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GIFT Guide

holiday gift guide

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thursday 11.17.2011

Going Gaga for Christmas

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NEW YORK — Shoppers entering the flagship Barneys New York store during the holidays will go through the mouth of a giant monsterlike creature in the spirit of Lady Gaga, as the retailer transforms one of its entrances leading to Gaga’s Workshop. The store’s famous Madison Avenue windows, meanwhile, will be a collage of music, fashion, astrology and the elements. Barneys released details about its previously announced partnership with the superstar. She and her team will decorate and fill the entire fifth floor with products, totaling 5,550 square feet. There will be eight mini stores inside for candy, toys, apparel and accessories, holiday collectables and a media library. The “boudoir” area, featuring candles and cosmetics will mimic a giant wig, and the jewelry shop will be carved from a spider. The opening is planned for just before midnight on Nov. 21. The Associated Press


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Fantasy island Neiman Marcus catalog offers extravagant holiday gifts Jamie Stengle Associated Press DALLAS — For shoppers seeking a bit — or a lot — of holiday extravagance, the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book offers options like a $420,000 tour of European flower shows on a private jet and a $250,000 handcrafted mahogany speedboat. At a cost of $1 million, customers can have a fountain installed at their home. The “his and hers” gift features two underwater robot nozzles that will be programed to make the water “dance” to music. Though, if that’s not in the budget, there’s also the calendar paperweight for $25. The Dallas-based luxury retailer, known for the extravagant and often outrageous “fantasy gifts,” said the 85th edition of its catalog released in October has about 600 items, with almost half of them under $250. “When I look at this book, there’s something for everyone but at the same time you do have the whim and the whimsy of the fantasy,” said John E. Koryl, president of Neiman Marcus Direct. “You don’t need to buy

everything to be inspired.” Publishing house Assouline is offering a custom-built library filled with 250 of their books for $125,000. Eduard de Lange, vice president of sales and distribution for the New York-based Assouline, says the company will create the library anywhere a customer chooses: “It could be in a mansion. It could be on a boat, on an airplane,” he said. Looking for something with a little speed? There’s an exclusive edition of the 2012 Ferrari FF, which reaches top speeds of more than 200 mph. The catalog offers 10 of the Ferraris with four-wheel drive in the silver-gray color “grigio caldo.” A set of tan leather luggage matching the interior is included in the $395,000 price. Artist Tom Burr has created a $45,000 piece made of black rubber that doubles as a pingpong table. For $5,000, Johnnie Walker is offering a scotch tasting for the buyer and 20 guests — complete with a bagpipe player. An 18-foot-diameter yurt for $75,000 could provide someone with a backyard getaway, said interior designer Rebecca Vizard, who will

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The Neiman Marcus Edition Hacker-Craft speedboat is a 27-foot solid mahogany hand-built boat with a price tag of $250,000. Below, the 18-foot-diameter yurt is a simulation of genie’s bottle with a price beginning at $75,000. decorate the inside of the tent. “I think it would be great as just a little escape, a place to go .... Or to have a dinner party in there would be fun,” she said. Koryl said that part of the lure is getting items that show fine craftsmanship. The 27foot mahogany Hacker-Craft speedboat took 1,400 hours to build and will feature the name its owner bestows in 23-carat gold leafing. “This is the most glamorous boat that can be seen on waters anywhere in the world,” said Ken Rawley, spokesman for New York-based Hacker Boat Co. Inc. Most of the fantasy gifts are paired with a charity that will benefit from the sale. The department store chain is part of Neiman Marcus Group Inc.

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Count your blessings, then get to work Anthony Hardwick, a part-time employee at a Omaha, Neb., Target store, launched a petition asking Target department stores to drop plans to open at midnight on Thanksgiving Day, when he learned of the chain’s plans to have employees report to work at 11 p.m. Thanksgiving Day to work 10-hour overnight shifts.

