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Wal-Mart Says La Mesa Is No. 1 Among 1,100 Stores Nationwide

They won’t tell us about sales and profits, but the La Mesa Wal-Mart store apparently did well enough in 2006 to earn Store of the Year honors from its parent in Bentonville, Ark.

Open since 2004, La Mesa beat out 1,100 other stores nationwide for the honor, which was based on some combination of sales, employee retention, community involvement and customer service.

La Mesa Wal-Mart employs 370 full- and part-time. Its retention rate is about 60 percent, according to a spokeswoman.

Countywide, Wal-Mart , frequently disparaged by unions for its labor practices , employs more than 6,000 workers in 18 stores.

While Wal-Mart declined to disclose sales, profits and provided no measurement for customer service, the retailer did reveal La Mesa Wal-Mart’s nonprofit contributions to the community.

According to a spokeswoman, La Mesa contributed $147,000 from its sales and customer-driven fund-raising efforts since opening three years ago.

Benefactors include Rady Children’s Hospital of San Diego, the Grossmont Hospital Foundation and the San Diego County library branch in La Mesa.

Wal-Mart Supercenters, which are banned in San Diego but expected in North County, were not judged in the same category.

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Roaring To Go Cha-Ching:

A Carlsbad point of sale and inventory control software firm has corralled the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park into its herd of customers.

JDS Solutions Corp. announced plans April 11 to help the zoo’s retail operations with such tasks as inventory control and shopper analysis.

The new computerized system should be in place and operational by September, said JDS Solutions spokesman Dan Friedman.

Friedman declined to state how much money JDS will make from the deal.

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Mmmmm, Pizza:

Kellogg Co. subsidiary Kashi, with its headquarters in La Jolla, has decided to enter the frozen pizza market.

Kashi, the maker of cereals and crackers, as well as health food bars, will launch its new product with three different flavors, including roasted garlic chicken.

The company, launched 24 years ago, already offers a handful of frozen dinners, most of which Kashi launched just last year. The entr & #233;e’s flavors include sweet and sour chicken and black bean mango.

While Kashi does not disclose revenues, executives did say they launched a $20-million marketing campaign last year.

The said adding frozen food, such as pizza, is part of their goal to take advantage of the growing $25 billion-a-year market for natural food products.

According to an April 12 news release, shoppers can expect to see the new pizzas pop up at their local stores July.

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A Classier Clean:

With dark wood accents and pebble motifs, a new downtown shop looks more like an art gallery or spa lounge than dry cleaners, which is no mistake.

Prato Cleaners opened this month at 472 Third Ave., promising high-end cleaning services for high-end clothing with a 24-hour turnaround. According to a company news release, Prato said it plans to cater to those urban dwellers who wear evening gowns as well as business suits.

Prices are set on a piece-by-piece basis and will be “competitive,” according to a spokeswoman for Prato.

Prato is a division of San Diego Valet, which offers dry cleaning services to the San Diego hotel industry. Two additional Prato Cleaners are set to open this summer in Eastlake and North County.


Send retail news to Jessica Long at

jlong@sdbj.com

. She may also be reached at (858) 277-6359, ext. 3114.

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