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Sears’ Closing of 235 Stores Is a Long Way from Its Glory Days

Sears’ Closing of 235 Stores Is a Long Way from Its Glory Days

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sears was once a sparkling star of the retail world going back to the days before there was such a thing as a chain store, but this week the company reported another quarterly loss and the shuttering of 235 under-performing stores this year.In its third quarter results announced on Thursday, Sear Holdings, the parent of the namesake department store and Kmart, announced a loss of $296 million compared to $310 million in the same period a year ago.Sears Holdings was formed in 2005 when Sears and Kmart merged. The number of stores it will close increased from the 130 stores it announced about three months ago."We remain intently focused on delivering an unparalleled integrated retail experience for our customers through Shop Your Way and above all, returning Sears Holdings to profitability," CEO of Sears Holdings since January 2013 Eddie Lampert said in a statement on Thursday. Business wasn't always tough for Sears.The first Sears store gained fame with rural folks and farmers through its mail-order business. Those early Sears catalogs featured jewelery and watches, but the company quickly added a vast array of items, including a "Stradivarius model violin" for $6.10, according to Sears Archives. At times, the catalog was free and other times it cost 50 cents. Richard Sears started the R.W. Sears Watch Company in Minneapolis in 1886, back when there weren't even 40 states in the union, according to Sears Archives. Sales in 1893 were more than $400,000. Two years later, when the Sears catalog was 532-pages long, sales were more than $750,000, according to the archives.

It wasn't until 1931 that Sears store sales topped mail-order sales for the first time. Stores accounted for 53.4 percent of total sales of more than $180 million, according to the archives.

When World War II began in 1941, Sears had more than 600 stores.

Sears' first retail store outside the U.S. was in Havana, Cuba, in 1942. Five years later, a store opened in Mexico City, followed by additional stores in Europe and Central and South America. Eventually in 1953, the company made a foray into Canada.

Sears was the nation’s largest retailer by revenue until the late 1980s, when Walmart surpassed it. Around that time, the annual Sears “wish book” was a must-read for children in the months before Christmas.

Today, Sears’ revenue lags behind those of a handful of other stores, such as Target, Costco and Best Buy. Like many department stores, the company these days has been hit by flailing in-store electronics sales, in part due to steep competition from the Internet.

Sears Holdings, which has more than 1,830 Sears and Kmart stores, said in its earnings announcement that the company "expects to migrate the shopping activity of highly engaged members who previously shopped closed stores to alternative channels."

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Meet the Biggest Grinches of the Holiday Season

Meet the Biggest Grinches of the Holiday Season

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Police are warning households of neighborhood thieves who steal packages and other holiday "Grinches."

"It's the busiest time of the year for holiday deliveries," the San Diego County Sheriff's department has warned the public in a statement. "Package thieves are on the prowl."

Here are some recent "Grinches" who've stolen everything from Christmas trees to mailed packages.

1. Nebraska Man Suspected of Taking 26 Packages From Homes

A man in Nebraska is accused of taking $23,000 worth of packages from 26 homes.

The Bellevue Police Department said it recovered goods, including a $400 margarita machine, a check for $10,000 and cameras, from the home of David Horvath. Horvath, 24, has been charged with felony theft by receiving stolen property, according to the Omaha World-Herald on Wednesday.

2. Pennsylvania Man Caught on Camera Stealing Toys for Tots Donation Jar

A man is shown in a surveillance video of Just Press Play store in Manor Township, Pennsylvania, placing a Toys for Tots donation jar inside his jacket and then walking out of the store on Wednesday. The Manor Township police department posted the video on its Facebook page, saying the man had a "small tattoo on his right cheek" and was "wearing a hoodie with dollar bills printed on it." Police then issued a warrant for a 24-year old man, according to ABC affiliate WHTM in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Police say the jar had $100 in it, WHTM reported.