Steve Karnowski, Margery Beck and Anne D’Innocenzio Associated Press MINNEAPOLIS — That may be Thanksgiving for more retail workers this year, as stores desperate to pull in buyers on the first weekend of the holiday shopping season push their openings earlier and earlier. Unhappy workers who say it ruins their Thanksgiving celebrations are trying to persuade companies to back off, but retailers say they’re stuck: It’s what customers want. Reporting to work at 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day ruins what is supposed to be a day spent with family, said Anthony Hardwick, who works part-time at a Target store in Omaha corralling carts. His online petition against Target Corp.’s plan to open at midnight on Black Friday had drawn more than 100,000 signatures from retail workers and the public by Wednesday, about two weeks after he launched it. “The folks that work at Target are going to be working all night overnight on one of the most hectic retail days of the holidays,” Hardwick said, “they need to be well-rested for that, so they have to miss out on Thanksgiving if they’re going to be working overnight.” Merchants are competing for shoppers on a weekend that can be critical for their annual sales and profits, and a growing number fear opening at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m., as they have in recent years, may be too late in this challenging economy. More than a decade ago, major retailers used to open their doors around 6 a.m. on Black Friday, but over the past five years they started to move that up to as early as 3 a.m. A handful started limited testing of midnight openings several years ago. But midnight openings have proliferated this year, with Target Corp., Best Buy Co., Kohl’s Corp. and BonTon Stores Inc. all announcing 12 a.m. openings for the first time. Macy’s, which opened eight stores at midnight last year, is opening all of its 800-plus Macy’s stores nationwide at that time this year. Retailers say they’re responding to consumer demand for an ever-earlier start to the holiday shopping season. A National Retail Federation survey last year shows that the number of shoppers who flocked to stores opening at midnight following the Thanksgiving feast tripled in 2010 from 2009. “We have heard from our guests that they want to shop Target following their Thanksgiving celebrations rather than only having the option of getting up in the middle of the night,”


said Molly Snyder, a spokeswoman for Minneapolis-based Target. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, will be offering discounts on toys, home accessories and clothing starting at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving. The Bentonville, Ark.-based discounter, whose supercenters already operate around the clock, opened most of its other stores by midnight on Thanksgiving evening last year. Duncan MacNaughton, chief merchandising officer at Wal-Mart’s U.S. division, said customers said they would rather stay up late to shop than get up early. Toys R Us, which opened on Thanksgiving Day for the first time last year, plans to open an hour earlier at 9 p.m. Gap Inc. will open nearly 1,000 stores across its Banana Republic, Old Navy and namesake stores on Thanksgiving in the U.S. That’s about 10 percent more than a year ago, according to Gap spokeswoman Louise Callagy. Bucking the trend, Sears Holding Corp., which opened its Sears stores on Thanksgiving for the first time last year, is going back to 4 a.m. Friday this year. Its Kmart stores, however, will be open on Thanksgiving Day as they have been since 1991, spokesman Tom Aiello said. People in several fields — even retail — have traditionally had to work on Thanksgiving, said Ellen Davis, a spokeswoman for the National

Retail Federation. She noted that many drugstores and food stores remain open on the holiday. But it seems to be the midnight openings that shifted sentiment toward keeping Thanksgiving Day itself out of the fray - aided by the rise of social media, which have helped spread the word. “I think a lot of people, with these movements like Occupy Wall Street, I think a lot of people are getting tired of wealthier people taking advantage of the middle class and poorer people,” said John Stankus, a stocker at the Target store in Cypress, Calif., who signed Hardwick’s petition. “It’s their greed and their wanting to take advantage of us - because they’re not missing their Thanksgiving dinner.” Stankus, 22, said his extended family gets together only once a year, so he’ll miss the chance to see relatives who probably won’t arrive at his aunt’s home before he has to leave to get enough sleep before starting work around 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. “I’ll just get the crumbs and the leftovers they leave behind, but I won’t get any turkey at all and won’t get time to spend with my family,” he said. Stankus said he had considered not showing up and taking the consequences. Hardwick said that’s typical of the kind of support he’s heard from colleagues, including

some who are afraid to sign because they fear losing their jobs. Other retail workers said they’re just glad to be employed. Mary Huskey, who has worked at a WalMart in suburban St. Louis for 21 years, said most retail employees know they’re going to have to work on holidays, especially Black Friday. She plans to have Thanksgiving dinner with her family early in the day, catch a little rest and then ring up sales from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. “Retail is retail. People want to shop, and if they want to shop, we have to be there for them,” Huskey said. “It’s a living, and you know that when you go into it. I’m just thankful that I have a place to work, unlike other people that don’t have a job.” It’s not just big box merchandisers that will be open Thanksgiving. Anneliese Curtis Place said she’ll be selling cars at a Toyota dealer in Santa Barbara, Calif., until 3 p.m. on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday. The dealer opens every Thanksgiving, she said, partly because there are a lot of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the area who don’t celebrate the holidays, She anticipates they’ll sell “quite a few” cars next Thursday. “My family’s been really flexible about working around my schedule,” Place said. “I’m glad because a job is pretty important these days.”

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Wal-Mart’s 3Q results show US turnaround Anne D’Innocenzio Associated Press The Kindle Fire is displayed at a news conference, in New York. Amazon’s first color tablet computer starts shipping Nov. 14. It takes up the competition with Apple Inc.’s iPad and Barnes & Noble Inc.’s Nook Color.

