Archive for retail sales

Retailer: "If we can minimize the humans in our company, then we prefer that."

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retailer caviar vending machine

Unemployment continues to be a problem in this country, despite the recent good news and drop in the jobless rate to 6.1 percent. But there is at least one retailer who is apparently shrugging off and/or disregarding our nation's jobless situation. The retailer in question happens to be from-- le ahem-- Beverly Hills, California.

In today's Los Angeles Times, there's a lengthy article about how U.S. vending machines are on the upswing. And by upswing, they're not just talking quantity, but also quality. Vending machines are movin' on up(scale), and retailer after retailer is reaping the benefits. And the profits.

Even if it means laying off the very consumers who need work so they can, you know, keep consuming.

At first glance, burrito-spewing vending machines didn't seem like a bad idea. Nor did caviar-to-go. Yes, caviar. To go. From vending machines. Pardon moi, "automated boutiques." Food on the run is a convenience that is addicting to those who are short on time. So, sure, why not expand the roll of coin-operated machines that serve fast-food sandwiches, cupcakes, and pizzas? And caviar. All that easy access sounded okay to yours truly... until I read this:

After closing her Beverly Hills store in 2010, Stern began looking into vending machines. Her company typically sells to grocery stores and restaurants but wanted direct access to customers, too. [...]

The machines now pull in 10% of the company's total sales. The boutiques send emails when supplies are low and can also be remotely operated via smartphone to help shoppers who run into problems.

"If we can minimize the humans in our company, then we prefer that," Stern said. "When you have physical employees, you don't have a life. Ask any restaurant or supermarket business."

Let them eat caviar.

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Weekly jobless claims fall, federal deficit narrows, retail sales better-than-expected #BlameObama

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jobless claims unemployment down

Jobless claims fell? What? Did anyone tell the Republicans? Why yes, yes someone did. Fox Business did! As you can see by this email alert that magically appeared in my inbox, Fox Biz is letting everyone know, even the GOP, that jobless claims fell just when Wall Street expected the opposite to happen. Damn you, Fox Biz! Just when we crazy lefties were having field day after field day mocking Fox in general, you have to go and ruin everything with some upbeat economic news!

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But that's not all, nosireeBob! Defying the usual Debbie Downer expectations, retail sales went up! Up, I say! Or rather, Fox Biz say. Or rather, the Commerce Department say. What's a poor conservative to do? Other than wish for a lousier economy, that is, because if they don't have bad news to report, they can't-- say it with me now-- Blame Obama:

The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits fell last week to 315,000 from an upwardly revised 324,000 the week prior. Wall Street was looking for claims to rise to 330,000 from an initially reported 323,000.

The Commerce Department reports retail sales rose 0.3% in February, slightly higher than the 0.2% pick-up economists expected. Excluding the auto segment, sales rose 0.3%, verses expectations of a 0.2% gain.

But wait! There's even more! And again, from Fox Biz, this just in! Literally:

BREAKING NEWS: February Budget Deficit Narrows

The U.S. federal government posted a budget deficit of $193.5 billion in February, down from $203.5 billion in the same month last year. For fiscal 2014, the deficit is running at $377.4 billion, also less than the $494 billion deficit from the same period in fiscal 2013.

blame Obama 2

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Former Florida GOP chairman now sells La-Z-Boy recliners

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la z boy recliner vintageAllow me to introduce you to Jim Greer. He became the Florida GOP party head in January 2007, former governor (and recent convert to the Democratic party) Charlie Crist's personal pick.

He was one of the former Florida GOP leaders who said that voter suppression was the reason for a new election law.

He was also accused of stealing a couple of hundred thousand dollars from the Republican party using a phony campaign fundraising operation. Then the Palm Beach Post reported that he was suing them back, saying GOP leaders knew what he was doing and voiced no objection.

But oops, the Tampa Bay Times reported that, despite his protesty indignation, Greer had been sentenced to 18 months in state prison plus one year of probation after he pleaded guilty to four counts of theft and one count of money laundering.

There. Now that you know Greer better, let's see how the former GOP official has been spending his time lately. Via the Orlando Sentinel, we discover what Republican felons do post-sentencing. Talk about a career change:

Jim Greer, the disgraced former chairman of the Florida GOP, is now selling La-Z-Boy recliners for $8 an hour plus commission at an Orlando-area furniture store as part of a prison work release program. [...]

