How to Save

Popcorn Can be a Healthy Snack

Posted on Wednesday, May 10th, 2017 at 7:00 am
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popcornPeople who want to stay healthy often seek out healthy snacks. It turns out that popcorn can be a healthy snack. It all depends on what kind of popcorn it is, and the quality of the ingredients that have been added to the popcorn.

First, the good news. Popcorn is naturally a whole grain. This means it provides the healthy benefits derived from the nutrients in every component of the whole grain. Popcorn contains about 4 grams of dietary fiber for every 4 cups of popped corn. Popcorn contains an antioxidant called polyphenols.

Popcorn, all by itself, is gluten-free. That’s great for people who have celiac disease, an allergy to wheat, rye and/or barley, or who have a gluten intolerance. It is also dairy free (if you don’t add butter or cheese to it). Popcorn does not naturally contain eggs, shellfish, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, or soybeans. It is naturally free of all of the eight most allergenic foods.

Now, the bad news. The more things you add to the popcorn, the more calories it contains. People who are trying to lose weight may be able to fit some popcorn into their diet – but will quickly go over their daily calories if they add a lot of extra things to the healthy popcorn.

Consumer Reports points out that a little bit of salt and oil in popcorn, or sugar in kettle corn, might not be so bad for your health. Be aware that popcorn becomes less healthy when you “load it up” with a lot of butter, extra salt, or cheese.

Make sure to check the nutrition label on the box of popcorn before you buy it. The front of the package might tell you the calorie count of one cup of popcorn. But, the nutrition facts label lists values for one ounce of popcorn – not one cup. That can make it difficult to compare one brand to another.

Check to see how many servings one bag of popcorn has inside it. In general, one bag does not equal one serving. People tend to eat the whole bag and consider that to be a healthy choice. In reality, they are probably eating more than one serving.

Bagged, pre-popped, flavored popcorn could have a wide variety of things added to it. Cheese, caramel, sugar, chocolate – and more. These additions add to the calorie count. Some bagged popcorn might contain artificial ingredients.

One way to keep popcorn a healthy snack is to make stovetop popcorn yourself. This lets you control the portion size, the amount of salt, and the type of oil that is used.

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Sears is Closing Many Stores

Posted on Monday, May 8th, 2017 at 7:00 am
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Sears LogoSears is in the process of closing many of its stores, across the nation, forever. It is sad news when a store that has been around as long as Sears has ends up closing multiple locations. Whenever a store closes, there are opportunities for consumers to take advantage of savings.

Shop Your Way is a rewards program that lets people earn 1% back in points on every dollar they spend at partner stores. Both Sears and Kmart are Shop Your Way partners. Now is a good time to visit a Sears (or Kmart) that is still open and use up your Shop Your Way points. Doing so could save you some money on your purchase.

Business Insider compiled a list of Sears stores that were part of the second wave of closures:

