The Changing Face of the Yarn Industry
In a bonus episode of the 21 Hats Podcast, we meet three women who were not content to stick to their knitting.
Here are today’s highlights:
Everyone’s calling in sick.
Mark Cuban opens an online pharmacy.
Customers are accepting big increases in fast-food prices.
A Brooklyn funeral home offers a modern take on the traditional funeral.
Adella Colvin, Felicia Eve, Gaye Glasspie
THE 21 HATS PODCAST
Bonus Episode: The Changing Face of the Yarn Industry: For many, knitting may still conjure an image of a grandmother in a rocking chair, her cats sleeping and her doilies taking shape. In recent years, however, the hundreds of tiny neighborhood yarn shops scattered across the U.S. have become an unlikely cultural battleground. It’s been divided by charges of racism and cultural appropriation that have erupted in a series of social media firestorms, prompting some owners to close, sell, or rebrand their businesses. It may seem surprising that such a quiet pursuit could produce so much conflict, but it’s really not all that different from the fissures afflicting the country as a whole. In this bonus episode of the 21 Hats Podcast, we meet three women who were not content to stick to their knitting: Adella Colvin, whose business, LolaBean Yarn Co., is a prominent independent dyer based in Grovetown, Ga.; Gaye (a.k.a. GG) Glasspie, a leading yarn industry influencer whose signature color is orange and who is based in Clifton, New Jersey; and Felicia Eve, who owns String Thing Studio in Brooklyn, N.Y., one of the few Black-owned yarn shops in the country.
You can listen to an edited version of the conversation on the 21 Hats Podcast, wherever you get podcasts.
You can also read an edited transcript or watch a video of the entire conversation. READ OR WATCH HERE
The pandemic has led to the largest fast-food price increases in decades: “At a Chipotle in Costa Mesa, Calif., the price of a chicken burrito — nothing fancy, hold the guacamole — about a year ago was $7.25. These days, that same burrito costs around $7.95, according to price data collected by analysts. In Ann Arbor, Mich., a ShackBurger at Shake Shack used to cost $5.69; now it’s $6.09. And in Oklahoma City, an order of 50 bone-in wings from Wingstop that cost $41.99 early last year is now $47.49, a 13 percent increase.”
“Last year, the price of menu items at fast-food restaurants rose 8 percent, its biggest jump in more than 20 years, according to government data. And, in some cases, portions have shrunk.”
“When Carrols Restaurant Group, which operates more than 1,000 Burger Kings, raised prices in the second half of last year, the number of customers actually improved from the third to the fourth quarter.”
“‘Over time, we generally have not seen a whole lot of pushback from consumers’ on the higher prices, Carrols’ chief executive, Daniel T. Accordino, told analysts at a conference in early January.” READ MORE
A bipartisan bill that would bar big tech platforms from favoring their own products advanced in the Senate: “The bill targets dominant tech platforms, including Amazon.com’s e-commerce site, Alphabet’s Google search engine, Apple’s App Store and Meta Platforms’s Facebook. Those companies have been working for months to stop or alter the bill, deploying teams of lobbyists and top executives to Washington. Some have funded advocacy groups that oppose the measure and publicly warned that the bill could disrupt popular services. Supporters, including smaller tech companies such as Yelp and Sonos , say the legislation would benefit consumers by boosting competition on platforms that are abusing their market power.” READ MORE
Mark Cuban has opened an online pharmacy to take on Big Pharma: “The Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company cuts out middlemen and negotiates directly with drug manufacturers and pharmacies for rebates and discounts on behalf of employers, health insurers and government health programs. It says it’s offering the lowest direct-to-consumer prices on more than 100 medications, including those commonly prescribed for high cholesterol and blood pressure.”
“Cholesterol medication Atorvastatin typically costs over $55, according to the Cuban-backed company’s website. Cost Plus charges $3.60.”
“High blood pressure prescription Amlodipine usually runs around $50. Cost Plus lists it at $3.30.”
“The pharmacy is cash only for now. By next year, Oshmyansky said the company hopes to allow customers to use their insurance.”
