Joe Keenan is the executive editor of Total Retail. Joe has more than 10 years experience covering the retail industry, and enjoys profiling innovative companies and people in the space.

Many online merchants have been watching closely the saga of the Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) constitutional challenge to a 2010 Colorado law targeting remote sellers. This legislation would require out-of-state catalog and internet retailers that do not collect Colorado state and local sales tax to turn over customer transaction information to the Colorado Department of Revenue.

Outdoor gear and apparel retailer REI was one of the early pioneers in the e-commerce industry, launching its first website in 1996. That online experience has changed quite a bit in the nearly 20 years since its launch, but one thing remains the same: the company continues to try to provide its members (it's a co-op) the best shopping experience possible. In a keynote presentation yesterday at the Annual Summit in Seattle, REI's President and CEO Jerry Stritzke, as well as its Senior Vice President of Digital Retail Brad Brown discussed how REI is evolving its digital properties into the 21st century flagship store.

Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes — and now that's true of some retail store mannequins. Shoppers in New York City are celebrating five unique mannequins in the store windows of J.C. Penney. The national retailer is showcasing the mannequins, including the model of a woman in a wheelchair, a man with dwarfism and a double leg amputee, which were specially designed for "TODAY's" Love Your Selfie series with the help of Fusion Specialties in Denver. 

Kroger said Wednesday that it's buying, an online seller of vitamins and other health-oriented products, for $280 million. Kroger said the acquisition would open up opportunities to sell its products online and compete with companies like and Wal-Mart. "The deal could be transformative for Kroger," said Burt Flickinger III, managing director at retail consulting firm Strategic Resource Group. Kroger's online retail options are now limited to King Scoopers in Denver and 154 Harris Teeter stores, primarily in the Southeast. Its Denver model has been a small-scale work in progress that wouldn't work nationwide, the company said. 

For Wisteria, an omnichannel retailer of distinctive home furnishings and accessories, sales growth has come easier than for a lot of other brands. The company has consistently grown revenue since its founding in 2000. Last year, for example, saw revenue increase 25 percent. What was missing — at least to Wisteria's standards — was profitability. To help in that area, Wisteria has partnered with NetSuite to deploy the software provider's SuiteCommerce and POS solutions in an effort to become a more efficient (and profitable) organization. 

Bedding retailer Mattress Firm has agreed to acquire Mattress Liquidators Inc., which operates stores under the Mattress King name in Colorado and the BedMart name in Arizona. The $35 million purchase will add about 75 stores to Mattress Firm’s stable of company-owned stores, and will boost the retailer’s presence in the key markets of Denver, Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.

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