue to come.

No surprises to holiday weekend sales

Bargain hunters drive good traffic, sales on par with 2012

ALBANY – Thanksgiving openings, even-earlier “Black Friday” sale prices, and Hanukkah’s start staggered the traditional opening of this year’s holiday shopping season, but New York’s retail community nonetheless welcomed plenty of shoppers on the hunt for bargains and fun in stores small and large.

By the time the dust cleared on Sunday night, New York’s retailers tallied a weekend on par with 2012 levels, with sales generally even with a comparable period from one year ago.

“It’s the perfect time to roll out the old phrase about comparing apples to oranges,” said Retail Council President and CEO James R. Sherin. “We’re looking at a transition year with more merchants than ever spreading out the post-Thanksgiving promotions, adding to the notion that “Black Friday” is no longer the busiest shopping day of the year.”

Thanksgiving openings accelerated primarily after retailers were challenged by community leaders to take steps to reduce Black Friday crowd surges and potentially dangerous conditions for shoppers and store employees alike.

“Obviously, shoppers responded to the Thanksgiving openings where they took place,” Mr. Sherin said. “Stores were busy with the hard-core bargain hunters, and the pressure was off on Friday so that everyone could enjoy a more leisurely shopping experience.”

Mr. Sherin said retailers surveyed were upbeat about and prepared for the next few weeks, notwithstanding national predictions for a holiday shopping season marked by modest sales increases for retailers.

“There’s no question that shoppers are out there demanding bargains,” he said. “It’s what they’ve come to expect this time of year, and retailers are looking for new ways to deliver low prices and great value. You’ll see a ton of promotion over the next few weeks as the clock ticks toward December 25.”

Hot sellers for the heavily-promotional weekend included XBox and PlayStation upgrades, video games, LeapPad, Big Hug Elmo, “Despicable Me” figures, winter sports equipment, cold weather clothing, and Christmas decorations.

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Retail Council’s “Holiday Sales Watch” returns

Contact:   Ted Potrikus, Executive Vice President and Director of Government Relations, 518-465-3586

The Retail Council of New York State will once again this year poll a sample of its member stores to provide a timely snapshot of holiday shopping activity in stores small and large throughout the state.

The Council updates and releases the informal and informative survey on the following dates:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Monday, January 6, 2014

Please be advised that the Retail Council offices are closed on Friday, November 29.

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G. Willikers Gifts: Just drop off your list

Asgeir Asgeirsson

G. Willikers Gifts owner Asgeir Asgeirsson

G. Willikers Gifts
22 Forest Avenue
Locust Valley, New York 11560
(516) 671-3335
www.gwillikersgifts.com
Facebook page

G. Willikers Gifts has been in business for 30 years in the heart of Locust Valley, N.Y. It started out as a general store and evolved over the years into the toy and gift shop it is today. Asgeir Asgeirsson, owner of G. Willikers for the past two years, described the shop as "an icon and very much a part of the fabric of Locust Valley."

Red Baron

The Red Baron on display in G. Willikers

View more photos of G. Willikers Gifts!

Besides all the fun toys and gifts that fill the store, the one thing that stands out is the customer care and the extent the team of "Gift Extraordinaires" go to make the shopper's experience an easy and pleasant one. They not only gift wrap your items, they will also assemble any of the toys they sell for you, including the larger items such as doll houses. Plus they offer personal shopping!

"We even have folks that come in and drop off a long list of items then pick them up in a few days wrapped and all set to go," explained Asgeir.

The G. Willikers tag hangs on one of many bikes available

The G. Willikers tag hangs on one of many bikes available

The "Grownup Area" of G. Willikers includes Vera Bradley, beautiful and unique jewelry, hand bags, winter vests, books, frames and a stationery section where you can even order your wedding invitations.

You can just drop off your list and let G. Willikers Gifts staff do the shopping for you--but you probably won't want to since shopping here is so fun! If you can't make it to Locust Valley, shop on their recently updated website at gwillikersgifts.com.

Kron Chocolatier: Chocolate Bar-tenders

Marnie Ives, co-owner

Marnie Ives, co-owner of Kron Chocolatier in Great Neck, N.Y.

Kron Chocolatier
24 Middle Neck Road, Great Neck Plaza
Great Neck, New York 11021
(516) 829-5550
www.kronchocolatier.com
Facebook page

I challenge anyone to walk in to Kron Chocolatier in Great Neck, N.Y. and not immediately crave chocolate. You're not only surrounded by the smell of homemade goodness, but everything is so nicely packaged and presented you'll have a tough time deciding in which chocolate you should indulge.

