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AAFES seeks to expand its product selection

BY Michael Johnsen

DALLAS The Army & Air Force Exchange Service on Thursday put out a call to smaller suppliers to help stock exchange shelves, suggesting that while the economy is forcing many retailers to accelerate their SKU rationalization programs, AAFES is expanding its product selection.

“Some shoppers drive up to 40 miles or more to come to the exchange,” stated AAFES’ senior enlisted advisor Chief Master Sgt. Jeffry Helm. “The addition of local, small, minority, women- and veteran-owned businesses can help provide the diversity, value and innovation to further enhance their shopping experience.”

Partner businesses, called concessions, operate in AAFES-provided space, primarily in the retail mall area. Benefits include contracts based on a percentage of revenue, a variety of space and merchandising setups and the convenience of being located with the anchor retail store and food outlets, AAFES noted in a press statement. AAFES will also assist in marketing and promoting partner businesses to help maximize awareness on and around the BX/PX.

“Despite the current economic condition, exchange shoppers continue to demonstrate a strong demand for new and unique merchandise,” Helm said. “Partnering with AAFES provides local businesses exposure to a great deal of foot traffic as well as the opportunity to serve military families who are protecting our freedom.”

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Downy launches program to aid hospitalized children

BY Allison Cerra

CINCINNATI Downy fabric softener, in partnership with Quilts for Kids, Inc., has launched the Downy Touch of Comfort program, designed to deliver personalized, hand-made quilts to children staying in Children’s Miracle Network hospitals throughout the country.

Chandra Wilson, a mother of three and star of “Grey’s Anatomy,” has joined Downy’s efforts to try and comfort as many children as possible.

“The Downy Touch of Comfort program delivers to children exactly what it says — comfort when kids need it most,” said program spokeswoman Chandra Wilson. “As a mom, most of my life focuses on caring for my children and making sure they are safe and secure wherever they may be. It brings me a great deal of joy to be a part of this program and know that Downy is partnering with these wonderful organizations to help children feel more comforted and at ease in an unfamiliar and sometimes intimidating place.”

People across the United States can add a “touch of comfort” in their communities in numerous ways by visiting DownyTouchofComfort.com to help make a difference in a child’s life. At the site, people can make donations to benefit the program, volunteer to deliver quilts or even learn how to become a local ambassador. In addition, the quilting community can visit the site to request a quilt kit or they can design their own quilt and send it to their local Quilts for Kids chapter or headquarters for distribution.

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First-ever music and sound envelopes launched by American Greetings

BY Allison Cerra

CLEVELAND American Greetings has announced the launch of the first-ever music and sound envelopes, according to the company.

This patent-pending design has an innovative mechanism in the opening flap, which triggers music or sound to be played each time it is opened. These mailable envelopes allow consumers to add a surprising burst of sound to almost any greeting card. The new envelopes also feature themed designs to create an exciting way to package a greeting card that’s not only visually appealing, but also a lot of fun.

“We know that consumers want to create memorable experiences when celebrating special occasions to show their friends and family just how much they care,” said Mary McClain, new product concepts creative director American Greetings. “Music and sound envelopes are a unique way to customize a song or sound clip to an already carefully selected greeting card and it adds such a wonderful surprise when the envelope is opened.”

Featuring a variety of songs and sounds, the collection has everything to delight recipients, ranging from “What I Like About You” by The Romantics, “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” from New Kids on the Block, and “Happy Birthday” to people cheering and animal noises. The envelopes are perfect additions to any birthday or other festive occasion.

Retailing for $3.49, music and sound envelopes can be found at leading specialty, mass, grocery and drug store channels nationwide. Visit www.corporate.americangreetings.com for more information or store locations.

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