Monday, October 10, 2011

6 Offbeat Warehouse Club Savings

As joining a warehouse club gets more expensive, would-be members may need to look a little further than multi-packs of frozen pizza and bulk packs of paper towels to decide if the annual fee is worth it.

Costco announced last week that it will raise prices by 10% on Nov. 1, a move that increases the basic membership to $55 from $50 and the executive membership -- which comes with a 2% rebate on all purchases -- to $110 from $100. In January, BJ's Wholesale Club increased its fee to $50 from $45, which a spokeswoman says was done to maintain low store prices and other membership benefits. (Costco did not respond to requests for comment.) Sam's Club is the lone holdout: a spokeswoman says there are no plans to change its long-time $40 fee.

The changes are minor for business customers, but are enough to make consumers reassess, says Howard Jackson, the founder of HSA Consulting Inc. in Knoxville, Tenn. "Clearly you have to look at the overall investment: how often you're going to shop, and what you'll spend," he says.

Savings on groceries along may not be the answer. Industry tracker Warehouse Club Focus estimates that club prices are 25% to 50% cheaper than at other retailers, but coupon clippers say they can beat those discounts by matching manufacturer's coupons and supermarket sales. "I consistently slaughter the prices at warehouse clubs," says Jill Cataldo, the founder of Super-Couponing workshops.

But there are other, less-advertised membership perks that could still make joining worthwhile. Here are six for shoppers still on the fence:


Warehouse clubs tend to price their fuel at a loss to get shoppers in the store, so members who live close to their club can save a bundle on gas, says Jackson. In most cases, non-members can't buy at all, he says, so a member who isn't filling his tank is losing out on substantial savings. At $3.30 per gallon, the Monroeville, Penn., Sam's Club is currently 13 cents below than its next-cheapest competitor, according to At that spread, a driver would save almost $2 on a 15-gallon tank, or more than $100 on a year of weekly fill-ups.


Check warehouse club prices for your next tech upgrade. At Sam's Club, a 55" LG HDTV with 3D capability runs $1,397 -- $303 less than the same model at Best Buy. Return policies are more generous, too, if you change your mind or have any problems. Costco and Sam's Club both allow returns within 90 days, compared with 30 days at Amazon and Best Buy. Bring a smartphone for easy comparisons, though comparing can be tough if model numbers are store specific.

Financial services

Bank partnerships allow members to get slightly better rates. Capital One offers Costco members preferential rates on its InterestPlus Online Savings Account, which yields 0.85% plus a quarterly 10% bonus on interest earned. The members-only 0.91% rate equates to an extra $7 in interest over a year on a one-time, $10,000 deposit. But that yield is only modestly competitive with other high-yield accounts: American Express Bank, to name one, offers 1% to all accountholders.


Club members may secure better rates on homeowners and auto insurance policies. BJ's offers a 10% discount through Liberty Mutual, while Costco promises savings of "up to $485.66" through Ameriprise. Such affiliate discount may also be available through an employer, alma mater or other group, says Scott Simmonds, a Saco, Maine-based insurance consultant. "The trick is to shop around first and make a decision based on value," he says.


Shoppers planning a trip to the amusement park or movies can often save 30% by buying ahead at the warehouse club. For example, Costco charges $82.99 for a 10-pack of AMC Theatres vouchers that don't expire and can be used for any showing. A New Yorker would spend $115 at the box office for those tickets. But less frequent adventurers might find better one-time offers on daily deal sites.


"I wouldn't join a club just for the car-buying service, but if you're a member already, you'd be foolish not to take advantage of it," says Phil Reed, consumer advice editor for Warehouse clubs often pre-negotiate prices with local dealerships, cutting as much as 10% off the sticker price. AAA members might get a similar deal, and seasoned negotiators might be able to do better, he says, but going the club route gets you an offer much faster.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bike Rally Benefits Senior Center

Bikers put the petal to the metal this morning at the first annual Black Rock Senior Center Bike Ride. The center serves a pretty good number of people in and around the community. And when you're a small town, being able to have the funds to supply services can sometimes be a challenge.

