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Samantha Christmann

I cover retail for the Buffalo News and write the Discount Diva column each Monday.


It’s here. A new year. A chance to start fresh. An opportunity to forget the regrets of 2015 and forge ahead, hopefully not repeating any of the dumb mistakes you made last year.If you’d like to end 2016 feeling more like a champ and less like a chump, try taking on a few of these uber-easy-to-stick-to resolutions.Take the 52-Week Money Challenge. Commit to setting aside m…

Business

Walden Galleria will be down two stores in the new year.Ann Taylor, an upscale women’s clothing chain, will close its Galleria store Jan. 23. It’s part of a larger closure of five stores across New York State. The brand, established in 1954, has been steadily closing stores in recent years, focusing more on Internet sales of its traditional brand while expanding the brick-…

Ambit Energy customers in Western New York will be getting refunds on their natural gas and electricity bills.As a result of an investigation by New York State’s Department of Public Service, the Texas-based company will refund a total of $98,200 to 200 customers in Western New York (an average of $491). It’s part of a larger agreement that secured $950,700 for 1,566 custo…

Business

If you thought the Christmas rush was over, think again.The day after Christmas is the third-busiest shopping day of the year, after Black Friday and Super Saturday, according to analytics firm ShopperTrak.Shoppers were out in force Saturday, returning gifts, spending gift cards and shopping the sales.Karrie Bower of Getzville was out with her daughter Alexis and mother Ja…

Remember the Nickelodeon Super Toy Run? That contest from the 80s where a sweepstakes-winning kid got to run through a toy store with a shopping cart for five feverish minutes and keep everything he could knock off the shelves?That’s what came to mind earlier this month when I got a letter from our benefits department informing me I had extra money left in my Flexible Spen…

Business

Prompted by Erie County’s ban on microbeads, Wegmans will stop carrying products containing microbeads at all 88 of its stores.An Erie County ban on polyethylene microbead plastics will take effect in February.Mary Ellen Burris, the company’s senior vice president of consumer affairs, made the announcement on its website. Citing Erie County’s ban, she said the decision was…

Local News

Nadia Rosky has been looking for a Candy Craft Chocolate Pen since November.Her 11-year-old daughter, Isabella, has a holiday hankering for the elusive plastic pen, which lets users draw designs on wax paper with melted chocolate.“There are only a few things she wants and that darn pen is one of them,” Rosky said.She has made repeated trips to Target, Walmart, Kmart and To…

Business

BeatBo is a star.Born and bred in East Aurora, the Fisher-Price toy is one of the holiday season’s fastest and best sellers. It has been named to every hot holiday toy list that matters, outsold all other toys during the first week of October, and has been running out of stock around the world since before Black Friday.The colorful, interactive toy has helped chart a turna…

A former Hamburg day spa has agreed to issue refunds for gift certificates it sold before closing abruptly in September.The state attorney general’s office has reached an agreement with Hush Day Spa to reimburse $40,000 in outstanding gift cards. The spa was located at 420 Southwestern Boulevard in Hamburg.Consumers can submit a claim to attorney general Eric T. Schneiderm…

Business

The picturesque Village of Lewiston is just one square mile in size, but it’s busting at the seams with historic charm. Center Street is packed with retail shops and restaurants, and surrounded by historic homes all decked out for Christmas. What a fun place to do some shopping.Sister & Brother Children’s Apparel, 484 Center St. Adorable children’s clothing and accessories…

Business

Amy Blaszczak is a procrastinator. She’ll tell you so herself.She has been known to hit the malls as late as Christmas Eve to finish her shopping but this year, she got done “early.” She started her shopping at Walden Galleria on Saturday and finished at Boulevard Mall on Sunday.“The malls were packed,” Blaszczak said. “It was like hand-to-hand combat.” Stores were thronge…

Business

Expect to see a significant increase in restaurant prices across Western New York next month, triggered by changes in state wage law.Starting Dec. 31, the minimum wage for bartenders, servers and other tipped workers increases to $7.50 per hour, from $5. To meet that requirement, restaurant owners said, prices must go up.It has left the industry scrambling.“I’ve been in th…

Business

Expect to see a significant increase in restaurant prices across Western New York next month, triggered by changes in state wage law.Starting Dec. 31, the minimum wage for bartenders, servers and other tipped workers increases to $7.50 per hour, from $5. To meet that requirement, restaurant owners said, prices must go up.It has left the industry scrambling.“I’ve been in th…

Walden Galleria will extend its hours for the remainder of the Christmas shopping season.The mall will open every day at 8 a.m. through Christmas Eve. It will close at 10 p.m. this Wednesday and Thursday, and close at 11 p.m. Friday through Dec. 23. It will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve and closed on Christmas Day.The mall’s regular hours are 10 a.m. to 9:…

Billy Beez is now open at Walden Galleria.The jungle-themed indoor playground is located on the mall’s upper level near the food court.The park features sports courts, slides, obstacle courses, a Ball Blaster arena, a special section for toddlers and a Honey Cafe eatery. It offers classes, such as sports clinics, and can be booked for birthday parties.Admission is $19.95 f…