Kron Truffles inside box

A peek inside the box of Kron's best selling Budapest Truffles

View more photos of Kron Chocolatier!

Marnie Ives and her sister Wendy Einzig bought the business in 1998. Read more about Kron's history in our 2010 Member Spotlight. They make everything by hand, including all the chocolate, cupcakes, cookies, plus they create and arrange all their trays, baskets and gifts. Their best selling Budapest Truffles are still made from the original Kron Hungarian family recipe. We sampled the truffles and had no doubt after the first bite why they're a favorite.

"The way we do our chocolates here, it's more of a technique thing than an ingredient thing," explained Marnie. "The Budapest Truffle is a refrigerated truffle where we whip the butter and cream by hand, add dark chocolate, then they're hand cut and rolled in cocoa powder."

Kron chocolate closeup

A close-up of one of Kron Chocolatier's chocolate baskets

Kron Chocolatier does a lot of corporate gifts business, including large medical and legal groups that send out chocolate gifts to individual doctors and lawyers -- there is even a place on their website where you can upload an Excel spreadsheet so you don't have to input each name and address one at a time.

Marnie and Wendy also serve a lot of regular customers who come in often and get the same treats each time. Just like a chocolate bartender, Marnie said she puts their favorite chocolate treat on the counter before they're even through the door.

It's definitely worth the trip, if you're in the Great Neck, N.Y. area, to visit the shop in person. Or you can just imagine how good those chocolates smell as you order from their website www.kronchocolatier.com. Enjoy!

The Curtain Shop: Custom-made service

Louis and his mother Ann Marie

co-owner Louis Vaccaro and his mother Ann Marie

The Curtain Shop
541 Main Street
New Rochelle, New York 10801
(914) 636-8794
www.curtainshop.com
Facebook page

Custom-made and customer service are integral components of The Curtain Shop in New Rochelle, N.Y. Co-owner Louis Vaccaro speaks highly of his staff and makes sure they are part of what sets The Curtain Shop apart.

“One of the things that separates us from any other store selling the same products is the way we treat our customers,” said Louis.

Curtain Shop variety of colors curtains

A sample of The Curtain Shop's variety of curtains and colors

The Curtain Shop offers 14,000 different fabrics to choose from in their curtain department in addition to their custom drapery and shades service. Their full service extends to the curtains and shades they have in stock. If their customers are too busy or don’t know how to install their new shades or drapery, Louis and staff can go to their house and install it for them.

View more photos from The Curtain Shop

Travel up to the second level of the shop—the general store—and you’ll find anything from kitchen and bath accessories to wine bottle holders shaped like high heel shoes. They also sell yarn, which came in handy recently when the owner of neighboring shop R Patisserie Café & Tea Boutique came up with an idea to host a knitting group every Thursday night.

“We decided to team up and knitters get a discount on their yarn Thursday nights. So they typically load up on their yarn here before heading over to R Patisserie to do their knitting while drinking their coffee and tea,” Louis explained.

Curtain Shop Hunter Douglas

The Hunter Douglas section of the custom-made department

Customer service is what sets The Curtain Shop apart, but they also offer great prices. Their 37-year relationship with some vendors allows the shop to get great deals on merchandise and they can pass that savings on to the customer.

Visit the photo section of their Facebook page to see before and after shots of recent custom installations they’ve done.

To learn about the history of The Curtain Shop, read our November 2012 Member Spotlight interview with Louis from the New York State Retailer.

Blossom Flower Shop – Yes We Can!

Kevin and Sue, owners of Blossom Flower Shops

Kevin and Sue, owners of Blossom Flower Shops

Blossom Flower Shop
980 McLean Avenue
Yonkers, New York 10704
(914) 237-2511
www.blossomflower.com
Facebook.com/BlossomFlowerShops

“Family owned and operated for four generations,” is not just a tagline for Blossom Flower Shop. We met co-owners Kevin Kegan and his wife Sue, their son, and Sue’s sister Kathie, within the first five minutes of our visit to their Yonkers location.

Blossom window display

Blossom Flower Shop window display

Kevin’s grandfather opened the first Blossom Flower Shop in 1925 in the Fordham area of the Bronx. When he retired, Kevin’s father took over until he retired around 1970 and handed the family business over to then 21-year-old Kevin and Sue.

View more photos of Blossom Flower Shop in Yonkers, N.Y.

“We’re open seven days a week and you can always find someone very pleasant with that ‘yes we can’ florist attitude to help you and make sure the flower gifts you take home are perfect,” said Kevin, as he described the shop’s dedication to customer service.