3. San Diego Woman Accused of Stealing Packages With U-Haul

A Dan Diego woman who allegedly drove a U-Haul truck to steal packages from doorsteps was arrested after surveillance cameras identified the rented vehicle, police said on Thursday.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s department said Martha Lampley, 37, stole packages starting Nov. 21 until she was arrested on Nov. 29.

"A Grinch suspected in connection with the theft of holiday packages in the East County is in custody," the sheriff's department said in a statement. The loss of the packages is estimated at $1,000, department said. Among the loot, shown in police photos, is an electric guitar, shoes and a racing jacket.

Police returned the stolen items to some victims.

4. Hundreds of Dollars Worth of Christmas Trees Stolen

Several Christmas trees worth hundreds of dollars were stolen from a tree lot in Nashville, Tennessee.

The owner the lot Lena Trivette said one of her employees noticed four Christmas trees worth $100 each were missing on Wednesday morning.

“I mean, an eight to nine foot tree will take anywhere from eight to nine years to grow, so that's a lot of time a lot of work invested into it," she told ABC affilate WKRN in Nashville.

Trivette has traveled 325 miles to Nashville from North Carolina each year for the past five years to sell the trees, WKRM reported.

5. Family's Outdoor Christmas Decorations Stolen

Some "Grinch" stories have happy endings. An anonymous "good Samaritan" replaced stolen Christmas decorations in Saginaw, Texas, after a mother posted a sign in the front yard scolding the thief.

Kristine Collins wrote in marker, "To the person that stole our Christmas decorations...thank you breaking a little girl's heart. I hope you are proud of what you have done! Have a Merry Christmas! We will pray for you!"

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Christmas Tree Farmers Benefit from California Rain

Christmas Tree Farmers Benefit from California Rain

iStock/Thinkstock(MENTONE, Calif.) -- All of the rain that’s fallen over the past several days in the Golden State has Christmas tree farmers rejoicing. The rain has been a saving grace for inland areas east of Los Angeles at the Greenspot Christmas Tree Farm in Mentone, Calif.“We were praying for rain,” said owner Kim Buoye.Buoye added that her water supply to grow her trees has been cut by two thirds this year, which means the watering schedule has taken a big hit.“We were going from 12 hours a week down to once per month,” she said. The biggest impact of the drought has been on younger trees that are having a tough time. The recent rain however may keep them growing.

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How Not to Embarrass Yourself at the Company Holiday Party

How Not to Embarrass Yourself at the Company Holiday Party

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — President Obama apparently knows how to have a good time and wasn't afraid to show it at the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in Washington Thursday night.While the president and his family can sing and dance with ease alongside actor Tom Hanks in front of a family-friendly audience, many Americans will be cautiously navigating the office holiday party circuit this month.Here are eight things not to do at the holiday office party:1. Hang out with people you know.Elizabeth Grace Saunders, author of The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success With Less Stress, recommends that you don't just talk to your work friends at the party."It's comfortable to make yourself cozy in the center of a group that already knows you, but that won't lead to the kind of meaningful connections that can help you get more done in the coming year," she writes for the Harvard Business Review blog. "After saying a quick, 'Hello,’ to your standard crew, look for people who you don't know very well."2. Avoid key people.You might have never spoken a word to your boss or your boss' boss, but maybe it's time to introduce yourself over a glass of wine."If you find it impossible to schedule a meeting with certain individuals because of their packed calendar but you know they'll be at the event, reach out to them in advance," Saunders writes for the Harvard Business Review. "Suggest meeting up for a drink before the party or simply let them know you'll be at the event and looking for them. This will prime them to expect your approach and encourage you to make it a priority to find them."3. Spend a long time with one person.Saunders gives practical advice about how to get out of a long conversation."If the conversation goes on for a while, enjoy the mingling and then gracefully exit by saying, 'It's been great to meet you, but I'm going to refresh my drink.' Or if you would like to keep in touch, say, 'Would it be OK if I contacted you to set up a 15-minute phone call to talk about XYZ?'“That way, they will be more likely to accept the meeting request when you follow up," she writes. "Don't say that you'll follow up unless you actually want to and will do so."A calendar note will help you remember, she says.4. Think that the goal is to have fun."This isn't about completely relaxing and letting loose, unless you want a starring role in the water cooler drama the next day," Saunders writes. "It's not about sampling each appetizer. It's not about hanging out with the same people you see at lunch every day. It is, however, about spending time with key individuals who you can't connect with organically because they're in a different functional area or located at different offices."5. Conduct business.Don't conduct business or expect others to conduct business at the office holiday party, says XpertHR, an online human resources service. Among their other HR-friendly tips for holiday parties is to avoid mandatory attendance to minimize workers' compensation claims.6. Drink too much.To stay within appropriate boundaries, avoid over-drinking at any party, but especially in front of your boss and colleagues.XpertHR also recommends avoiding offensive and risqué entertainment."Be cautious about serving alcohol as this may lead to myriad issues such as injuries, discrimination, harassment and other inappropriate or offensive conduct," XpertHR advises.7. Eat too much.Taking advantage of free food is a perk of an office holiday party, but don't be the person who hogs the chicken wings or dessert table.8. Skip it.One of the most important things to do is to show up."If you like your job and plan to work there for a while, then it’s a good idea to attend the office party even if it’s only for an hour or so," notes career website Glassdoor. "If you are sick or going on vacation it’s one thing, but if you are blowing it off for no good reason, it’s a big no-no."

