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Eye on Retail: Alexa, order me a Christmas tree

BY Chain Store Age Staff

Amazon is moving in on a holiday tradition.

The online giant will sell live, full-size Christmas trees this year, the Associated Press reported, shipping them in its standard box format. Amazon sold small live Christmas trees last year, but they were of the table-top variety (shorter than 3 ft.).

The trees, which will include 7-ft. Fraser firs along with Douglas firs and Norfolk Island pines, will be shipped within 10 days of being cut down, if not sooner, allowing them to survive the shipping and still arrive fresh.

Click here for more.

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Texas expansion for Chelsea Building Products

The manufacturer will open a second production facility in early 2019.

BY HBSDealer Staff

Chelsea Building Products, the composite building products manufacturer, will open a second manufacturing facility in Greenville, Texas.

The company also announced it will enhance and add capacity to its original Oakmont, Pa. facility.

Chelsea has operated from the Oakmont location since 1985. But the company said its product portfolio and customer base has continued to expand. Along with this growth, investments in equipment and infrastructure have been made in Oakmont to keep up with the demand for energy-efficient, high-performing window systems as well as PVC based products such as mouldings, railings, shutters, and Everlast Advanced Composite siding.

The new Texas facility is strategically located to service Chelsea’s current and future customers in the southern and western United States. The 126,000-square-foot space was previously used as an extrusion operation and has the capability for future expansion.

The infrastructure is set up for a total of 15 extrusion lines, which allows for a fast startup. Extrusion equipment has already been ordered and is expected to arrive in the fourth quarter of 2018, and Chelsea anticipates a full startup in early January 2019.

“We knew at some point in time, the demand for our products would necessitate a second production facility,” said Peter Dewil, president and CEO of Chelsea Building Products. “We expect to continue to make significant investments over the next three years in capacity expansion between the Pennsylvania and Texas plants. With the addition of the Greenville facility, this will significantly increase the overall capacity of Chelsea Building Products.”

“We acquired Chelsea Building Products as a cornerstone of our global strategy; building a strong platform for substantial growth,” states Dirk Seitz, Chairman of the Aluplast Group. “The investments that the Aluplast Group continues to make, in the expansion of Chelsea’s capacity both in Pennsylvania and now Texas, demonstrate our commitment to the North American market.”

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Here comes Hurricane Florence

Ready or not, heavy home damage is expected on the mid-Atlantic.

BY HBSDealer Staff

By Friday morning, or late Thursday night, Hurricane Florence was expected to smash into the Carolina coast. It’s the most heavily-publicized storm of the season, and retailers mobilized in the days and weeks in advance of the landfall.

As millions flee the coast for higher ground, the weather watchers at Planalytics are estimating $700 million in lost sales for the consumer/retail sector. “Batteries, flashlights, building materials, and bottled water are among the top items finding their way into consumers’ baskets along the Southeast coast,” the company wrote in a press release. It listed “Home centers” to be among the retail winners of Hurricane Florence, along with gas stations and convenience stores.

Extended power outages, flooding, and wind damage are expected to drive demand for clean-up items such as pumps, saws, and lumber.

Even far inland, the storm is having an impact on hardware stores and their customers. In Charlotte, 200 miles from coastal Wilmington and home of the venerable Blackhawk Ace Hardware, the store’s Facebook page explained that a large shipment of generators was sold out in a day. The site referred customers to ReadyNC.org for hurricane preparedness advice.

Both Home Depot and Lowe’s describe their hurricane management efforts as “around the clock.”  Lowe’s says it has shipped more than 1,000 truckloads of critical supplies to areas that will be impacted by Hurricane Florence. The company updates its store hours and closing in Carolina here.

At Home Depot’s Hurricane Headquarters, the company says its stores will remain open as long as its safe to keep them opening. Like Lowe’s, stores in Wilmington and Charleston are among those already closed.

In Atlanta, the company’s Disaster Response Command Center is also monitoring Hurricane Olivia that could threaten Hawaii.

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