Blossom bunches close up

"Blossom Bunches"

Don’t just take Kevin’s word for it. Visit their website at www.blossomflower.com, and you’ll find an entire page of testimonials from happy, satisfied customers.

Steeped in family tradition but always adapting, Blossom Flower Shop was one of the first 100 florists in the U.S. to become computerized. They also started an ecommerce website back in 2000, well ahead of most other florists to go online.

Blossom Flower Shop has been designing bouquets and arrangements for the TLC television show Four Weddings since the show began in early 2010. The shop has a dedicated wedding and event planner on staff to help customers through each step of the process.

Blossom jewelry

Jewelry available at Blossom Flower Shop

“It takes a lot of creativity and there are a lot of pieces to a wedding—the table arrangements, the bouquets—it takes a trained eye. All of our floral designers have been doing this for at least five years,” explained Kevin.

Forget someone’s birthday, or your anniversary and are in the Yonkers or White Plains area? Just call Kevin and family at Blossom Flower Shop and they’ll get your flowers out within three hours. If you’ve allowed yourself a little more time, you can find special gifts to order on their website, including gourmet dinners, Lenox Gift Bags, fruit and gourmet baskets and much more.

Retail Link – August 2013

Health Insurance Exchange notices due October 1

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires many employers to notify their employees of the existence of the Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as the “Exchange.” The Marketplace offers “one stop shopping” to help consumers find health insurance that meets their needs and budgets. These required notices must be provided to existing employees no later than October 1, 2013. This deadline is intended to correspond with the open enrollment period for the Exchange commencing October 1, 2013, for coverage beginning January 1, 2014.

Employers subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) must provide their employees with the notice. The FLSA generally applies to employers that employ one or more employees and are engaged in, or produce goods for, interstate commerce with an annual dollar volume of business of not less than $500,000. To determine whether your business is subject to the FLSA, the U.S. Department of Labor provides an Internet assistance tool at www.dol.gov/elaws/esa/flsa/scope/screen24.asp.

Current employees must receive this notice by Oct. 1. Beginning Oct. 1, new employees must receive the notice within 14 days of the employee’s start date.The exchange notice must be furnished to every employee, including part-time employees, but is not required to be furnished separately to dependents. There is no minimum employee threshold as there is with other aspects of the ACA.

U.S. Department of Labor provides model notices for employer use. If you offer health insurance to your employees use this form. If you do not offer health insurance to your employees use this form. You may prepare your own notice as long as it includes certain information outlined here.

Questions should be directed to the Retail Council’s workplace hotline with Jackson Lewis LLP at (518) 434-1300 or (914) 328-0404. Tell them you are a Retail Council of New York State member with a hotline call. This service is a free Retail Council member benefit.

Jackson Lewis’s Health Care Reform Resource Center, located at www.jacksonlewis.com/healthcare/index.php, is constantly updated with breaking health care law developments and compliance pointers for employers. Another good resource on this notice requirement can be found at www.dol.gov/ebsa/newsroom/tr13-02.html.

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I Shop NY’s “Local Gem Tour” hits Hudson Valley

1HiHo RF and Heidi holding bag
L to R: Retail Council's Rebecca Marion Flach, Humphrey the shop dog and Heidi Hill-Haddard, owner of HiHo Home Market, during I Shop NY's Local Gem Tour stop.

I Shop NY turned its attention to popular local stores in the Hudson Valley in early August following a successful road trip through Western New York. I Shop NY, an initiative of the Retail Council of New York State, encourages shoppers to support community stores before turning to out-of-state Internet-only merchants. As part of the “Local Gem Tour,” I Shop NY staff visited some of the Top 10 nominated stores from our recent Favorite Local Store contest. The team also squeezed in a visit to another popular local store between appointments.

The I Shop NY team interviewed store owners to discover what makes their businesses destinations for loyal shoppers. The team shared photos, video and commentary of their journey on the Retail Council’s blog at retailcouncilnys.com/newsroom/blog, and at Facebook.com/IShopNY and Twitter.com/I_Shop_NY.

I Shop NY visited these favorite local stores during its Hudson Valley tour (click on the store name to read the blog entry):

Voted I Shop NY’s 3rd Favorite Local Store – Surviving Sister’s Boutique, an eclectic clothing store that supports many charities, Hyde Park.

Voted I Shop NY’s 5th Favorite Local Store – Sierra Lily, a gift and accessory shop that carries trendy brands along with a large selection of USA made and Fair Trade products, Poughkeepsie.

