Business in brief, March 5, 2019

March 5, 2019 GMT

Smith’s grocery store to no longer take Visa credit cards

Smith’s Food and Drug will stop accepting Visa credit cards April 3, citing “excessive interchange and network fees that Visa and its issuing banks charge retailers.”

Smith’s will continue accepting Visa debit cards and credit cards from other carriers, the company announced March 1.

Smith’s is a Salt Lake City-based division of the Kroger Co., the Cincinnati conglomerate that is the nation’s largest supermarket chain. A second Kroger division, Foods Co. Supermarkets in California, stopped accepting Visa credit cards in August.

“Visa has been misusing its position and charging retailers excessive fees for a long time,” Mike Schlotman, Kroger’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, said in a news release.

Smith’s has two stores in Santa Fe and 23 stores in New Mexico.

Albertsons Inc., the nation’s second largest grocery chain, with two Albertsons Markets and a Market Street store in Santa Fe, immediately responded with a notice placed at its store doors. “In light of the recent announcement from our competitors in regard to Visa credit cards, Albertsons will continue to accept Visa cards with no change to our current policy,” the Albertsons notice reads.

Tea shop moving into former Design Warehouse space

Artful Tea will move across downtown Santa Fe from its Galisteo Street storefront to fill about one-third of the former Design Warehouse space on Marcy Street.

Artful Tea will close the Galisteo Street location March 28 and reopen on Marcy Street the first week of April, owner Karen Gardiner said.

Design Warehouse reopened Friday in a larger space around the corner on Lincoln Avenue. Owner Larry Keller left a 4,000-square-foot location for 6,000 square feet on Lincoln.

Artful Tea also is expanding with its move. Gardiner opened the 800-square-foot Galisteo location with 500 square feet of display space in 2015. She launched Artful Tea as an online business in 2007 and then operated a retail shop from 2012 to 2017 at the Santa Fe Farmers Market.

The Marcy Street location offers 1,800 square feet with 800 square feet of display space. About one-fourth of Artful Tea sales is online or wholesale

Gardiner will add demonstration and classroom space to offer classes, from basic tea preparation to premium white tea preparation, Gardiner said.

“What I enjoy most is talking to people about tea and taking it home and preparing it properly,” Gardiner said.

Annual Santa Fe Pen Fair set for DeVargas Center

Who says nobody writes with a pen anymore?

Neil Frank, owner of Santa Fe Pens at the DeVargas Center, has staged a Santa Fe Pen Fair for 23 years, and the 24th annual event is set for Saturday and Sunday.

Frank and eight representatives from about 23 pen and ink manufacturers will have nearly any sort of writing implement imaginable at the store and eight tables in the mall’s common area, Frank said.

“Despite the wired age, everybody still needs a pen,” Frank said. “There are people that still use pens, still give pens as gifts. The Pen Fair is our biggest weekend [for business].”

Frank said Pen Fair attendees travel from as far away as Albuquerque, Oklahoma and Texas to get a look, feel and perhaps purchase pens ranging from $10 to $10,000.

The Pen Shop and Pen Fair both moved from the former Sanbusco Market Center to DeVargas in March 2016.

The fair will also have free handwriting and calligraphy courses, but reservations are required and can be made by calling 505-989-4742.

Pen Fair hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at DeVargas Center.

New Mexico businesses warned about fraud schemes

The FBI’s Albuquerque division is seeking New Mexico businesses that may have fallen victim to an alleged nationwide workers’ compensation insurance, health care insurance and pension plan fraud scheme, according to an FBI news release.

The FBI is encouraging New Mexico businesses that purchased policies from American Labor Alliance or subsidiaries such as ALA Trust, ALA Retirement Plan Trust or ALA Retirement Plan and Trust to check the validity of their policies with the New Mexico Superintendent of Insurance.

The warning comes after two American Labor Alliance executives were charged Jan. 10 with mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering in a 14-count federal grand jury indictment.

The case follows an investigation by the FBI, U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration’s San Francisco Regional Office and California Department of Insurance.

These invalid policies could date from at least 2011 onward, the release said.