5 ways to survive chaotic mall parking this holiday season

Published: Thursday, December 07, 2017 @ 9:36 AM

A two-hour timelapse of shoppers at Fairfield Commons in Beavercreek, Ohio on Black Friday.

Local malls are packed with shoppers buying gifts for the holidays.

Holiday spending in Ohio is expected to grow 2 percent this year compared to 2016, bringing in an estimated $24.1 billion statewide — and people in the Dayton region are expected to spend more than last year.

NRF projects that holiday retail sales in November and December this year will be up between 3.6 percent and 4 percent for a total between $678.8 billion and $682 billion. Consumers say they will spend an average $967.13 this year, according to the annual survey conducted.

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Check out some tips for surviving parking disasters at malls and shopping centers:

1. Get walking. Don’t park near the main entrance of the mall, which will surely be packed. Look for back entrances that are less often, and there are often open spaces on the outskirts of parking lots.

2. Get up early. Arrive to the mall 15 minutes or so before stores open to land a prime parking spot. Shoppers will have a more difficult time finding parking during lunch hours, weekends and after work.

3. Consider valet. “Valet parking offers an alternative for shoppers to conveniently find a parking spot with little stress. Many stands also offer loyalty programs for shoppers that regularly visit the mall,” said Todd Brosius, president of national retail parking operator AmeriPark.

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4. Wait for departing shoppers. Now is the time for shoppers to test their patience. Scope out shoppers leaving the mall and walking to their cars. Shoppers can snag good parking spots close to mall if they wait, but make sure to accommodate pedestrians and lot traffic.

5. Come up with a game plan. Shoppers should map out their route for the day before they leave for the day. Avoid going to larger mid-day when crowds will be busier and considering shopping in the early hours or around closing time.

This news organization wants to hear from YOU. Tell us about store traffic you’ve seen this holiday season in the comment section below. 

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Toddler toys, decorative pillows, and water bottles among the latest product recalls 

Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 2:41 PM

Toddler toys, decorative pillows, and water bottles among the latest product recalls

Children’s xylophones, water bottles sold at Costco, and 21 styles of decorative pillows are among the latest recalls announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

The Petit Collage musical jumbo wooden xylophones made by Wild & Wolf are under recall because the ball on the end of the stick can detach and pose a choking hazard. 

There is one report of the ball separating and another report of a loose ball, but no injuries.

They were sold at Barnes & Noble, Urban Outfitters and other retailers.

Don’t let your child use the toy and contact Wild & Wolf at 855-215-5879 to receive a free replacement beater stick. 

Reduce Hydro Pro Water bottles are being recalled over lead paint. 

They were sold in two packs with a dog and lamb design printed on the outside.

No one has been hurt, but the pink paint on the outside of the bear bottles contain levels of toxic lead that exceed federal standards.

Don’t use the recalled bottles and contact Base Brands at 833-600-2887 or return them to place of purchase for a full refund or replacement bottle. 

Decorative pillows by Primark are being recalled because they may catch on fire. 

No one has been hurt, but don’t use the cushions which come in 21 shapes, sizes and colors, click here for full product codes and descriptions. 

Contact Primark at 855-215-5829 or return the pillows to the store for a full refund. 

One million Square D safety switches are under recall because the could shock or electrocute users, although no injuries have been reported.

The power may stay on when in the “OFF” position on several catalog numbers of the general duty switches made by Schneider Electric. 

Contact Schneider Electric at 877-672-1953 or click here to find out how to inspect the switch, receive free service support, and a replacement switch. 

Pressure washer surface cleaners by Briggs and Stratton are being recalled because  the spray bar can fly off and cause an injury. 

One person reported needing sutures on a cut to the knee after being struck by the bar.    There are four other reports of the bars detaching from the central hub. 

3000 PSI Briggs and Stratton and Crafsman branded surface cleaners are involved in the recall.

Stop using the cleaners and Contact Briggs and Stratton at 877-370-7505 to receive a free replacement. 

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Jo-Ann Stores are recalling string light sets which can break and cut you.

Two people have  been cut by the decorative glass jars in the Jo-Ann’s Makers Holiday 10-count LED string lights. 

Don’t use the lights and contact Jo-Ann stores at 888-739-4120 for a full refund. 

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Polaris is recalling Ranger XP recreational off-highway vehicles and Phoenix 200 all-terrain vehicles due to injury and crash concerns.

Multiple model numbers of the 2016 and 2017 Ranger XP ROVs have seat belt brackets that can separate from the frame. No injuries have been reported.

