20 posts categorized "Shopping-Northeast Tarrant County"

11/21/2011

Retailers look forward to the holidays

Here's the Star-Telegram's print story from Sunday's paper on retailers' outlook for the holidays.

- Scott Nishimura

11/18/2011

Tarrant County Black Friday roundup

Here's the Star-Telegram's Savvy Consumer columnist, Teresa McUsic, taking a look at Black Friday in Tarrant County.

- Scott Nishimura

11/04/2011

GameStop launching Modern Warfare 3 with play time Monday night

GameStop is launching sales of  Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, dubbed by its publisher Actavision  “the most anticipated game in history,” with four hours of open-to-the-public play at the company’s Southlake store before the game goes on sale Monday at midnight.

The free play will be 8 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Monday,  1251 E Southlake Blvd.

The store normally has four gaming stations. But for this event, GameStop is bringing in two gaming trucks, with have an additional four-five gaming stations per truck, saiu Beth Sharum, a GameStop spokeswoman.

GameStop is bringing in the Dallas Mavericks’ star Jason Terry to meet fans and sign autographs, 8:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m.

The Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC versions of Modern Warfare 3 will retail for $59.99; the Wii version $49.99; and the DS version, $29.99.

Here's a trailer on the game.

- Scott Nishimura

11/01/2011

Test drive new Fords with gas-sipping EcoBoost engines

Ford will be letting consumers take some of its new vehicles for a spin this weekend in Grapevine.

Beginning Thursday afternoon Ford personnel will be demonstrating and allowing consumers to drive both the Ford Explorer and Ford Edge crossover vehicles powered by the four-cylinder 2.0 liter EcoBoost engine.

With direct fuel injection and turbochargers the EcoBoost improves fuel economy up to 20 percent over a 6-cyl. engine but still has the power needed for hauling and pulling when necessary. A 6-cyl. version of the engine is the leading seller in Ford's F-150 pickup lineup.

The event will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoon at the Grapevine Mills Mall, near the Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th and Last Call by Neiman Marcus, at 3000 Grapevine Mills Parkway.

To register and reserve a spot to drive one the vehicles go to: 

https://www.driveitfirsttour.com/Consumer_Index.aspx

- Bob Cox

10/13/2011

Sex shop? Inside The Velvet Box: Star-Telegram photo gallery

Here are Joyce Marshall's photos from The Velvet Box, the North Fort Worth boutique that's caught up in a dispute with Alliance Town Center over whether it's operating as a sexually oriented business.

- Scott Nishimura

 

10/12/2011

Texas' September sales tax receipts up 11.8 percent, Comptroller reports

Texas sales tax revenue in September was $1.76 billion, up 11.8 percent compared to a year ago, the Texas comptroller, Susan Combs, reported today.

"Texas sales tax collections have now increased for 18 straight months,” Combs said in a release.  “All sectors showed increases in September, led by business spending, especially in the oil and gas-related sectors. Consumer sectors like restaurants and retail trade were also up. The recovery in Texas has brought sales tax collections almost back to peak 2008 levels, however the near-term outlook remains clouded due to the uneven performance of the U.S. economy.”

The figures represent sales that occured in August.

Combs said she will send September sales tax allocations totaling $505.2 million to cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts, up 13.9 percent compared to October 2010.

Allocations to Tarrant County entities are $33.16 million, up 13.03 percent from a year ago, and up 4.69 percent year to date.

The allocation to Arlington was $6.9 million, up 9.3 percent from a year ago, and 3.74 percent year to date; Fort Worth, $8.129 million, up 3.07 percent from a year ago and 5.56 percent year to date; Hurst, $1 million, up 4.21 percent and 4.88 percent; Grapevine, $2.67 million, up 6.11 percent and 7.65 percent; and Southlake, $1.1 million, up 8.28 percent and 6.35 percent.

Click here to see all Tarrant County cities.

- Scott Nishimura

10/11/2011

Readers weigh in for The Velvet Box

Under siege here at the Star-Telegram today from fans of The Velvet Box, the store that Alliance Town Center says is operating as a sexually oriented business in the Sam Moon Center in North Fort Worth:

“I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy shopping at The Velvet Box,” an email from one reader named Bridget says. “They provide a professional place for couples to explore not just their sexuality but their sensuality as well. The staff is always friendly and speaks to me without judgment. LOL As if they're selling me a couch!...Please don't shut them down.”

An email from another reader named Chris: “I don't understand how this can happen, are attorneys running out of things to do? I'm a retired engineer and I shop at The Velvet Box on occasion. It's a wonderful store that provides products in a safe open environment free from the smut that prevails at a true SOB. This is clearly a harassment exercise that is wasting time and resources that could otherwise be directed toward positive community building. I think you will find that the community supports this store and the people that own and work there.”

