Back-to-school shopping: Retailers already stocking shelves with school-related items

Students won’t return to school in Palm Beach County for another five weeks, but retailers are already lining store shelves with back-to-school items in hopes of catching early-bird shoppers.

The Fourth of July holiday marks the unofficial start of the back-to-school shopping season, as big box retailers mark down summer items like patio sets and backyard supplies to make room for pencils, paper and other school-related items.

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Back-to-school is the retail industry’s second biggest shopping season of the year, falling behind Black Friday and holiday shopping rush.

Parents of K-12 and college students are expected to spend more than $121.6 billion in this year, according to MediaMath, a programmatic ad tech company for marketers.

(Photo by Taylor Jones/The Palm Beach Post).  School supplies Indiantown Community Outreach will give away during the 5th annual Back to School Bash.

Spending on back-to-school items starts ramping up right after the Fourth of July holiday, peaking between late July and mid-August, according to a MediaMath study.

Back-to-school related sales are expected to grow by 4 percent this year, according to eMarketer, a market research firm.

Workers at the Target on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard spent part of the Fourth of July clearing out a corner of the store to make way for school supplies. Patio items were marked down as much as 70 percent to make room for the back-to-school rush.

Florida’s popular back-to-school sales tax holiday will return next month. The holiday, which runs Aug. 4-6, is worth an estimated $33.4 million.

During the three-day weekend, shoppers won’t be charged the state’s 6 percent sales tax or the county’s discretionary sales surtax on certain school-related and other specified items.

The annual tax break this year includes clothing, footwear and certain accessories selling for $60 or less; certain school supplies selling for $15 or less per item; and personal computers and certain computer-related accessories, selling for $750 or less per item, when purchased for noncommercial home or personal use.

Lilly Pulitzer lovers in South Florida get early access to new summer items

Lilly lovers in South Florida have the chance to score the company’s latest summer items a week before anyone else.

Photo provided by the Lilly Pulitzer store in Boca Raton.

The store in Boca Raton is the first location in the country to offer the retailer’s new summer items, including dresses, strapless tops and resort evening wear.

RELATED: These new stores are coming to The Gardens Mall

Assistant manager Sara Mignano said the Boca store was selected by the company to be a model for visual displays for the last summer delivery, and as a result those items are already available here.

You won’t be able to get the items online or in any other Lilly store until July 5, Mignano said.

“We have the product out,” Mignano said. “It is the only place people will be able to shop this brand new line.”

The store is located at the Town Center at Boca Raton.

These new stores are coming to The Gardens Mall

Three new stores, including two jewelry retailers and a cell phone provider, are slated to open over the next few months at The Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens.

Alex and Ani, a jewelry store known for its bangles and other American-made pieces, is scheduled to open in September. The 1,000-square- foot store will be located on the upper level between Marmi Shoes and Tumi, mall officials said.

RELATED: This new store just opened in the Wellington mall

Kendra Scott, a women’s jewelry and home goods retailer, is tentatively scheduled to open on July 21. The 1,062-square-foot store will be located on the mall’s lower level outside of Nordstrom.

T-Mobile plans to open a location in the mall this summer. The 2,373-square- foot store will be located next to Macy’s on the mall’s upper level.

RELATED: Why Park Ave BBQ is going into The Gardens Mall

The mall welcomed two other stores this spring — Kay Jewelers and at Fast-Fix Jewelry and Watch Repairs.

Meanwhile, Park Avenue BBQ and Grill will take over the Counter Burger space (on the lower level near Sears) at the end of the summer.

 

British Airways to launch nonstop service between Ft. Lauderdale and London

British Airways on Thursday will launch new nonstop service between Ft. Lauderdale and London’s Gatwick Airport.

The flight marks the airline’s first schedule commercial service from  Broward County’s Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, officials said.

British Airways will offer service on the route on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, the airport said.

Airport officials said the new service will not only connect Ft. Lauderdale and London, but will also provide a link to more than 150 destinations around the world.

 

 

This Florida attraction was named the world’s top amusement park by TripAdvisor

Universal’s Islands of Adventure was recently named the world’s top amusement park by TripAdvisor — marking the third consecutive year the Orlando-area attraction has earned the coveted title.

Three weeks after the grand opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, guests jam the attraction, shortly after the Islands of Adventure park opening on July 9, 2010, at Universal Orlando in Orlando, Fla. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

Orlando’s Discover Cove took the second spot on the list, while Disney’s Magic Kingdom came in 4th place.

