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If you got lost in Chapter 11, here’s the list of who’s there

(BUSINESS NEWS) A list of companies that have filed bankruptcy have either been reorganized or straight up closed.

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There is no denying that the face of retail has changed drastically in the last few years. For the better part of a year we have been writing about how brick and mortar stores have been losing the sales battle to their online counterparts and thus filing for bankruptcy.

With the holidays right around the corner — I know it isn’t even Halloween yet– you might go to do some shopping and be flabbergasted by what you don’t find.

The list of companies that have filed is loooooong (extra o’s for emphasis) and by no means is this a comprehensive list, but it is a topic we’ve stayed on top of. So here are a few stores to not look for when you (maybe, probably not) go to the mall for your annual holiday shopping spree.

Toys “R” Us – Toys “R” Us has been racking up a sizable debt of more than $5 billion dollars. The company made the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in September in federal court in Richmond, Virginia.

True Religion – True Religion didn’t file but, rather, sought out a second chance by adjusting their business model, but the jury is still out on if it happened in time.

Gymboree – Back in June, the San Francisco-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. That was supposed to reduce the company’s debts by $900 million, but they were forced to close 375 of its 1,300 stores.

Rue 21 – Bloomberg Markets reported that the company, which operates over 1,000 stores prepared bankruptcy filings back in April.

Perfumania – In August, Perfumania Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, announcing it would close 64 of its 226 stores. Although Perfumania had already closed 103 stores in the past three years, the company was still losing money.

Abercrombie – The super ripped “teens” at Abercrombie are surviving the retail cull (barely) but in attempt to thrive in it, they decided to revamping their marketing.

Joe’s Crab Shack – In a $57M corporate shuffle Joe and his Crab Shacks got the axe. Around the same time, Dine Equity, owner of Applebee’s and IHOP, announced that they intend to close 160 restaurants, far more than previously estimated. They plan to shut down between 105 and 135 Applebee’s locations and 20 to 25 IHOPs.

Radio Shack – The once electronic great was purchased quietly in 2015 and there was a plan set in place to quietly shut down 200 stores on top of the other stores that had already shut down. Then five months ago, 1000 more stores were shuttered. If you’re keeping track of numbers that leaves only 72 company-owned stores remaining in seven states, including its native Texas. The About 500 dealer-owned store are sticking around for the time as well.

Payless – Payless finally admitted defeat and filed in April 2017. The initial filing estimates that the company owes between $1 and $10 billion in debt

Bebe – After four straight years of losses amounting to $200 million Bebe had to shut doors and file.

Family Christian – In 2015, Family Christian filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Surprisingly, the move came with a wave of optimism as company leaders believed it was a good opportunity to reorganize but it didn’t work and Family Christian wound up closing all 240 locations.

Wet Seal – In 2015, 3,700 employees were let go after the company filed for bankruptcy. It was acquired in April of 2015 by Versa Capital for $7.5 million; however, Versa could not raise funding or find a buyer for Wet Seal to continue and in January of 2017 all stores were closed.

By no stretch of the imagination is this every single company that filed in the last year.

Delia’s, Sears, Banana Republic were all on the chopping block at some point as were The Limited, BCBG Max Azria, Gander Mountain, Alfred Angelo, and Aerosoles. Also worth mentioning is that THE CITY OF DETROIT declared bankruptcy four years ago — how even?

In this day and age bankruptcy doesn’t mean what it used to, but it still isn’t anything to get excited about.

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Kiri Isaac is the Web Producer and a Staff Writer at The American Genius and studied communications at Texas A&M. She is fluent in sarcasm and movie quotes and her love language is tacos.

Business News

The sad truths you missed about the US Women’s Soccer Team lawsuit

(NEWS) The US Women’s Soccer team dominated headlines by suing for equal pay, but there was so much more to the lawsuit that could have a ripple effect in the business world.

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Recently, on International Women’s Day, the United States Women’s Soccer Team (USWNT) filed a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation. The timing of the suit is not only a sign of the team continuing their decades long fight against the organization (only three months before they are set to defend their World Cup title in France), but a recognition of the symbol that they have become in the larger battle that women and other minorities are waging in order to be given the same resources as the men leading in their fields.

It should go without saying that the women’s soccer team is unparalleled in its athletic success: over the past twenty years they have won three World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals. These players, as ESPN acknowledges, are among the most accomplished and best known women athletes in the world.

Their counterpart, the Men’s National Soccer Team, leaves much to be desired (they failed to qualify for last year’s World Cup, for example) yet they consistently receive much more support from the US Soccer Federation.

Although the pay disparity between the USWNT and the male soccer team is certainly stark, the “gains” that the women athletes are fighting for go beyond monetary compensation.

According to Mashable, “This [suit] includes how women frequently play on a dangerous artificial surfaces when the men do not, fly commercial when the men travel by more convenient, comfortable charter flights, and the alleged allocation of fewer resources to promote women’s games compared to men’s.”

