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New (pricey) Frozen merchandise unveiled

We did a story last month about the continued popularity of merchandise surrounding Disney's smash hit movie "Frozen." Eight months after the movie hit theaters, manufacturers are still struggling to keep up, leaving retailer shelves empty and parents desperately searching for anything emblazoned with Anna, Elsa or Olaf.

But "for the first time in forever," Kohl's sent out an e-mail blast this morning trumpeting a new line of Frozen merchandise hitting shelves.

But hang onto your carrots, Kristoff, because you haven't had sticker shock this bad since you tried to buy a rope at Wandering Oaken's Trading Post.




There's a beautiful, reversible Anna and Elsa charm that can be worn on a necklace or bracelet. Too bad it's $100.



  Olaf charm

Too pricey? You can get Olaf for $85.


Or a non-descript snowflake for $55.




How about something more practical, like a cup?

Olafcup Frozencup






They'll set you back $18.99 apiece. But don't worry, it's a steal compared to the original price of $27.

How about something really practical, like underwear?

That'll be $18, please. That's only about $2.50 per pair. Maybe you and seven of your friends can pitch in and split them up!

There was no sign of the elusive Frozen backpack kids are dreaming about for back to school. But there was a link to the sought-after 12-inch Anna doll--out of stock, of course.


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Paula Deen addresses racism scandal during local appearance

PaulaYOLOEmbattled celebrity chef Paula Deen was in Williamsville this weekend, hosting a cooking demonstration for a near-capacity crowd of 1,100 enthusiastic fans at Samuel's Grande Manor. After entering to a standing ovation, Deen addressed the scandal that erupted last year when it came out that she had used racial slurs. The reaction left her with a cancelled Food Network TV show and caused several retailers such as Home Depot and Walmart to drop her line of cookware.

“I have so many friends here, so many people who believe in me. My partners who never quit believing in me, who knew who I was and were steadfast in your love for me. Thank y’all," Deen said.

At one point, Deen singled out Savino Nanula, the Tops Friendly Markets founder and a partner in her Paula Deen Foods venture, who was sitting in the front row.

"Isn't that right, Nino?" she said, before kissing the top of his head. The crowd laughed and applauded.

She went on to address the scandal directly:

“I had a rough year. My family had a rough year. My partners had a rough year. But we all learned a lot.

In June, when people were saying terrible things about me that were not true, it was heartbreaking. But I told my family, don’t ask me how I know this, but God’s arms are wrapped all around us. We’re gonna be all right. And we’re gonna be better than we ever were.

You’ve got to go down in the valley to enjoy the days when you’re on the peak of that mountain overlooking everything. You’ve got to have those days.

I said I’m not gonna talk about that. And what do I do? First thing I do is come out here and talk about it.

I just want you all to know I cannot ignore it and I can’t go without saying that we are not looking back anymore, we’re only looking to the future and with a family like the Nanulas that have loved me unconditionally and who have believed in me. I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life and I’ve made so many new friends here in Buffalo."

Deen arrived in town Thursday afternoon, stopping in Rochester to visit a Wegmans store, then appearing at Dash's Markets to promote her Springer Mountain Farms chicken.

She also visited Landies Candies, the Buffalo company that makes her Paula Deen Foods sugar-free chocolate, handmaking a batch of chocolate herself. She cut the ribbon on her Paula Deen Foods retail showroom in Clarence Saturday before her appearance at Samuel's Grande Manor.


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Online subscription debate

MargaretThe Buffalo News will begin charging those who do not have home delivery subscriptions to the News for digital access to, editor Margaret Sullivan announced today.

Sure, the added revenue from digital subscriptions will help stanch the profit losses the News has endured in recent years. But more importantly, pricing home delivery of the Sunday paper (which includes a free digital subscription) cheaper than a digital subscription alone will hopefully increase the paper's subscription numbers. That, in turn, will help sell more print advertising, which is where the real revenue comes in.

