TMCNet:  Billings Gazette, Mont., Have You Heard column

[November 25, 2012]

Billings Gazette, Mont., Have You Heard column

Nov 25, 2012 (Billings Gazette - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Counting on local homeowners in the heart of Billings to churn additional sales, T.J. Comstock and his wife, Kami, are trying to open a second Billings Hardware Co. store in the former Kuchera Furniture location.


Six years ago, the couple bought the existing Billings Hardware at 3175 Grand Ave. Last summer, they saw Ace Hardware open a store two blocks away on Zimmerman Drive.

Now they want to open their second hardware store at 908 Broadwater Ave. This neighborhood hardware store won't have space for a lawn-and- garden shop. There are zoning hurdles to jump first.

The Billings City Council will consider granting a parking variance during Monday's meeting to allow Billings Hardware to cut the number of parking stalls at the Broadwater site from the current 19 spots to 17. Normally, a business this size would be required to provide 33 parking places, according to the city's variance proposal.

Beauty supply chain Ulta Beauty, which sells 20,000 salon products and services from cosmetics to gifts and fragrances, will open a store at Shiloh Crossing next spring.

A store, under construction next to Shoe Carnival, should be mostly completed by the end of January or, if winter returns, in February. Ulta will need another two months to complete the interior and stock the shelves.

"They're building more than 100 stores a year," said Shiloh Crossing co-developer Steve Corning. "Their stock has been on a tear the last couple of years." This deal took two years to finalize, he said. Ulta Beauty was formed in 1990 and operates 489 stores in 45 states, plus Internet sales.

The Illinois-based chain first looked at the former Borders Bookstore, now Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, but that space was too large.

The beauty retailer chose the city's newest commercial subdivision at the corner of Shiloh Road and King Avenue West after Scheels announced plans to build a monster sporting goods store there that is six times larger than its current store at Rimrock Mall.

Scheels, which will open in 2014, also has attracted inquiries from Utah clothing retailers, Corning said, although he wouldn't name companies. The Billings store will be a twin to the one that opened last fall in Sandy, Utah.

"I think that store has been on a tear down in Sandy," he said.

Sports jerseys and more In mid-August, Angela Foster opened a store that sells professional sports jerseys, sweatshirts, caps, kid's clothes and Jordan shoes.

Fattstock Jersey's and Apparel is located at 2713 First Ave. N., just west of Jake's Restaurant.

"They can come in and see us or like us on Facebook," Foster said.

The bestseller so far is the Peyton Manning jersey, said her husband, Larry Foster, who identifies himself as an employee.

"We just started this to get a little more unique style of clothing you find in the bigger city," he said. "We try to be real reasonable with the price." The couple also offers young students discounts on jerseys or other sports gear, if they can show their grades have improved.

The store's name "Fattstock" comes from Odessa, Texas, he said, and is slang used both as a noun and a verb meaning anything good.

Scams du jour -- By the time you read this, most of the madness and excitement of Turkey (Retail) Day, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and the rest of the shopping leftovers will be over for another year. But that still leaves Cyber Monday and the remaining three weeks in the march toward the holidays.

As always, watch out for scams, especially around the holidays.

The Better Business Bureau has a few favorites: Don't share your kids' personal information on any Santa website unless you check out the site first.

Don't fall for the call from a "friend or grandchild" who was mugged and needs you to wire cash to bail them out.

Be sure before you surf around on Cyber Monday that you have the latest spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed. Look for trusted websites and the Ad Choices logo that allows you some control over advertisers using your personal information.

Use a credit card because you can dispute charges if the merchandise is different than what you ordered or it doesn't arrive.

If you are wondering about other scams, check them out at www.BBBScamStopper.com -- At least half a dozen Gazette employees received phone calls and/or text messages recently that looked like the real thing.

The text said "your entry last month has WON!" and promised a Target gift card worth $1,000 if the recipient responded within 24 hours. What made the entry look real was a 612 telephone number (a real Minneapolis area code). But this has nothing to do with Target Corp., based in Minneapolis.

This trickery is called "smishing." It uses automated messaging and mobile phone texting "to trick victims into handing over vital passwords and Social Security numbers," according to an article in Target's online magazine, A Bullseye View.

You can check out these messages before you act by calling Target at 800-440-0680.

Laugh lines If at first you don't succeed, skydiving's not for you.

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

___ (c)2012 the Billings Gazette (Billings, Mont.) Visit the Billings Gazette (Billings, Mont.) at www.billingsgazette.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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