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Business Briefs


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POSTED: Monday, September 07, 2009

Whole Foods to celebrate first anniversary

Whole Foods Market is getting ready to celebrate one year at Kahala Mall on Thursday.

Shoppers are invited to enjoy free birthday cake, a gift with purchase, special sales like $1 bottles of Sierra Nevada Ale and other giveaways.

Whole Foods Market is planning to open three more stores—at Kahului, Ward Village Shops and Kailua.

United to serve Trader Vic's food on Hawaii flights

Trader Vic's Restaurant Group will be providing Polynesian-inspired meals to Hawaii-bound United Airlines passengers in first-class seating.

The meals include island-inspired chicken with grilled vegetables, fried rice, sesame noodles and Mai Tai spears and were designed by both companies' corporate chefs.

Mobi PCS available in 7-Eleven stores

The 56 7-Eleven locations statewide are now offering Mobi PCS products for sale. Earlier this summer, Mobi PCS announced the launch of new retail initiatives with phone sales through the 32 full-service Longs Drugs locations throughout Hawaii.

Mobi has selected a single all-purpose handset for sale in the 7-Eleven stores. The Nokia 6015, a handset with a long-standing track record for dependability, is available at $79.

Marketing company sells clients Facebook friends

SAN FRANCISCO » On Facebook, most people make friends the old-fashioned way—by sending a request to be added to someone's posse of pals. Now an Australian marketing company hopes to save you time and energy by simply buying you a few thousand buddies.

The service from uSocial is mostly meant for businesses, celebrities and other individuals looking to expand on the social network, and Facebook isn't happy about it.

Under the service, which launched last week, 1,000 new Facebook friends cost less than $200. For 5,000 Facebook friends—the maximum allowed by that site—uSocial charges $727, though through mid-September the promotional rate is $654.30.

The service also can help companies accumulate fans—Facebook-speak for the users who acknowledge liking a person, business or idea on the site.

Leon Hill, the 24-year-old founder of Brisbane, Australia-based uSocial, said businesses and other clients are essentially buying a base of potential customers.

He said businesses are interested in his service because they are realizing that social media Web sites can help generate buzz more quickly, cheaply and effectively than online ads and more traditional types of advertising.

Hill said friends are all gathered manually.

USocial logs in to a client's Facebook profile or creates a new one. It seeks out people who would be a good fit and sends them friends requests tailored to that business.

People strive to get most out of work benefits

DES MOINES, Iowa » A new survey finds 90 percent of employees plan to keep or increase work benefits as their company's open enrollment season approaches. It's surprising because many workers have cut back much of their personal spending.

The survey for MetLife Inc. shows more than a third of all workers say they have less money to spend this year, but just 11 percent plan on decreasing their benefits.

The telephone survey of 1,000 workers, age 18 and older at companies with 10 employees or more, was done in late July by GfK Custom Research North America. It has a statistical margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Employees get paid for little effort

Though times are trying, many small-business owners admit they're paying employees just to show up and not much more.

A recent telephone survey of 1,000 randomly selected U.S. small businesses with revenue between $1 million and $200 million found that 41 percent of their workers are paid for their attendance rather than their performance. Of those businesses surveyed, 45 percent said their employees don't have any daily, specific or measurable goals.

Meanwhile, 45 percent said the employees don't contribute directly to the bottom line.

Total recall

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is expanding a recall of Durabrand DVD players to include more than 4 million devices after the company said it received seven reports of the products overheating, leading to fires and property damage.

The Durabrand DVD players were sold exclusively at Wal-Mart stores nationwide from January 2006 through July 2009.

The safety commission said consumers should stop using the DVD player and return it to Wal-Mart for a refund. Details: by phone at (800) 925-6278 or online at http://www.walmartstores.com.

COMING UP

» Today: Labor Day. Markets closed.

» Tomorrow: Federal Reserve releases consumer credit data for July.

» Wednesday: Federal Reserve releases Beige Book.

» Thursday: Commerce Department releases international trade for July.

» Friday: Commerce Department releases wholesale trade inventories for July. Treasury releases federal budget for August. Campbell Soup Co. releases fourth-quarter financial results.