It's similar to the model free newspapers use. Giving away print papers bulks up circulation numbers. Advertisers see those numbers and are willing to buy ads that all those eyeballs will see. The Economist illustrates the concept by describing the advent of penny papers:

NewsiesON THE MORNING of September 3rd 1833 a new kind of newspaper went on sale on the streets of New York. With its mix of crime reports and human-interest stories, the Sun was intended to appeal to a mass audience, and its publisher, Benjamin Day, made it cheap: at one penny, it was one-sixth of the price of most other papers. The most popular newspaper in America at the time, according to Mitchell Stephens, author of “A History of News”, was New York’s Courier and Enquirer, which sold 4,500 copies a day. Day’s new “penny paper” appealed to people who had not bought newspapers before. Within two years the Sun was selling 15,000 copies a day.

In hindsight this was a turning point because it introduced a new business model to the industry. The Sun’s large circulation attracted advertisers, and the resulting revenue enabled Day to keep the price of the newspaper down and its circulation up. Instead of relying mostly on selling copies, newspapers came to depend mostly on advertising. It was a great deal for all concerned: readers got their news cheap, advertisers could reach a large audience easily and newspapers could afford to employ professional reporters instead of relying on amateurs.

Unfortunately, giving away content online has the opposite effect, since digital advertising isn't anywhere near as profitable as print advertising. If anything, it pulls eyeballs away from the print product, which turns off print advertisers.

FrontPageDavid Simon, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review, explains part of why charging for online content is important in today's age:

Content matters. And you must find a way, in the brave new world of digitization, to make people pay for that content. If you do this, you still have a product and there is still an industry, a calling, and a career known as professional journalism. If you do not find a way to make people pay for your product, then you are—if you choose to remain in this line of work—delusional.

In the comments section under Sullivan's column today, some folks have said they will gladly pay for the online news they value here. Others have vowed to leave and never come back.

And that was expected.

But as much as any paper hates to lose readers, history has shown that not charging for content actually hastens a decline in readership faster than charging does.

From CJR:

[The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette] has charged online and its daily circulation has fallen just 3.5 percent in the past decade while U.S. papers overall tumbled 16 percent from 2002 to 2009 alone (when Newspaper Association of America numbers stop). The Wall Street Journal has charged from the beginning and its print circulation has stayed roughly even over the past ten years, while overall circulation, including digital subscriptions has actually risen significantly. The New York Times has already reaped tens of millions of dollars a year in incremental revenue by adding its paywall, and now it seems everybody is jumping on board.

Hulk smash record

In its second weekend at the box office, "The Avengers" has made history again, smashing with hulk-like authority previous box office records.

The superhero-packed film earned $103.2 million this weekend, bringing its total domestic take to $373.2 million and global gross to over $1 billion. It's the first time a film has made more than $100 million during its second-week run in theatres. It broke James Cameron's record for "Avatar," which earned $75.6 million during its second weekend.



A new Mini store coming.

From Business Today:


 If you're in the market for a Mini Cooper, you may soon have a new location to choose from. Towne Automotive Group sent plans for a standalone Mini dealership to the Clarence Industrial Development Agency seeking possible financial assistance. The dealership currently sells BMWs and Minis out of one dealership on Main Street near Transit Road, but is planning a new 10,000-square-foot center on Main Street near Westwood Road. The projected price tag for the project is $2.5 million.


The Kodak Theatre may soon have a new name. The Hollywood venue, which hosts the Academy Awards, has been sponsored by Kodak since 2001 in a 20-year deal worth $72 million. But the Eastman Kodak Co. won bankruptcy court approval Wednesday to remove its name and back out of that deal. It will save the bankrupt company about $3.6 million per year.


Dresser-Rand Group in Olean, which develops supersonic compression technology, has been awarded $500,000 toward the planned construction of a $9.6 million research and development facility by Empire State Development. The economic development agency also awarded $200,000 to Buffalo's Galvstar LLC, a maker of galvanized steel that is set to anchor the former American Axle plant. Empire State Development gave $3.36 million in grants to projects throughout the state.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

It's Friday, people!



Sportmen's Tavern gets some video love

From Business Today:


The top management at a local company is getting shuffled around.

Sovran Self Storage, which owns the Uncle Bob's self-storage chain, is promoting its current chief financial officer, David Rogers, to CEO. Former CEO Robert Attea will become the executive chairman. 