All model year 2014 through 2017 Phoenix ATVs are being recalled because of nine reports of a damaged throttle limiter, with one minor injury.

Stop using the ROVs and ATVs and contact Polaris at 800-765-2747 for a free repair.

For more on these and other recalls visit CPSC.gov.

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Can I still use my gift card at Elder-Beerman? 5 questions answered for customers

Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 9:06 AM

Can I still use my gift card at Elder-Beerman?

Elder-Beerman’s parent company announced the going-out-of-business sale begins today for its 212 stores and e-commerce website.

Bon-Ton Stores Inc. is closing all stores after only liquidators submitted bids for the retailer at a bankruptcy auction earlier this week. Bon-Ton’s liquidation sales are expected to run for about 10 to 12 weeks. Bon-Ton currently has 250 stores, 38 of which are already in liquidation from a previously announced store closure process.

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Elder-Beerman has stores in Piqua, Huber Heights, the Mall at Fairfield Commons in Beavercreek, the Kettering Towne Center, among others in Ohio. The stores employ hundreds of workers in the region.

Here’s what you need to know about the future of Elder-Beerman:

1. Can I still use gift cards or gift certificates?

Gift cards and gift certificates will continue to be honored for a period of 10 days following the first day of store closing sales, inclusive of the sale commencement date. Following this 10-day period, only cash and nationally recognized bank credit cards will be accepted during store closing sales.

FILE(Staff Writer)

2. Will customers be able to use their Bon-Ton coupons in the closing stores? Will closing stores still be accepting coupons during the closing sales?

No. As of today, coupons will no longer be valid once store closing sales begin.

3. Can I redeem my gift card, coupon or merchandise credits for cash?

No. Gift cards, coupons and merchandise credits cannot be returned for cash.

4. Can I still use my store Private Label Credit Card?

As of Thursday, April 19, 2018, Private Label Credit Cards are no longer accepted.

5. Will there be any changes to return policies?

We are continuing to accept returns in-store and online under our normal policies for the 10 days following the start of store closing sales, inclusive or the sale commencement date of Friday, April 20. Following this 10-day period, all online and in-store sales will be final, and merchandise sold prior and during the store closing period will be considered final sale. If a purchase was made on a Bon-Ton credit card prior to April 19, 2018, a credit can be processed on the card within 10 days.

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The Dayton Mall was busy on Tuesday afternoon. Shoppers have flooded area stores and malls returning unwanted gifts they received this holiday season. Most stores have made it an easy task, but others have made it difficult for a reason. According to the National Retail Federation’s latest Return Fraud Survey, retailers estimate that 3.5 percent of their holiday returns this year will be fraudulent, up slightly from the estimated 3 percent reported last year. Holiday return fraud is expected to cost retailers $2.2 billion, up from approximately $1.9 billion last year.. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Staff Writer)
The Elder-Beerman store in Trotwood photographed in 1981. DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE
The downtown Elder-Beerman store, photographed in 2002, closed and the building has been occupied by a variety of other companies. DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE(Jan Underwood)

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Local company to demonstrate “artistry” of grinding

Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 @ 2:11 PM

United Grinding celebrates grand opening of new North American Headquarters in Miamisburg

At home in its new $13 million headquarters for six months, United Grinding is ready to show the building to the rest of the world.

Almost literally. The company will open the doors to its 2100 United Grinding Blvd. (off Old Byers Road) home to about 300 people from America, Europe and elsewhere over the next two days for its “The Artistry of the Grinding Universe” event, showcasing the latest in precision metal-shaping machines and techniques.

Owned by German company Korber Solutions, United expects to draw representatives from fellow Korber-owned brands as well as customers.

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The 110,00-square-foot building appears to be made for showcasing, with a good chunk of it set aside as a permanent showroom. Here, visitors can see Walter, Studer, EWAG and Blohm machines and learn the latest ways to strengthen quality and speed production.

United Grinding has about 140 Miamisburg employees. (About 30 employees are based elsewhere.) The company moved from Earl Boulevard — and consolidated a sister location in Virginia — to the current site just west of southbound Interstate 75.

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The move involved incentives exceeding $18 million, including a Montgomery County ED/GE (Economic Development/Government Equity) grant.

Here, customers in aerospace, automotive, medical, tool and die and other industries are served.

“We wanted to have all of our employees as much as possible under one roof,” said Steve Jacobson, United Grinding president and chief executive.

“This area of the Midwest is our hub zone, if you will,” he added. “The majority of our business — about 60 to 70 percent of our business — is located within about six hours’ drive of our location.”

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And why is metal shaping considered an “artistry?”

