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One beloved toy store is on the verge of extinction (Bye, Geoffrey)

(BUSINESS NEWS) Toys R Us is about to be added to the ever-growing list of brick and mortar store that couldn’t hang with online commerce.

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RIGHT IN THE CHILDHOOD

Welp, toy colossus Toys “R” Us could be filing for bankruptcy this week. The child in me weeps.

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I know, I know. But we should have seen it coming, right?

Bye bye brick and mortars

Similar to the way toy stores in malls have quietly disappeared over the past decade or two, it’s been a wonder Toys “R” Us has remained afloat given half the store is “baby stuff.”

(Sorry, that’s the kid in me that expected floor to wall action figures and toys upon entering the store – I mean, there’s already a Babies “R” Us… /rant)

Not to mention, interactive digital media gives us so much more at our fingertips so much faster.

I’m a product of the 80’s, so I fondly remember those trips to Toys “R” Us: skipping past the pink aisles of Barbies and Easy Bake Ovens (being the tomboy that I was) and bee-lining straight for the action figures to pick up the newest Ninja Turtle figure on the back of the packages that I didn’t yet have, or nabbing up a “My Buddy” doll. This is also the same store that my dad squealed like a child upon finding the coveted Patty O’ Green doll for me when Rainbow Brite was hot cakes.

TOY STORY

These days, finding the perfect toy was the equivalent to Arnold Schwarzenegger looking for that Turbo Man doll for little Anakin Skywalker. Am I dating myself as on the older spectrum of the millennial scale, yet?

But now, I can easily download an entire library of every Atari, Nintendo, and Sega title out there for free and not have to go anywhere.

Physical toys require the begging of parents and money. When these things can’t be won, we only have our imagination. A TV screen or a computer screen that gives you some degree of simulated autonomy is much more appealing than running around in the sun. Tablets over toy is already a hot topic being discussed.

BAD TIMING

Timing isn’t looking so hot for the toy retailer as it’ already midway through September and the holiday season I just around the corner, which is when the majority of retailers would be expected to ring in the new year on a high note.

THE “B” WORD

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

With competitors such as Wal-Mart and Amazon, it’s no wonder the company is hitting a few roadblocks along the way despite their late attempts to up their e-commerce game.

Fear not parents, collector, and nostalgia enthusiasts, the brick and mortar locations currently open will remain so as sources note there may be vested interest in the chain who expect them to come out successful in the end.

FEAR NOT

It has been reported that JPMorgan Chase will and other lenders will provide the company $3 billion in order to continue paying suppliers and employees; a good idea as we approach the holiday season.

It should come as no surprise given the trend of big box retailers closing due to the popularity of “tough to beat” alternatives such as Amazon and Wal-Mart. In an era of mobile communication and at-your-fingertips convenience, you have to go big or go home in order to stay ahead in the competition.

Ultimately, it will come down to who is willing to give you the best bang for your buck when the hottest trends like Funko Pop! Figures can be obtained, sometimes exclusively, through retailers such as Hot Topic, Game Stop, or in your latest blind box “loot” subscription.

Kids these days, am I right?

#ToysRGone

Ashe Segovia is a Staff Writer at The American Genius with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Southwestern University. A huge film nerd with a passion for acting and 80's movies and synthpop; the pop-cultural references are never-ending.

Business News

This web platform for cannabis is blowing up online distribution

(BUSINESS NEWS) Dutchie, a website platform for cannabis companies, just octupled in value. Here’s what that means for the online growth of cannabis distribution.

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A small jar of cannabis on a desk with notebooks, sold online in a nicely made jar.

The cannabis industry has, for the most part, blossomed in the past few years, managing to hit only a few major snags along the way. One of those snags is the issue of payment processing, an issue compounded by predominantly cash-only transactions. Dutchie, a Bend, Oregon company, has helped mitigate that issue—and it just raised a ton of money.

Technically, Dutchie is a jack-of-all-trades service that creates and hosts websites for dispensaries, tracks product, processes orders, keeps stock of revenue, and so much more. While it was valued at around $200 million as recently as summer of 2020, a round of series C funding currently puts the company at around $1.7 billion—approximately 8 times its worth a mere 8 months ago.

There are a few reasons behind Dutchie’s newfound momentum. For starters, the pandemic made cannabis products a lot more accessible—and desirable—in states in which the sale of cannabis is legal. The ensuing surge of customers and demand certainly didn’t hurt the platform, especially given that Dutchie is largely responsible for keeping things on track during some of the more chaotic months for dispensaries.

Several states in which the sale of cannabis was illegal also voted to legalize recreational use, giving Dutchie even more stomping ground than they had prior to the lockdown.

Dutchie also recently took on 2 separate companies and their associated employees, effectively doubling their current staff. The companies are Greenbits—a resource planning group—and Leaflogix, which is a point-of-sale platform. With these two additions to their compendium, Dutchie can operate as even more of an all-in-one suite, which absolutely contributes to its value as a company.

Ross Lipson, who is Dutchie’s co-founder and current CEO, is fairly dismissive of investment opportunities for the public at the moment, saying he instead prefers to stay “focused with what’s on our plate” for the time being. However, he also appears open to the possibility of going public via an acquisition company.

“We look at how this decision brings value to the dispensary and the customer,” says Lipson. “If it brings value, we’d embark on that decision.”

For now, Dutchie remains the ipso facto king of cannabis distribution and sales—and they don’t show any plans to slow down any time soon.

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Business News

Ford adopts flexible working from home schedule for over 30k employees

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ford Motor Co. is allowing employees to continue working from home even after the pandemic winds down. Is this the beginning of a trend for auto companies?

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Woman in car working on engineering now allowed a flexible schedule for working from home.

The pandemic has greatly transformed our lives. For the most part, learning is being conducted online. At one point, interacting with others was pretty much non-existent. Working in the office shifted significantly to working remotely, and it seems like working from home might not go away anytime soon.

As things slowly get back to a new “normal”, will things change again? Well, one thing is sure. Working from home will be a permanent thing for some people as more companies opt to continue letting people work remotely.

And, the most recent company on the list to do this is Ford Motor Co. Even after the pandemic winds down, Ford will allow more than 30,000 employees already working from home to continue doing so.

Last week, the automaker giant announced its “flexible hybrid model” schedule to its staff. The new schedule is set to start in the summer, and employees can choose to work remotely and come into the office for tasks that require face-to-face collaborations, such as meetings and group projects.

How much time an employee spends in the office will depend on their responsibilities, and flexible remote hours will need to be approved by an employee’s manager.

“The nature of work drives whether or not you can adopt this model. There are certain jobs that are place-dependent — you need to be in the physical space to do the job,” David Dubensky, chairman and chief executive of Ford Land, told the Washington Post. “Having the flexibility to choose how you work is pretty powerful. … It’s up to the employee to have dialogue and discussion with their people leader to determine what works best.”

Ford’s decision to implement a remote-office work model has to do in part with an employee survey conducted in June 2020. Results from the survey showed that 95% of employees wanted a hybrid schedule. Some employees even reported feeling more productive when working from home.

Ford is the first auto company to allow employees to work from home indefinitely, but it might not be the only one. According to the Post, Toyota and General Motors are looking at flexible options of their own.

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Business News

Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.

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Woman working in office with remote team

Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

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