Monthly Archives: April 2016

Sears Holdings Closing At Least 50 Stores

Kmart Harrison, OH. Photo by  Mike Kalasnik
Kmart Harrison, OH. Photo by
Mike Kalasnik

On the heels of the announcement of 100 layoffs at the end of February, Sears is continuing its march to improved profitability with the closure of about 50 stores around the country.

Sears, whose headquarters is in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, announced that it is planning to speed-up shutting down of at least 50 “unprofitable stores.” Included in the action will be many K-Mart stores as well, which is owned by Sears Holdings.

“The decision to close stores is a difficult but necessary step as we take aggressive actions to strengthen our company, fund our transformation and restore Sears Holdings to profitability,” said Edward S. Lampert, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sears Holdings. “We’re focusing on our best members, our best categories and our best stores as we work to accelerate our transformation.”

The original plan was to spread out the closures over several months, but because of poor sales during the holiday season, the parent company decided the process of closing stores should be sped up.

According to Sears’ earnigns report, released in February, total revenue for the fourth quarter of 2015 was $7.3 billion, down from $8.1 billion in 2014.

“Sears Holdings will continue to transform as the role of the store evolves to fit the way that members want to shop,” Mr. Lampert said. “Through our continued investments in Integrated Retail, our stores are a critical component of our strategy as we provide our members with industry-leading innovations such as Meet with an Expert, In-Vehicle Pickup and Return and Exchange in Five.”

Liquidation sales at closing K-Mart locations will begin on May 12, while those at Sears will start on April 29. The following Illinois K-Marts are on the chopping block:

  •  7050 S Pulaski                            Chicago
  • 721 N Vermillion Street          Danville
  • 1150 W Carl Sandburg Dr      Galesburg
  • 17355 Torrence Ave                 Lansing
  • 2909 Court St                              Pekin
  • 3840 46th Ave                             Rock Island

Mark Berger’s Work for the Oscars

sound-systemSo often people who work the hardest get the least credit.  No truer is this the case than with the Oscars.  According to a recent article in The Northern Light by Steve Guntli:

“This year’s Academy Awards ceremony was one of the best in recent history: swift, topical, and, for the most part, the right movies got the right awards. But even in a good year, things tend to slip through the cracks, either not earning enough recognition from the Academy or being ignored completely.”

Likewise with Mark Berger.  True he has received awards for his work as a sound engineer (such as via: Apocalypse Now, The Right Stuff, Amadeus and The English Patient), but at the end of the day how many people really remember “the sound guy”?

Having said that, at the Oscars ceremony there is often confusion in the sound awards.  Alex Garofalo noted that people get confused about the distinction between sound editing and sound mixing.   In an article in The International Business Times, he explained it like this:

“Sound editing refers to the creation of all the sound elements, besides music, in a movie. These include sound effects, dialogue recorded on the set and automated dialogue replacement. In contrast, sound mixing refers to the combination necessary to achieve the proper balance between dialogue, music, sound effects and any other aural elements.”

Mark Berger falls into the latter category: sound mixing. Indeed, he has in his lifetime, been a sound mixer for over 165 movies, and thereafter he used this skill to teach to others.

Let’s take a moment with these Oscars to remember the hard work of all those behind the scenes; without the skill sound mixers like Berger, movies just wouldn’t be what they are today.



IRS Opening Branches at Your Nearby Seven-Eleven

Seven-11 will now take money from taxpayers for the IRS. Photo by HenryWBee
Seven-11 will now take money from taxpayers for the IRS. Photo by HenryWBee

In order to make it as easy as possible for the approximately 1 in 13 households in America that don’t have bank accounts to pay their taxes, the IRS will allow people to pay them at Seven-Eleven convenience stores.

Seven-Eleven convenience stores are small groceries found in a huge number of neighborhood strip malls has been catering to people without bank accounts or credit cards more every year. The IRS decision to allow payments in 7,000 of these stores throughout the country is a reflection of the need to make it easier for people to pay their tax bills.

“We continue to look for new ways to provide services for our taxpayers … this provides a new way for people who can only pay their taxes in cash without having to travel to an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

Anyone that would like to pay their taxes at a Seven-Eleven will have to sign up first by going to payments page. They will receive instructions and an email confirming their information after the IRS verifies it. Then they will receive a payment code and more instructions. Then they will be able to make a payment at a local store.

The IRS urges anyone considering this option for payment to start in advance, because it could take a few days to get confirmation. To avoid penalties or late fees payments need to be made by April 18 this year. There is a $1,000 payment limit per day, and a $3.99 fee for each payment.

Chicago Number One on the Unemployment List

Rahm Emanuel, former White House Chief of Staff (2009-2010), Mayor of Chicago since 2011
Rahm Emanuel, former White House Chief of Staff (2009-2010), Mayor of Chicago since 2011

February saw a rise in the City of Chicago’s unemployment rate to 7.2 percent, and increase of .3 percent over last year. This explains why Mayor Rahm Emanuel is working so hard to bring jobs to the city.

One explanation for the rise comes from the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The IDES blamed the rise at least partly on the fact that more people are actively looking for jobs recently, as the economy seems to be improving.

The poor job situation is just one more crisis Emanuel has been dealing with lately. He has also been taking the heat for the high crime rate, the poor performance of the city’s schools, and the large pension debt, to name just three.

Businesses in Chicago have been feeling the pinch, and have expressed their unhappiness about the large property tax increase that arrived in Chicago this year to help alleviate the pension problem. There is a fear that this new tax could persuade some businesses to flee the city, or how much of a presence they choose to have in Chicago.

The greater Chicago metro area, including Naperville and Arlington Heights also saw a rise in unemployment: from 6.5 percent a year ago to 6.7 percent in February. The area ranks in first place of the 51 metro markets in the country with populations of one million or more with the highest unemployment rate, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Las Vegas comes in second with a 6.5 percent rate of unemployment.