  • Florence Mall, Florence, Alabama
  • 1901 S. Caraway Road, Jonesboro, Arkansas
  • Enfield Square, Enfield, Connecticut
  • Eagle Ridge Mall, Lake Wales, Florida
  • Albany Mall, Albany, Georgia
  • Columbus Park Crossing, Columbus, Georgia
  • 1235 S. Reed Road, Kokomo, Indiana
  • 2259 S. 9th St., Salina, Kansas
  • Kentucky Oaks Mall, Paducah, Kentucky
  • 9001 Cortana Mall, Baton Rouge/Cortana, Louisiana
  • 197 Westbank Expressway, Gretna, Louisiana
  • 9605 Queens Blvd., Rego Park, New York
  • Walden Galleria, Cheektowaga, New York
  • Boulevard Mall, Amherst, New York
  • 1 Galleria Drive, Middletown, New York
  • 10 Whitten Road, Augusta, Maine
  • Swansea Mall, Swansea, Massachusetts
  • 3099 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • 12737 Riverdale Blvd NW, Coon Rapids, Minnesota
  • 1850 Adams St., Mankato, Minnesota
  • 3600 Country Club Drive, Jefferson Cty, Missouri
  • 3702 Frederick Ave., Saint Joseph, Missouri
  • 3902 13th Ave., South Fargo, North Dakota
  • 1000 S. Main St., Roswell, New Mexico
  • 2000 Brittain Road, Akron, Ohio
  • 1075 N. Bridge St., Chillicothe, Ohio
  • 1701 River Valley Circle S, Lancaster, Ohio
  • Richmond Mall, Richmond Heights, Ohio
  • 1901 S. Yale Ave., Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • 428 SW. C Ave, Lawton, Oklahoma
  • Shenango Valley Mall, Hermitage, Pennsylvania
  • 1 Susquehanna Valley Mall Drive, Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania
  • 1500 Mall Run Road, Uniontown, Pennsylvania
  • 3595 Capital City Mall, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
  • 1500 Diamond Hill Road, Woonsocket, Rhode Island
  • 2701 David H. McLeod Blvd., Florence, South Carolina
  • 2101 Fort Henry Drive, Kingsport, Tennessee
  • 4101 E. 42nd St., Odessa, Texas
  • 500 Gate City Highway, Bristol, Virginia
  • Alderwood Mall, Lynnwood, Washington
  • Town Center Mall, Charleston, West Virginia
  • Meadowbrook Mall, Bridgeport, West Virginia

In April of 2017, Business Insider posted an additional list of Sears stores that will close:

  • Aventura Mall, 19505 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, Florida
  • 3199 N White Sands Blvd, Alamogordo, New Mexico
  • Monroe Crossing Mall, 2115 W Roosevelt Blvd., Monroe, North Carolina
  • Northwoods Mall, 7801 Rivers Ave, Charleston, South Carolina
  • Valley View Mall, 13131 Preston Rd., Dallas, Texas

The Sears near you might not be on these lists. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will remain open. The Sears in San Luis Obispo, California, is not on those lists – but it is closing. Like some other Sears stores, there will be a liquidation sale.

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Gallup Releases 2016 Community Rankings for Healthy Eating

Posted on Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017 at 4:15 pm
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Fruit & Vegetable PlatterGallup and Sharecare released a report called “Nutrition Across the Nation: 2016 Community Rankings for Healthy Eating”. It includes a list of the communities in the United States where people are making the healthiest food choices.

According to Gallup and Sharecare: “Healthy eating is at its lowest level in 2016, with 63.2% of U.S. adults reporting eating healthy all day the previous day, down from a high of 67.7% in 2010, representing a decline of over 10 million American adults eating healthy on any given day since that year.” They asked adults “Did you eat healthy all day yesterday?”

In addition to identifying the communities where adults were making healthy food choices, the report also explores the relationship between healthy eating and various chronic illnesses. Some of those chronic illnesses include: obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, and stress.

Gallup and Sharecare said that overall, they found that those who ate healthy all day the previous day had lower disease burden across conditions than those who did not. Gallup and Sharecare state: “This research suggests that an emphasis on healthy eating and sensible food policies could have a positive impact on lowering disease burden within communities nationwide.”

The following communities have the healthiest eaters:
Naples, Florida
Barnstable Town, Massachusetts
Santa Cruz, California
Salinas, California
McAllen, Texas
Santa Rosa, California
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
San Luis Obispo, California
Lake Havasu City, Arizona
El Paso, Texas

The following communities have the least healthy eaters:
Little Rock, Arkansas
Topeka, Kansas
Wichita, Kansas
Lexington, Kentucky
Clarksville, Tennessee
Hickory, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Memphis, Tennessee
Lubbock, Texas

Is the community you live in listed among the top ten healthiest? Did it end up in the list of the least healthy eaters? If you don’t see your community in these two lists, there is potential that it could be on the full list put together by Gallup and Sharecare. There are a total of 189 communities in their ranking.

