If it's real fur, stores can't advertise it as faux

Animal rights activists found a new tool to fight fur: truth-in-advertising law.

The Humane Society of the U.S. last week reached out-of-court settlements with Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor to stop them from advertising as faux fur garments actually trimmed with coyote or dog pelts.

The settlements came after a District of Columbia judge last month fined Neiman $25,000 for advertising items such as a $1,300 Burberry jacket as faux that was trimmed with what's known to the fashion world as raccoon dog, a canine bred in China for its fur. Another name is finnraccoon, a trade name for the same breed raised in Finland.

All four department store chains agreed to pay the Humane Society's legal bills for the challenge, change practices and support a rewrite of the 1951 federal Fur Labeling Act that currently does not require labeling fur trim that wholesales for less than $150.

"If people think they are buying fake fur, it should be fake," said Pierre Grzybowski, Fur Free Campaign manager.

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Bill Lynch, who last week shocked the book publishing world as the new 39-year-old chief executive officer of Barnes & Noble, may look familiar.

Two years ago Lynch was at HSN Inc. in St. Petersburg, where he oversaw hsn.com. He left to shape Barnes & Noble's entry in the race to create an electronic book reader with iPad, Sony and Amazon.com's Kindle.

The Reggio brothers, who control the nation's biggest bookstore chain, chose Lynch because of his experience in electronic commerce.

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Old Navy is transforming its Sunset Point Road store in Clearwater into the first area location for the budget apparel chain's latest prototype design.

And therein lies a backstory.

Two years ago Old Navy opened its first new store design in years anywhere with a flashy, urban chic layout in St. Petersburg's Tyrone Square Mall. It quickly became a symbol of the excesses of top management that failed to turn around the unit of Gap Inc.

Only two copies of the layout were opened, both in Las Vegas. But much of what was tested in St. Petersburg survives in the newer prototype, which is going nationwide. That's a circular race track sales floor with fitting rooms stuck in the middle and the checkout registers in a line.

Conspicuously missing: the $50,000 live black bamboo forest that debuted in black rock filled planters under a skylight cut into the roof at Tyrone.

Grown in a Hillsborough County exotic plant farm, the bamboo struggled to survive.

"We're trying to donate the bamboo to the Science Center to keep it alive," said Gynnifer Burnett, Old Navy's district manager.

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The Container Store, a big-box destination for legions of home and office organizers, is not letting recession cool its growth.

The 48-store Dallas retailer plans 11 more locations in 2010 and 2011.

And, yes, the catalog retailer finally put Tampa Bay on its radar. The company is scouting Tampa's West Shore area.

There's no deal yet and the earliest opening here would be 2012.

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@sptimes.com or (727)-893-8252.

If it's real fur, stores can't advertise it as faux 03/22/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 12:25am]

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