Kindle Fire sacrifices to get under $200 Peter Svensson Associated Press NEW YORK — The Kindle was always an odd product name. Amazon used a verb to name a thing, raising the question: Kindle what? Now we have the answer: Kindle Fire. The Kindle Fire is the first full-color, touch-screen Kindle. It’s available in the U.S. starting Monday for $199. A price like that for what’s essentially a small iPad is bound to light the flames of desire this holiday season. I want to cool those down a bit, or some of you will buy the Fire and feel burned. The Fire is the best Kindle yet, no doubt about it. It’s amazing that it costs half of what the first Kindle cost, just four years ago, yet does so much more than display books. It’s more of an all-purpose computer than an e-reader. It shows movies, TV shows and Web pages. It does email and lets you play games. You’ll be lucky to get any reading done, with so many other things to do. But it has to be weighed against the competition. When you do that, it becomes apparent just how spare Amazon had to keep the device to limbo under that $200 price level. The Kindle’s design is even starker than the iPad’s. It’s a black monolith with only one

button — the power switch — and two jacks, for headphones and power. All the controls are on the screen. The screen measures 7 inches diagonally. It’s much smaller than the iPad by surface area, making the Fire more portable. It will fit nicely into a handbag, for instance. The size of the screen wasn’t much of an issue on the monochrome Kindles because they were mainly good for showing text anyway. But the responsive color screen of the Fire opens up a lot of possibilities, such as showing magazine and comic-book pages. Here, the small size of the screen gets in the way. It’s just too far from standard page sizes to do them justice. Magazine pages look tiny. Amazon has to jump through some hoops to make them readable, like including a mode that shows just the text. But flicking through a magazine is still a lot of work — and that’s one thing that should not be like work. Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color, launched last year, has the same problem — a nice color screen that’s too small. The iPad gets it right, for a few hundred dollars more. While we’re on the subject of “too small,” let’s talk about the Fire’s memory. It has 8 gigabytes of storage. That’s enough for more books than you’ll ever read, but 10 movies will eat up the whole thing.

The cheapest iPad, which costs $499, has twice as much memory. The Nook Color, which costs $199, also has 8 gigabytes, but it comes with a slot for memory expansion with cheap cards. I don’t understand why the Fire doesn’t have a slot like that. The very first Kindle did. There’s no step-up model of the Fire with more memory. Amazon says the Fire doesn’t need more memory because the company provides an online storage locker, where you can stuff all your music and other content. That works when you have Wi-Fi coverage, but not otherwise — the Fire doesn’t have the ability to use cellular networks, as some of the monochrome models do. The Fire also lacks a camera and a microphone. Those aren’t things you’d expect in an e-reader (the Nook also lacks them). But they are standard features on tablets and are quite useful, particularly for videoconferencing. Their absence is forgivable at $199. The color screen means, inevitably, that battery life suffers compared with e-readers that use power-sipping monochrome screens. Amazon puts the reading time at eight hours, compared with about 30 hours for the new $99 Kindle Touch, which has a monochrome, touch-sensitive screen and is designed just for reading.

Wal-Mart got an early Christmas gift: Its strategy of offering the lowest prices and shoppers’ favorite goods is starting to bear fruit just in time for the holiday shopping season. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Tuesday reported its first quarterly gain in revenue at stores opened at least a year after nine consecutive quarters of declines at its branded U.S. business. It did this by hammering its message of low prices across the store and restocking the brands and products that people care most about. That the world’s largest retailer is turning a corner is a positive sign for the retail industry and the U.S. economy as a whole. Its core low-income shoppers have been particularly hard hit by joblessness and the other challenges of the nation’s weak economy. The results indicate that those most hurt by the economic downturn are willing to spend if you offer them rock-bottom pricing. “The plan is working,” Mike Duke, CEO of Wal-Mart, said on Tuesday. “Customers are responding favorably.” It’s been a long road for Wal-Mart, which in recent years has been battered by a combination of the bad economy and its own bad decisions that caused U.S. customers to flee to competitors. U.S. shoppers could no longer depend on the company for the cheapest goods because it had strayed away from offering everyday low prices on all products to just doing so on select items. Additionally, shoppers no longer viewed Wal-Mart as the place for their one-stop shopping needs as the company scaled back on plus-size clothing, crafts and other popular items in an attempt to de-clutter its stores. Recently, Wal-Mart has been working to reclaim its reputation as the lowest-price leader by going back to the “everyday” low pricing strategy that its founder, Sam Walton, pioneered.

