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One Million Baby Slings Recalled

March 24, 2010

Infantino LLC is recalling more than 1 million baby slings after three infant deaths were reported.

For more information, you can contact Infantino toll-free at (866) 860-1361 between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, or visit their Web site at

From CNN Money:

Infantino sold the slings in the United States and Canada from January 2003 through March 2010 at stores including Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500), Burlington Coat Factory, Target (TGT, Fortune 500), Babies “R” Us and online at (AMZN, Fortune 500) for between $25 and $30.

The CPSC said Infantino is offering free replacement products for the company’s SlingRider and Wendy Bellissimo baby slings, which are carriers with padded shoulder straps worn by parents to carry children weighing up to 20 pounds.


Kindle Application for iPhone Unveiled

March 4, 2009

Odds are that you may not have yet the latest $359 Kindle electronic book reader. But if you own an iPhone or iPod Touch, a new application will let you access the same content on your Apple device.

From the Associated Press:

In a bid to increase its slice of the e-book market, the Seattle-based online retailer plans to roll out a free program Wednesday that brings several of the Kindle’s functions to the iPod and iPhone’s smaller screen.

The program, which can be downloaded from Apple’s online application store, lets iPhone and iPod Touch users read the same electronic books, magazines and newspapers that Kindle owners can buy on As with the Kindle, the iPhone app lets users change the text size on the screen, and add bookmarks, notes and highlights.

The application does not connect to the Kindle store, however, so users must access the Web browser on their iPhone, iPod or computer to buy the content.

If you happen to have a Kindle and an iPhone, Amazon’s program will handily sync the two so you can keep your place in the same book on both devices.

The Kindle program isn’t the first e-book reader for the iPhone, but it marks the first time Kindle content is available on a cell phone — a move Amazon recently said it would be making, and something that rival Google Inc. is also doing.

Amazon Launches Kindle 2.0

February 9, 2009 today unveiled the latest incarnation of its digital book reader, the Kindle,  in a slimmer version with more storage and a feature that reads text aloud to users.

And it was fit for a King: Stephen King!

From the Associated Press: Inc. is releasing a new, slimmer version of the Kindle, its electronic reading device.

The online retailer’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos told a New York news conference today that the highly anticipated new Kindle will cost $359, same as the previous version.

The new Kindle is about one-third of an inch thick and weighs 10 ounces. It includes a screen with 16 shades of gray, compared with the previous Kindle’s four shades. It will be able to read books aloud. And it promises two weeks of reading on one charge of the battery.

Amazon says it will begin shipping the new Kindle Feb. 24. Stephen King has written a book that will be exclusively available on the device.

From the New York Times:

Escalating its efforts to dominate the fledgling industry for electronic books, Amazon introduced a new version of its electronic book reader today, dubbed Kindle 2.

Amazon said the upgraded device has seven times the memory as the original version, allows faster page-turns and has a crisper, though still black-and-white, display. The Kindle 2 also features a new design with round keys and a short, joystick-like controller — a departure from the design aspects of the previous version, which some buyers had criticized as awkward. The new device will ship on Feb. 24. Amazon did not change the price for the device, which remains $359.

Though the improvements to the Kindle are only incremental, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive, defined some ambitious goals for the device. “Our vision is every book, ever printed, in any language, all available in less than 60 seconds,” he said at a news conference in New York.

Amazon introduced several new features for the Kindle. A new text-to-speech function allows readers to switch between reading words on the device and having the words read to them by a computerized voice. That technology was provided by Nuance, a speech-recognition company based in Burlington, Mass.

Amazon is also allowing Kindle owners to transfer texts between their Kindle and other mobile devices. Amazon said it is working on making digital texts available for other gadgets (such as mobile phones), though it did not specify which ones.

One competitive threat Amazon is facing in its effort to dominate the world of e-books is from Google, which has scanned in some seven million books, many of them out of print. Google has also struck deals with publishers and authors to split the proceeds from the online sales of those texts.

Google recently said it would soon begin selling these books for reading on mobile devices like Apple’s iPhone and phones running Google’s Android operating system.

Implicitly addressing the threat posed by Google, Mr. Bezos said that Amazon knows better than other companies what book-buyers wants and stressed Amazon’s digital catalog of 230,000 newer books and best-sellers.

“We have tens of millions of customers who buy books from us every day and we know what they want to read,” he said. “And we are making sure to prioritize those items.”

From Reuters:

The new Kindle, which will still sell for $359 on Amazon’s web site, is available for preorder, and will ship February 24, the company said.

The new version fixes a problem with involuntary page turns, is thinner, and sports a new five-way controller that allows users to jump between articles and sections of newspapers. A power charger is more portable and a cover that comes with the device is more secure, the company said.

The new Kindle is “thinner, faster, crisper, with longer battery life, and capable of holding hundreds more books,” said Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos in a statement released alongside a company event at New York City’s Morgan Library.

Amazon shares were down 0.7 percent at $65.05 after the news of the release.

First launched by the Seattle-based company in November 2007, the Kindle allows users to read books and newspapers wirelessly on a device weighing less than a typical paperback.

