Retailers are calling this year's Black Friday weekend, which now includes Thanksgiving Day, a success.
Nearly 75 percent of adult consumers spent at least part of one day shopping over the extended weekend, which runs from Thursday to Sunday, according to a survey by America's Research Group and Inmar, a technology firm.
The opportunity to shop on Thanksgiving, particularly Thanksgiving night, proved attractive to many.
More than 30 percent of consumers said they ventured out after the Thanksgiving meal to shop, the report said.
In the Omaha area, many Thanksgiving Day shoppers said they were lured to stores by Thanksgiving-only deals on bicycles, expercise equipment, boots and small appliances or Black Friday specials that launched Thursday evening.
"In general, consumers are feeling better overall about spending more," said Britt Beemer, chairman and chief executive of America's Research.
"Feeling better" translated into a healthy percentage of shoppers spending more than they had budgeted: 46 percent of said they "spent more than they planned because the deals were 'too good to pass up,'" according to the report.
About 25 percent of shoppers said Black Friday remains their "primary" shopping day.
Retailers have reason to hope that there are still more consumer dollars to be spent: 56 percent of shoppers reported being less than halfway through their holiday shopping, which means retailers can expect a "significant amount of additional shopping before the season ends," Beemer said.
About 73 percent of consumers said they plan to spend another three to 13 days in stores. The survey, which has an error margin of plus or minus 3.8 percent, consisted of 1,000 telephone interviews from Nov. 29 thorugh Dec. 1.
Separately, First Data said the earlier store openings on Thanksgiving Day boosted spending overall for the two-day Thanksgiving/Black Friday shopping event.
Spending grew 9 percent total over the two days, with Thanksgiving shopping driving most of that, as Black Friday same-store sales rose 3.4 percent.
Cold, dry weather provided "perfect holiday shopping weather," First Data said.
Same-store electronics sales grew 9.1 percent and the stores with the biggest growth were those in the category of sporting goods, books, music and hobby items, up 27.3 percent.
Consumers also felt more confident about buying on credit -- shopping on credit cards grew 8.8 percent, First Data said.
The Nebraska Tourism Commission is taking registrations for its annual Agri/Eco-Tourism Workshop planned for Feb. 3-5 at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Convention Center in Kearney. The workshop aims to help ag operators learn to get the most out of their land, learn fresh marketing ideas, discover greater financial opportunities and network with potential partners.
"Today's growing interest in agritoursim offers new and additional opportunities for landowners and rural communities. It allows visitors to experience agriculture first-hand and to be a part of nature, away from the pressures of city life," commission executive director Kathy McKillip said.
Workshop attendees usually include farmers, ranchers, outfitters, vineyard operators, u-pick operators, managers of eco-tourism attractions, chamber/tourism directors and more. Popular Nebraska agri-tourism businesses include Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard, Roca Berry Farm and Wessel's Living History Farm.
Keynote Speaker Carol Patterson, author of "The Business of Ecotourism," will share strategies about how you can reinvent your tourism organization and rediscover your passion.
Lincoln PR firm Swanson Russell and Associates will offer suggest low-cost and no-cost public relations opportunities.
For information click here or call Karen Kollars at 308-249-3220.
Hefty Seed Co. will open its first Nebraska store near West Point later this month.
The agricultural seed and chemical retailer will locate two and a half miles south of West Point at 2150 Highway 275.
The facility will sell more than 400 agricultural chemicals. It features bulk storage, allowing for 37,000 gallons of agricultural chemical to be stored on site, as well as an ag chemical supply warehouse and seed storage area. It will be managed by agronomists Chad Odvody and Jacob Gubbels.
An office wing incorporates meeting areas for agronomy and informational sessions throughout the year. An open house is planned for Jan. 16 with the public invited to tour the new facility.
Hefty Seed of Baltic, S.D. has 34 locations spanning from the Midwest to the Pacific coast.
In the startup accelerator's second year, it aims to:
>> Expand its roster from seven to 10 startups
>> Offer new ways for mentors to engage with the startups
>> Include more current and future leaders of the region's startup community
>> Provide more value for participating sponsors
Since the accelerator wrapped, five of the participating companies have received funding, six have decided to put down Omaha roots and one has aligned with a major retailer.
Straight Shot has also hired David Arnold, formerly of MindMixer, as its new managing director. The program will begin accepting applications for its next class in January.
GORDON - Open Range Beef has launched a new meat processing operation here in a plant that closed in 2008.
The plant has new equipment and employs 100 new and experienced employees. After a ramp-up and training period, plant official Pat Shudak said the 36,000-square-foot facility is poised to process between 250 and 300 head of cattle each day.
