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Venture into any of Connecticut's municipal centers and you will likely notice an empty storefront … or two or three or, well, you get the point.

This hour, we ask: What impact do these vacancies have on the vitality of local communities? And what resources are available to help these communities attract and retain more retail businesses?

Dennis Sylvester Hurd / Flickr

Businesses can do more to protect their customers and the public from mass shootings, experts say, after more than 30 people were killed over the weekend in two separate incidents.

Jade Allen / Connecticut Public Radio

The green initiative that will charge retail shoppers 10 cents to use plastic disposable bags begins August 1st. But two chains, Big Y and Stop & Shop, have gone further and eliminated the bags altogether.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Stop & Shop employees continue to strike in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, prompting some customers to fill their grocery carts elsewhere. 

Emily Wescott stocks the shelves at Noel's Market in Colchester. Wescott was called in Monday April 15, 2019 to deal with an increase in shoppers that her manager says directly correlates to the Stop & Shop union strike.
Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

With one local grocery chain dealing with a union strike, other stores are enjoying a bit of a boost as customers go grocery shopping somewhere else.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Grocery chain Stop & Shop said on Friday, April 12 that a majority of its Connecticut stores are still open even though union workers have gone on strike.

Stop & Shop returns to the negotiating table with its unions on Wednesday. The state treasurer of Massachusetts has criticized the company's proposals — and she has a unique perspective. 

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Workers at local Stop and Shop grocery stores could soon go on strike.

That would impact 91 stores in Connecticut – all of them employ members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Stonington could be one of the first American towns to ban the use of plastic straws.

The town’s board of selectmen has put together a committee to explore how to implement a ban on plastic straws and single-use plastic bags. Stonington first selectman Rob Simmons said the committee will be established next week and then within 90 days, he’s expecting the town to ditch the plastics.

Mark Fischer / Creative Commons

A group representing Connecticut retailers is hailing Thursday's decision by the Supreme Court that will allow states to collect sales tax on online purchases. The 5-4 decision strikes down a 1992 case that restricted states from collecting sales tax from retailers that do not have a physical presence in their state.

An attorney for families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting has asked one of the nation’s largest sporting goods retailers to stop selling assault rifles. Joshua Koskoff sent a letter on Thursday to Bass Pro Shops founder and CEO Johnny Morris.

Updated at 7:40 p.m. ET

Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods say they won't sell guns to customers under 21, and both are putting new restrictions on ammunition sales.

Dick's Sporting Goods, one of the largest sports retailers in the U.S., has announced it is immediately ending its sales of military-style semi-automatic rifles and is requiring all customers to be older than 21 to buy a firearm at its stores. Additionally, the company no longer will sell high-capacity magazines.

The state of Vermont has one year to prepare for something it has never had: a Target store. After years of pleading from some residents and anti-big-box sentiment from others, the retail giant says it will finally open a store in South Burlington in 2018.

The news prompted a "Breaking News" banner on the local paper's website. As they're saying over at Vermont Public Radio: "This is not a drill."

In response, Adam Maxwell wrote on the VPR Facebook page: "Welcome to 1995, Vermont!"

Updated at 1:35 p.m. ET

A $758.7 million dream was dashed for many lottery players in the U.S. Thursday, after news emerged that just one winning ticket had been sold in Chicopee, Mass., for Wednesday night's Powerball drawing.

The winner is Mavis Wanczyk, 53, who lives in Chicopee and who worked, until today, at a medical center where she's been employed for 32 years.

Siri Stafford/Digital Vision / Thinkstock

Connecticut’s sales tax-free week goes ahead from this Sunday, despite the state’s continuing fiscal crisis. The Department of Revenue Services has estimated it will forgo about $4 million in sales tax during the course of the week.

Under pressure from the growth of online retailing, TV shopping giant QVC intends to acquire its rival HSN Inc. in a $2.1 billion deal.

The merger, announced Thursday, would create a company with $14 billion in annual sales, NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports.

Mattza flickr.com/photos/27762949@N00/33602814/ / Creative Commons

Amazon’s announcement that it plans to acquire Whole Foods means we could soon see significant changes to the way people do their grocery shopping. Meanwhile, CNBC has reported that the online retailer is also considering ways it might break into the multi-billion dollar pharmacy market.

Elph / Creative Commons

Lawmakers will examine a proposal to raise Connecticut’s sales tax this week. The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities wants to see an increase in the sales tax from 6.35 percent currently, to 6.99 percent. The idea is that the additional revenue should be given to cities and towns so they can control a rise in property taxes. 

Ken Teegardin/SeniorLiving.Org / Creative Commons

Connecticut is stepping up efforts to collect state sales taxes not being paid by online and out-of-state retailers.

Current state law requires out-of-state sellers with a substantial economic presence in the state to collect and remit Connecticut sales tax.

But the Department of Revenue Services estimates at least $70 million is being evaded annually.

Stop and Shop

Each year billions of pounds of food go to waste. That means billions of dollars, too. The Environmental Protection Agency says more food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other one material in our trash. And for supermarkets, that leftover food equates to lost dollars.

dianeham / Creative Commons

Buying local doesn't just need to be for produce. That's the message of a program trying to get consumers to think bigger about the so-called "locavore" lifestyle.

Lori Mack / WNPR

A federal judge has ordered a 24-hour grocery on the campus of Yale University to pay several former employees a total of $170,000 in damages, after they were forced to work for as little as $3.00 an hour.

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The holiday shopping season, which kicked off on Black Friday, has many analysts guessing as to how much we’ll spend. And some of that uncertainty is attributable to the extraordinary year we’ve experienced. 

Miya's/Facebook

One of the most unique dining experiences can be found at a restaurant in New Haven, Connecticut and the owner and chef will be recognized by the White House for his innovation.

Alex Ranaldi / Creative Commons

The two liquor retailers who had been openly defying Connecticut laws on minimum prices have backed down on their crusade. Total Wine & More, the first chain to begin advertising illegal discounts, has agreed to raise its prices, and will pay a fine to the state of $37,500. 

Derek Gavey/flickr creative commons

Two liquor chains who are openly flouting state law on minimum pricing of alcohol are creating fresh political tension over the issue. 

Steven Depolo / Creative Commons

The state may be chronically short of cash, but some traditions still persist. Tax-free shopping week is one of them; the tax break begins Sunday. 

It's only been out a week, but Pokémon Go is making more money than a Meowth using Pay Day.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

They have green backs, pink bellies, and are only about two inches in diameter.

The owner of the gun shop where Omar Mateen, the shooter in the Orlando nightclub attack, legally bought two guns called the assailant "an evil person" who had passed a full background check.

Ed Henson, owner of the St. Lucie Shooting Center, held a brief news conference Monday afternoon, saying if Mateen "hadn't purchased them from us, I'm sure he would have gotten them from another local gun store in the area."

Henson said he used to be a New York City police officer, had worked at the twin towers in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks and retired in March 2002.

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