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November Job Growth Far Exceeds Projections

November Job Growth Far Exceeds Projections

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The economy added 321,000 jobs in November for the largest monthly gain since January 2012. Job growth far exceeded expectations, as economists had previously projected that only about 230,000 jobs would be created last month.

The latest data released Friday from the U.S. Department of Labor shows the national unemployment rate continues to hold at 5.8 percent, with retail, health care, manufacturing and business services leading last month’s job growth.Despite the latest addition of jobs, the number of long-term unemployed -- those without work for 27 weeks or more -- changed little at 2.8 million in November, the Labor Department reported.October and September employment numbers were also revised higher to show an extra 44,000 jobs were added in those months.

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Fill ‘Er Up…for Three Bucks?

Fill ‘Er Up…for Three Bucks?

iStock/Thinkstock(NATCHITOCHES, La.) — American motorists are enjoying the lowest gas prices in several years, but the price at one Chevron gas station in Natchitoches, Louisiana, on Wednesday had cars backed up onto a local highway.Thanks to a mistake in pricing, drivers paid 29 cents a gallon for supreme gas before the error was noticed by attendants.One motorist said word of the low price spread like wildfire on social media.One driver said she filled up her car for just three bucks.Chevron attendant Briana Rachal tells the Shreveport Times the pumps went haywire, and there's no other explanation for why the prices were so low.The paper reports the gas station was not sure how many gallons were pumped before the error was noticed, and has not determined how much money the mistake cost the business.

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One Mom’s Secret to Turning Christmas Shopping into Free Holiday Travel