Voted I Shop NY’s 6th Favorite Local Store – HiHo Home Market, a multi-level home furnishings store blending old and new, Gardiner.

Voted I Shop NY’s 8th Favorite Local Store – The Cross Eyed Owl Gift Shop, floor to ceiling gifts to suit every taste and budget, Valatie.

Voted I Shop NY’s 10th Favorite Local Store – Dedrick’s Pharmacy & Gifts, two stores in one with a busy pharmacy and upscale gift shop, New Paltz.

I Shop NY also paid a visit to the Colonial Flower Shop, a floral and gift shop with beautiful displays, New Paltz.

“Behind every local store is an owner who has poured his/her heart and soul into the business. As consumers it’s easy to forget that these people are our neighbors who employ others in our community, pay taxes and add personality and charm to where we live,” said James Sherin, president and chief executive officer of the Retail Council of New York State, I Shop NY’s creator and the state’s largest full-service retail trade association. “I Shop NY and the Local Gem Tour remind shoppers of the importance of local stores and why we should support them.”

“The website backlinks, thoughtful commentary, video and photos provided by I Shop NY is great marketing support for retailers,” said Rebecca Flach, the Council’s vice president of membership and communication. “We’re trying to help members promote their stores and the Local Gem Tour has attracted lots of attention.”

I Shop NY will be back on the road in September. Call Rebecca Marion Flach at (800) 442-3589 or email her at rflach@retailcouncilnys.com if you’re interested in a visit from I Shop NY.

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Combat showrooming with mobile technology

Jeff GreerJeff Greer, founder and chief executive officer of Easyfish Marketing, gave retailers some ideas to combat showrooming in their stores during his spring Retail University webinar on mobile, social shoppers. Showrooming refers to the practice where customers go in to brick and mortar stores to see, touch or try on merchandise, but then leave the store and purchase the merchandise online.

Greer suggested integrating mobile technology, such as digital punch cards, to offer customers rewards for coming into your store. Digital punch cards are a loyalty club card offered on mobile devices, such as smartphones, which Greer said should cost a business less than $100 per month.

“We’re having a lot of success with loyalty cards, but they are digital now. These are low cost, high impact ways to get recency and frequency into your store,” said Jeff.

You can set up the punch card to work on price point, for example: “Spend $15 seven times and get a free $15 purchase.”  Or you could set it up to move particular products: “Buy 6 slices of pizza and get your 7th free.” To get their digital card “punched,” the customer has to be inside your store and they must “check in” to the app by entering a code the cashier gives them at the register. This ensures only the customers who are physically in your store are rewarded on the digital punch card.

Jeff also demonstrated how to incentivize people to share deals on Facebook and Twitter. After loyalty club customers check in to your store and they receive their special deal their smartphones will prompt them to share the deal on Facebook or Twitter in exchange for another small reward, say a free medium soft drink.

Learn more about loyalty club programs and how to build customer enrollments by watching Jeff’s webinar “Consumers are mobile and social – Are you standing still?” which can be found in the member section of the Retail Council’s website. Contact Dennis Eck at (800) 442-3589 or via email for your login credentials if you don’t already have them.

Quick Tip

Posting large pictures to your website slows down page open rates, which will annoy customers. It’s best to resize your images into smaller files. During his webinar on mobile and social marketing presenter Jeff Greer from Easyfish Marketing introduced participants to resizeyourimage.com, a free web tool that helps business owners reduce the dimensions and size of image files.

Check out other free tools, including a reputation management grading tool, at easyfishmarketing.com/retail.

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Learn how to throw stellar in-store events and more in this issue of Retail Minded Magazine

RM ISSUE 7 SUMMER 2013_Retail Council of NY StateFour times a year, the Council delivers 50 plus pages of news, education and support through Retail Minded Magazine. Each issue is packed with practical, applicable tools you can apply to your business. Our partnership with Retail Minded is our way of supporting you in your efforts to thrive, and making sure we are doing what we can to bring success to your business. The June/July/August issue can be accessed in the Member Section of the Council’s website. If you don’t have your username and password to access the Member Section please call Dennis Eck at (800) 442-3589 or email him at deck@retailcouncilnys.com.

This issue of Retail Minded offers insight on how to throw stellar in-store events from retail professionals Kizer & Bender, as well as insight from event pros on their best tips to maximize sales and customer engagement. Plus, learn about the Marketplace Fairness Act and what it means for your business and much more.

You can expect your next issue of Retail Minded to be delivered in October.