No matter where your community ended up, there is some wisdom to take from this report. Ask yourself the following question: “Did I eat healthy all day yesterday?” If the answer is “no”, it might be time to start making some changes in the kinds of food you eat and/or the portion size you are eating.

If possible, swap out sugary sodas with water. Tea with no sugar added, or coffee with no sugar added, are two more choices that are healthier than sodas. Try to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet.

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The Envelope System Might Save You Money

Posted on Monday, May 1st, 2017 at 7:00 am
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Dollars in envelopeThere is tons of advice online about how to save money. Often, it calls for cutting back on your expenses. What if you’ve already done that and still aren’t making ends meet? Perhaps the “Envelope System” might help you save money.

How to Save Money with the Envelope System

Erin Lowry wrote a book called “Broke Millennial”. In it, she explains how she managed to save money while working as a page on the David Letterman Show and living in New York City. Her money saving method is called “The Envelope System.”

She started by getting some regular paper envelopes. Each envelope was labeled with a category. In her case, the envelopes were labeled: rent, money for roommate who paid the utilities, savings, and fun fund. She put cash into those four envelopes every time she got paid. She did this instead of putting the money into a checking account or into a savings account.

In addition to working as a page, Erin Lowry also got a job as a barista at Starbucks. She also got paid for babysitting. The people she babysat for paid her in cash. Her work as a barista often resulted in cash tips. She put 50 percent of the money into the rent envelope, 25 percent into the money for roommate envelope, and 25 percent into the savings envelope. Extra cash would go into the fun fund.

One advantage to The Envelope System is that it gives you a tangible, visual, way to understand exactly how much money you have. If you discover, halfway through the month, that the rent envelope is low – you have the chance to make some changes. You can try and get more work, or pull from the fun fund.

The Envelope System makes it harder for people to unwittingly spend more money than they actually have. People who buy things with credit cards tend to spend more than they would if they had to pay cash. There is something about holding actual dollars in your hand that makes people more careful about where those dollars go.

There are some down sides to The Envelope System. It won’t be as easy to do for people who are paid by direct deposit, or by check, instead of with cash. Most people have bills that require a check, debit card, or electronic payment – and cash will not do.

Some people may feel uneasy about not having a checking account. Some savings accounts can accrue interest (something The Envelope System cannot offer). That being said, if you are a “Broke Millennial” like Erin Lowry was, The Envelope System might be exactly what you need.

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Healthy Bodies Need Some Fat

Posted on Wednesday, April 12th, 2017 at 7:00 am
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fat in our daily dietIt seems like the dieting trends focus on one type of food – and emphasize how bad it is for people’s health. Over the years, we have been told to avoid sugar, carbs, and fat. It turns out that not all fats are equal and healthy bodies need some fat.

Why Do Our Bodies Need Fat?

Fat helps your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins (like A, D, E, and K). Vitamin A helps your bones and teeth grow, and helps moisturize your skin end eyes. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Vitamin E has antioxidant qualities. Vitamin K maintains bone health and helps blood clotting.

Fat also helps brain development. It cushions the organs in your body and protects them from injury and trauma. It helps you to maintain your body temperature.

Not all fats are the same, though. Some are better for the body than others. Here is a quick look at the different kinds of fat found in foods.

Saturated fat comes from animal sources like meat and dairy. Certain plants, like coconut and palm, and their oils, are high in saturated fat. It is advisable to eat less saturated fat because it raises LDL cholesterol, a risk factor in heart disease.

Trans Fat are made synthetically by taking liquid saturated fat and blasting it with hydrogen. Doing so adds to the shelf life of the fat and makes it easier to cook with. Trans fats are found in many food products because manufacturers like how long it lasts before it goes bad. Trans fat is even worse for your body than saturated fat is.

Monounsaturated fat (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) are found in high-fat plant based foods (like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olives). They are also found in fatty fish (like tuna, salmon, and mackerel). This is a healthy type of fat for people to consume.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 technically are polyunsaturated fats. Our bodies cannot produce omega-6 or omega-3 on their own. The only way to get them is to consume them. Omega-3 and omega-6 is essential for developing our vision and nervous systems. Omega-3 is found in fatty fish. Omega-6 can be found in soybean, safflower and corn oil.

