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59 posts from February 2012


New place to sell, trade, music gear: Music Go Round opens in Fort Worth

Musicians have another place to buy, sell, and trade their gear.
Two Fort Worth partners have opened the first Tarrant County franchise of Music Go Round, a Minnesota chain that specializes in used equipment, at 6006 Southwest Boulevard off of Bryant Irvin Road in southwest Fort Worth.
David Boswell, 43, an ex corporate auditor who plays banjo, guitar, and fiddle in a blue grass band, and Roger Smith, 45, owner of a Fort Worth advertising specialty company whose two sons are avid musicians, say they saw a market opening from thier own experiences.
"This is the way I’d like to buy gear," Smith said. "I’ve paid retail for a guitar for my son. Now I don’t have to do that again."
Their 3,000-square-foot store opened Feb. 16. Boswell and Smith see substantial markets in adult men and in schools and students.
Using the model provided by the franchisor, they say they’re buying for 40-60 percent of what they can expect to sell them for.
The competition: online sites such as eBay, Craiglist, and the popular sweetwater.com gear retailer, independent stores, rental programs, and some major stores such as Guitar Center, which, while focusing sales of new products, also buys and sells used equipment.
"An individual selling a guitar on Craigslist will make more money on Craiglist than if selling to us," Boswell said. "But the advantage (of selling to Music Go Round) is it’s a done deal."
And purchasing online means you can’t test out the goods first, Smith said.
The U.S. used gear market is large. Brian Majeski, editor of The Music Trades, a New York trade publication, estimates it about 10 or 15 percent of new sales or about $1 billion annually.
"So much of it takes place person to person, so it’s really tough to track," he said. "If you go product by product, it’s quite substantial."
A strong share of school-rented equipment "has been in somebody else’s hands," he said. And "the used piano market is way bigger than the new piano market."
Music Go Round says its stores purchased 38,400 units last year, and sold 34,700, for $20 million in sales.
Boswell and Smith said they’d studied the idea for two years before piling in. Boswell is a father of twin 13-year-olds and his wife is an Everman school teacher. Smith has three children ages 4 to 16, and his wife is a stay-at-home mom.
The two paid a $25,000 franchise fee for their store, and also had to demonstrate a minimum $325,000 in capitalization. They financed part of their startup costs from a banker-musician at Community Bank.
They envision opening a second store in five years or so, likely in Northeast Tarrant County, once their startup debt is gone.
"We’ll have the Fort Worth market pretty well covered with two stores," Smith said.

FW's Alliance Airport No. 1 foreign trade zone in U.S., according to report

FORT WORTH — More than $4 billion worth of foreign goods passed through the foreign trade zone at Fort Worth’s Alliance Airport in fiscal 2010, ranking it the No. 1 foreign trade zone in the U.S., according to a new government report.

It is the fourth time in five years the Alliance Foreign-Trade Zone has received the top U.S. ranking, said Hillwood Properties, which operates the airport. The dollar amount was a 36 percent increase over the worth of foreign goods to pass through the trade zone at Alliance in 2009.

Alliance admitted $4.056 billion worth of goods and was followed by Chicago at $4.044 billion, according to the annual report of the Foreign-Trade Zones Board. Newark ranked No. 3 with $3.2 billion, followed by Houston, $2.9 billion, and Charleston, S.C., $2 billion.

About 80 percent of the products coming into Alliance’s trade zone came from China, 12 percent from South Korea and 8 percent from Denmark. Other countries of origin also included Mexico, Taiwan, the Philippines and Thailand.

"The Alliance Foreign-Trade Zone continues to experience tremendous growth because of the substantial, and increasing, presence of global companies at AllianceTexas and in the surrounding region," said Steve Boecking, Hillwood’s vice president. "Regional efforts to strengthen international relationships and to build new global trade partnerships have also resulted in an increased volume of foreign goods being shipped through North Texas."

Most of the product that passes through Alliance comes into ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach. It remains in U.S. Customs and Border Protection as it’s transported to BNSF Railway’s intermodal facility at Alliance.

Foreign-Trade Zones allow companies to reduce importing costs and improve supply chain efficiencies. Duty payment is not required until the imported goods enter the U.S. for consumer use.

_ Sandra Baker


New technology awaits Walmart customers at Crowley Supercenter

Walmart’s new Crowley Supercenter store, set to open March 14 at 1221 FM 1187, sports the company’s newest technology.

Interior ceiling lighting is connected to sensors that detect when more than enough sunlight is coming into the building through skylights., and the system turns off some of the ceiling lights to save energy, Craig Ducas, one of the store’s managers, in showing off the building Monday.

The refrigeration cases include efficient LED lights, and the lawn and garden center comes with two gigantic ceiling fans that help push air around.

Walmart is also preparing a rollout of an upgrade to its smartphone app that will allow customers to punch in a desired item, and let the app direct them to the aisle location in the store.

