NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- What's happening in small business today?
1. Retailers balking at swipe fee settlement. After the National Grocers Association became the latest group to reject the proposed anti-trust settlement over credit-card interchange fees last week, data from Sageworks indicates that some retailers "may be more inclined to balk at the deal than others," according to a Forbes article.
The financial data provider for private companies conducted an analysis across several major retail categories. Sageworks found that because owners of gas stations and grocery stores have slim net profit margins in retailing as opposed to retail stores, it "leaves less padding to absorb so-called swipe fees when they rise," the article says.
"The outcome of this settlement and future negotiations could be the difference between staying in the black or not," Sageworks analyst Libby Bierman says.The proposed settlement stemmed from a lawsuit that alleged that Visa (V), MasterCard (MA) and 13 of the largest banks colluded to price-fixing for interchange fees. The likely impact of the settlement on the consumer remains open to debate. 2. Do you use the products you sell? Eric Dodd of Brains on Fire, a marketing and branding company, writes in a blog post about his recent experience with a client's product -- a defining moment which made him realize how important it is for anyone who is selling an item to not only understand the scripted words that define the product, but to know intimately what happens when the product is used. Dodd describes using his complimentary cans of Liquid Wrench -- a company that manufacture's specialty lubrication products -- in his own home for cleaning tools, putting together a bike stand and fixing locks. "I have a deep knowledge of Liquid Wrench's products. I know that they work really well, and I understand the chemistry of why they work well too. But it had been months since I had physically sprayed a can on something, let it work its magic, and say to myself, 'dang, I'm glad I have this stuff in my shop.' It was a really good reminder," he writes. Dodd realization begs the question, When is the last time you actually used the product you're selling? 3. Is New York City over-fining its small businesses? New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is taking on the city that never sleeps to determine if soaring fines from the city's agencies are hurting small businesses. The Democratic mayoral candidate claims that his office has been flooded with complaints by the city's small businesses over being hounded and forced to pay "excessive" fines, according to a Reuters article. The public advocate has filed a lawsuit against the city and claims he has been stonewalled by the city since May in his attempts to investigate the issue. According to the complaint (De Blasio v. Michael Bloomberg et al, Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County, No. 12-103374), de Blasio is trying to find out if city departments are guilty of "overzealous enforcement" in an effort to collect more revenue. According to a spokesman for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the total amount of fines collected from individuals and businesses rose 70% from 2002 to $817 million in 2012. A significant portion of those fines came from construction violations, fire code violations, increased restaurant inspections and illegal cigarette sales, among other offenses. -- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York. To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com. To follow Laurie Kulikowski on Twitter, go to: http://twitter.com/#!/LKulikowski >To submit a news tip, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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