Circuit City To Liquidate All Stores

January 16, 2009

Circuit City, the nation’s second-biggest consumer electronics retailer, said this morning that it had run out of options and will be forced to liquidate all of their 567 U.S. stores. The closures could put more than 30,000 people out of a job.

From CNNMoney:

Bankrupt electronics retailer Circuit City Inc. said Friday it has asked for court approval to close its remaining 567 U.S. stores and sell all its merchandise.

The company said it has 30,000 employees.

“We are extremely disappointed by this outcome,” James Marcum, acting CEO for Circuit City, said in a statement. “We were unable to reach an agreement with our creditors and lenders to structure a going-concern transaction in the limited timeframe available, and so this is the only possible path for our company.”

In a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Circuit City – the No. 2 electronics retailer after Best Buy (BBY, Fortune 500) – said it had reached an agreement with four companies to start the liquidation process.

The company said the sale would begin Saturday and run until March 31, pending court approval.

“This is very significant. It shows you how bad things are for the the retail industry,” said George Whalin, president and CEO of Retail Management Consultants.

Whalin said management mistakes over the past few years combined with the recession brought down Circuit City.

“This company made massive mistakes,” he said, citing a decision to get rid of sales people and other mismanagement.

What’s more, given the credit market freeze, Whalin added that no manufacturer wants to sell to any retailer who doesn’t have money to pay for the merchandise.

From the New York Times:

Circuit City, based in Richmond, Va., has become the latest in a growing line of retailers to shutter completely, as the recession weighs down on consumers’ appetite for everything from clothes to pricey flat-screen TV’s. The tight credit markets have also put pressure on highly indebted companies, squeezing many of them beyond their ability to pay off their obligations.

The retailer, which filed for bankruptcy in November, said last week that it was in negotiations with two potential buyers, with bids due on Saturday. In a court filing on Friday, the company struck an agreement with a group of liquidation firms to begin a gradual wind-down.

“We are extremely disappointed by this outcome,” James A. Marcum, Circuit City’s acting chief executive, said in a statement. “Regrettably for the more than 30,000 employees of Circuit City and our loyal customers, we were unable to reach an agreement with our creditors and lenders to structure a going-concern transaction in the limited timeframe available, and so this is the only possible path for our company.”

The group of liquidators — Great American Group, Hudson Capital, SB Capital Group and Tiger Capital — will sell off the merchandise in the company’s 567 stores. Circuit City has about 30,000 employees, the company said in its statement.

The news was in some ways not unexpected. Circuit City has long struggled with declining sales, a problem exacerbated by the general economic slowdown. Even its bigger competitor, Best Buy, disclosed a decline in sales during the all-important holiday season.

Big-box competitors like Wal-Mart and online retailers like have also stolen market share away from Circuit City.

By the time it filed for bankruptcy, Circuit City had already announced that it would close 155 stores and lay off 17 percent of its workforce, then amounting to about 1,300 employees. Earlier in the year, Circuit City entertained an unusual merger offer from Blockbuster Entertainment, as it faced pressure to lift its fortunes.

Stores Turn to Mobile Texts for Customer Contact

December 9, 2008

Retailers increasingly are using text-message alerts to keep their customers informed about sales and special events, while online retailers are using microblogging site Twitter to alert shoppers to deals.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Stores like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. are using more text-message alerts to spread the news about sales. Online retailers like Inc. are sending out daily messages on Twitter, a blogging site that uses short messages, to advertise the latest holiday specials. The Gap Inc., Target Corp., Sears Holdings Corp. and Inc. are pushing new mobile programs this year, too.

Retailers hope these efforts make it easier for customers to shop online, with their cellphones or even at brick-and-mortar stores. And while the prices touted digitally are basically the same as those offered in the store, retailers say customers can get news of sales earlier than with other methods, such as commercials or circulars.

This digital outreach comes as retailers worry about weak sales during what typically is their busiest time of year. Between Nov. 1 and Dec. 5, shoppers spent $14.92 billion online, essentially the same as last year, according to a report released Sunday by research firm comScore Inc. Still, on Cyber Monday, the first Monday after Thanksgiving, holiday shoppers spent $846 million, a 15% increase from last year, comScore’s report said.

Connecting with busy shoppers through their mobile phones “is even more important right now” for retailers, given the tough economic climate, says Brad Beasley, president of CrossLink Media, a mobile-marketing firm.

Most cellphones support the promotional text messages. But many advanced shopping and commerce features are built for specific smart phones, such as the Apple iPhone. Most programs, like text-message alerts, require consumers to sign up either through their phones or via the Web.

Wal-Mart is sending out more-frequent text-message alerts to its shoppers who signed up for the service, says Melissa O’Brien a spokeswoman for the company. Last year, Wal-Mart sent out three alerts to shoppers’ cellphones the entire holiday season. This year, the company is sending out weekly alerts that customers can tailor by category. Last week, Wal-Mart sent customers text messages detailing holiday specials on toys and home electronics. Shoppers can click on links within the text messages that will take them to Wal-Mart’s mobile Web site to find additional details and reviews of that item.