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You can utilize everyday time for wise holiday shopping Michelle Chapman Associated Press If you’ve been inside a mall or department store this fall, you’ve heard it already. If you’ve strolled through the home or seasonal section of a Target or Walmart or another low-price general-merchandise store, you’ve seen it. And if you’re shopping online, the signs are abundant. Holiday hype is here. This year, with prices rising everywhere, the key to limiting your spending on gifts may be to reconsider the whole process, starting with where and when you shop. Instead of hitting the mall for early bird specials, coping with Black Friday or puzzling through online discounts, consider places you already patronize. We’re talking supermarkets, convenience stores and dollar stores. Carry a running list — whether in your head, on paper or in a notes file on your smartphone. And pick up gifts as you go about life. You’ll save money and time, and you’ll avoid crowds and website crashes. This is an especially effective way to keep from spending too much on small items like stocking stuffers, workplace grab bag presents and hospitality gifts. You probably don’t picture yourself shopping for presents while you’re buying milk and eggs, but why not? Grocery stores operated by California-based Safeway Inc., New Jersey-based ShopRite, Ohio-based Kroger Co. and other companies

stock toys and books all year. And the bakery aisle offers everything you need to make personalized gifts of cookies, cake or homemade candy. Stocking stuffers like lipstick, kitchen gadgets and gift cards are also readily available. And you can pick up wrapping paper or a bouquet at many large grocery stores. Patty Fishman, a vice president with Minnesota-based Supervalu Inc., said licensed graphic T-shirts, As Seen on TV items and a retro popcorn machine are available at some of its Albertsons, Jewel-Osco and other stores. Gift items this year include Mattel Inc. Fijit interactive robotic toys and the latest Michael Buble CD. “While price point is key for supermarkets, value and quality has become an equally important part of holiday merchandise,” said Christina Veiders, managing editor of Supermarket News.

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holiday gift guide thebattalion

thursday 11.17.2011

Retailers court savvy shopper Robin McMacken



Associated Press Despite a holiday season dampened by a struggling economy and high unemployment rates, shoppers will find much to be jolly about in the ways retailers will court them this year. Savvy spenders in 2011 can expect extended store hours, free shipping offers, reasonable layaway programs and revved-up online shopping. There is good cause for retailers to spice things up for value-conscious shoppers. Although holiday retail sales for 2011 are expected to increase 2.8 percent to $465.6 billion, according to the National Retail Federation, that growth is lower than the 5.2 percent increase retailers experienced last year. The trifecta of holiday bargain days — Black Friday (always the day after Thanksgiving and arguably the busiest shopping day of the year), Small Business Saturday on Nov. 26, and Cyber Monday on Nov. 28 — is surely not to be ignored, but keep in mind the Internet has made shopping a 24/7 bargain bonanza. Online retailers are prepping by optimizing their sites, beginning their marketing and promotions early, and planning plenty of free shipping promotions as they aim to provide value and convenience for their shoppers, according to Fiona Swerdlow of Big-box retailers such as Target and Macy’s will open at the stroke of midnight on Black Friday to get in additional holiday shopping hours. On the other hand, JC Penney is sticking with 4 a.m. except at stores in malls. In the meantime, other retailers are waiting to announce their plans. Layaway plans have re-emerged from the shopping days of yore as consumers work to eliminate credit card debt. Retailers and local boutiques started offering layaway plans in the summer. You can expect to pay 10 to 20 percent down for layaway items.

Smart shopping When it comes to holiday gift-giving, most of us have the same mindset: We want to give loved ones high-quality presents without the high price tags. Here are some tips to celebrate the season in style without breaking the bank:

◗ Shop early and often, according to Michelle Madhok, online shopping expert and editor of Stores are expected to have smaller inventories this holiday season, so don’t delay if you have specific gifts in mind.

◗ Fend off holiday madness by staying organized. Madhok suggests creating shopping lists and budgets by registering (for free) on

◗ Take advantage of search engines that offer coupon alerts for savvy shoppers. Madhok recommends such sites as and You can sign up for sale alerts and newsletters and tailor your account to include your preferred brands and products.

◗ Frequently visit such off-price stores as T.J. Maxx and Marshalls to snag brand names and designer fashions at a fraction of department store prices.

◗ Use free smartphone apps such as Coupon BUY, SELL, TRADE or REPAIR ANY USED PHONE!



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Sherpa, Google Shopper and Shop Savvy to ensure you are getting the best price in town or on the Internet, according to

◗ Scour the newspaper for sales, coupons and inserts.

◗ “Like” the Facebook pages of your favorite retailers and follow stores on Twitter. Oftentimes, special deals and private sales will be announced. For example, you can register on New York & Company’s Faceboook page, for instance, for a free trip to New York City.
























holiday guide 111711  
holiday guide 111711  

holiday guide