But instead of behind bars, he's now assigned to an Orlando work release facility on Mercy Drive. It has no bars and no prison-like security, although, it is fenced.

Would you buy a chair from this schmo?

And as Not-Quite-Inmate GOP Guy pockets $8 an hour plus commission (minimum wage in the state is $7.79), millions of Americans are out of work, are unable to receive unemployment benefits or a decent living wage (thanks to Greer's fellow Republican pals in Congress), and are struggling just to barely get by, get fed, and get through a day.

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Prior to his snazzy new recliner-hawking stint, Greer pulled weeds and picked up trash for six hours a day. That and the La-Z-Boy gig should spiff his political resumé right up.

Greer's lawyer, Damon Chase, said, "He's in a really good place in life, and his family is doing great."

Too bad the same can't be said for all those law-abiding types whose families depend on them for food, shelter, clothing, warmth, and security.

Greer hasn't quite turned over the proverbial new leaf yet, though. He managed to break the rules while incarcerated for breaking the rules. See, he had a $20 bill in his possession, which is a big no-no; he wasn't supposed to have anything bigger than a $5 bill on him. Hey, no problem. They counseled him a little, and he's a new man, enjoying his "good place in life."

Maybe he could talk a few of his Republican lawmaker BFFs into making life easier for the rest of us.

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Know What You're Backing When You Shop At Certain Stores

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fast food logos

Who really pays much attention when they go shopping as to corporate political leanings or support when they need an item? If you can't find your hammer or drill, you just go to the closest hardware or Home Depot-ish store and grab one.

Hungry and in a hurry, you might just pick the next fast food store that comes up on the right, so you don't have to cross traffic on your way to sating your grumbling stomach.

For most of us, if we need a new pair of jeans, we walk into the mall, see who's got a sale and grab a pair. They're jeans, for Chrissake, not evening wear for the Oscars red carpet ceremony.

The bottom line is for most things, we really don't care where we get them -- price and convenience are the guidelines. But maybe we should take a moment and realize that there's more to our decisions. There's financial backing of a company that gives it power to drive away the competition as well as get their political missions funded. Recently HuffPo posted an interesting look at corporations and what they stand for. It's entitled, 8 Brands with Religious Affiliation. The quotes below are from them.

Perhaps you heard of Hobby Lobby. They're a crafts store with many branches across the country as well as having a large, internet E-tail business. They have over 560 stores nationwide. They also happen to be a right-wing Christian run outfit. They are so inclined that this year they refused to carry and Chanukkah merchandise or materials until public outroar made them change their mind. They also are outwardly anti-Obamacare, having filed a federal lawsuit against the ACA for mandating contraceptive coverage in their insurance.

Is this a place you want to support?

How about Forever 21, the youthful appealing casual attire outfit? They are considered a Born-Again Christian run chain. How so? Their founder, Do Wo Chang had demanded the following:

 — John 3:16 is printed on every bag: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Not a bad message, but do I need to advertise this on every shopping bag from them? If religious backing is that important to you, then the next time you buy chicken to make at home or for a barbecue, don't forget to buy Tyson Brand. They're so evangelical Christian that they provide counseling services for all employees from their evangelical in-house Chaplaincy Program, Would you like a prayer with those hot wings?

But you know who else falls into this Christian category? In and Out Burgers. Yeah, that big dog'll hunt -- for double barbecue cheese burgers, and a side of the Holy Ghost.

Now if Mormonism is more to your liking, next time you travel, stay at a Marriott. In your night stand,

you'll find another religious text alongside your Gideon's Bible: the Book of Mormon.

Now if only it was a DVD of those South Park guys' play, I'd stay there for sure. Oh, and just so you know, don't go looking for any porn on their pay TV in-room service. That's all been taken out. You'll just have to settle with regular TV or video's of the complimentary breakfast available from 5:30 AM until 9:30 AM.

Here's a twofer if you're interested in that kind of bonus-- Chick-fil-A. This company is both openly anti-LGBT AND devoutly Southern Baptist. How can you hate that?

