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Organic Plant Health branches into bed bugs, finds distributor

BY Brae Canlen

Organic Plant Health, a Charlotte, N.C.-based manufacturer and distributor of eco-friendly fertilizers, soil conditioners and pest-control products, has signed an agreement with MSEP, a high-volume bottling, packaging and distributing company based in South Carolina. Organic Plant Health expects to begin bottling its new Eco-Cedar all-natural insect control product at the MSEP facilities by early August. Eco-Cedar’s new formula recently passed independent scientific testing that concluded its efficacy at controlling bed bugs on contact, according to the company.

Organic Plant Health brand products are currently sold in a variety of independent retail locations across North and South Carolina, including hardware stores, garden centers and plant nurseries. Key customers using Organic Plant Health products include environmentally conscious homeowners and commercial landscape companies; secondary markets served include real estate development companies, vineyards and agriculture.

Products produced and distributed by MSEP can be found at U.S. and international retailers, such as Lowe’s, Menards, and numerous automotive and hardware stores, according to Donna Seeman, VP sales and marketing.

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Retail sales slip in June

BY HBSDealer Staff

The U.S. Census Bureau announced that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for June, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $401.5 billion, down 0.5% from the previous month, but 3.8% above June 2011.

Total sales for the April through June 2012 period were up 4.7% from the same period a year ago.

Retail trade sales were down 0.5% from May 2012, but 3.5% above last year, and nonstore retailers sales were up 10.9% from June 2011.

Sales for the building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers, a group that includes home centers and hardware stores, were $27.281 billion in June on an adjusted basis, down 11% from May.

“High unemployment, persistent global economic headwinds and heightened uncertainty continue to undermine consumer confidence,” said Sandy Kennedy, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). 

“While leading retailers have successfully risen above these circumstances and continue to remain strong, the ongoing challenges remain great. Washington can help by enacting policies that will give clarity and certainty to businesses, freeing them up to invest and grow,” Kennedy added.

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Lowe’s speaks out on Internet sales tax

BY Brae Canlen

The battle over online purchasing and sales tax might be winding to a close as more Republican governors are dropping their opposition to a mandatory state tax on Internet sales. The turning point may have been in May, when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie cut a deal with Amazon.com: Residents of New Jersey would pay a 7% sales tax on Amazon.com purchases, and the nation’s largest e-tailer would build two distribution centers in the state.

“Having one of the most recognized and widely popular Republican leaders take this position gives other politicians comfort that the online sales tax is fair and helps state budgets in crisis,” said Scott Mason, VP government affairs at Lowe’s, in a Wall Street Journal analysis of the issue. The North Carolina-based home improvement chain has a 5% to 10% price disadvantage compared with online retailers, and some customers are using Lowe’s stores as “Internet showrooms” — places to look at a product before they buy it online, according to the article.

Robert Niblock, chairman, CEO and president of Lowe’s, sits on the board and serves as secretary of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), a vocal supporter of what it calls “equal treatment of the collection of sales taxes.”

Virginia, Texas, and Nevada, which all have Republican governors, have followed New Jersey’s examples and made similar agreements with Amazon, the newspaper reported.

Six states already collect sales tax from Amazon on purchases; another seven states have plans in place to do the same.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan bill that would give states authority to mandate online sales tax collection is making its way through Congress.

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