One of Colorado Springs’ upscale shoe stores now carries more styles and selections.

“We took an area that used to be dressing rooms – we were using it for storage,” said Saboz owner Linda Bridger. “We remodeled and more than doubled our shoe display area.”

Bridger recently returned from a buying trip in Las Vegas and said customers will notice that she is carrying some old favorites, along with the new brands.

“We carried Picolinas boots this winter, and we’re going to expand that line,” she said. “They are a very soft, buttery leather. The Golc line – clog spelled backward – is also a new line for us. We’re the only store in Colorado Springs to carry Picolinas; they’re very popular in Santa Fe.”

The expansion shows the success the store has enjoyed at its location on Tejon Street, Bridger said.

“We’re going to continue to expand and grow,” she said. “Just as long as people continue to support us.”

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Supper Solutions holds cook off

During March and April, Supper Solutions will accept recipe submissions for its annual contest.

A meal preparation company, Supper Solutions helps busy people prepare easy-to-cook meals in advance.

This year’s categories are most original supper, best low-fat supper and best vegetarian supper.

Send recipes to Winners will be notified later in the year, and will receive a free month of meals. All submissions become the property of Supper Solutions Franchising Inc. and will not be returned. The company has the right to use any recipe submission within its kitchens, without payment.

Spring Communication adds new stores

Spring Communications has increased its retail presence along the Front Range by adding six new locations.

The new Colorado Springs store is at Carefree Circle and Academy Boulevard, and is the second largest location in the state with 2,000 square feet. Other new Colorado locations are in Pueblo, Greenwood Village and Denver’s Cherry Creek Mall.

Spring Communication is continuing its growth after expanding to 22 locations in 2005, bringing the total number of wireless retail stores in Utah and Colorado to 65. By the end of 2006, the company hopes to have 100 retail stores.

Spring is Cingular’s wireless retailer in the Front Range, and is a privately held corporation founded by Vern Dickman in 2001.

NRF supporting credit card hearings

The National Retail Federation welcomed a congressional hearing about the almost $40 billion in secret fees that credit card companies force merchants to pass on to consumers annually. They say the hearing could lead consumers to demand that credit card companies disclose and reduce the fees.

“Consumers know about the interest they pay and late charges and over-limit charges,” NRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mallory Duncan said. “What they don’t know is that credit card companies are collecting a secret checkout fee every time they use their cards. This hearing is going to help bring that secret fee into the spotlight and let consumers know just how much money credit card companies are taking out of their pockets without telling them. The more consumers learn about these fees, the more they’re going to demand that credit card companies be honest about them. And once consumers know how much they’re paying, competition can help drive these rates down.”

The subject of the hearing is interchange, which is a fee of about 2 percent that Visa, MasterCard and their member banks charge consumers each time a credit or debit card is used. Visa and MasterCard’s non-negotiable contracts with merchants require that the fee be built into the advertised price of merchandise, forbid the fees from being shown on receipts, and effectively block cash discounts from being offered in most situations. Other credit card companies don’t charge interchange fees as such because of differences in the way payments are handled, but they do charge similar fees to process transactions.

Visa and MasterCard kept interchange fees secret for years, but the issue has emerged as a major public policy concern in the past year. The Federal Reserve held a conference about the subject in May, and the House last fall passed legislation – still pending in the Senate – that would have required a Federal Trade Commission investigation into interchange’s role in rising gasoline prices. Nearly 50 lawsuits have been filed in federal court claiming that interchange fee practices violate federal antitrust law.

NRF has led the retail industry’s efforts to bring interchange fees under control, and last year helped form the Merchants Payments Coalition, which is chaired by Duncan. The MPC is comprised of trade associations representing retailers, restaurants, supermarkets, drug stores, convenience stores, gas stations, online merchants and other businesses that accept credit and debit cards. Those association members are concerned about the increasing interchange fees charged by banks and credit card companies to process credit and debit transactions.

Visa and MasterCard collected $27.6 billion in interchange fees during 2004, while transaction fees charged by other credit card companies brought the total to $39.2 billion, according to Merchants Payments Coalition figures.

Amy Gillentine covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.