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Movie Gallery to close remaining 1,906 stores

After shrinking dramatically for years, the owners of Hollywood Video and Movie Gallery have decided to give up U.S. operations.

Movie Gallery reportedly told workers over the weekend the remaining 1,906 stores are closing. The company had already announced it would close 805 stores, including 16 in the Tampa Bay area, after making a return trip to bankruptcy court in February.

A Riverview store, which is hosting the going-out-of-business sale, also will eventually close. That store is offering discounts of 30 to 70 percent off on about 8,000 videos and games left.

The second biggest rental chain after Blockbuster, Movie Gallery has been the victim of overly ambitious expansion colliding with the growth of mailed rentals like Netflix, streaming video and $1-a-night kiosks like Redbox or Blockbuster Express.

• • •

Ikea celebrates its first anniversary in Tampa on Thursday with free cake, discounts on select items and a giveaway.

The first 100 shoppers in the door when the Swedish chain's restaurant opens at 10:30 a.m. get a free Leksvik coffee table that normally goes for $119.

No overnight camping is permitted this time. The line begins forming at 6 a.m.

In its first year, Ikea found Tampa Bay shoppers less likely than other markets to impulse shop for furniture and more likely to buy discounted groupings.

"We were one of, if not the, top Ikea in the country in sleeping pillow sales," said spokeswoman Debra Faulk.

• • •

Four new retail developments coming to a store near you:

• For the first time, Sears Holdings Corp. agreed to sell its highly rated Craftsman tools outside its own Sears and Kmart stores. Ace Hardware Corp. begins distributing Craftsman products in June. Initially the selection will be limited to 10 products while a much wider selection is tested in 100 Ace stores to gauge demand.

• Sweetbay Supermarket has eliminated all trans-fats from the last 295 of more than 4,000 of its Hannaford store brand products. Processed trans-fats are common in crackers, chips and cookies. The knock: Even trace amounts increase coronary disease risk.

• Pharmacy counters in 62 handpicked Winn-Dixie test stores now offer free translation service in more than 100 languages from Arabic and Hindi to Hmong and Tagalog. Two stores chosen in the bay area are near large ethnic communities expected to use the service: 8424 Sheldon Road and 2575 E Hillsborough Ave. in Hillsborough County. Both have three-way conference phones for pharmacists and customers to communicate through a live interpreter.

• Target has become the first national retailer to offer scannable digital coupons at the cash register. Shoppers can sign up at target.com/mobile to have digital coupons sent to their wireless phones. Store registers can scan a bar code on a cell phone display to honor the discount.

• • •

The restaurant industry slump may have bottomed out.

Fueled by rising traffic, improved sales and growing optimism among restaurant owners in March, the National Restaurant Association Performance Index inched up to 100.5.

Below 100 is a sign of market contraction. Over 100 means expansion. The index last topped 100 in September 2007.

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

Movie Gallery to close remaining 1,906 stores 05/03/10 [Last modified: Monday, May 3, 2010 7:29pm]
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