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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ric Romero investigates why a store has been GOING OUT FOR BUSINESS for at least three years



ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Clever marketing or deceptive advertising?
That’s the question some shoppers and nearby business owners are asking about an on-going sale at a shop in Albuquerque’s Old Town.
Old Town Traders , located at the corner of San Felipe Street and Mountain Road, is advertising a sale with bargains up to 75 percent. Based on the signs, it appears the store is going out of business.
"Well it says out of business" shopper Dara Ferguson told News 13.
A reporter asked her to read the sign carefully: It actually says “Going Out For Business.”
"Oh, I didn't see that,” Ferguson said. “It's covered by the wreath. It's kind of deceptive."
The word "for" in the going out for business sign is covered by a stick on one window, a wreath on another and a light on a third sign.
Nearby shop owners said the sign has been up for much longer than the recent Christmas season.
"I've seen it for at least three plus years," said Sam Hamdan, who owns a jewelry store across the street from Old Town Traders. "I think it's very misleading.”
A KRQE News 13 photographer went in to the business and asked the sales clerk inside if the shop was going out of business.
"Read it carefully," she said. "It's going out for business."
The clerk said other people routinely misunderstand the wording of sign too.
"Oh yes,” she said. “It's intentional for the owner. I mean that's why he put it out to get people to come in.”
When News 13's Kim Holland later approached the same clerk, her explanation changed a bit.
"Trying to get customers in,” she said, explaining the sign. “We're going out for your business. I guess that's what it means.”
She admitted the sign does confuse customers.
The New Mexico Attorney General's Office said there could be a problem with a sign designed to mislead customers.
"In the Unfair Practices Act, if you are as a business stating something to a consumer that is false, which would be false, that is clearly a violation," said spokesperson Lynn Southard.
It could violate other laws and city codes too. The AG's office is not investigating the business at this time because nobody has made an official complaint. But on the street it's a different story.
"I don't think it's fair to a lot of the other vendors and all the other stores,” Hamdan said. “We can all put one up if we wanted, but ya know a lot of us want to do business the right way.”
After this story aired, the business agreed to take the signs down but now the City’s Safe City Strike Force has issued a Cease and Desist Letter to the owner for misleading ads.
A fire inspector also found what they called “serious safety violations” inside.
Another shop owned by the same man had another “Out for Business” which the city is making him take down as well.  The owner’s son accepted citations for the violations.
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