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Universal Studios Florida and Disney’s Animal Kingdom — both in Orlando — also made the list.

For water parks, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Aquatica Orlando both ranked among the best in the world.  Siam Park, a Thai-themed aquatic facility, topped TripAdvisor’s Water Parks list for the fourth consecutive year.

TripAdvisor said award winners were determined using an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for amusement parks and water parks worldwide, gathered over a 12-month period.

Here are TripAdvisor’s complete lists:

Top 10 Amusement Parks in the World:

  1. Universal’s Islands of Adventure – Orlando, Florida
  2. Discovery Cove – Orlando, Florida
  3. Europa-Park – Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
  4. Magic Kingdom – Orlando, Florida
  5. Universal Studios Hollywood – Los Angeles, California
  6. Le Puy du Fou – Les Epesses, France
  7. Beto Carrero World – Penha, State of Santa Catarina, Brazil
  8. Universal Studios Florida – Orlando, Florida
  9. Epcot – Orlando, Florida
  10. Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Orlando, Florida

Top 10 Water Parks in the World:

  1. Siam Park – Tenerife, Spain
  2. Beach Park – Aquiraz, State of Ceara, Brazil
  3. Waterbom Bali – Kuta, Indonesia
  4. Aquaventure Waterpark – Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  5. Thermas dos Laranjais – Olimpia, State of Sao Paulo, Brazil
  6. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park – Orlando, Florida
  7. Hot Park – Rio Quente, State of Goias, Brazil
  8. Wild Wadi Waterpark – Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  9. Aquatica Orlando – Orlando, Florida
  10. Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Top 10 Amusement Parks in the U.S.:

  1.  Universal’s Islands of Adventure – Orlando, Florida
  2. Discovery Cove – Orlando, Florida
  3. Magic Kingdom – Orlando, Florida
  4. Universal Studios Hollywood – Los Angeles, California
  5. Universal Studios Florida – Orlando, Florida
  6. Epcot – Orlando, Florida
  7. Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Orlando, Florida
  8. SeaWorld Orlando – Orlando, Florida
  9. Disney California Adventure Park – Anaheim, California
  10. Disneyland Park – Anaheim, California

Top 10 Water Parks in the U.S.:

  1. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park – Orlando, Florida
  2. Aquatica Orlando – Orlando, Florida
  3. Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park – Orlando, Florida
  4. Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari – Santa Claus, Indiana
  5. Water Country USA – Williamsburg, Virginia
  6. Noah’s Ark Water Park – Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
  7. Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park Resort – Erie, Pennsylvania
  8. Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Water Parks – Wildwood, New Jersey
  9. Waldameer Park & Water World – Erie, Pennsylvania
  10. Water World – Federal Heights, Colorado

 

 

 

 

Amazon’s “Prime Day” deals return July 11; Here’s what to expect

Amazon plans to bring back its popular “Prime Day” sale on July 11, offering 30 hours of deals to members in 13 countries.

The savings start at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT) on Monday, July 10 – and Amazon said new deals will be offered as often as every five minutes.

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Here’s what’s new this year:

Amazon said there will be more Alexa-exclusive deals for members with an Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, Amazon Tap, compatible Fire TV or Fire tablet.

RELATED: This new store just opened in the Wellington mall

Shoppers can also expect to find more television deals. “Amazon is planning one of its largest total volume TV deals in history with a record level of inventory but once again, the TV deals will likely sell out,” the company said in a news release.

Amazon will offer pre-Prime Day sales, beginning today. “Every day leading up to Prime Day on July 11 members will find all kinds of exclusive promotions and deals,” Amazon said.

These sales are already underway:

  • Amazon Music Unlimited – Prime members who haven’t yet tried Amazon Music Unlimited can get four months of the full catalog on-demand service with access to tens of millions of songs, for just $0.99.
  • Prime Video – Get $10 to shop on Amazon.com anytime on or before Prime Day when you stream a video included in Prime for the first time on your TV. Restrictions apply.
  • Kindle Unlimited – Prime members can save up to 40 percent on a Kindle Unlimited membership.
  • Audible – Shoppers can get access to Amazon’s library of audiobooks plus original audio programming from Audible for 40 percent off their first 6 months.
  • Everyday Essentials – Prime members can save up to 35 percent off with onsite coupons on select food and household items in Prime Pantry.

