Tag Archives: Business

Oakland Sears still hasn’t repaired windows


For a short time in July, downtown Oakland looked like a ghost town marked by boarded-up windows and graffiti after rioters, angry at the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida, swept through the area with masked faces.

But while other small businesses and shops replaced their glass and cleaned up their storefronts within a few weeks, Sears, one of the city’s biggest retailers, still looks practically abandoned almost five months later.

The big building at 1955 Broadway, which spans more than half a block, still has giant sheets of plywood over most of its windows. Almost every opening along the Telegraph Avenue side is blocked out, and the store’s cheery holiday displays on 20th Street are also half hidden by the boards.

Neighbors have spent the past few months asking the store’s managers and the city to fix the storefront, but have gotten no results.

“I walk past it every day – it’s depressing,” said Gilbert Lara, 46, who lives a block away. “It really affects the quality of life in that area because the building’s such a huge presence there.”

Sears, though, has no plans to fix the problem. Howard Riefs, a company spokesman, said that because the windows are difficult to replace, the store has no time frame for when repairs will begin and end.

“The custom windows date back to the 1930s, and replacing them is more complicated than those in a typical building,” he said.

Lara said neighbors, after hearing a similar response from Sears, went to the city for help. Under Oakland’s municipal code, inspectors can cite businesses or individuals for building code violations or blight.

Rachel Flynn, director of Oakland’s Department of Planning and Building, said the agency tries to work with property owners on a resolution before issuing citations or fees. A few months ago, she said, inspectors informed Sears that it could not have exposed and unfinished wood on its windows, prompting the store to paint the plywood.

When the city continued to get complaints about the windows, inspectors cited the business last month for general blight, Flynn said. Sears was given a month to respond to the citation with a plan to fix the issue.

“Our goal is to always to work with property owners and see what can be done and what is reasonable,” she said. “That’s what we’ll have to do.”

Lara said while no downtown business deserved to be vandalized in July, the majority of them – many small, local businesses with considerably less wealth than corporations like Sears – had taken care of their damage within a week. But almost five months later, Sears still can’t seem to get it together.

“I stopped following up because we were just getting the same answer and nothing was happening,” he said. “It feels like no one cares about this neighborhood.”

What’s not working

Issue: The windows of the Sears department store in downtown Oakland remain broken and boarded up from a protest almost five months ago.

What’s been done: Sears representatives said the windows are difficult and expensive to replace, and that they have no timeline for when repairs will begin. City officials said they’re working with Sears to reach a resolution, and have already cited them under the city’s municipal code for a blight violation. Sears officials have a month to come up with a plan to fix the windows

Who’s responsible: Howard Riefs, director of communications, Sears Holdings Corp. – Howard.Riefs@ searshc.com, (847) 286-8371. Rachel Flynn, director of Oakland’s Department of Planning and Building – RFlynn@oaklandnet.com, (510) 238-2229.


Carolee Setting Up Shop in Macy’s

Carolee has found a new home: Macy’s Herald Square. The fashion jewelry brand is setting up shop within Macy’s flagship with a 200-square foot space.
The boutique, located on the store’s newly renovated first floor, marks a reunion for the brand and retailer.
“If you go back 10 years or so, we had about half a dozens shop-in-shops, including with Macy’s,” said Carolee president Joel Fivis. “But the trends change, and a lot of stores went from having shop-in-shops to a more generic presentation of fashion jewelry. We think the pendulum may be swinging back the other way now.”
Standing near the Michael Kors and Sunglass Hut shop-in-shop outposts, the Carolee space integrates new technology with classic jewelry displays. A stacked bazel-less video screen displays short seasonal videos, while special LED lighting creates extra sparkle to the stands.
To celebrate the new shop, the brand has created a new “Simply Emerald” collection. The line, available through the holidays, will be sold exclusively at the Herald Square location.
“Macy’s Herald Square has a very traveled audience, so it makes economic sense to develop things specifically for the store,” Fivis said. “It’s a win-win for us.”
Additionally, Carolee plans roll out several events throughout the holiday season, beginning this evening with an in-store appearance by Allen Schwartz, designer of ABS by Allen Schwartz Jewelry, a liscensee of Carolee.  Beginning at 6 p.m., Schwartz will be on hand to personally accessorize shoppers in his designs.

Pandora Following Script That Could Keep Crushing Shorts

I guess, at the end of every hard-earned day … if I expect to still find some reason to believe, I need to cue up Springsteen and then call out financial media injustice. This time with respect toPandora (P_).

It’s a shame to see Seeking Alpha, the site that provided me and so many of my friends and colleagues with an excellent platform to learn and grow from, devolve into a sweatshop for uninformed and poorly-researched “Short Ideas.”

There’s a “contributor” to Seeking Alpha who stands out among the handful who constantly publish bearish Pandora proclamations. This person only rises from the pack because his short theses do not stand up to even the lightest journalistic eyeball or most casual edit.

I presume Seeking Alpha has stopped using editors because the ones I worked with between 2011 and 2012 would have never let this sort of tripe get past them.

In “Quoth the Raven’s” most recent Pandora piece, he tells us that …

Clearly, the active listeners have started to hit some type of plateau …

He makes this case void of any context whatsoever beyond what he can pull from his clearly uninformed and shamefully opportunistic perch.

First, moderation in the growth of listenership, whether you choose to use listener hours or active listeners, has been expected for years. It’s expected as a general function of the broad business Pandora runs in. But it’s also expected by Pandora’s own admission.

This is where Seeking Alpha is culpable. Any good editor would have directed this “writer” to do a search for the Pandora ticker (it’s ‘P’) at the very Web site he writes for. He would have, after about a minute and a half of searching, come across the articles I cited in this week’s Pandora: The Definitive Look Back and Look Ahead.

These linked articles, published at Seeking Alpha, explicitly state — in my own words and in the words of Pandora’s CFO in 2012 — that Pandora would see growth moderate. Anybody who has even studied the dynamics of Pandora’s business understands this. It’s not the shocking relevation “Quoth the Raven” makes it out to be. It’s not something Pandora has been hiding from us and does not want us to see.

There’s absolutely zero smoke and mirrors here.

As transparent as can be, Pandora has been anticipating and preparing for moderation in growth for years. Certainly longer than this person has been producing hack journalism for a once-respected Web site. And, like the good business it is, Pandora has clear-headed ideas on how its business will play out.