One Mom’s Secret to Turning Christmas Shopping into Free Holiday Travel

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Want to book a Christmas family vacation for next to nothing? Not a problem, says Summer Hull. In fact, she even knows the secrets to turning all that holiday shopping into a free trip.Hull is the maverick behind MommyPoints.com, her travel blog where she documents her past successes and tips for scoring big deals.This year Hull said she, her husband and their 4-year-old daughter have trotted the globe on more than 19 vacations spanning 100,000 miles -- from the Bahamas to Paris. Most of the time, she said they are traveling for nearly nothing, cashing in miles.In an interview with ABC's Nightline, Hull showed fellow mom Lauren Finnerty from Houston a few opportunities she was missing to get points towards travel and shared a few of her secrets to scoring deals this winter. See some of Hull’s tips below:1. Unwrap Extra Miles by Using Shopping Portals on Airline WebsitesSome airlines have an online shopping portal that rewards users with a certain amount of miles when they purchase items through them. These portals can be a good resource for purchasing holiday gifts because then users can reap the benefits too.For example, Hull said, she used United Airlines’ United Mileage Plus shopping portal to buy printable photos for her family.“We have pictures...all over our house,” she said. “We’ll print them online and like Snapfish or something, and a lot of times you can go through a shopping portal like United...it can really add up especially if you have $100 worth of photos, you have 1,000 miles.”2. Use Credit Cards With Specific Rewards ProgramsTo rack up miles for free travel, Hull has a dozen active credit cards that she swaps out for different purchases, such as airline cards for flights, and looks for cards with large sign-up bonuses.However, other travel experts caution that holding on to so many cards at once can cost you.“A lot of people can earn a lot of great rewards this way,” said Paul Brady, the consumer news editor for Conde Naste Traveler. “But it’s true that Delta, United in particular have recently devalued their points programs and are watching to see if American will make the same decision.”3. Grab Points at the Grocery StoreThe holidays are a busy time not just for gift-giving, but also for eating. At the grocery store, Hull said to use the “stacking” method, where you buy items that are either discounted or you have a coupon for, and pay for them with a card that rewards points or miles for groceries."We don’t just look for one deal, we like to stack different deals," Hull said. "So, for example, on a day where you earn more field points at the grocery store, you pay with a credit card that earns grocery store points.4. Arm Yourself With Apps to Save Money on FlightsHull uses several apps on her smartphone, from apps that scour for the best retail deals, like PoachIt, to apps for specific stores. For example, Macy’s has an app that features all its coupons.“Wherever it is that you’re going to be shopping, force yourself to arm yourself with some apps, some tools that will make sure that you’re paying as low as possible,” Hull said.

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Ugly Holiday Suits for All Your Reindeer Games

Ugly Holiday Suits for All Your Reindeer Games

iStock/Thinkstock(AMSTERDAM) — Ugly holiday sweaters are sooo last season. The new trend is complete, but still ugly, Christmas suits.The Amsterdam-based brand OppoSuits sells machine-washable suits, which include a jacket, pants and tie, in three Christmas styles -- the Treemendous, the Rudolph and the Christmaster.The company says the suits retail for about $100 and are “100 percent polyester, 200 percent amazing.”Unfortunately, OppoSuits says the suits have gone viral and the company is sold out of the Christmas line and will not be restocking anytime soon.  The good news is you can get your order in early for the company’s Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day suits.

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Watch This Target Employee’s Amazing Black Friday Pep Talk

Watch This Target Employee’s Amazing Black Friday Pep Talk

Chole Frebertshauser/Target(WESTMINSTER, Md.) — Just before Black Friday shoppers rushed in, one Target employee gave his fellow workers a speech they won't soon forget.A viral YouTube clip shows a man named Scott Simms standing on the conveyor belt at the checkout counter at a Westminster, Maryland, Target, shouting inspiration before the doors opened."People of Target, brothers, sisters, hear me now," he said. "They're standing out there. Any moment now, those doors will be breached. Whatever comes through those gates, you will stand your ground with a smile on your face.""They come here with bargains in their heads and fire in their eyes and we shall give those bargains to them," he continued.Simms told ABC News he just wanted to get everyone excited."I'm a big fan of movies like 300 and Braveheart and shows like Game of Thrones, and they always have that big epic battle, and there's always the one person who does the big speech," he said. "I wanted to help people get in the spirit and get everybody fired up."Coworker Chole Frebertshauser, who posted the video on YouTube, said the speech "absolutely" worked."We're all so close, and we get along really great, and he just decided, I want to get up there and give a speech to get everyone amped up," she said.Target also released a statement about the viral video."One of our favorite parts of the holiday is watching our entire Target team bring the season to life in their own way," the company said. "We want them to have fun, because we know when our team is having fun, so are our guests. Our team member Scott is one of countless team members who help make Target uniquely Target. We have long said that Thanksgiving weekend is to retail what a championship game is to sports. Scott is clearly quite a team player."

