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The Biz Roundup February 5

Do you want the bad news first?

Sales for the entire retail industry fell 1.6 percent last month compared with the same month a year ago, the International Council of Shopping Centers, an industry group, said Thursday. The research firm Retail Metrics put the industry decline at 1.8 percent and said that without Wal-Mart Stores, the nation’s largest retailer, sales would have fallen 5.6 percent. . . .

On Thursday, Fortunoff, the nearly 90-year-old upscale home furnishings and jewelry chain, became the latest retailer to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Wal-Mart, for instance, exceeded expectations. The retailer posted a 2.1 percent increase, not including fuel, at stores open at least a year, a barometer of retail health known as same-store sales.

(“Sales Fall Sharply for Retailers Not Named Wal-Mart,” New York Times, February 5) Has anyone told the newspapers that it’s no longer spelled Wal*Mart, or the preferred journalistic b-tardization, “Wal-Mart”? Anyway, I went to Gottschalk’s today and bought $600 worth of mrechandise for a little over $150 — and no sales tax, including a cashmere blend suit coat (at a low-cost department store, yeah — kinda like the $200 fancy champagne at Costco. That, in a nutshell, tells the whole story right there.

And the good news . . .

Coulomb Technologies has installed four of its ChargePoint Network electric-car charging stations in downtown San Jose and just landed $3.75 million in first-round venture funding . . .

Coulomb plans to have about 1,000 chargers in place by the end of the year. They’ll be found on city streets, in parking garages, at companies and at gas stations — not only in California, but also nationwide.

“These are vending machines for electricity,” said Lowenthal, who has a knack for one-liners that reflect his years spent as a small-town politician. He’s a former mayor and city council member of Cupertino.

(“Startup gives boost to electric cars: ‘vending machines for electricity’,” San Jose Mercury News, February 5) See! Happy news! All us entrepreneurs know that we’re the folks that are going to pull the rest of us out of the recession. Not GE. Not Detroit. Entrepreneurs. We few, we proud, we . . . wait, that’s a bunch of different dudes.

Well, this is one way for a small business to prospect for customers.

A man who glazes glass for a living is accused of trying to drum up glass repair work for himself by smashing windows. . . .

Police received five separate calls Sunday of vehicle windows smashed on Hartzell and Glover streets, and building windows smashed at businesses in the 400 block of Tennessee Street, the 1500 block of Orange Street and the 800 block of Colton Avenue.

Officer Dale Peters contacted Klenke at his Redlands home and found a slingshot and projectiles in his car that matched those used to smash the windows, Baker said.

Police believe Klenke damaged the windows and planned to later contact the businesses or vehicle owners offering to repair them for a fee, Baker said. Police also believe Klenke was preparing to damage more windows when he was arrested.

(“Police arrest glazer,” Redlands Daily Facts, February 2) Hard times call for out-of-the-box thinking. Obviously, Klenke has been boning up on the Austrian School of economics, like Joe the Plumber.

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