The plant will also serve as a local hub for custom slaughtering and will offer processing for specialty meat, such as buffalo, organic and natural beef products. Open Range Beef is operating inside the former Local Pride plant, a kosher plant that was shuttered in 2008 after the New York-based owner, Sholom Rubashkin, was convicted of fraud and sentenced to 27 years in prison. The plant sat empty until the City of Gordon acquired the property at a trustee sale in 2009.
The plant had been up for sale for several years before Open Range Beef purchased the facility from the city in late June and began remodeling.
Gordon City Manager Fred Hlava said the re-opened plant will be a boon for the city of 1,600: it will boost the property tax base, offer better prices to local producers, provide jobs and spur growth.
Shudak said the plan is to expand the plant's cooler space in the future and add 175 more jobs.
Hlava said Gordon's residents as well as nearby Oglala Sioux Tribe members make a healthy labor pool. He said the city is already looking at ways to address the housing shortage incoming workers are bound to face.
Scooter's Coffee will be on one local grocery store's shelves Tuesday and you'll soon find their latest offering, Scooter's Chocolate Espresso Meltaways, at all Scooter's locations.
Various Scooter's bagged whole bean and ground coffees will be available at Hy-Vee's 132nd Street and West Dodge Road location. Heidi Bedlan, Scooter's national accounts manager, said flavors will include the Omaha-based coffee chain's whole bean and ground signature Scooter's and Ethiopian blends. The chain's ground Scooter Doodle cinnamon caramel and hazelnut blends will also be available, along with its whole-bean Husker and Big Red varieties.
You'll also be able to find Scooter's holiday coffee gift baskets at the store, many of which include the new line of chocolates.
Scooter's and Bakers Candies have forged a partnership to create Scooter's Chocolate Espresso Meltaways. The chocolates, which are infused with Scooter's espresso, will be sold at all Scooter's locations, Walgreens, Bakers Candies retail stores and bigredcoffee.com.
"We are thrilled to be part of a historic partnership between two prestigious Nebraska brands," said Todd Baker, general manager of Bakers Candies.
Scooter's was founded in 1998 in Bellevue and Bakers was founded in Greenwood in 1987.
The new Village Pointe Toyota dealership - formerly Old Mill Toyota - is now open at 18201 Cuming Street.
The 7.8-acre auto dealership, just northwest of the 180th Street and West Dodge Road intersection, is owned by the Van Tuyl Group.
The new dealership is able to display 550 new cars and provides 100 parking spaces for customers and staff, triple the capacity of the former Old Mill Toyota dealership, which it replaces.
The new 57,000-square-foot building, which was designed by Omaha's Purdy & Slack Architects, features a mix of glass and aluminum composite panels.
Hours are Mondays through Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
FedEx and UPS aren't the only delivery services that might be worried about the possibility of drones ferrying your Amazon orders.
Santa's reindeer aren't happy about the announcement, and Omaha-based Fat Brain Toys recently came out in support of Santa's tried and true delivery helpers.
"The Elves" at Fat Brain Toys wrote a letter, declaring their commitment to reindeer delivery, to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who said in a "60 Minutes" interview Sunday that the company was experimenting with drone delivery.
"While Amazon is generally applauded for its innovative use of technology, we are deeply troubled by your latest so-called innovation - delivery by drone," the Fat Brain Toys letter reads.
"First you went after the bookstores. Then you went after Main Street. Then you targeted the big box stores. But now you've gone too far, with your decision to target reindeer. Yes, reindeer. For hundreds of years, Santa, with the assistance of his trusty reindeer, has been reliably delivering gifts to children the world over. Sure, there's been the occasional mix-up or late delivery, but by and large, Santa's track record speaks for itself."
It then urged its customers to join the cause by using #savethereindeer on Twitter.
And the elves created this video with a reindeer using its laser eye to shoot down a drone in a fiery explosion.
Reveal Salon & Spa in West Omaha will hold a grand opening and holiday open house from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
The salon is located at 15505 Ruggles St., Suite 107.
The grand opening features prizes and giveaways and refreshments compliments of Fuddruckers and Ragazzi.
And from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.. visitors can receive a complimentary photo with Santa Claus.
The salon and spa, which opened in July, offers hair services including cuts, coloring and Aveda botanical conditioning treatments.
The salon also offers full waxing services, facials, micro-dermabrasion and massage therapy.
Santa Claus doesn't take a break until after Christmas, so why should department stores?
Kohl's Department Stores said today they will keep the doors open for more than 100 hours straight, from 6 a.m. Dec. 20 to 6 p.m. Dec. 24.
The Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based chain, which offers men's, women's and children's apparel and accessories and home decor, operates 1,158 stores in 49 states, including five stores in the Omaha area.
"Kohl's is making it easy for shoppers to wrap up their last-minute gift giving with 24-hour access to Kohl's stores right up to Christmas Eve," said Michelle Gass, Kohl's chief customer officer.