HomeGoods opened last weekend and was slammed Sunday. Even Monday afternoon when I stopped by (don’t you love that checking out HomeGoods is part of my job?) the place was pretty busy with people checking out the décor, bedding and furniture.
Ulta Beauty is open, even though its publicized opening date isn’t until Friday. Someone was already getting a hair cut in the salon in the back of the store. And Petco is open too.
Openings and closings in the retail world seem to be the new normal these days. Here’s an update of who’s coming and who’s going.
Likely on the way out: Fresh & Easy.
The British parent of the mini grocer announced last week it just wasn’t making enough money to make shareholders happy. The retailer is considering pulling out of the U.S. and selling its stores. Signs of the retailer’s struggle were evident in the Valley, with several stores built but never opened.
What this means for the eight Fresh & Easy stores in the central San Joaquin Valley is still up in the air. You can read more about why it’s failing here.
Coming soon: Walmart Neighborhood Market.
Walmart has been opening its own version of a small grocery for a while now and one is coming to Fresno. The 40,000-square-foot store is under construction at the southwest corner of Willow and Herndon avenues, and another is slated for Demaree Street and Goshen Avenue in Visalia.
This week, “Fighting Hunger Together” returned for year two. Fresno, once again, is in the running for a million dollars from Walmart and its crazy-clicking contest. Voting runs until April 30 and Fresno is sitting at No. 2 on the leaderboard, but rapidly moving up. It was much further back just a few days ago.
The question here: Are you playing another round of Walmart’s game? I know a few folks whose reaction was “oh no, not again.” Buuuuuut, it is a worthwhile cause in a city where one in four people might go hungry on any given day.
So what do you think? In? Out? Hungry for Walmart’s dough? Had enough?
We’re ending our 2011 Rewind on a note that Beehive readers love. Controversy, we live for it. So which was your favorite of 2011? It could be something that caused a fuss locally or it could be Kardashian related on the national scale. Either way, go for it. Check out our picks and leave your own in the comments.
In selecting a city, our goal was to find a location where we could build efficiently, make an impact on the community and develop relationships with local government and community organizations. We’ve found this in Kansas City. We’ll be working closely with local organizations including the Kauffman Foundation, KCNext and the University of Kansas Medical Center to help develop the gigabit applications of the future.
As we all know now, Salt Lake City really did win the million dollar prize. The Memphis thing was just a glitch on the Walmart site. But it was a glitch that was emblematic of the contest as a whole. It displayed something that many of us who spent last week feverishly clicking away already knew — the way Walmart handled this contest was one big ol’ mess.
This is not a “boo hoo, we didn’t win” post. It’s not sour grapes. As messy as the contest was, I’m still quite thankful for two outcomes: (1) That Walmart is giving us $100,000. It will certainly help our community. (2) That our community rallied behind this contest and came together to make Fresno a better place in the process. But that doesn’t mean Walmart should get a pass for the way it handled this.
The much-talked about campaign ended last Friday with a flurry of votes as Fresno and eventual million-dollar winner Salt Lake City, were neck and neck in the final days. Amid allegations that both cities were cheating, Walmart spent the last five days tallying the final number of votes. When all was counted, Fresno remained one million behind Salt Lake City, as it was when voting closed. Looks like nobody’s votes got disqualified, as some were expecting.
Bakersfield ended up getting $100,000 too, for finishing sixth.
It’s lunch time and you’re probably thinking about quenching your own hunger. But how about helping the hungry in our community? Today, there’s a food drive for Community Food Bank happening until 7 p.m. at the CBS 47 studios, on First just south of Shaw.
Take these as tangible signs that the Walmart contest — no matter your opinion on it — gave us the positive upshot of uniting the community and invigorating them to care more about fighting hunger in our community. Well done, Fresno!
Now that the momentary frenzy has come to a halt, some questions come to mind:
Are you ticked off we came in second?
Will Fresno ultimately be declared the winner, or is there a chance some other city might come from behind if only unique users are counted?
Do you think that Salt Lake City “cheated” — or at least cheated more than we did?
Should Walmart have devised a better system that would have kept people from rolling up vote totals by artifical means?
Was this a worthwhile cause or just a brilliant marketing scheme that resulted in a huge free media blitz for Walmart?