Amazon launched Prime Day in 2015, and the sales event has proven to be one of the company’s largest.

But the inaugural Prime Day also sparked complaints from shoppers, who said the deals didn’t live up to the hype.

This new store just opened in the Wellington mall

Natural Kerr, a beauty company offering a variety of hair and skin care products made with natural ingredients, has opened its first retail location at the Mall at Wellington Green.

The store is located next to Dillard’s on the malls upper level. Until the store’s opening, Natural Kerr’s product line had only been available on Amazon and its own website.

Last minute Christmas shoppers walk through the Mall at Wellington Green Saturday afternoon, Dec 21, 2013 in Wellington. (Bill Ingram/Palm Beach Post)

RELATED: This retailer plans to open in The Gardens Mall

The company said its ingredients include butters, cacao extract, botanical oils and silk amino acids.

“Natural Kerr resulted from my daily struggle dealing with split ends and stagnant hair growth, breakage, and frizz,” said founder Judith Cruz-Burnstine. “I was determined to find natural alternatives to damaging silicone derived conditioners, keratins that use formaldehyde and lye containing relaxers and turned to the Dominican homemade beauty recipes I grew up with. Who would have thought that going back to my cultural roots would not only solve my own unruly hair problems but would be the inspiration for a line of hair and skin products that can work for everyone.”

RELATED: Why Park Ave BBQ is going into The Gardens Mall

Natural Kerr open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

 

Brightline trains to use locally-blended biodiesel fuel

All Aboard Florida’s Brightline will use a blend of biodiesel fuel produced by Florida Power & Light at a Riviera Beach plant to power its fleet of passenger trains.

The rail company has inked a two-year deal with FPL to supply its five trains with the cleaner-burning fuel. Under the contract, FPL will produce 2 million gallons of biodiesel a year for Brightline’s fleet.

Outside Brightline’s West Palm Beach Station in May 23, 2017 (Photo: Jennifer Sorentrue/The Palm Beach Post)

Biodiesel fuel is a cleaner-burning alternative produced from renewable sources like corn, soybeans and used cooking oil.

FIRST LOOK: Inside WPB’s new Brightline train station

Tom Rutkowski, Brightline’s Chief Mechanical Officer, called the collaboration a “major milestone” for the company, adding that the deal is a “perfect partnership of smart energy powering smart trains.”
FPL started using biodiesel to power its own fleet nearly 20 years ago. The alternative is now the primary source of fuel for more than 1,750 vehicles in the company’s fleet, said Sam Forrest, FPL’s Vice President of Energy Marketing and Trading.

About three years ago, FPL signed its first contract to blend biodiesel for an outside group.

With the Brightline contract, FPL will produce roughly 6 million gallons of biodiesel a year for its own fleet and other outside partners. The company also has a contract to provide biodiesel for the county’s Solid Waste Authority.

“At FPL we have long been committed to energy independence as well as environmental stewardship,” Forrest said.

Each of Brightline’s locomotives can hold up to 2,200 gallons of fuel. The trains are expected to use about 2 gallons of fuel per mile, which means the 67-mile one-way trip from Miami to West Palm Beach consumes 134 gallons of biodiesel, the company said.

Brightline is expected to begin service later this summer. A grand opening is expected to be held in the fall.

Once operational, Brightline’s trains will shuttle passengers between West Palm Beach and Miami in about an hour. Ticket prices have not been announced.

Eventually, Brightline plans to expand service north to Orlando.

Construction on the West Palm Beach-to-Orlando leg has not yet begun. Brightline officials have said the project will take at least two years from the time work starts.

CityPlace sues to evict Revolutions bowling, again

Revolutions at CityPlace

CityPlace has sued Revolutions Bowling Bar & Grille twice this month, and the latest lawsuit looks like the West Palm Beach retail center is serious about evicting the bowling alley — and collecting on guaranties backing a lease.

On June 23, CityPlace filed a Palm Beach County Circuit Court lawsuit, alleging Revolutions owes $429,801 in past due rent.

The lawsuit seeks to enforce a guaranty of $3 million by Revolutions chief executive Bruce Frank. The complaint also seeks to enforce a guaranty by Revolutions’ parent company, Jupiter-based Frank Entertainment Companies.