Because parts need to be perfect, and they need to be made perfectly more than once. Customers bring parts to United Grinding for a proof of concept, and those typically are the most challenging parts they produce, the CEO said.

At United Grinding, customers see whether they can make the parts faster, less expensively or with greater quality.

Walk around the building, and you’ll see several appearances of the German acronym “Puls” — which stands for “passion and precision,” said Jacob Baldwin, a United Grinding spokesman.

“It’s a combination of not only engineering, but art that goes into the design and development of a part,” Jacobson said. “Of course, if that happens with a part, you need a process that mimics the same way.”

As a European company, United Grinding has a strong corporate identity, Jacobson said. “There’s an art theme there, when you look around and see how we designed the building. Not only for functionality, but it looks like a nice building,” he said.

Anyone familiar with a Korber building in another part of the world — say, in Bern, Switzerland — will recognize common features in the Miamisburg building, Baldwin said.

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6 most impressive benefits offered to Amazon employees

Published: Monday, April 16, 2018 @ 3:13 PM

Amazon Announces Cities Still In Consideration For Second Headquarters

As 20 cities strive to become the site of Amazon's next headquarters, aka "HQ2," an important question needs answering: What's in it for potential employees?

After all, HQ2 could bring 50,000 new jobs to the chosen city.

According to business publications like Business Insider and Fairygodboss, those employees would be in good hands.

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Though Amazon does not appear on the ranks of the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® 2017, it does offer premium benefits and perks to its full-time employees and it would extend the same or similar packages anywhere it chose as a second headquarters.

As its VP of HR John Olsen told Business Insider, the company provides uniform benefits across all levels of employees. "My benefits package is the same as a benefits package here at the fulfillment center," he said. "I think we've got an egalitarian process."

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Here are six current Amazon employee perks or benefits:

Top-rate tuition reimbursement. Amazon corporate communications manager Nina Lindsey included this teaser on the full breakdown of Amazon benefits she shared with Business Insider: "Both full-time and part-time hourly employees are eligible for Amazon's innovative Career Choice program that prepays 95 percent of tuition for courses related to in-demand fields, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a future career at Amazon." Amazon even steers students to a few good bets in the future economy, though they don't match the company's hiring profile (at least not yet). "Career Choice allows employees to develop in-demand skills for professions of the future, including medical technicians, paralegals, robotics engineers and solar panel installation professionals," the website enthuses.

Some of those classes might even be held onsite at the HQ2 if the current headquarter continuing education strategy is duplicated.

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A "network of support" when it's a jungle out there. According to the Amazon jobs site benefits link (and with the caveat that these benefits apply to full-time employees and may vary by location), company benefits designed to "make life a little bit easier" include an extensive and free, employee assistance program. It provides confidential 24/7 support for multiple aspects of work and personal life. This assistance runs the gamut: from access to financial counseling and estate planning to online assistance with children's developmental disabilities.

Dental and vision insurance for part-timers. According to the Amazon jobs link, employees who work more than 20 hours per week still receive "funding towards medical insurance" and dental and vision insurance with "premiums paid in full by Amazon."

A bias-resistant interview process. Amazon's rating on the women's work website Fairygodboss isn't too rousing: Just 33 percent of its female employees who offered feedback would recommend it to other women. But Amazon did get a glowing review of its ongoing interview process improvements.

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"Amazon has even incorporated bias training into their interviewing practices so that every Hiring Manager and Interviewer considers subconscious biases they may have coming into the interview (an example would be women coming across as 'abrasive' in an interview whereas a man would come across as showing backbone)," one woman wrote. 

Enhanced ability to adopt. According to the Amazon jobs page, the company also gives full-time employees help with qualified domestic and international adoption expenses including attorney fees, court costs and travel. The adoption edge at Amazon also includes leave prior to, and following, the birth or adoption of a child. It taps into Amazon's industry unique "Leave Share" option, where an employee can share time off with a spouse or domestic partner whose workplace doesn't offer the option.

Bring your dog to work every day. Really devoted pet parents would adore working at Amazon, at least if HQ2 follows the current headquarters. Fairygodboss describes Amazon as "a dog owner's dream. On any given day, you can find hundreds of dogs roaming the company's campus, where they happily enjoy doggie water fountains, a dog park, and treats at the reception desk."

As solid as the Amazon's job benefits are, Atlanta would do well to also try to draw an Audible outpost for top worker perks. The Amazon-owned company, based in Newark, listed some of these perks for employees during a recent hiring spree, according to Business Insider: In-house gym, Happy Hour on Fridays, tuition assistance, transit reimbursement and a breakfast and juice bar on Mondays.

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