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Shipping news: Freight classification and routing management

Trying to decipher an invoice for a palletized shipment – also known as a less-than-truckload (LTL) freight shipment – can be confusing and a bit mysterious. Why would 100 lbs. of feathers cost more to ship than 100 lbs. of bricks? Why does it cost more to ship into a location than it does to ship out? Why does one carrier charge so much more than another to ship from Point A to Point B? By knowing more about how classification rates and routing management affect your invoice, you’ll have a better understanding and will most likely save money on your shipping charges.

The rate you pay for an LTL shipment is based on the weight of the shipment, the product classification, and the route/lane used to get it from its origin to its destination. When calling the freight carrier to schedule a pickup, you’ll need to tell the carrier what’s being shipped, an estimated total weight, and the ship-to location.

Man with boxes checking inventoryOnce the carrier has your shipment information, your load is grouped into one of 18 classes based on the product that you are shipping – from a low of class 50 to a high of class 500. The class is based on an evaluation of four transportation characteristics: density, stowability, handling and liability. Together these characteristics establish your product’s transportability; the lower the product class, the lower the rate per pound.

The designated classes, determined by the evaluation, are provided by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association, and are considered standard in the ground transportation industry. Once your freight class has been determined, it will be used as part of the equation to calculate your freight charges. Here’s a quick definition for each of the four criteria used to determine your product’s class:

Density – The more compact the product is based on weight, the less space it will take up in the truck. Bricks are much denser than feathers, so they take up significantly less room per pound and result in a lower freight classification.

Stowability – Is your product capable of being stored for a considerable amount of time in a trailer or warehouse without loss of usability?

Handling – The more special handling your shipment requires, the higher the class will be. Is your product fragile, or is it palletized and easy to transfer to trailers and warehouses?

Liability – If your product will cause additional liability to the carrier, such as a hazardous material or a product with a high dollar value, this will cause the class to be higher, even if the other three evaluation factors would designate a lower class.

You’ll want to make sure that you are using the least expensive carrier for your particular route. Much like the airline industry, carriers usually “price” their routes depending on two things; where their hubs are located in the country and how much freight traffic they typically ship to and from a particular destination.

If you’re scheduling a shipment to a destination for the first time, get estimates from at least two national carriers in order to do an apples-to-apples comparison for that particular route. Remember, the lowest cost carrier may not always provide the best level of service, so you’ll need to keep your specific delivery needs in mind as you are comparison shopping.

If you have additional questions regarding how your product would be classified by freight carriers, or if you’d like to have a route comparison done for your shipment, call PartnerShip at (800) 599-2902 or email select@PartnerShip.com.

PartnerShip, LLC is an independent 3PL that is an industry leader in managing shipping programs for trade associations. PartnerShip manages the Retail Council Discount Shipping Program, featuring shipping discounts with FedEx®. For more information on the program please visit PartnerShip's website or call the number listed above.

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Dedrick’s Pharmacy & Gifts – At the heart of New Paltz

Dedrick's Michelle Harris stands in front of the Root Candle section

Dedrick's Michelle Harris stands in front of the Root Candle section

Dedrick's Pharmacy & Gifts
190 Main Street
New Paltz, NY 12561
(845) 255-0310
dedrickspharmacyandgifts.com

The Council has always stressed how local stores strengthen our communities. They employ our neighbors, support our tax base and add charm to our business districts. Local businesses have the power to rally people to support important causes, and can be part of the fabric that holds us together when disaster strikes.

Dedrick's Gift Shop

Dedrick's Gift Shop

Though hundreds of miles away, Dedrick’s Pharmacy & Gifts in New Paltz quickly assembled a book drive following the deadly tornado in Oklahoma, with proceeds going to the Oklahoma City Foundation for recovery efforts.

View more photos from Dedrick's!

The store also hosted a bake sale in June. One hundred percent of proceeds went to No Kid Hungry, a nationwide campaign to end childhood hunger. Customers dropped off baked goods for sale and purchased other goodies to take home with them.

Dedrick's also supports many causes right in New Paltz.

Supporting charities is part of Dedrick’s culture and the store donates approximately $12,000 a year in addition to staff volunteer work. They were recently recognized as a finalist in the 2013 Next Big Give, which recognizes retailers for giving back to their communities, a program of Dallas Market Center.

Dedrick's displays

Dedrick's displays

“What’s amazing about our clients and our pharmacy and gift shop is we are really passionate about them and they are just as passionate about us,” said Michelle Harris, Dedrick’s senior buyer during our visit to the store. “It’s a kind of partnership.”