"It's a great need. We don't have any funding at all from any outside source. We don't have city, state, county, anything," said Senior Center Director Teresa Redd, which is why the center is depending on the communities help at the first annual "Rumblin Around the Ridge" Bike Ride. Redd says they rely on events like this one, to keep the doors open and is excited to see the community support.

"The bikes are starting to pull up and it's looking good. It's good to see everyone come out and support the seniors and to help us out. Because every penny that we collect today, it goes to the center to buy groceries and keep the place running," said Redd.

She says the center provides meals for nearly 20 to 40 seniors daily, serving not only Black Rock, but even people come from Pocahontas, Smithville, and as far as Batesville.

Almost 30 riders hit the pavement Saturday morning. The ride went through Ravenden, to Ravenden Springs, up to Pocahontas, and ended at Old Davidsonville.

"We're happy to get what we can get. Happy to get everything that we can get, and all the support. Everybody can have good fellowship and see what we're about," said Redd.

Redd says they were able to raise four hundred and fifty dollars for the center.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

New Director of Transportation Claims Joins North American Risk Services

Timothy Kirk joins North American Risk Services (NARS) in the newly created role, Director of Transportation Claims. Kirk brings more than 30 years of experience in the insurance industry, including serving as a former director of the Trucking Industry Defense Association(TIDA). His hiring is reflective of NARS commitment to having industry-specific claims experts on staff to meet client needs.

Throughout his career, Kirk has held claim management positions of increasing responsibility, including serving as branch claim manager for USF&G and vice president of claims for Lincoln General Insurance. While at Lincoln General, he restructured the claim department to handle the bulk of claim volume internally and created strong customer service teams.

“Tim is a great addition to the NARS team,” says Robert Ruryk, President and CEO of NARS. “He has demonstrated excellent customer service and leadership skills throughout his career and we are thrilled to be able to offer his expertise to our transportation clients.”

Headquartered in Altamonte Springs, Fla., NARS ( provides nationwide claims, data and risk management TPA services to businesses, insurers, reinsurers and brokers throughout the United States. NARS is known for the experience and expertise of its employees and the application of those skills in controlling its customers’ loss and administrative costs. NARS also provides its customers with a diverse array of ancillary services including auditing, medical cost management, recovery specialization and a state-of-the-art, web-based information system that is easily shaped to meet each customer’s specific needs.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

American Eagle returns mainline service to Little Rock

American Eagle airlines is resuming mainline service to Little Rock National Airport. The news was met with celebration by airport officials.

"We have been working with American Eagle to upgrade their service for over two years and we are happy that our efforts have come to fruition. This service enhancement is a win for all involved. American Eagle has been a good partner to the airport and the community. We will continue to work with them to develop additional air service improvements", said Ron Mathieu, executive director at Little Rock National Airport.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Old-timers team up for club flick

Hollywood old-timers Ernest Borgnine and Mickey Rooney have teamed up for a wacky new movie about a group of pensioners who turn their nursing home into a nightclub.

The two nonagenarians will play roommates and team up with former M*A*S*H star Sally Kellerman, Paul Sorvino and filmmaker Ron Howard's father Rance in Night Club, the first film by realtor-turned-moviemaker Larry Delrose's Italian American Films group.

The star-studded movie will also feature American Pie actress Natasha Lyonne and Clint Eastwood's Gran Turino neighbour Ahney Her.

The picture will close the upcoming Phoenix Film Festival in Arizona next month.

Delrose tells WENN, "The film presents the idea that one is never too young or too old to find inspiration and meaning in life.

"It is a unique saga about three USC (University of Southern California) students who get a job on the night shift at a nursing home. With the help of one of the home's residents, they improve things there in a very unusual way... There is music and lots of hugging and Italian singing!"

Through his new production company, Delrose hopes to make movies that portray Italian-Americans in a good light following decades of movies about the Mafia.

Rooney has hit the headlines recently after accusing his stepson Christopher Aber of elder abuse.

