By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
OMAHA, NEB. — Nebraska Furniture Mart has installed an ATM-like recycling station that accepts used handsets and issues store credit in return. The automated buy-back system, developed by San Diego-based ecoATM, inspects and accepts all mobile phones and can compensate consumers with gift cards or receipts for store credit. The company services the machines, administers trade-in promotions for retailers and manufacturers, and sells the used handsets to secondary market buyers and recyclers. The system will soon support other portable CE devices regardless of their condition, ecoATM said.
FORT WORTH, TEXAS — Four years after ending a five-year relationship with Verizon, RadioShack has begun offering the carrier's handsets and services in about 450 wireless kiosks that it operates for Sam's Club nationwide. The two parted ways in 2005 after renewal negotiations failed, and RadioShack ultimately signed more favorable long-term agreements with Cingular and long-term partner Sprint PCS. The retailer currently carries AT&T, Sprint Nextel and Verizon's Alltel unit in its stores, and added T-Mobile to the lineup last month. RadioShack is eager to bring Verizon back into the fold as it faces growing competition from Best Buy Mobile. Verizon is the largest U.S. wireless carrier with about 80 million subscribers.
BAKERSFIELD, CALIF. — Urner's, the independent appliance, CE and furniture dealer based here, marked its 90th anniversary this month by installing two Mitsubishi-donated, 60-inch TVs to an area rescue mission, and replacing every mattress in the facility with new Tempur-Pedic models. According to president David Urner, the effort followed the company's long tradition of giving back to the community. Urner's began in 1919 when “modern appliances” were sold primarily through hardware and lighting stores. The concept of a specialty appliance store was the brainchild of Urner's father and fellow high school teacher Errol Janes. Today, the TWICE Top 100 retailer serves the Bakersfield community from a 50,000-square-foot facility, and is a 13-time winner of The Bakersfield Californian's annual Best Of Readers' Choice Poll.
RIDGEFIELD PARK, N.J. — Samsung's Four Seasons of Hope, a goodwill program supporting foundations and charities headed by top sports legends, will team up with American TV, Conn's, Fred Meyer, hhgregg and P.C. Richard & Son to raise awareness and funds for the Dan Marino Foundation. A portion of sales from all Samsung products sold during the dealers' respective in-store and online promotions will go to the foundation, which has been a part of Samsung's philanthropic initiative since 2004. The famed Miami Dolphins quarterback created the Foundation in 2002 to support medical research, treatment and outreach programs for children with chronic illnesses and developmental disabilities, and has since raised more than $22 million.
HOFFMAN ESTATES, ILL. — Sears and Kmart have begun accepting pre-orders for forthcoming video game titles and hardware through their respective Web sites. Customers can also place pre-orders at in-store Web kiosks located within the CE departments of both chains. “Sears and Kmart are committed to providing customers exclusive shopping opportunities, such as online pre-sale programs, to ensure that they have primary access to the hottest video games and systems,” said Karen Austin, home electronics president at Sears Holdings.
NEW YORK — AIU Holdings, the AIG division that operates the company's commercial and general insurance businesses — including extended warranties — has been formally renamed Chartis Insurance. The move will further distance the $38 billion insurance unit from AIG's troubled financial products group and prepare it for a partial initial public offering (IPO). Kristian Moor, formerly chief executive of AIG's property casualty group, heads Chartis as president/CEO, and Matt Frankel continues as president of the warranty division.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.