In addition to rallying New Paltz, Dedrick’s is a significant employer with 23 full time and part time people on staff. The pharmacy has served the Hudson Valley since 1857 in Kingston and New Paltz. Brothers Bill and Jack Sheeley purchased the New Paltz location in 1974 and have owned it ever since.

“What’s wonderful about most of our employees is that many of them have worked here for more than 15 years,” said Michelle, a nearly 30-year veteran of the store. “What’s wonderful is we employ all these people and the money they make in paychecks etcetera stays right here in the local community…We all feel like family.”

The addition of gifts started as just a single aisle in the pharmacy, but grew to such popularity that Dedrick’s eventually blew through a wall to expand for a whole department. Shoppers can find a variety of Made in the USA products, including ROOT soy candles, Harney & Sons Fine Teas produced right in Millerton, N.Y. and Wilton Armetale metal serve ware. Shoppers like the convenience of picking up a prescription and turning the corner into a delightful gift shop – all under one roof.

More gifts on display at Dedrick's

More gifts on display at Dedrick's

Local gems like Dedrick’s are at the heart of our communities for many reasons. We want to see it stay that way.

 

Dedrick's Pharmacy & Gifts looking towards the pharmacy section of the store

Dedrick's Pharmacy & Gifts looking towards the pharmacy section of the store

Sierra Lily – A new name attracts new shoppers

Sierra Lily
1955 South Road
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
(845) 297-1684
Find Sierra Lily on Facebook

Sierra Lily’s Alex and Ani counter buzzed with excited moms and teens in search of the latest charms and bracelets. Alex and Ani and other national brands like Pandora and Vera Bradley are big draws to this appealing Poughkeepsie accessory and gift store.

Sierra Lily's Alex and Ani display

Sierra Lily's Alex and Ani display

Equally present in this family-run business are products made in the United States, Fair Trade items and collectibles like Hummels and Lladro – how Sierra Lily, formerly The Country Gallery, was best known by shoppers for nearly 30 years.

View more photos of Sierra Lily!

“Everything we sold was in a case, had a box and was in the stock room,” said Jennifer Tell, senior buyer and daughter of owners John and Janice Bocchino.

Sierra Lily carries a wide selection of Made in the USA merchandise

Sierra Lily carries a wide selection of Made in the USA merchandise

Over time, the store began to morph as shoppers’ interest in collectibles faded. Brighton, the popular jewelry, handbag and accessories company, was the family’s first experiment with different lines of merchandise.

“Brighton is the brand that really brought us to where we are today. We had all the collectibles in our store and when we found Brighton we said, ‘Can we sell jewelry and handbags and wallets? We’ve never done this before’ and we learned, yes we can,” said Jennifer as she showed us the Brighton “Charm Bar” where shoppers can easily view and select the next addition to their collection.

As the merchandise began to change, the store’s country name no longer fit. Jennifer’s three year-old daughter was the inspiration for the new moniker, Sierra Lily.

“’Country’ and ‘Gallery’ just became something we’re not. People were coming in here all the time who had driven past the store for 10 years and said, 'I can’t believe you’re this type of store. I thought you sold wreaths and wooden pineapples,’” Jennifer said.

The new name clearly resonates with shoppers as we watched a steady stream of them come through the front door during our visit. It's not just the name that attracts customers, of course - Sierra Lily's calm atmosphere, fun merchandise and friendly staff make it a local gem.

 

Sierra Lily Brighton "Charm Bar"

Sierra Lily's Brighton "Charm Bar"

 

Sierra Lily's Vera Bradley section

Sierra Lily's Vera Bradley section

Surviving Sisters’ Boutique: A serious mission with a light heart

Surviving Sisters' Boutique owner Kim Miller with mannequin Lisa

Surviving Sisters' Boutique owner Kim Miller with mannequin Lisa

Surviving Sisters' Boutique
4412 Albany Post Road (Rt. 9)
Hyde Park, NY 12538
(845) 229-0425
Find Surviving Sisters' Boutique on Facebook

Kim Miller had a vision, after surviving a life-threatening heart attack in 2003, to open a place where she could use her retail/restaurant experience and raise funds and awareness for the American Heart Association under one roof. Six years later, Surviving Sisters’ Boutique in Hyde Park, N.Y. represents charity in the community as much as it offers a unique experience and “two floors of shopping bliss.”

View more photos of Surviving Sisters' Boutique!