On Friday, a judge ruled the movie veteran's legal and financial affairs will remain under the permanent control of his lawyer, Michael Augustine, who was appointed temporary conservator in February after the Oscar-winner filed court papers claiming his stepson had been trying to convince him to sign over control of his assets.

The 90-year-old alleged he feared for his safety and in a sworn declaration to the court, Augustine claimed he had found $400,000 missing from one of the star's bank accounts. A judge granted his request for a restraining order against Aber and his wife.

The restraining order against the Abers has not been extended, but the couple has reportedly agreed to stay away from Rooney.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

City celebrates 100th Int’l Women’s Day with vigour

The 100th International Women’s Day (IWD) was observed with great enthusiasm across the city on Tuesday. Various non-governmental organisations, educational institutes, civil society associations and labour unions held seminars, press conferences and marches throughout the day to commemorate the struggle of women all across the globe.

The first IWD was observed on 19 March 1911 in Germany following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. 100 years on, International Women’s Day (IWD) has become a global mainstream phenomenon celebrated across many countries and is an official holiday in approximately 25 countries, including Afghanistan, Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zambia.

Aurat Foundation organised a seminar on “Situation of flood-affected women in Pakistan”, and it was actively participated by several women-rights activists. A documentary on the situation of women affected by the 2010 flood was also aired during the seminar.

Chanan Development Association (CDA), a national youth lead organisation in collaboration with Khawaja Rafique Shaheed Foundation (KRSF) and Global Fund for Children organised interactive dialogues through theatre at Qurban Degree College and Muslim League House in Cantt.

CDA Executive Director Muhammad Shahzad Khan, while talking on the occasion, highlighted the fact that women, particularly young women of the rural areas of Pakistan, continue to suffer from gender discrimination and violence even in this modern era. He shared that a total of 4,069 incidents of violence had been registered from January to June 2010, out of which 2,690 cases were reported from Punjab, 940 from Sindh, 342 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 56 from Balochistan and 41 from Islamabad, while there are some which went unreported. The guests included Punjab CM’s adviser, Saba Sadiq, KRSF Director and MPA, Ghazala Saad, MPA Shumaila Salman and MPA Nafisa Amin.

Centre for Human Rights Education, Lahore, also organised a seminar in which about 300 hundred women and men belonging to different walks of life participated.

Some of the demands on gender equality unanimously passed by the participants of the seminar included, the constitution and statutory laws should define discrimination and violence against women and make discriminatory actions punishable offenses, affirmative measures must be taken to revoke the discriminatory laws and customary practices such as honour killing, burying women alive, domestic violence, forced or exchange marriages, etc.

The Punjab University (PU) Department of Gender Studies Chairperson, Prof Dr Samar Fatima, led a walk at the New Campus, students and teachers taking active part in it. While addressing the participants, the VC, Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran, said the importance of educating women was neglected in the past because of which they were unaware of their rights but now girls are more conscious, pointing out that this year nearly 63 percent girls got admitted to the PU on open merit, as compared to the previous year.

Later the VC also inaugurated Women Gala at the department and visited various stalls of books, fabrics, jewels, skin care, women awareness and others, put up by the students and different NGOs.

Separately, a seminar was also held by the Department of Gender and Development Studies of the Lahore College for Women University.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Indonesia: Java, 1500 Muslim extremists attack an Ahmadi family: three dead, cars and houses in flames

Members of civil society, religious leaders and personalities from the moderate Islamic world strongly condemn the attack that took place yesterday against the Ahmadi community in Indonesia, which has caused death and devastation. The controversy has also embroiled President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the executive, unable to guarantee the safety of all citizens and freedom of worship in the country. The head of state warned that the violence against minorities "in the name of religion" must be stopped, despite his appeal, there is increasing lack of confidence in his abilities.