 

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Stocks Flat After a Few Days of Record Highs

Stocks Flat After a Few Days of Record Highs

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Stocks ended flat on Thursday after a few days of record highs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average touched a record early in Thursday trading, but closed down 12.52 points at 17,900.10. The S&P 500 also traded briefly in record territory but closed down 2.42 points to 2,071.91. The Nasdaq dropped 5.03 points ending the day at 4,769.44.

Need a job? LL Bean is hiring to keep up with demand for its boots. The Maine-based company says some styles are on back order until February.

It's going to be even easier to get your caffeine fix. Starbucks launched a mobile order and pay-ahead option in Portland, Oregon this week. The coffee chain plans to expand it nationwide next year and will also offer delivery in major cities.

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Rise of the Machines: Most Artificially Intelligent Computers Can Pass CAPTCHA

Rise of the Machines: Most Artificially Intelligent Computers Can Pass CAPTCHA

Claudio Divizia/Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Those distorted strings of letters and numbers you see on websites to prevent spam have instead proven to be more painful to humans than the robots the test, called CAPTCHA, is designed to block.

The moment Alan Turing, regarded as the father of modern computing, predicted is already here: The machines have risen -- and they keep getting smarter.

Google said its research shows that today's artificial intelligence technology can get past CAPTCHAs with 99.8 percent accuracy, rendering them no longer dependable for anything other than driving humans crazy.

The "Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart," or CAPTCHA for short, was named for Turing, who devised a test in 1950 asking if machines can think.

Anyone who has ever spent several attempts trying to type those barely legible strings of letters and numbers into a CAPTCHA to prove their status as a bona fide member of homo sapiens knows how frustrating they can be.

Google announced on Wednesday it is rolling out a simple one-click solution for websites that use its "No CAPTCHA" service to weed out spam from bots.

With the new experience, users will be able to simply check a box that reads: "I'm not a robot." Surprisingly, this could be the ticket (for now) for fending off the bots.

If the risk analysis back end still needs more convincing, the user may be redirected to a traditional CAPTCHA.

Alan Turing would likely be saying "I told you so," if he had lived to see 2014.

In June, a supercomputer posing as a 13-year-old boy named Eugene Goostman, became what is believed to be the first machine to pass the 65-year-old Turing Test.

Goostman pulled off the feat by successfully duping enough judges into believing they were conversing with a real human, according to the University of Reading, which organizes the annual test.

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Why Gas Is Below $2 in Some Parts of the US and Not Others

Why Gas Is Below $2 in Some Parts of the US and Not Others

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With at least one station in the country selling gas for less than $2 a gallon, what's driving gas prices lower?Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy's senior petroleum analyst, predicts gas prices will also fall below $2 in Houston, St. Louis and Aiken, South Carolina.

Oil prices are lower globally because of a number of factors, such as competitive moves from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries for market share and increased production in the United States, including from shale.Among the biggest winners so far are customers at the OnCue Express station in Oklahoma City, where gas is selling for $1.99 a gallon this week, the first U.S. station to drop below $2 since July 30, 2010, according to GasBuddy. By comparison, the average price of gas in the country for regular is $2.78 a gallon, according to the Energy Department's U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Oklahoma and other cities benefit from abundant Gulf supplies and access to cheaper West Texas Intermediate (WTI) or light, sweet crude oil, says Patrick DeHaan. Lower state and local taxes, and proximity to infrastructure are other reasons these cities are seeing prices below $2.

$1.99 gas should brighten your day! Only at OnCue at 44th and Shields in OKC for a limited time! pic.twitter.com/yUta5loYe5

— OnCue Express (@oncueexpress) December 3, 2014

Two weeks from now, as many as 10 states will have at least one station under $2 besides Oklahoma, according to DeHaan: Texas, Missouri, South Carolina, New Mexico, Arkansas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee.