Frank Entertainment owns Cinebowl & Grille at the Delray Markplace. It also owns the Cinebowl slated to go into the Abacoa entertainment center in Jupiter, a deal just approved by the Jupiter town council.

It’s unclear what effect the guaranty enforcement on Frank Entertainment will have on its plan to go into Abacoa. But the guaranty does state that CityPlace Retail can pursue any of Frank Entertainment’s assets, court records show.

This lawsuit follows an eviction action filed June 2 by CityPlace in county court, seeking to toss Revolutions from the center for failing to pay the rent due by May 15.

This marks the fourth eviction lawsuit CityPlace has filed since Revolutions opened at the center in 2013.

The latest legal actions indicate CityPlace has lost its patience with Revolutions, which operates a high-end bowling alley at the north end of the mixed-use center on Okeechobee Boulevard east of Interstate 95.

Late last year, Revolutions quietly fended off two eviction lawsuits filed against it by CityPlace, according to court records.

Last November, CityPlace Retail sued Revolutions, alleging it was behind on the rent by $141,255 as of October 12, 2016. The Palm Beach County Court lawsuit was settled within days.

But the very next month, CityPlace sued Revolutions again, this time for $78,632. That figure represents one month’s base rent of $56,250, plus taxes, plus $10,441 in back payments for chilled water for the HVAC system.

This lawsuit was settled, too.

In May, Bruce Frank, Revolutions chief executive, said the bowling lane business has been strong. But it’s the food that has struggled to make its mark in a center crowded with competing restaurants, he said.

Late last year, Frank teamed up with Burger & Beer Joint of Boca Raton to offer burgers and other fare to bowlers and visitors. B&B also opened up an outdoor Flair Street bar at Revolutions

Live music, plus the new food and drink additions, should boost Revolutions fortunes, Frank said at the time.

Earlier this year, Frank said Revolutions had invested $7 million in CityPlace.  Frank could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.

To read Revolutions’ response to the lawsuit, and its counterclaim against CityPlace, go to mypalmbeachpost.com

4th of July sales: Here’s where to find the best deals

If you are planning to shop 4th of July sales, you may want to consider these tips before you hit the stores.

The deal-hunting experts at FatWallet.com have put together a list of recommendations on what to buy, and what to skip this holiday.

Here are their tips:

View of customers at Rocky’s Ace Hardware store during Small Business Shopping day Nov 29, 2014 in Wellington.”We are up from last year with more than 400 customers so far,” said Bill Butler assistant manager. (Bill Ingram / Palm Beach Post) Beach Post)

 

Outdoor Sporting Gear — BUY

Hiking, camping and fishing gear will see deep discounts. Shoppers will also find some of the best deals of the summer on pools and outdoor toys and games.

RELATED: This retailer plans to open in The Gardens Mall

Swimwear — BUY

Swimwear and beachwear sales will feature discounts on top brands ranging from 25 to 75 percent off.

Kids Clothing — BUY

Many popular clothing brands offer site-wide sales that focus on summer apparel for children and babies. Savings of 20 to 40 percent can be found on shorts, polo shirts, dresses and sandals as retailers look to make room for new back-to-school items later in July.  Shopping through a cashback website like Ebates will earn additional discounts.

Air Conditioners — BUY

Stores like Walmart and Sears will offer 25 percent discounts on portable and window units. Expect to see fewer discounts and more limited selection after 4th of July sales events.

Furniture —  BUY

July is one of the best months to purchase furniture for the home. The holiday sales kick-off clearance of last year’s living room and bedroom sets. Furniture stores reduce prices on existing inventory to make room for new models arriving in late August.

Electronics — WAIT 

Those seeking good deals on most consumer electronics products will want to hold off until Prime Day and Back-to-School sales. Expect to see better pricing on Amazon products (Echo, Dot, Fire Tablets, Kindles and Fire TV), as well as TVs, home theater and wireless tech after the holiday.

Jeans/Denim — WAIT

The best denim sales of the year happen during August’s Back-to-School events for kids and in October for adults. Waiting can offer shoppers twice the savings over buying jeans in July.

Laptops and Tablets — WAIT

Main back-to-school laptop deals loom large in late July and August. Waiting offers parents a much larger selection of desktop, tablet and laptop deals. Those stack with additional savings from the summer’s Back-to-School sales tax holidays, student discounts and shopping rewards, often making prices better than Black Friday deals.