The disco room in Surviving Sisters' Boutique

The disco room in Surviving Sisters' Boutique

Surviving Sisters’ Boutique, named Best Boutique of the Hudson Valley in 2009 and 2010 by Hudson Valley Magazine, offers new and vintage clothing and accessories for children, men and women in addition to theatrical apparel, furs, antiques and collectibles. This unique boutique also carries 106 local artisans’ works, specializes in “Made in America” merchandise and even hosts parties around the store, including the disco room complete with dance floor, disco ball and strobe lights (which doubles as the teen department).

Though for Kim, fundraising is where her heart is. “The fashion is the passion, the parties are very cool, but the fundraising is the best part,” explained Kim. The American Heart Association remains her number one charity, though she now also fundraises with more than 40 non-profits, churches, charities and schools.

Surviving Sisters' Boutique houses 106 local artisans

Surviving Sisters' Boutique houses 106 local artisans

And while her mission is quite serious, Kim’s sense of humor, generosity and charm fill the store. We were all greeted with hugs and went home with fresh basil Kim picked for us just before we left. When I asked her to pose for a picture in her favorite part of the store, she chose to stand with “Lisa” the mannequin and a top hat.

One shopper described why Surviving Sisters’ Boutique is her Favorite Local Store:

“Kim is compassionate about what she sells and cares for her customers deeply. She supports the community and goes above and beyond.” Another nominator wrote, “I love all the unique items the owner picked out and the friendly cozy atmosphere! Great place to shop!”

Kim Miller has seen her vision through. She dedicates her store and her life to fundraising and awareness and helps anyone and everyone in need with her eclectic boutique in Hyde Park. It’s easy to see why Surviving Sisters’ Boutique was recognized as a Favorite Local Gem in New York State.

Surviving Sisters' Boutique teen department and disco room looking towards vintage items

Surviving Sisters' Boutique teen department and disco room looking towards vintage items

Kim summed up her life’s mission during her interview with I Shop NY:

“My grandmother always said ‘if a day went by that you haven’t helped someone, you’ve wasted your day,’ so that’s the way I’ve lived my whole life.”

Surviving Sisters' Boutique sign

Surviving Sisters' Boutique sign

The Pedallers Bike Shop helps cyclists keep “the rubber side down”

Bob works on a customer's bike

Bob works on a customer's bike

 

The Pedallers Bike Shop
2511 E. Henrietta Road
Rochester, NY 14623
(585) 334-1083
www.pedallers.com

Bob DeRoo, owner of The Pedallers Bike Shop in Rochester, N.Y. attached the water bottle holder and made sure the bike was in prime working order as the customer looked on. The ride didn't feel quite right so she had brought the bike to Bob for a custom fitting, which this cycling pro-shop is well known for.

“Our reputation for being good mechanics is out there in the community,” Bob once told us. “It’s an example of finding your niche and serving it well – the word of mouth advertising is the best tool you’ve got!”

Pedallers caters to adult cycling enthusiasts

Pedallers caters to adult cycling enthusiasts

Athletic since his high school days, Bob started bike riding in the 60s for transportation, but enjoyed it so much he wanted to do more than just ride for his daily commute. In 1971 he got involved in bike racing and never looked back both as a competitor (NYS Road Racing Champion 1977) and coach for a team of 10 gold medal racers for the Empire States Games (western region).

When an area family bicycle shop went up for sale in 1981 there wasn’t any question what he would do.

“I decided to make my vocation my avocation,” said the rail thin owner who continues to ride his bike to work most days.

The store also carries a wide selection of clothing, helmets, shoes and other cycling necessities

The store also carries a wide selection of clothing, helmets, shoes and other cycling necessities

Initially, Bob and his wife decided to keep Pedallers a neighborhood-oriented store, but as time rolled on customers demanded more pro-quality equipment so they evolved into the area pro-shop. Today the shop primarily carries road bikes (bikes with narrow tires designed for paved or packed surfaces) and comfort/hybrid bikes (those designed for use in parks, on trails and around the neighborhood), and an occasional specialty mountain bike.

To stay in touch with customers and for love of the sport, Pedallers staff host a weekly Sunday ride, which you can learn more about on the store’s website, www.pedallers.com. There’s a link right on the home page.

“People who show up for our Sunday rides often tell us that our outings are the most fun because we don’t leave anyone behind and we’re social – not totally competitive,” Bob said. “However, if you show up for a Sunday ride you had better bring your ‘A’ game because we can go hard.”

Bob joked with us about a common cycling axiom as we hit the road again…“Keep the rubber side down” (i.e., Don’t Crash!).

Bikes by this manufacturer are used in the Tour de France!

Bikes by this manufacturer are used in the Tour de France!