"It’s unlikely that the national average, or even a state average, will decline under $2 a gallon anytime soon," DeHaan told ABC News. "The $1.99 gas, while eye opening, will only be available to a small percentage of motorists in each state."

The last time the national average price of regular conventional gas was under $2 was the week of March 16, 2009. That's when the average was $1.96 a gallon, according to the Energy Department.

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See (or Smell) the Bacon-Scented Pillowcase of Your Dreams

See (or Smell) the Bacon-Scented Pillowcase of Your Dreams

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you have a bacon-loving carnivore on your holiday shopping list, then shop no more.

J&D Foods has a product that will make you the most popular gift-giver this year and your bacon-loving friend or family member the most well-rested giftee on your list.

It is the bacon-scented pillowcase, a $12.99 piece of virtual meat that you can literally take to bed with you.

“Our bacon-scented pillowcase uses advances in printing technology we stole from NASA to allow the scent of bacon to permeate your dreams and expand your mind,” the company writes on its website. “That's right, the unmistakable scent of Bacon is embedded in the ink on these specially printed pillowcases.”

The company claims the bacon aroma should last for as long as 12 months -- even after the pillow case is washed.

Fail to act fast in buying the bacon pillowcase, however, and you may end up screaming like a pig. The bacon-scented pillowcases are temporarily back-ordered on the J&D Foods website and the company advises allowing an extra week of shipping, “Due to the incredibly high demand for this product.”

The company behind the pillows, J&D Foods, is the Washington-based maker of everything from bacon deodorant to bacon-flavored sunflower seeds founded by two men, Justin and Dave.

The pair used $5,000 they won from the ABC show America’s Funniest Home Videos to produce their first product, Bacon Salt.

“We soon realized that the worldwide demand for a bacon-flavored seasoning was more immense than we could have ever imagined,” the pair wrote on their website.

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Sinkhole for Rent: See the ‘Best Deal in San Francisco’

Sinkhole for Rent: See the ‘Best Deal in San Francisco’

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) — It's perfect if you like skylights.A cheeky Craigslist user posted photos of a sinkhole, advertising it as the "best deal in San Francisco," a one-bedroom steal in the Inner Richmond neighborhood for only $2,800."Just opened up, act fast," the ad reads.The unique, 60-square-foot space "allows for creative interior arrangements," according to the wannabe landlord, and the one-bedroom is also near major bus lines and close to coffee shops and a park.Interested? Just "drop by" for a showing.

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Insta-Sales: Using Instagram as a Personal Shopping Mall