“We understand (consumers’) time is valuable,” Ducas said. “They don’t have the time to rush around to every store.”

The 165,000-square-foot store, west of Interstate 35, will open with about 350 employees, and currently has about 335 on board, Ducas said.

Walmart expects the store to draw from its immediate area, south to Burleson, and as far west as parts of Benbrook and southwest Fort Worth, Ducas said.

- Scott Nishimura

New Hilton Garden Inn in Fort Worth Midtown holding job fair

The new 157-room Hilton Garden Inn, under construction in the Midtown development at Forest Park and Rosedale in Fort Worth, is holding a job fair.

The fair times and dates are 9 a.m.-7 p.m. March 1; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. March 2;  and 9 a.m.-noon March 3 at the Courtyard by Marriott, 3150 Riverfront Drive, off of University Drive in Fort Worth.

The hotel is hiring for the front desk, housekeeping, restaurant, kitchen, and banquet. Sales director April Reece says the hotel expects to hire about 75 people to start.

Completion of the hotel is scheduled for May. The hotel will include a Garden Grille and Bar restaurant.

- Scott Nishimura

Tarrant County has three financial advisers on Barron's 1,000 ranking

The Barron's annual top U.S. financial advisers ranking is out, and Tarrant County has three familiar faces on the list: Shott Miller of Merrill Lynch at No. 35, Henry Luskey of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney at No. 50, and Bradley Bruce of Merrill Lynch at No. 64.

- Scott Nishimura

Midlothian cement kilns to adopt cleaner technology

Ash Grove Cement Co. filed a permit with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality seeking to close two of three cement kilns in Midlothian and convert the third kiln to a less-polluting production method,  according to a release issued Monday by Downwinders at Risk. Downwinders says it has worked about 20 years to reduce emissions from cement kilns in the area. It said Ash Grove's permit states that the conversion of the remaining kiln to a "dry" process will cut 105,000 tons of air pollution annually. The facility's capacity will drop from nearly 1.2 million tons of cement annually to 949,000 tons, according to Downwinders' release.

-- Jim Fuquay

Fort Worth-based Carlile Bancshares buys Denton bank

Carlile Bancshares, a Fort Worth-based organization formed in 2009 to acquire existing banks, said Monday it agreed to buy Northstar Financial Corp., a much larger institution based in Denton. Terms were not disclosed. Northstar has 10 locations in North Texas and nearly $1 billion in assets. Carlile owns two banks, Treaty Oaks Bank in central Texas and Bank of Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, with about $300 million in assets.

"Northstar Bank is a successful community bank with the established leadership and brand that will add value to our holding company and positions us strategically to continue growing throughout Texas," said Carlile CEO Tom Nichols. Nichols and Carlile co-founder Don Cosby previously were with State National Bank, which was acquired by what is now BBVA Compass in 2006.

-- Jim Fuquay


Buffett says he's picked Berkshire successor, but doesn't ID him

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett says he's in great health and is sticking around at his investment holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, but he says he's picked his successor. Buffett didn't specify anybody by name, but he praised the work of some Berkshire insiders thought to be candidates, including Matthew Rose, CEO of Burlington Northern  Santa Fe.

- Scott Nishimura

Buffett says he's picked Berkshire successor, but doesn't ID him

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett says he's in great health and is sticking around at his investment holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, but he says he's picked his successor. Buffett didn't specify anybody by name, but he praised the work of some Berkshire insiders thought to be candidates, including Matthew Rose, CEO of Burlington Northern  Santa Fe.

- Scott Nishimura


Dillard's shares up again Friday

Dillard's shares rose another $1.03 to $58.86 on the New York Stock Exchange Friday, a day after the company released holiday-quarter profits that easily beat Wall Street estimates.

Credit Suisse has a new $59 price target on the shares.

Updated: 4:32 p.m.:

Here’s what CS analyst Michael Exstein said Thursday in an updated research note:

“Throughout the 4Q11 reporting season, we have seen retailers that are heavily exposed to the (fashion/accessories/beauty) categories deliver impressive results, and DDS is no exception...Retailers with access to the FAB categories have consistently outperformed their peers that don’t, and we see no signs that this trend is changing. Shoes and accessories alone make up 30 percent of DDS business, and we have no doubt that this helped to drive the company’s 3 percent increase in same store sales and further expansion of its operating margin...Now that the retail gross margin appears to have stabilized..., further expansion of the operating margin will likely need to result from continued top line improvement.”

On sales, CS noted, “same store sales increased 3 percent, representing the sixth straight quarter of positive comps. A six-quarter winning streak is something the company hasn’t accomplished since the 1990s, and further cements the company’s turnaround.”

CS increased its fiscal 2012 earnings-per-share estimate to $5.50 from $4.88, to include an extra week, lower rental costs, and lower average share count. In 2012, CS said it expects 1.6 percent same-store sales growth. CS raised its share price target from $50.

- Scott Nishimura


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