Fat helps people to feel full and to maintain a steady blood sugar. One of the problems people face when they cut out all fat is they end up feeling hungry. This could lead them to eat more than they should be eating. That’s counterproductive for people who are trying to lose weight.

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Ways to Save Money This Spring

Posted on Monday, April 10th, 2017 at 7:00 am
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Try these savings tips before the summer comes and it gets too hot to spend time outdoors.Spring brings warmer weather and makes people want to go outside and enjoy it. It also brings opportunities to save some money (that were not possible during the snowy, cold, winter). Try these savings tips before the summer comes and it gets too hot to spend time outdoors.

How to Save This Spring

Use Cash Instead of Credit
The warm spring weather makes a walk to the nearest ATM feel like less of a chore than it would have if the snow were still on the ground. Start your next shopping trip at the ATM. Pull out only what you think you will need. Leave your credit cards at home.

Making yourself use cash to pay for things forces you to be money-conscious. It often makes people question if the price of an item is really worth it. Do you actually need the thing you are considering buying? You might discover that your shopping decisions are more economical when you use cash.

Using your credit card is easy, but it comes with a price. If you aren’t able to pay off the entire balance of your credit card this month – you will get hit with an interest rate charge. This doesn’t happen when you use cash.

Walk Instead of Drive
When the weather is freezing cold, and the snow is deep, it is easy to see why people need to drive everywhere they go. Spring weather gives you the opportunity to take a walk instead. Consider walking to the restaurant that is just a few blocks away instead of driving to it.

Walking has several advantages. It leaves the gas in your vehicle’s tank for a little longer. The more often you walk, the less often you have to spend money filling up the tank. You won’t have to pay for parking if you walk. Walking can be great exercise!

Drop Your Gym Membership
Be honest, how many times have you used the gym membership you purchased in January? Most people have given up on their New Year’s Resolution to lose weight by the time spring hits. If you aren’t using it – you should cancel your membership. Save the money for something else.

You can get some exercise for free by talking walks, or going for a run. Make use of the bike paths where you live. The weather will soon be warm enough for you to get some exercise by swimming.

Avoid Takeout
Ordering takeout from local restaurants is easy. It can also be expensive! Meanwhile, the groceries you purchased sit in the refrigerator and go bad. Spring is a good time to get out the grill and make a tasty dinner for less money than it would cost to get takeout.

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How to Pick a Healthy Cereal

Posted on Wednesday, April 5th, 2017 at 7:00 am
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Finding a healthy cereal at the grocery store can be difficult. These tips will teach you how to pick a healthy cereal.It has been said that starting your day with breakfast is good for you. A bowl of cereal is a common breakfast selection – in part because it is quick and easy. Finding a healthy cereal at the grocery store can be difficult. These tips will teach you how to pick a healthy cereal.

How to Choose a Healthy Cereal

Read the Nutrition Label

Some cereals will have the word “healthy” on the front of the box. The word “healthy” on a package of food doesn’t have a specific meaning and is not regulated. You have to read the nutrition label to find out if a cereal is healthy or not.

How many servings of cereal are in the box? Check the serving size. Compare that to the amount of calories in each serving. Read the list of ingredients. They are listed in order of amount. A cereal with wheat or oats as the first item listed is probably healthier than one that has sugar at the top of the list.

Whole Grains are Good

Whole grains are good because they don’t go through the processing that removes the healthy part of the grain. Whole grains contain vitamins and minerals. The fiber in whole grains helps people to feel full. Check the nutrition label on the cereal box. Ideally, you want to choose a cereal that has 100 percent whole grain listed as its first ingredient.

