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We developed a soft spot for the National Retail Federation two months ago when we relied on that group to make sense of the scare-mongering arrival of credit-card surcharge fees. (Update: That's still not news.)
But today the country's largest retail association made an announcement in response to Friday's U.S. jobs report. Which is a dark and depressing announcement. In March the U.S. economy created a measly 88,000 jobs, not even half what the experts on Wall Street expected.
The NRF's CEO Matthew Shay sent out the following remarks. It should be mailed to every member of Congress.
“Today’s economic numbers on jobs and unemployment are disappointing, at best. Even the lower percentage of unemployment points to a discouraged job seeker who has given-up and left the workforce.
“A disturbing barometer of our nation’s fiscal health can be found in the jobs lost in the retail trade sector, the only sector that has pretty consistently provided a lift for our overall economy through this slow recovery period.
“This is far from a wake-up call. It is an urgent plea for help by Americans and the businesses that employ them for policy makers to stop pointing fingers and to start implementing policies that encourage job growth and capital investment.
“We need a bold, forward thinking and sensible fiscal plan that provides certainty and confidence for a stronger economic future in this country, as opposed to rhetoric and gestures that only serve as a convenient sound bite for the next newscast.”
There's a lot of non-news behind the announcement that retailers this week have the option of adding surcharges on some credit card purchases. Our story ran this morning at Spokesman.com.
The quick answer: No one we know is going to be the first company to announce they are adding surcharges. Every retailer who accepts credit cards is already factoring that cost into the price. Hence, few will try to justify going to the trouble of now adding a formal surcharge for the "swipe fee"(the percent of the purchase the retailer pays to the credit card firm).
The New York Times also listed reasons why retailers won't be adding the charges.
If anyone sees a surcharge out there, please send us a photo. We'll send a $5 coffee card to anyone who can show an actual instance of a retailer adding a surcharge. We'll send out three cards to the first three submitters.
The photo has to show the required sign posted at the register that explains the retailer now is adding the charge. If you find a surcharge on a website, we'll accept a screen grab as proof.
Restrictions: Has to be in any of the following states: Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho or Montana.
The first three submissions must be from three different stores and the submissions have to be by three different readers.
Send your images to Business@spokesman.com.
Let's catch up on new business openings in Spokane and the environs:
As reported yesterday on the SR's Too Many Cooks blog, Texas-based barbecue retailer Dickey's Barbecue Restaurant opens a Spokane location on Friday.
The franchise business will be at 12628 N. Division (phone number: 465-9999). It's filling the spot vacated by Camino Real.
The first 100 customers at the 11 a.m. opening receive a free pulled pork sandwich.
It will be open daily from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. There are roughly 270 Dickey's nationwide.
Bike Hub plans second location
The Bike Hub will open a second Spokane store at 1405 W. First Ave., in the space vacated by Two Wheel Transit, which moved to the South Perry District. It plans to open March 1.
The Spokane Valley Bike Hub is about four years old. Owner Chris Andreasen decided the time was right to add a new shop near downtown, said Valley manager Morgan Johnson.
Johnson said Bike Hub is remodeling the store, which comes to about 6,000 square feet including the basement and main floor.
Fire Artisan Pizza comes to Spokane
Sometime next week, owners of Coeur d’Alene’s Fire Artisan Pizza will open a downtown Spokane eatery with the same name. It's taking the former Moxie spot at 806 W. Sprague Ave. Co-owner Paul Cartee said the goal is opening the week of Jan. 21.
Cartee said the improvements will change the appearance of the restaurant “totally.” Seating will be either at a counter or at a number of tables. Capacity will be around 45 seats.
His two partners are Doug Johnson and John Cardosa.
Yo crafters and hobby types. News of major proportion just in: Mega hobby and craft center chain, Hobby Lobby, will move into the empty G.I. Joe’s store in Spokane Valley. It’s expecting to open the new store in August.
The new Spokane Valley store will be at 13902 E. Indiana, and take up 45,000 square feet of floor space. The Oklahama City-based chain has more than 450 stores across the country; the nearest one so far has been in Boise.
This is a very large chain. Vincent Palmer, a company director of customer services, said it’s sort of fair to say Hobby Lobby is the “supersized” version of Michaels, another known chain of crafts stores. The big difference, he said, is that Hobby Lobby has more home-focused items, such as fabrics, picture frames and decorating accessories.
It also has operations in China, Hong Kong and the Phillipines.