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American Greetings introduces new interactive cards

BY Allison Cerra

CLEVELAND American Greetings Corp has introduced a collection of new cards with fun interactive features, music, and motion sure to delight recipients.

The new cards are sold in special displays marked Lights, Sound, Action and have an array of features, some of which are turned on with special “fun buttons” on the cards. Offerings featuring these “fun buttons” include everything from choose-your-own-punch-line sound cards, to cards that let the recipient remix the audio, to options that incorporate motion with sound and music.

“Our goal was to add to the fun, and give both the sender and the recipient something to smile about,” said Carol Miller, executive director of new product concepts at American Greetings. “Our new line of cards showcase a variety of innovative features that enhance the greeting card experience ultimately making funny cards even funnier. We know that shoppers will get as much of a kick out of playing with them as sending them.”

One card featuring multiple buttons allows the recipient to “pick their birthday bliss.” Consumers are invited to let their imagination run free while contemplating the options. Once the recipient makes a selection they’ll hear a sound clip related to the picture. For example, pushing the button under the shopping scene results in a joyous “Shoe shopping! Shoe shopping! Shoe shopping!” chant.

Another card gives consumers a button that can speed up the audio on a traditional sound or music offering. This ability to “produce” your own sound track can lead to a hilarious remix that can be enjoyed over and over again.

In addition to these interactive enhancements, new licenses and characters add to the lighthearted nature of the cards. From the popular baby rapping trio to The Three Stooges, Larry the Cable Guy, and Mr. Rogers, the cards have personality to spare.

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Wegmans receives Global Innovator Award

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCHESTER, N.Y. Wegmans was the recipient of the International Housewares Association’s 2009 Global Innovator Award, the grocer announced Wednesday.

“Anticipating customer needs and being on target takes collaboration across our entire company,” stated Wegmans’ president Colleen Wegman. “Congratulations to all our exceptional merchants and our stores for such a terrific accomplishment.”

Wegmans was chosen as the winner for the U.S. market in the category of multi-store retailers. Previous U.S. honorees include Bloomingdale’s, Crate & Barrel, Target, and The Container Store.

Heather Pawlowski, Wegmans’ VP general merchandise, accepted the award on Wegmans’ behalf.

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Shopko appoints new CEO

BY Alaric DeArment

GREEN BAY, Wis. A mass-merchandising chain with stores in 13 states has appointed a new CEO.

Shopko announced Wednesday that it appointed W. Paul Jones to the position after the present CEO, Michael MacDonald, announced that he would leave the company April 3. Jones, who has worked for Shopko since November 2007 and has worked in retailing for 20 years, is the president and chief merchandising officer and will assume his new position April 6.

“I want to thank Scott King and Sun Capital for the opportunity to lead this company going forward,” Jones stated. “Shopko is blessed with many assets and many more opportunities.”

Prior to working for Shopko, Jones had leadership positions in several department stores, mid-tier chain stores and mass merchandisers, including May Department Stores, Kohl’s and Sears.

“We appreciate the foundation Mike MacDonald has laid for Shopko’s future growth,” said T. Scott King, senior managing director of Shopko parent company Sun Capital. “We are also ecstatic to have a creative merchant and strong leader like Paul Jones to lead Shopko’s talented management team in the years to come.”

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