Compare Brands

Before you buy your favorite type of cereal, take a moment to compare brands. There are several versions of puffed rice cereal, or wheat cereal, or raisin bran cereal. You might discover that the store brand version has the exact same ingredients as the name brand one. Typically, the store brands cost less than the name brands.

More importantly, you might discover a healthier version of the cereal that you enjoy. Look for one with less than 8 grams of sugar.  Find out if there is one with whole grains. Pick the cereal that has less than 3 grams of fat.

Add Some Fruit

People who have been eating large bowls of cereal in the morning might be eating more than one serving size. When they switch to the actual recommend serving size, they might not feel full. One healthy way to solve that problem is to add some fruit to the cereal.

Cut up a fresh banana for your cereal. Or, add some blueberries. Doing this gives you some fiber (which can help people feel full). It’s also an easy way to get one serving of fruit into your day.

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Don’t Miss Out on Tax Day Freebies!

Posted on Monday, April 3rd, 2017 at 3:02 pm
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Here are some of the stores and restaurants that will be giving away tax day freebies on April 18, 2017.Most people dislike having to pay their taxes. The process can be tedious, confusing, and stressful. Perhaps it will be more tolerable if you treat yourself with a Tax Day freebie. Here are some of the stores and restaurants that will be giving away freebies on April 18, 2017.

Great American Cookies

For the fifth year in a row, Great American Cookies is continuing its annual Tax Day tradition by offering a free Birthday Cake Cookie to customers who stop by participating Great American Cookies stores on Tuesday, April 18. This is their way of celebrating the end of tax season and the lead-up to the brand’s 40th birthday celebration in June.

California Tortilla

California Tortilla is offering free chips and queso with any purchase on Tuesday, April 18. To get this freebie, you must use the password “Tax Crunch” while ordering at California Tortilla.

National Parks

It just so happens that some of the National Parks Free Days occur right around tax day. You can visit any National Park for free on April 15-16. The next National Parks Free Days will be April 22-23.

Kona Ice

NBC News reported that Kona Ice will have trucks parked at post offices, tax preparers and business nationwide handing out free cups of tropical shaved ice and Hawaiian leis to weary tax filers. You can find a Kona Ice truck location near you by tweeting your zip code @KonaIce.

Hydromassage

Hydromassage and Planet Fitness will be doing their 9th annual “Free HydroMassages for Tax Week”. It will take place April 15-22, 2017. To obtain this freebie, you need to look at the map of the Hydromassage website, find the location nearest you, and give that location a call to schedule your massage. Make sure to print out the coupon from the Hydromassage website and take it with you.

Denny’s

Kids eat for free at Denny’s on Tuesdays from 4:00 in the afternoon until 10:00 at night. Tax Day is on a Tuesday this year. The Denny’s freebie isn’t being done specifically for Tax Day, but it happens to fall on Tax Day in 2017. Make sure to call your local Denny’s before you go to make sure they are participating in this offer.

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What You Should Know About a Recent Gluten Free Diet Study

Posted on Wednesday, March 15th, 2017 at 7:00 am
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DeLallo PastaThere are two kinds of people who eat a gluten-free diet. In one group, there are people who are doing it because they have celiac disease or an allergy or intolerance to foods that contain gluten. In the other group, are people who chose a gluten-free diet because they think it will make them lose weight. A recent study about gluten-free diets is going around the internet, but is being presented in a misleading way.

A person who has been diagnosed with celiac disease must avoid consuming gluten. Their doctor will recommend these people eat a gluten-free diet because it is the only form of treatment for celiac disease. Gluten will actually cause damage to the intestines of a person who has celiac disease.

Other people, who have been diagnosed with an allergy to wheat, rye and/or barley, will also hear their doctor recommend that they stay away from gluten. The same is so for those with a diagnosed gluten intolerance.

Other people choose a gluten-free diet because they believe it will help them to lose weight. This group doesn’t have to avoid gluten. (Their bodies can safely process it.) Typically, if you visit a doctor and ask for advice on how to lose weight – the doctor is going to suggest getting more exercise and avoiding sugar (not gluten.)