And this email from a reader who described herself as a middle aged white female married 25 years: “I was raised Southern Baptist in rural Oklahoma in a very conservative household. So you can imagine what I must have felt the first time I talked to the owner of The Velvet Box, Marcelle LeBlanc and she told me about her business. To say I was skeptical is an understatment. Then I visited the store in the Sam Moon Center. I was a nervous wreck. I sat in my car for several minutes before I worked up the nerve to walk in. When I did I was pleasantly surprised. There was nothing tawdry. I didn't see one breast or penis! In fact, I have seen more of those body parts walking down the street, than I did in that store! There was some beautiful lingerie, educational books, and information on how to improve one's sex life. I have a strong background in biology and there is one thing I can tell you: Sex is necessary not only for the propagation of the species but to keep a healthy and happy mental status. This store allows couples who are seeking help with their sex lifes', because of physiological or logistical reasons, to get the help they need for safe and satisfying SEX.....Yes SEX!!! Not indiscriminate sexcapades, not how to cheat on your spouse, not how to sexually violate, not objectifying women or men. But safe, healthy, RELATIONSHIP BUILDING, sex. The kind that builds strong family units. That teaches healthy views on what has proven to be a needed aspect of every society. I have three sons, I have recommended to The Velvet Box. I would take my parents and I have invited friends. There will always be those who think SEX...all SEX is bad. Guess what...they can stay home and pretend they have no sexual needs while they sneek peeks at provocative magazines and tv shows, or hire out phone sex. They could become educated, in a healthy environment and strengthen their relationships. I support The Velvet Box!”

And Richard, another reader, likened the lawsuit to the Spanish Inquisition: “I thought the Spanish Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials were history. Alliance Town Center needs to grow up. If the City of Fort Worth has already certified that the Velvet Box is not a sex shop, then what is the problem? Oh no, my anger is making me "turgid"; they might sue me next! Ridiculous... “

We spoke again today to Marcelle LeBlanc, the owner, for some follow-up questions.

On why she opened the store in the Sam Moon Center: “That area is growing. Sam Moon is a wonderful anchor store for us, because women shop there all day long. It’s Retailing 101.”

On what the year-long dispute has cost her in legal fees so far: “Just a few bucks here and there to write a few letters. (Now that it’s gone to litigation), it’s going to cost money to say what we have to say.”

On the Fort Worth vice squad’s lone visit to the store, last fall: “It was right around the time (of a letter that Alliance Town Center sent to The Velvet Box, asserting the store was violating city ordinances and property covenants): “They (police) said they’re obligated to follow up any type of complaint. He said he didn’t see any issues. I haven’t heard from him since.”

On what she thinks of Alliance Town Center's strategy: "I think they're looking to bury me in legal fees until I break and go away."

On whether legal fees and the distraction could prompt her to give up the store: “I don’t know. It’s too early to tell that.”

On whether the dispute figured into her decision to open a second store off of Fort Worth’s West Seventh Street corridor this summer: “Not at all. In retail, you look for multiple locations. I’d like to have three to five locations.”

On the stores’ numerous charitable endeavors: “We sponsor uniforms for softball teams. People ask us for charitable donations. We either find the time or the money to support them.”

On why she says Alliance Town Center’s attorneys have never visited her store: “They might not be able to find anything we’re in violation of.”

On the visit to her store from the general counsel at Sam Moon, her landlord, after the dispute with Alliance Town Center surfaced: “We said let’s read the covenants and then walk through the store.” She says they couldn’t find anything wrong.

Attorneys at Kelly Hart & Hallman, the firm representing Alliance Town Center, a unit of Hillwood and Trademark, have declined to comment, deferring to the lawsuit petition.

- Scott Nishimura

10/10/2011

Alliance Town Center sues Sam Moon Center gift shop, saying it's an SOB

Alliance Town Center in Fort Worth has filed suit against the retailer Sam Moon and one of Moon’s tenants, The Velvet Box, a gift shop Alliance says is violating property covenants and public ordinances by operating as a sexually oriented business.

The suit, assigned to the 342nd State District Court in Fort Worth, seeks a permanent injunction against the retailer Velvet Box, damages, court costs and attorneys’ fees.

In September 2009, Velvet Box signed a five-year lease for a 2,000-square-foot store in the Sam Moon Center off of Interstate 35 in far North Fort Worth. The Sam Moon Center is in the Alliance Town Center, on property owned by Sam Moon, the popular Dallas-based retailer and shopping center developer. Sam Moon is subject to covenants in its agreement with Alliance.

