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Will Woot.com retain its hoot under Amazon.com?

The smartest move Amazon.com made buying Zappos last year was deciding not to change the online shoe retail giant. Hopefully, Amazon will be as hands-off with its purchase of woot.com.

Because Woot is a hoot.

Since 2004, this snarky, buy-it-now-or-you'll-never-see-it-again retailer has built a cult following of 2.7 million deal-driven fans who spend $164 million a year.

It's a next-generation version of the Crazy Eddie school of retailing.

At midnight daily, woot.com posts just one bargain — usually an electronic gadget — until noon or until the supply is gone. That's it. No returns, no guarantee beyond the manufacturer's. Questions about the product beyond an FAQ list? Consult Google or a Magic 8 Ball, the website advises. If you don't like what's delivered, customers are told, put it on eBay.

Amazon pledges to keep Woot just as it is. But the Dallas-based site posted a rap tune with its monkey puppet mascot joking about the new boss:

No more calling in sick with "fictitious diseases to spend your day at Chuck E. Cheese's" and no more rolling in late "with your pajamas on."

" 'Cause when you roll with the 'Zon, you roll legit" was one line from the song.

What else can you expect from an irreverent discounter known for describing a grab bag of closeout items as "a bag of crap"?

"This will be as if we are simply adding one person to the organizational hierarchy," founder and CEO Matt Rutledge assured workers. "Except that person will be a billion-dollar company that can sell you like office furniture."

True to form, on the day of the sale, the "woot" was an Amazon Kindle that undercut parent-to-be Amazon.com by $40.

• • •

Old-school Floridians are often surprised Publix Super Markets stores have spread to five states and as far north as Nashville.

But in 19 years, the formerly Florida-only grocer has stunned its industry with the speed it took over the Atlanta market, which had been regarded an impregnable fortress for rival Kroger Inc.

This summer, Publix, which has 143 stores around Atlanta, edged past Kroger, capturing 27 percent of the market vs. Kroger's 26 percent, according to the Shelby Report of the Southeast.

• • •

Kohl's, Publix and Sweetbay Supermarket have started opening LEED-designed stores, a construction industry standard for green buildings. Now Office Depot has jumped on the LEED bandwagon.

The nation's biggest office supply retailer, Office Depot set a goal of reducing its carbon footprint not just through construction, but also in recycling packaging and the products it sells.

The Boca Raton-based company will use LEED standards in all new construction — 14 stores this year — plus in its energy-efficiency tactics in store relocations and remodeling as the chain begins cutting the average size of its warehouse-sized stores in half to 16,000 square feet.

Updated stores will be carpeted, painted subdued colors, equipped with efficient air conditioning and lit by fixtures that use a fraction of the energy older models used.

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

Will Woot.com retain its hoot under Amazon.com? 07/05/10 [Last modified: Monday, July 5, 2010 7:10pm]
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