Black Friday Shoppers Searching Harder for Big Deals

November 25, 2008

Black Friday usually is a big day in retail, but signs are evident that this year could be different. Consumers are planning to spend less, options have shrunk because of retail closings, and some consumers are noting that they aren’t seeing as many hot deals. Experts say the deals are there, however, especially in regional stores and online.

From CNET:

Usually Black Friday is a good time of year for consumers and retailers. It’s when retailers get “in the black” by getting rid of a lot of excess inventory through offering drastic discounts.

This year is different. The economy has crumbled, consumers plan on spending less, and at least for those shopping for electronics, there are fewer viable options with many Circuit City stores set to close.

Some bargain hunters have complained that, so far, they haven’t seen as many great deals as they’re used to this time of year as the circular Black Friday ads for major retailers get leaked ahead of time.

CNET News caught up with some retail and Black Friday specialists to ask them if and where good deals can be found this season.

For electronics, the best deals may not be found at the Best Buys and Wal-Marts of the world this year, says Daniel de Grandpre, CEO of Dealnews, a bargain-tracking site. He recommends regional competitors to the international chains. “Look towards MicroCenter, Fry’s Electronics, Meijer, and others for better Black Friday deals. MicroCenter’s weekend sale has some outstanding deals.”

There will also be great deals on the Web. Not just online-only retailers like and, but the Web sites of your favorite stores, too. All major retailers with Web stores maintain different inventories for their brick-and-mortar and online outlets, and will try to entice customers with “Web only” discounts.

A lot more sites will be enticing consumers with offers of free shipping this year. “Free shipping will be prevalent,” as will specials on gift cards or offers of no sales tax, according to John Squire, chief strategy officer for Coremetrics, which tracks online retail sales. Also look for more online coupons and “minimum basket values,” which are free goods or other enticements if you spend a certain amount of money.

Despite all of this, uncertainty is rampant among retailers.

“In the past, these things were a lot easier to predict than this year,” said Squire of Coremetrics. In years past, holiday sales were generally up 20 percent on Black Friday and the following Monday, and the top sales day has been easy to pinpoint as December 9.

“But since the drop of the stock market and complete falloff in consumer spending in October…it’s hard to give distinct numbers for Black Friday or Cyber Monday this year.”

But that doesn’t mean holiday discounts won’t be as generous this year. Dealnews’ de Grandpre says being less aggressive on prices this year would be a risky strategy.

“Shoppers are savvier than ever. They have access to far more information than ever,” by doing advance comparison shopping with Black Friday tracking sites, he said. “If a retailer doesn’t offer a suitable ‘doorbuster’ to drive traffic to its stores, buyers will look for someone else who does.”

Some retailers are doing Black Friday month specials, rather than confining their deep discounts to just the day following Thanksgiving.

Black Friday “is the best single day for bargains, without question. However, there are Black Friday-like deals happening now,” according to de Grandpre. “(Beginning in October), we’ve already seen a Blu-ray player for $170 with $70 in free Blu-ray movies–akin to getting the player for $100. We’ve also seen a 42-inch 720p LCD HDTV for $600, and a Kingston 32GB USB Flash Drive for $30, both with free shipping.”

Kmart, for example, officially started offering “Early Black Friday” deals on November 2 (registration required), in an attempt to entice buyers who are expected to be more conservative about their spending this holiday.

CD Review: Nerf Herder IV

August 10, 2008

Nerf Herder is back! The band has been compared to the likes of Weezer and the Presidents of the United States of America but their tongue-in-cheek wordplay and their “goofy” songs make you want to sing, dance and laugh!

The guys most well known for singing the theme to the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer are back at it with their newest release, Nerf Herder IV. The album is now available in stores and will not disappoint.

For those of you who may not know of the band, here is a bit of background. Nerf Herder is a pop punk (or nerd rock as they like to call themselves) band from Santa Barbara, California which was formed in 1994 by Parry Gripp, Charlie Dennis and Steve Sherlock.

Sadly, Charlie left the band after the release of their debut album and was replaced by Pete Newbury, with Dave Ehrlich also joining as their second guitarist. Newbury was later replaced with Justin Fisher by the time their second album, How To Meet Girls, was recorded and released in 2000. Nerfherder soon came out with a special EP for My Records, entitled My EP, which was released in 2001, and was followed in 2002 by their album, American Cheese. I’ve always felt that the American Cheese album is the best album recorded by the band.

In 2005, after a few years of brief seperation, Nerf Herder came back with the original lineup and have now released Nerf Herder IV. Are you all caught up? Did I mention that the band’s name comes from a Princess Leia insult directed to Han Solo? “Why you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf Herder.”

Anyways, this is a must have album. It isn’t quite their best but if you’re a Nerf Herder fan, you’ll be quite satisfied. Songs like Oh Me Oh My, High School Reunion, Led Zepplin Rules, Dianalee, The Backpack Song and Golfshirt (Part 2) don’t miss. The classic Nerf Herder lyrical style is there I wouldn’t expect anything less.

Grab the album now on If you’ve had a chance to hear/buy the album, let me know your thoughts.