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Swap shop nets seven arrests

BY Brae Canlen

A two-month investigation into “swap shops” that sell discounted merchandise resulted in seven arrests and charges against five stores for receiving stolen property, according to an article in the Middletown Journal.

Undercover agents, along with security personnel from Lowe’s and Sears, visited five swap shops on Sept. 8 to make “one final sale” of reportedly stolen merchandise, according to the report. After the sales, the officers immediately served a search warrant and found multiple power tools with the serial numbers removed, several GPS units, gas trimmers and electronic devices such as TVs and Blu-ray players. 

In one incident, a spokesman for the Middletown Police said an undercover officer took merchandise into a shop with security tags, saying it was stolen property. The officer was told the shop could not accept merchandise with security tags, so the officer took the merchandise into the parking lot, removed the tag and returned to the shop to complete the transaction. 

Swap shop employees were charged with various felonies and misdemeanors connected to receiving stolen property and violations of swap-shop regulations. One suspect, 28-year-old Wendell Wilson, allegedly warned some of the other establishments after the police served the first search warrant. Wilson was arrested for obstructing justice, a fifth-degree felony.

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Compared with last year, retail sales are rising

BY Ken Clark

The U.S. Census Bureau announced Wednesday that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for August were virtually unchanged from the previous month, and up 7.2% from the month last year.

Adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, August sales were an estimated  $389.5 billion. Total sales for the June through August 2011 period were up 7.9% from the same period a year ago.

In the building material & garden equipment and supplies business — NAICS 444 dealers — adjusted sales in August were $25.019 billion, an increase of 0.2% over last month, and an increase of 6.7% over the same month last year. 

Also interesting: nonstore retailers sales were up 10.4% from last year.

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Home Depot sells franchise division

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Baird Capital Partners, the U.S.-based buyout fund of Baird Private Equity, has announced the acquisition of Harris Research Inc. (HRI) from Home Depot. 

Based in Logan, Utah, HRI is a leading franchisor of in-home consumer services in the United States and internationally. The company’s Chem-Dry brand is a provider of carpet and upholstery cleaning services with approximately 4,000 franchises worldwide. Chem-Dry will continue its lead generation program with Home Depot, according to the announcement.

HRI also offers the N-Hance wood cabinet and flooring renewal service through more than 200 franchises. N-Hance will continue to be featured as one of Home Depot’s renovations offerings at its retail locations in the United States and Canada, as well as directly to consumers.

Financing for the transaction is being provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A., BBVA, and Caltius. Baird is joined in the investment by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. 

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