Local artists on display at The Creator’s Hands

A metal flower sculpture in The Creator's Hands

A metal flower sculpture in The Creator's Hands

The Creator’s Hands
A Gallery of Art and Craft
155 Monroe Avenue
Rochester, NY 14607
(585) 235-8550
www.thecreatorshands.com

Opened in 1979 the original owner of The Creator's Hands was inspired to display and sell the works of area artists. Wood, metal, clay, fabric, paper and other works of art in every medium fill this spacious gallery.

The Creator’s Hands became Shelly Carither’s in late 2011 after she bought it from her friend. It all started with an email.

Pottery made by local artists on display at The Creator's Hands

Pottery made by local artists on display at The Creator's Hands

View more photos of The Creator's Hands!

“The owner sent out an email asking if someone might be interested in buying it as she hated to see the business come to an end just because she wanted to retire. I thought about it that morning, and thought about it and forwarded the email to my husband later that day and said 'Do you mind if I buy this business?'" said Shelly. “He was very supportive.”

The previous owner worked tirelessly with her to move the location to a larger space, introduced Shelly to the artists and other vendors, and even helped her place her first orders to ensure the transition was a smooth one.

Handmade Noah's Ark for play

Handmade Noah's Ark for play

In its early years the store had 25 artists on display in a cramped space, but The Creator’s Hands now features 250 artisans in this 1,800 square foot gallery. Much of the art is produced right in New York State and in New England.

Eye catching jewelry

Eye catching jewelry

“We try to be as local as we can,” said Shelly as she pointed out spiritual wall art in clay made in Brighton, N.Y.; a Nativity made in Caledonia, N.Y.; a Noah’s Ark toy made in Trumansburg, N.Y.; and hand painted silk scarves made by a local teacher.

In addition to Judeo-Christian gifts, the store carries wonderful pottery -- including a line that celebrates Rochester’s famous lilac -- photography, jewelry, beeswax luminaries and much more.

The Creator’s Hands has a great play area for kids so adults can shop without worrying too much about what tikes are getting in to.

“Kids have radar and know it’s there and make a beeline for it,” said Shelly. “It makes for a relaxing experience so people can shop.”

Whether you’re seeking a wedding, shower, birthday or holiday gift, The Creator’s Hands can help. And we guarantee you’ll walk out with something for yourself too.

Glassware, candles and coasters to entertain with

Glassware, candles and coasters to entertain with

Music buffs flock to the Record Archive

Record Archive storefront

Record Archive storefront

Record Archive
33 1/3 Rockwood Street
Rochester, NY 14610
(585) 244-1210
www.recordarchive.com

The rise of digital music has caused chaos for artists, record labels and other music retailers, but the Record Archive – well known to music aficionados in the Northeast – has defied the odds and expanded several times over nearly 40 years. The store now resides in a 10,000 square foot warehouse painted bright mustard yellow to attract passersby.

The Record Archive’s bread and butter is the sale of used vinyl and CDs. The store also sells cassettes and eight tracks, often to classic car collectors whose vehicles still sport the old technology.

“We have sold vinyl records every day we’ve been in existence,” said Dick Storms, co-owner of the Record Archive during our visit on July 11. “Over the years we’ve added inventory, hence why we've had to move to larger locations.”

In addition to used media, the store carries everything from vintage bicycles, t-shirts and other music memorabilia, to production equipment and gag gifts. The store was featuring a Pink Floyd denim jacket and a Sony reel-to-reel on its Facebook page prior to our stop by the store. As we spoke with Dick he unloaded a framed Judy Garland concert poster in great condition from his van.

Record Archive records

Record Archive records

While some of the merchandise is picked up at estate and garage sales, the majority is brought in by shoppers looking to weed out their collections. The store has six buyers on staff, trained to recognize the value of used media and music collectibles.

“If you stand here long enough with me...someone will come trudging in with a box of records,” said Dick.

The money earned through these transactions often never makes it out of the store. Instead, it’s immediately reinvested in a must-have CD or record, which people still crave even in this electronic age for a variety of reasons.

Record Archive full store view

Record Archive full store view

“One person says it’s the quality of the music, other people say it’s the graphics, other people like the nostalgia. Other people just want to capture what they had 50 years ago, but I think the young customers, my new customers, the people entering the vinyl world, like to have the tangible artifact that is a direct connection to the artists they love,” said Dick.

There are some things a music download just won't satisfy. For music junkies, the Record Archive is the fix.

 

Record Archive Beatles merchandise on display

Record Archive Beatles merchandise on display