The latest in a long streak of blood against the Ahmadi community - a victim of violence in other Muslim-majority nations such as Pakistan - took place yesterday morning. A crowd of at least 1500 Muslim extremists attacked the house of a family in the village of Umbulan, in the Cikeusik sub-district, Pandeglang regency (Banten province on the island of Java), torturing the occupants. The toll of the assault is three dead, several injured people, two cars and a house burned.

The episode has raised controversy and fuelled the political confrontation that, in recent weeks, has involved the Indonesian president, unable to guarantee security and the right to religious freedom. Daniel Sparingga, a spokesman for Yudhoyono, revealed that an order has been issued by the President to the Chief of Police, calling for an end to violence. "Enough is enough - said the head of state - violence and attacks against any minority, made in the name of religion, must be stopped."

However, members of civil society and moderate Muslim leaders - condemning the attack - have denounced the lack of interest shown to date by Yudhoyono, unable to curb sectarian violence. Ulul Huda, a Muslim scholar from Central Java, confirmed to AsiaNews, "the inertia of the government," adding that "the Ahmadis in the past have contributed to the struggle for independence in Indonesia. Speaking of the attackers, the scholar labels them "extremists" who "use violence and manipulate Islam for political ends."

The Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the leading moderate Muslim organization in the country has also condemned the attack on the Ahmadiyya community, along with Setara and the Wahid Institute. Professor Azyumardi Azra, from the State Islamic University in South Jakarta , explains to AsiaNews that "violence in the name of religion against certain groups, including the Ahmadis or any other, can not and should not be tolerated."

The Ahmadi sect is considered heretical because it does not recognize Muhammad as the last prophet. It is the victim of attacks in Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and many other countries where Islam is the most prevalent religion. According to preliminary reports, the mob’s anger was unleashed by rumours of an alleged "invasion" of the village of Umbulan by dozens of Ahmadi. In fact, some non-native Ahmadis came to the village to solve a problem related to residence permits. A Filipino woman, the wife of an Ahmadi faithful has started procedures to regularize the situation with the immigration office.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

German vintner discovers World War Two wine cache

Andreas Neymeyer discovered 500 bottles under a cellar staircase while clearing out a burned-out building on his 38 hectare (94 acre) vineyard in southern Germany shortly before Christmas.

"It was my uncle's idea," Neymeyer told Reuters. "I was preparing the building to be torn down and he knew that wine had been hidden sometime before the end of World War II.

"It was springtime 1945 and the French were about to invade. My family wanted to secure some wine if there was any looting by troops."

It was not the first reserve of wine that Neymeyer has found on the vineyard, which produces some 350,000 bottles of wine each year.

"The wine is still drinkable; in fact some is quite good," the fifth generation vintner said. "The dark conditions were ideal for storage."

Some of the bottles were not from the vineyard but were sweet wines thought to be from Spain or Greece. Brandy, schnapps and sacramental wine was also found in the collection.

Neymeyer plans to rebottle the wine and put it up for auction when the new building is ready to open next year.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Elle Fanning & Vera Farmiga in ‘Pure Life’

A new indie film looks like it’s hoping to become a heavy-hitter by adding some impressive names to the cast, according to IndieWire

Pure Life, a drama that follows 13-year-old Maya Donovan as she escapes her hard-working and short-tempered mother in search of romance. Her quest leads her to ‘bad boy’ that she feels is worthy of taking her virginity.

Up-and-coming star Ella Fanning (sister of the Twilight saga’s Dakota Fanning) will play 13-year-old Maya and Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga has signed on as Maya’s mom, Trisch. Omar Hardwick (Kick-Ass, The A-Team) also stars in the film.

Pure Life is being directed by Van Fischer and produced by GigaPix, Blue Raven Films and Manolin Entertainment. Production is expected to start this spring.

While Elle’s road to fame began by portraying younger versions of her sister in Taken and I am Sam, she did manage to break out and land a few roles of her own, including parts in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Déjà vu.

Vera Farmiga received an Academy Award nomination for Up in the Air and will appear in the upcoming sc-fi thriller, Source Code. Take a look at the trailer to see what Groundhog Day would have looked like if it had been an action movie.