Was anyone else struck by the idea that this whole experience started to resemble the mentality and mechanics of a massive communal video game — complete with mad clicking of “likes,” a constantly updated score, battlefield camaraderie with like-minded players, the frenzy of an impending deadline?
If the scores stand and Fresno gets $100,000 instead of $1 million, will you be mad at Walmart?
Tell us what you think about these questions or other issues related to the contest in the comments.
UPDATE ABOVE: Here’s Travis Sheridan getting his tattoo! (Video by Eric Paul Zamora/The Fresno Bee) And if you look on the jump of this post, you can see an image of the finished artwork in all its glory.
ORIGINAL POST: All day Wednesday, glancing now and then at my Facebook page, I had an image of Travis Sheridan working himself into a lather as he sat in front of his keyboard pounding out mesages of inspiration to the Fresno folks competing for Wal-Mart’s $1 million food prize. Sheridan reminded me of a cross between a carnival barker, precinct captain and soothing psycotherapist as he entreated folks to come together as a community and take advantage of a mega-corporation’s brilliant marketing scheme. (Hey, it’s a million bucks for our community, right? Go ahead and play the game!)
Sheridan wasn’t beyond a stunt of his own to win the prize. As Beehive commenter Heather P. writes:
As a commitment to Fresno’s pulling together for this win, Travis Sheridan promised that if Fresno got to 500,000 likes by midnight, Wednesday he’d get a tattoo of the Fresno Flag on his calf. Fresno reached that goal by 6 p.m. His appointment is at Tower Tattoo, Thursday morning at 11 a.m.
Sheridan got his “likes,” and now he’ll forever be emblazoned with his love of Fresno. I can’t wait to see the photos from the tattoo session (and, hopefully, video).
As you’re probably aware, hunger is up and food donations are down, not just in Fresno, but across the country. A Minnesota food bank was really feeling the pinch until a holiday miracle happened. Check it out:
I bet the donor was Prince. Anyone else thinking Prince?
Fresno’s hungry also can use some help. You may not have 40 grand to contribute, but the Community Food Bank could use donations — either time, money or food.
One city — determined by the most community support — will be given $1 million to feed its hungry. Five other cities will get $100K from Walmart. Voting runs until Dec. 31.
Two weeks ago, Fresno sprung to a huge lead over No. 2 Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI. In the middle of last week, we were still up by as much as 6,000 votes.
This weekend, the gap closed to just about 2,500. There’s still a lot of time left, so it’s time to rally again. Tell your Facebook and Twitter friends, your e-mail list — even your MySpace peeps, if you’re still using that.
If you need some bulletin-board material to motivate you, Grand Rapid has given us some.
The last day has been HUGE for Fresno. We were at No. 6 with 770 “likes” yesterday morning. At the time I’m writing this, we have 4,279 behind Fresno, more than a thousand ahead of the No. 2 city.
I’ve seen people spreading this like crazy on Facebook. So many props to the local community for getting behind this — even if some of you don’t usually like Walmart.
Now, the tricky part is going to be keeping up this momentum for the next month. Keep telling your Facebook friends. Fresno’s food hardship rate (24.1%) is much higher than the national average (9.2%), so this will be much-needed help for people in our city.
To vote, make sure you’re logged into Facebook, then go here and hit “like.”
YOUR VOTES ARE ALSO NEEDED FOR …
Once you’ve thrown your support behind the Fighting Hunger campaign, you can help some other local projects. A few Fresno folks are currently in the running for funding from Pepsi’s Refresh Project — which gives money to projects that “refresh” their communities.
I just read this story about a 56-year old woman in Pennsylvania and her 35-year old daughter who were busted for stealing a Walmart gift card from a 9-year old who’d set the card down on a shelf as she was being helped by an employee. On her birthday.
To avoid jail time, the women agreed to a more unusual punishment: for 41 and a half hours, they will sit/stand in front of the courthouse holding a sign that reads “I stole from a 9-year old on her birthday. Don’t steal or this could happen to you!”
So I’m wondering: does the punishment fit the crime? My first reaction is to say yes. Jails are overcrowded. Public humiliation — and worse, online humiliation — that’s a pretty decent alternative. Now, if the women had been forced to twirl the sign, or pretend to air guitar with it, then I would have said too much.
What say you? Is it time to start finding more creative solutions to California’s crime problem?