A study done by researchers from the University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Michigan, and Dartmouth University is being passed around the internet. Unfortunately, some people are presenting the results of that study in a misleading way.

You may have heard that a gluten-free diet results in increased levels of arsenic and mercury – two toxic metals that can lead to cardiovascular disease, neurological problems, cancer, and other health problems. What isn’t being emphasized is that the result came from a relatively small sample size of people who ate a gluten-free diet.

The study includes 7,471 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Of those people, only 73 reported being on a gluten-free diet. Tests of urine and blood found that arsenic levels were almost twice as high in the gluten-free group compared with the much larger group that ate gluten. The same tests found mercury levels were higher in the gluten-free group.

There are two things you need to understand about these results. One, more studies need to be done before we can conclude that a gluten-free diet poses a significant health risk. Two, there is speculation that the health risks have to do with the amount of rice that people who eat gluten-free are consuming – but this has not yet been proven.

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JC Penney is Closing Stores

Posted on Monday, March 13th, 2017 at 7:00 am
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JC Penney announced that it will be closing up to 140 stores. Now is a good time to shop the JC Penney nearest you for some great deals.JC Penney announced that it will be closing up to 140 stores. The full list of the locations of JC Penney stores that will close will be released later this month. Now is a good time to shop the JC Penney nearest you for some great deals.

The reason why JC Penney will be closing so many stores is due to some of the same reasons why other big chain stores have been closing. JC Penney reported a bigger-than-expected drop in same-store sales for the holiday quarter. It’s having difficultly competing against other, similar, stores and against online retailers.

JC Penney has stated that the stores being closed represent less than 5 percent of annual sales. In general, when a location closes, it has big sales on the merchandise that is still in the store. The hope is that customers will come buy it so they won’t have to spend money on shipping it to another location.

AOL Finance has a list of JC Penney locations that are at the greatest risk of being closed, based on sales data. The list came from Morningstar Credit Ratings, and is not an official list from JC Penney.

  • Pinnacle Hills Promenade, Rogers, Arkansas
  • El Con Center, Tucson, Arizona
  • Mt. Shasta Mall, Redding, California
  • West Covina Mall, West Covina, California
  • Westminster Mall, Westminster, California
  • Westfield Trumbull, Trumbull, Connecticut
  • Southland Mall, Cutler Bay, Florida
  • Tifton Plaza, Tifton, Georgia
  • North Riverside Park Mall, North Riverside, Illinois
  • Yorktown Center, Lombard, Illinois
  • Glenbrook Square Mall, Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • Muncie Mall, Muncie, Indiana
  • West Ridge Mall & Plaza, Topeka, Kansas
  • Country Club Mall, LaVale, Maryland
  • Westfield Wheaton, Wheaton, Maryland
  • Maine Mall, South Portland, Maine
  • Southdale Center, Edina, Minnesota
  • Crossroads Center, Saint Cloud, Minnesota
  • Mall at Barnes Crossing, Tupelo, Mississippi
  • Windsor Square, Matthews, North Carolina
  • Greenville Mall, Greenville, North Carolina
  • The Mall of New Hampshire, Manchester, New Hampshire
  • Quaker Bridge Mall, Lawrenceville, New Jersey
  • Destiny USA Phase I Syracuse, New York
  • Palisades Center, West Nyack, New York
  • Great Northern Mall, North Olmsted, Ohio
  • Northtowne Mall, Defiance, Ohio
  • Penn Square Mall, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Park City Center, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  • Capital City Mall, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
  • Wyoming Valley Mall, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
  • Indiana Mall, Indiana, Pennsylvania
  • Montgomery Mall, North Wales, Pennsylvania
  • Oxford Valley Mall, Middletown Township, Pennsylvania
  • Coastal Grand Mall, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • Hamilton Place, Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • South Plains Mall, Lubbock, Texas
  • Potomac Mills, Woodbridge, Virginia
  • Kitsap Mall, Silverdale, Washington

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