The changes are part of the company's succession plan and will take place March 1.


A Hamburg building products maker has bought a small metal grating company in Alberta. Gibraltar Industries has acquired Edvan Industries, which makes metal grating primarily for the oil and gas industry. Gibraltar has targeted its metal mesh business for growth, and this latest acquisition will help propel that growth along. The addition is expected to add $5 million to Gibraltar's annual sales. 



A Tonawanda of Tonawanda homeowner is getting more exposure than she expected when she first listed her home for sale. Producers of the Today Show chose a house for sale at 61 St. John's Avenue in the Town for a segment it is doing on homes that cost less than $200,000.


 Office Depot confirmed it is closing its locationat 2309 Eggert Road. About 20 employees will be out of work when the struggling office supply store closes its doors at the end of March.   

Who is  etting hired, promoted and honored?

Check out Visit Buffalo Niagara's new promotional video about iconic local bar and music venue, the Sportsmen's Tavern:


Super Bowl ads good for local affiliate

From Business Today:


During the Super Bowl, all eyes may be on the national commercials that spend millions of dollars to air their ads in front of the the large, diverse audience the football game brings. But local NBC affiliate WGRZ was much more interested in what local advertisers were doing. That's because they were alloted enough time to air about 15 commercials during the game, selling the slots to local advertisers for an estimated $12,000 to $17,000 apiece.


Home sales increased in December. Sales rose 4.2 percent to 774 in December from 743 during the same month the previous year. Sales were up 10.4 percent from November's 701 sales, making it the largest December number since the glory days of 2006 and 2007. Newly listed sales were up 13 percent. The positive sales results are being attributed to the region's stretch of unseasonably mild weather.    


Profits were up at Astronics Corp. during the fourth quarter.  Profits rose 16 percent to $5.2 million, or 40 cents per share, from $4.5 million, or 35 cents per share, a year ago. The increase is attributed to strong growth in the company's aircraft cabin electronics sales. That strength offset losses in the company's test systems business. Astronics Corp. is an East Aurora-based maker of aircraft lighting and electronics products.

 Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Here is one of the only local ads local advertising representatives found memorable:


Tower deal teeters. Phone books fizzle.

   In Business Today, we'll be sorry if the deal to resurrect the Statler Towers falls through [again]. But it's unlikely too many will be morning the loss of the White Pages. I can't even tell you where my copy is. Maybe it's a doorstop on top of something that needed to be flattened.

Statler deal in jeopardy as group raises doubts - Matt Glynn/The Buffalo News
  A lawyer for the investment team planning to buy the Statler Towers in downtown Buffalo is raising doubts that the deal will be closed.
   "Am I confident there's going to be a closing? No," said Robert Knoer, an attorney for Mark D. Croce, Statlerlookingup after a court hearing Thursday. "There are significant hurdles at the Statler. I think everyone is acting in good faith to overcome them."
   Croce and James J. Eagan formed Statler City LLC to acquire the Niagara Square landmark. Their offer for the Statler, valued at $700,000, was accepted by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Carl Bucki in August. But under the sale agreement, they can walk away from the deal after a 60-day "due diligence" period, which expires in mid-November. ...
   Thursday's hearing dealt with a proceeding initiated in the United Kingdom involving the personal bankruptcy of developer Bashar Issa. He formerly owned the Statler through BSC Development of Buffalo, which was forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2009.
   Bucki agreed to recognize a Chapter 15 bankruptcy proceeding involving Issa after gaining assurances from a lawyer in the case, Bernard Schenkler, that the Statler would not be affected.
   Chapter 15, established in 2005, pertains to bankruptcy proceedings that cross international boundaries, where a debtor has assets in multiple countries. The United Kingdom-based trustees in the Chapter 15 Issa case, represented locally by Schenkler, want to investigate other personal assets that Issa, who now lives in Dubai, might have in the United States.
   "It may be that there are no [personal] assets, I don't know," Bucki said. But the trustees in the case will now have the ability to explore the issue, he said.