Truett Cathy, the founder and CEO of Georgia-based Chick-fil-A, says he closes all 1,700-plus locations on Sundays for two reasons: "One, that there must be something special about the way Chick-fil-A people view their spiritual life and, two, that there must be something special about how Chick-fil-A feels about its people." He also believes that giving employees Sunday off "as a day for family, worship, fellowship or rest" is the secret to attracting quality people to the company.

If you're Seventh Day Adventists or Jewish and celebrate Saturday as your Sabbath, I guess you're excluded from the fun and frivolities Chick-Fil-A has to offer it's employees. But there's someplace for everyone.

Have no fear, Seventh Day Adventists, you aren't without a retail outlet of your own. It's the delectable darling of the desserts, Little Debbie Snacks.

And though the Company Statement begins with a faith-infused Family Statement — "The McKee family acknowledges the providence of God in our continued success." — you'd be hard-pressed to find evidence of the founders' Seventh Day Adventist faith without an encyclopedic knowledge of NASCAR.

The point of all of this is that we do say things by where and what we buy. Our spending power sends a message either by support or by boycott. I'm not preaching any of those, but merely wish to point out some of your choices. Shop however you like. And your reasons can be random, based on convenience, price, location or perhaps by personal choice to support those who believe the same way as you do.

I just thought it's interesting to let you know where you shop makes a statement about who you are.

Now, getting back to NASCAR...

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Retailer Tesco "very sorry" (again) for their latest "amusing" product: "The Inflatable Gay Best Friend"

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tesco gay best friend dollProduct description, in case you can't read the teeny font:

"Inflatable g*y Best Friend if SEX in the City and Will & Grace taught us anything, it's that g*y best friends are in this season."

The description goes on to say, "We've had the manbag, we've had leg warmers and iPhone fever, now it's time for the new craze. Although not much can be said for his own attire, your Inflatable g*y Best Friend is ready to give you fashion advice, tell you if your bum looks big and b**ch about everyone who doesn't wear Jimmy Choo's."

tesco gay best friend doll description

Gee, that's not stereotypical at all.

Common sense rule of thumb, generally speaking: Know when to stop. Or in this case, know when to never start in the first place.

Apparently British retailer Tesco doesn't have much common sense, or business sense for that matter. They already got in hot water and apologized for selling offensive "Psycho Ward" Halloween "mental patient" costumes which reinforced stigmatization and misconceptions of mental illness. But, hey, they were "really sorry for any offence caused."

Now they're "very sorry" about their latest offering, an inflatable "g*y best friend." They added the asterisk, I didn't. Yes, they censored the Evil G Word as if it were a vulgarity.

Via Sky News:

It comes a day after the retailer was forced to remove a Halloween costume called "Psycho Ward" from its shelves after it sparked widespread criticism.

On its website Tesco said "The Inflatable g*y Best Friend" was suitable for children aged three to four and was an "amusing gift".

To put it in the Queen's English, we are not amused.

Tesco claims that the doll was "uploaded to the website by a third party seller but was removed from sale immediately because we found it offensive." Offensive? Why, whoever would find that offensive? I mean other than anybody with a functioning brain and sense of decency.

According to the article, the "amusing gift" is still on sale on Amazon.

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Weekly Jobless Claims Fall More than Expected, Retail Sales Beat Expectations in May

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Via Fox Business, but they're clearly biased. They would never want to report anything unfavorable to this administration, right? So it's all good economic news all the time from them. Oh, but I kid the Foxers...

Via a couple of email alerts:

New claims for unemployment benefits fell by 12,000 to 334,000 last week. Claims were expected to fall to 345,000 from 346,000 the week prior.

The Commerce Department reports retail sales ticked up 0.6% in May from April, beating expectations of a 0.4% rise. Core sales, which excludes automobiles, gasoline and building materials, increased 0.3%.

Yet another Fox Biz email alert just popped up in my inbox at the time of this writing:

The Dow is up 114 points, or 0.76%, while the S&P 500 is up close to 1%.

Update, just prior to posting. The Dow is now up 157, the S&P 20, Nasdaq 37.

#BlameObama

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Video Overnight Thread- Black Friday Disasters Supercut

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Seriously make me want to stop being a human. Ick a roonie. Via.

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