Insta-Sales: Using Instagram as a Personal Shopping Mall

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Scroll through any Instagram feed and you’re bound to see selfies, food porn, adorable pets and now lots of merchandise for sale.The photo-sharing social tool has quickly become a personal shopping mall. Many small business owners, store fronts and even people looking to clean out their closets are turning to Instagram to sell their wares, and hashtags, such as #Instashop, #ShopMyCloset or #InstaSale, are linked to over 5 million posts selling everything from designer shoes to vintage clothing.The way it works is users search a hashtag on Instagram like #InstaSale, which pulls up any accounts that are using that hashtag. Users can then browse posts, comment on them to tell the seller they want the item and then work with the seller to purchase it through services like PayPal.“This is really the 2014 version of a garage sale,” said Alyssa Coscarelli, an assistant editor at Refinery29, a website that covers current fashion trends. “There’s no more hard work. You don’t have to lug bags across town to the resale shop. You can do everything from your closet, from your own bedroom. Snap a photo and post it right then and there.”Coscarelli has had her own success selling items through Instagram from her own closet on her “Insta-store” called @shopalyssainthecity.“I am constantly on Instagram and I kind of started noticing people doing this, so I thought, ‘Hmm, maybe I’m building enough of a following where I can do the same,” Coscarelli said. “And just in the first round I’ve already had some sales.”When posting items for sale, Coscarelli said she’s personal with customers and goes “pretty light on the filters” because she wants the clothes’ appearance to be as real as possible. In the caption, she will include a description of the item, including its size and a few keywords, such as “sheer polka dot blouse,” and a style tip or two on what to wear with it.“Aside from the importance of the quality of the photo and the price point, I think it’s really important to give it a personal touch,” she said. “You still want your customers to feel like, ‘Hey, that was awesome and I want to buy something from Alyssa again.’”But you don’t post just any old thing for sale, Coscarelli said. It should be something that people can’t get a local chain store, so, for example, a plain white T-shirt probably isn’t going to sell.“Instagram has become such a huge platform for...fashion, personal style, shopping and I think it’s really the place to be now to catch people’s attention,” she added.Women across the country are cashing in. Bethany Stutsman of Dallas said her Insta-selling started as a hobby in college, but now she has turned it into a fulltime business by buying items from thrift stores and reselling them on Instagram.Insta-selling has also helped women like Ashley Steenhoven. She had a small consignment shop in Tennessee, and took to Instagram to boost sales. She said the customers came flocking.“When we opened this in January we knew we wanted to use online sales as a way to drive customers to our store, but we didn’t want to use the traditional means we were using before,” Steenhoven said. “We had heard a lot about Instagram and how other stores and people were using it to make sales and so we decided to hire someone to specifically do Instagram and it immediately took off and we saw results right away.”She said a quarter of her revenue is now Instagram-based.“It drives customers into our store [who] are local that have never been in our store before and come in to get one item that they saw on Instagram and usually end up buying several additional items with the item they came in for,” Steenhoven said.And fashion brands are taking notice of this Insta-phenomenon, too. Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Coach and Burberry are just a few that have turned to Instagram. Indeed, 93 percent of fashion brands now have an Instagram presence, up from 63 percent in July, according to a recent Intelligence Report on Instagram by L2, a company that analyzes brands' digital competence.Although users can’t directly buy items from big designers on Instagram yet, Nina Garcia, the creative director for Marie Claire and a judge on Project Runway, said it makes perfect sense for brands to turn to Instagram.“Instagram is all about the visual. It’s all about the photo or the 15 second video,” Garcia said. “It is a perfect marriage really between fashion and Instagram. It’s all about that inspiring picture, or about seeing that blogger with the outfit. It is such eye candy.”In a statement to ABC News, Instagram said it wasn’t meant to be a commerce platform, but officials are “inspired by the ways individuals and organizations have grown their brands.”“At its core, Instagram is about capturing and sharing moments,” the statement continued. “The way in which the community interacts with Instagram has certainly changed and broadened over the years, but our focus will remain on providing the world with the best creative canvas. Nothing is out of the realm of possibilities, but we don’t have any immediate plans to change our business model around monetization.”

More ABC US news | ABC World News

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The Future of Email: Google’s ‘Inbox’ Team Reveals What’s Next

The Future of Email: Google’s ‘Inbox’ Team Reveals What’s Next

Google/YouTube(NEW YORK) — The team behind Google's invite-only "Inbox" app revealed they're working on adding more features to the app, including an "undo send" feature that could be a true relationship and career saver."Inbox," a super powered app for Gmail users that provides organization and context to existing emails, began rolling out in October on an invitation-only basis.In a Reddit "Ask Me Anything," interview, a Google software engineer identified as Taylor said the team was working on adding an undo-send feature to the app.Gmail already has an experimental undo-send feature via its Google Labs additions, however the process requires users to hit "undo" less than 30 seconds after sending the email.It was unclear how long the future addition to the "Inbox" app would allow users to exorcise their email regret, but either way, the feature could be a life-saver.The "Inbox" team also revealed they're working on the customization of snooze times -- a feature in the app that lets users hit snooze for away emails and reminders, allowing them to designate a time or specific location when they'd like them to come back.Also in the works: Cross-browser support, which the team said is currently being tested before it is rolled out to all "Inbox" users.Google isn't the only tech giant rethinking email. Earlier this week, Microsoft acquired Acompli, a super smart email app that aims to restore peace and order to cluttered email inboxes everywhere.