As if being the best players in your sport in the world and having to share hotel rooms after getting torn apart by the seams astroturf and receiving less-than-world-class medical care wouldn’t be infuriating enough, it’s truly this final point that highlights the glaring mistreatment of the USWNT.

Without support from the US Soccer Federation, not only in the form of payment but in promotion of their games and general good-will toward their players, the USWNT will not be able to grow their following so that they can establish a consistent revenue near what the men’s team attracts. This “lack” of revenue continues to create the chicken/egg excuse that the Federation has for not propping up the USWNT like they deserve.

It’s simply the opposite of “sportsmanship” for the US Soccer Federation to use these players’ love of playing the game (that, again, they are the best in the world at) and their country as a way to gaslight them into playing for less.

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Think about automating tasks instead of replacing workers

(BUSINESS) Automation is great, unless you obsess over it and try to cut down on payroll – there’s a smarter approach that successful businesses take.

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The concept of automating your workflow is a tempting one — especially as payroll continues to be one of the evergreen highest costs of business. However, in contemplating how to streamline your workflow, you may do better to step back from the idea of “replacing workers” and instead think about you can optimize your existing employees by strategically tweaking their workflow.

As Ravin Jesuthasan and John Boudreau write in The Harvard Business Review, if the goal of automating is to ensure that your company is operating at its most cost effective and efficient levels, then chances are you’d still need knowledgeable employees to help you scale and capitalize.

Where automation can truly help your business is by transforming the ability of your organization to focus on the tasks that truly require a human touch or deep knowledge. For example, automation will not help your employees perform complex, interactive, or creative work like collaborating with clients to come up with solutions or designs.

However, it can help the process of brainstorming or co-designing these solutions easier by replacing some of the mechanical tasks that aid this high-level workflow.

For example, it may be helpful to automate basic research tasks for your designers. If your designers must create a client profile to help them launch their projects — basic information must surely exist at some other point in the process before this point. Maybe your firm has an intake form or contracts where a basic description of the goal of the contracted service has been created. By automating the sharing of that data between departments, perhaps in a content management system, you’d be able to free up time that the designers might spend on basic data collection so that they could instead use it for their more complex, empathetic work.

Jesuthasan and Boudreau offer up other advice for thinking about which specific tasks within your company’s workflow are the best candidates for automation.

Is a task simple? Routine? Does it require collaboration?

These kinds of inquiry are not only useful when thinking about your organizational processes, but they are good refreshers for thinking about the individual value and skills that your organization and its workers offer clients.

So instead of looking at how to cut down on payroll, consider automation as an option to improve the value you’re getting from your team, and freeing them from mind-numbing tasks that have nothing to do with their expertise. Win-win!

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Megabrand, Amazon failing to support their working parent employees

(BUSINESS NEWS) Policies are changing at American companies to be up to par in supporting parents, but Amazon, despite being one of the most profitable companies in history, is not one of the evolving brands.

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Households in which both parents work is so much the norm in this country that we rarely ask new mothers if they’ll go back to work knowing it’s only a matter of when they’ll go back to work.

And once new mothers re-enter the workplace, the expectation of their time rarely changes to account for their new status as working mothers. Schedules change and so do childcare needs.

However, some progressive companies are changing their policies to accommodate their employees’ need for childcare, but Amazon isn’t one of them. Yet.

Dubbing themselves the Momazonians, a group of working mothers at Amazon is demanding that the online retail giant provide a back-up childcare benefit.

Back-up child care, for the uninitiated, is a perk that offers workers access to subsidized care for the times when school is closed, reliable childcare is temporarily unavailable, or in the event of sickness or emergency.

Why is this important? For starters, women who return to work shortly after giving birth are often left feeling unsupported and burdened by their choice to continue their careers instead of feeling empowered to enter into the next chapter or phase of their career.

Some companies believe that babies just aren’t good for business and once a woman makes the choice to expand her family, she’s often passed over for promotions or thought to no longer prioritize her career. Of course, these companies are wrong and that’s why it’s important for working mom’s to feel empowered to make their voices heard.

Will the Momazonians make any headway in getting the help they deserve? Time will tell.

They’ll be meeting in the next few weeks in an attempt to make a deal. However, whether or not Amazon complies with their demands, it’s worth thinking about for companies pondering parental policies in the future. As more and more millennials are marrying and having children later in life and thus further along in their careers, it would behoove companies to offer more flexible benefits to families. While it may seem cheaper to hire entry-level employees, in the long run, it’s more cost effective to hold onto experienced workers.

What’s more, while it’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to have it all, companies could make it easier to at least manage work-life balance better. When you offer mothers and fathers flex-time and work-from-home benefits, or even subsidized care, you are purchasing peace of mind and a peace-filled mind is a productive one.

Any woman who has gone back to work knows the hardest part of their day is dropping off their new little one in someone else’s care so why not make these transitions easier if it means holding on to experience? In the long term, it leads to employee retention. Children aren’t children forever and if they’re parents are offered support, those parents will probably perform better.

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