"Velvet Box operates a sexually oriented business...and operates its business in violation of certain public codes and ordinances," the suit says.

Shauna Wright, an attorney for Kelly Hart & Hallman, which represents the Alliance Town Center Association, the governing organization that filed the suit, declined to elaborate, saying "we’re going to reserve comment and rely on the petition."

Alliance Town Center did not state specific violations of covenants or ordinances in its suit.

Velvet Box is not classified as a sexually-oriented business on its Fort Worth certificate of occupancy, said Bill Begley, a city spokesman.

Under city ordinance, businesses may be classified as sexually oriented businesses if at least 35 percent of their merchandise is sexually oriented in nature.

The city’s planning and development department and police vice squad work together to determine that, and the process includes an on-site police inspection.

"We are not a sexually oriented business according to the city of Fort Worth," Marcelle LeBlanc, who owns Velvet Box with partners, said. "The covenants say no prostitution, no nude massaging, none of which we do. Vice has been out to the store and says we are not (a sexually oriented business.) We’ve invited the (Alliance) attorneys to please visit with us and point out exactly what the issues are. They’ve simply refused to meet."

As far as she knows, LeBlanc says Alliance’s attorneys haven’t visited her store.

Alliance Town Center sent a letter to Velvet Box on Sept. 24, 2010, arguing that the store violates a covenant against "sexually-oriented business such as, but not limited to, adult movie or video sales, or adult theater or rental facility, nude modeling studio, massage parlor, lounge or club featuring nude or semi-nude entertainers or escort service."

The letter, a copy of which LeBlanc provided to the Star-Telegram, also says Velvet Box has violated a Fort Worth ordinance that says: "a person commits an offense if, in a business establishment open to person under the age of 17 years, he displays a book, pamphlet, newspaper, magazine, film or video cassette, the cover of which depicts, in a manner calculated to arouse sexual lust or passion for commercial gain or to exploit sexual lust or perversion for commercial gain, any of the following: a. human sexual intercourse, masturbation, or sodomy; b. fondling or other erotic touching of human genitals, buttocks, or that portion of the female breast below the top of the areola; or c. human male genitals in a discemibly turgid state, whether covered or uncovered."

The letter gave Velvet Box 20 days to comply.

LeBlanc calls Alliance Town Center’s actions "harassment."

"We’re not in violation of anything in the covenants," said LeBlanc, who said her store has five employees. "There’s nothing in the store that has any nudity, there’s nothing in the store that is shaped like a body part. We don’t sell pornography."

LeBlanc, who this summer opened a second Velvet Box off of the trendy West Seventh Street corridor in Fort Worth, says she sells vibrators, massage oils, candles, reference books, hosiery, lingerie, and DVDs, including a $25 educational pole-dancing video for "housemoms" featuring fully clothed instructors and actors.

LeBlanc said she’s changed nothing about her merchandise assortment since the dispute with Alliance Town Center surfaced, and the Alliance agents haven’t pointed to anything specifically objectionable.

Daniel Moon, Sam Moon’s general counsel, said he had just been informed of the suit and had no additional information.

- Scott Nishimura

10/03/2011

PUMA Clearance Store opens at Grapevine Mills

GrapeVine Mills has a new tenant, a PUMA Clearance Store. The store sells PUMA's footwear for men, women and children, apparel, and accessories. It's in Suite 608 near Entry 6.

- Scott Nishimura

09/16/2011

North East Mall remaking food court entry to fete 40th birthday

North East Mall in Hurst is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year with a bit of a makeover and some new tenants.

Starting this month, with expected completion early next year, North East plans to replace the entrance to its food court.

The remodel will feature a new glass and steel entry, signage, lighting, landscaping and customer seating.

 “We have established a very loyal shopper base over the last 40 years and have strived to keep our mall contemporary and inviting,” said Holly Conner, the mall’s marketing and business development director.

This year, the mall, which has more than 150 specialty retailers and several anchors, added Charming Charlie, Francesca’s Collections, The Foundry Big & Tall Supply Co., Pandora, Al’s Formal Wear, Body Central, Papaya, Teavana, Ultimate Sports Nutrition, Jersey Mike’s Subs, and Five Guys Burger & Fries.

Wet Seal, Buckle, Spencer's Gifts and Great American Cookies remodeled their stores, and Footlocker and Phil’s Philly Steaks are renovating.

Forever 21 will join the mall this flal, and DSW Shops is scheduled to debut soon at The Shops at North East Mall.

- Scott Nishimura

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