Residential phone book going way of dinosaur - David Robinson/The Buffalo News
   The White Pages are going the way of the rotary-dial phone.
   Beginning in January, Verizon is dropping the residential White Pages from the directories that it will deliver to its customers.
   But the change won’t affect Verizon’s customers in Erie County for more than a year. Because the Erie County edition of the phone book comes out in December — before the change takes effect — the upcoming directory will include residential listings for one last time, said Andrew Shane, a spokesman for SuperMedia LLC, the Texas company that publishes the Verizon directory.
   The move to eliminate residential listings, approved Thursday by the State Public Service Commission, is being touted by Verizon officials as a way to improve efficiency and keep about 5,000 tons out paper out of the state’s waste stream.
   Verizon said most households don’t use the residential listings, relying instead on the Internet and other new technology. Only about 1 in 9 households still use the residential White Pages, Verizon said, citing a 2008 Gallup survey showing that use had declined from 25 percent in 2005. ...
   With the PSC ruling, the Verizon phone books now will contain only business and government White Pages, along with information pages and the Yellow Pages. Residential listings will be at Printed or CD-ROM versions can be obtained by calling (800) 888-8448.
- The White Pages, Where Anybody Could Be Somebody - Scott Gurian/NPR
- White pages latest casualty of Internet - Teresa F. Lindeman/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- Time to Scrap the White Pages? - Leora Broydo Vestal/The New York Times

   So here is a scene that will never be repeated:


   [OK. All the words are backwards. I'm told it's a trick to keep the copyright police away. Whatever.]

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

It's all about image

   In Business Today, and out front, we have people worried about image - their own and the message that is sent by people who want our votes but spend their money somewhere else.

Cola giant bottles image as the real Coke - David Robinson/The Buffalo News
   Peter Benzino [right] wants to make one thing perfectly clear: The Coca-Cola bottling plant in the Town of Tonawanda is not Tonawanda Coke, the foundry coke manufacturer accused of numerous pollution Cokebottler violations.
   [Tests show coke plant's emissions of benzene far exceed EPA limits - Buffalo News 10/1/10]
   To avoid any confusion, the soft-drink bottler has started a three-week ad campaign on several local radio stations explaining that the two companies are very different.
   "I just want people to understand who we are and who they are," said Benzino, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Buffalo's vice president and general manager.
   Benzino worries that customers reading or hearing stories about Tonawanda Coke's environmental troubles might confuse it with the soft-drink bottler and stop buying Coca-Cola products.

Print your ads here, politicians urged - George Pyle/The Buffalo News
   The old saw that all politics is local turns a little sour in the ears of some Western New York printing firms, where managers are unhappy at the sight of their hometown politicians buying their fliers, mailers and door-hangers from shops in other places.
   That led Timothy Freeman, president of the Amherst-based Printing Industries Alliance, to send an open letter to the area’s political candidates reminding them of the value of buying locally.
   “New York State’s economy continues to be very challenging,” Freeman wrote. “With national attention on putting the unemployed back to work, your decision to ‘Buy Direct’ could mean the different between keeping or losing a job for one of your constituents.”

   Speaking of coke, there is something else the soft drink would rather not be confused with -- even though the original formula included it, hence the name.  We'll let Dr. Clapton explain:


-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Backwards on TV [on purpose] ...

   In Business Today, a new owner for a TV station that runs old shows. And a panel of experts lament how far behind the U.S. is in exploiting solar energy.

- WNGS-TV bought by local man; to air films - David Robinson/The Buffalo News
   WNGS-TV has a new owner and, in a matter of days, will switch from religious programming to showing movies and vintage TV shows as an affiliate of This TV network.
   The purchase of the long-dormant Springville television station by ITV of Buffalo and two other entities, all controlled by Western New York broadcasting industry veteran Philip A. Arno, was approved earlier this week by the Federal Communications Commission. ...
   The switch to This TV is expected to occur within a day or two, Arno said Wednesday. This TV is a network from MGM and Weigel Broadcasting that features movies from the film libraries of MGM, United Artists, Orion Pictures and others. It also carries classic television shows such as “Mister Ed,” “The Patty Duke Show,” “Sea Hunt” and “The Outer Limits.”

   [Whatever you do, don't start following these links. You won't get any work done for the rest of the day. We will control your monitor.]

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