retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Bloomberg reports that Costco "plans to pay a special dividend of about $3 billion as it returns increasing cash to investors." CFO Richard Galanti said that the move reflects a strong balance sheet; it came as Costco reported a 10 percent increase in first quarter sales.

• The Chicago Sun Times reports that Strack and Van Til Supermarkets is acquiring seven WiseWay and PayLow stores in Northwest Indiana; the WiseWay stores will be converted to Strack & Van Til stores and the PayLows will change to Ultra Food stores.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

• The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Trader Joe's is scheduled to open its first Utah store this Friday in Salt Lake City.

• The Boston Globe reports that the US Patent and Trademark Office has rebuffed Dunkin' Donuts in its efforts to legally own the phrase "Best Coffee in America."

The government said that the phrase was "not descriptive enough."
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