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Jobless Claims Fall to 297K

Jobless Claims Fall to 297K

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Jobless claims dropped lower the week of Thanksgiving, decreasing by 17,000, according to the latest figures released Thursday by the Labor Department.For the week ending Nov. 29, the number of people filing for unemployment benefits fell to 297,000. The previous week claims stood at 314,000, revised up from 313,000.The Labor Department said there were no "special factors" impacting that week's figures.The four-week moving average rose to 299,000 from last week’s revised average of 294,250.

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Pantone’s Color of the Year 2015 Is Marsala

Pantone’s Color of the Year 2015 Is Marsala

Pantone(NEW YORK) — Marsala. That’s the Pantone color of the year for 2015, and the shade color experts believe it will be reflected in fashion, home decor and graphic and industrial design trends next year.In a release issued Thursday, Pantone describes the color as “a naturally robust and earthy wine red.”Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, said the color would enrich the mind, body and soul.“Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this tasteful hue embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal, while its grounding red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness,” Eiseman said in the release. “This hearty, yet stylish tone is universally appealing and translates easily to fashion, beauty, industrial design, home furnishings and interiors.”Pantone said it expects the color will make its way into clothing collections, makeup, accessories and home furnishings. In the release it said several fashion designers were already incorporating Marsala into their spring 2015 creations.In order to arrive at its color of the year, Pantone said it seeks color influences around the world, including in the fashion and entertainment industries.Pantone is wholly owned by X-Rite, Inc., which develops and markets color software and support systems, among other products.Pantone’s chosen color of the year for 2014 was radiant orchid, and 2013’s color was emerald.

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Most Folks in Retirement Years Are Clueless About Retirement Needs

Most Folks in Retirement Years Are Clueless About Retirement Needs

iStock/Thinkstock(BRYN MAWR, Pa.) — If you think most people in their 60s and 70s pretty much know all there is to know about the financial aspects of retirement planning, you would be wrong.That’s according to the American College of Financial Services in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, which found that only 20 percent of 1,000 people ages 60-75 with at least $100,000 in assets managed to pass a retirement income literacy exam.With so few people knowing what to do to live comfortably during their golden years, it leaves many at the mercy of financial advisers who may or may not have their best interests in mind.What’s more, the ACFS report found that just 25 percent of the people who took the test have a written financial plan while others never bothered to determine how much money they’ll need in investments and savings to live securely.In other disturbing findings, just three in ten understood that $4,000 is the maximum annual withdrawal from a $100,000 retirement account to stretch it out for 30 years.Over half also underestimated how long a 65-year-old man is expected to live while just 54 percent knew that it’s best not to touch Social Security until one turns 70 if the expectancy is living until 90.

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The Surprising Book That Tumblr CEO David Karp Wants to Gift for the Holidays

The Surprising Book That Tumblr CEO David Karp Wants to Gift for the Holidays

Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images(NEW YORK) --When Tumblr CEO David Karp was asked what book he would gift to others this holiday season, it wasn't a techy book or something many other high school dropouts would probably offer.

But then again, Karp, who is worth hundreds of millions of dollars after Yahoo bought his company in May 2013, isn't any 28-year-old entrepreneur.

Speaking on a panel at the Business Insider Ignition conference in New York City Wednesday afternoon, Karp said the book he would give as a gift to others is Meditations, by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD). He advised the audience to read the personal writings.

Here's a holiday taste of a translation online: "Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busy-body, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil."

When asked which tech gift he would recommend, Karp said friends should give friends a 3-D printer, if they can afford one. Or, if not, you can at least get something custom-made with a 3-D printer because it "really unlocks" your imagination.

Karp also discussed the use of advertising on Tumblr, which recently announced that it's testing a series of action buttons. These include a "Buy" button to purchase something from Etsy and a "Do Something" button for activists interested in social change.

He said the "thesis" of Tumblr, to which people come for "the stuff they love," hasn't changed with the rollout of advertising.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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