“The company is now building an $11 million, 22,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Deep Ellum.” READ MORE
Fourteen states are making it easier to start a business by relaxing licensing restrictions and offering startup tax credits: “Over the past couple years, some states have made entrepreneurship easier by passing legislation that lifted certain restrictions, enacted tax breaks for young companies, and banned red tape that can make it difficult for some to survive. For example, state Rep. Travis Fitzwater of Missouri introduced the Right to Start Act last year to encourage entrepreneurship in the state with tax incentives and increased government contracting. ‘The best way to incentivize new businesses is to remove barriers to start,’ he told Insider months before the bill was signed into law. ‘Startups are the ones that create jobs, not large businesses.’” READ MORE
Workers are calling in sick in record numbers: “The latest surge of coronavirus cases powered by the omicron variant has caused extremely high numbers of employees to miss work because of illness, exacerbating the country’s persistent labor shortages and threatening to complicate the labor market’s push toward pre-pandemic employment levels. Between Dec. 29 and Jan. 10, approximately 8.8 million workers reported not working because they were sick with the coronavirus or caring for someone who was, according to new data from the Census Bureau.”
‘Those numbers are nearly triple the levels from the first two weeks of December, before cases had started to peak around the country.”
“They were also the highest numbers since the agency started taking the survey in April 2020 — well over last January’s peak of 6.6 million workers out.”
“Jerry Akers, the owner of Great Clips franchises in Iowa and Nebraska, said anywhere from 5 to 8 percent of his 180-person workforce is either out sick or caring for a family member who is.”
“He estimates that about two to four of the salons are closed daily because of that, dating all the way back to Christmas.” READ MORE
Remote work is bringing an explosion of employee surveillance at larger companies: “Now employers can simply deploy clandestine software to monitor keystrokes and mouse movements on company computers, scrape emails, and take screenshots of employees’ screens. The use of biometric employee IDs that track workers’ physical locations—and even the length of their passing conversations with colleagues—has allowed organizations to keep a close eye on their workers, wherever they are.”
“This trend has accelerated in the pandemic: According to unpublished research from the HR organization Gartner, 60 percent of companies with at least 1,000 workers that responded to the survey had adopted these technologies by the end of 2021, compared to only 30 percent prior to the pandemic, spokesperson Teresa Zuech said.” READ MORE
Axios contrasts the impact of the labor shortage on FedEx and UPS: “In the fiscal quarter ended in November, FedEx, which relies on armies of independent contractors, reported that labor shortages cost it $470 million. UPS, with a unionized workforce and higher pay, has reaped an advantage from loyal, long-term employees on its payroll. Its on-time delivery rates were higher than FedEx's in the run-up to Christmas (97.1 percent vs. 91.2 percent, according to ShipMatrix). Its stock price is up 31 percent over the last year, versus 1.5 percent for FedEx.” READ MORE
Thirty companies are testing the impact of a four-day work week on productivity: “The U.K. pilot of a four-day work week will begin in June with about 30 companies that have so far signed up for the trial. The six-month long program will see firms allowing staff to work 32 hours per week while leaving their compensation and benefits unchanged. Companies may ask staff to spread the 32 hours over five days. ‘Moving to a four-day week would be a win-win for companies,’ Joe Ryle, director of the Four Day Week Campaign in the U.K., said Tuesday in a phone interview. ‘Studies have shown that productivity improves along with corresponding gains in workers’ well-being.’” READ MORE
A funeral home in Brooklyn is offering a modern take on funerals: “A nondescript gift shop on Brooklyn’s Driggs Avenue sells the usual New Age accoutrements you’d find at other stores throughout Greenpoint—artisanal lavender soaps, rose-scented ‘body milk,’ sandalwood diffusers, greeting cards, and incense holders. Christmas ornaments were sold over the holidays. But Sparrow also sells something a bit more unusual—urns for the remains of deceased loved ones. Sparrow, a ‘contemporary funeral home’ that opened in November, looks nothing like a typical funeral parlor. Ceremonies are held in ‘celebration rooms’ flooded with natural light. The walls of the largest one are covered in a soft-hued, hand-painted mural, where funerals can be (and have been) held in-the-round.”
“‘Yes, we look different than what you expect a funeral home to be, but that’s okay,’ Erica Hill, the co-owner of Sparrow, told Marketing Brew. ‘Nobody wants to celebrate or plan for death, because that’s the end. But it doesn’t make any sense…You can’t avoid death.’”
“So far, Sparrow has hosted seven ceremonies, with two more in the books. Hill says they will need to hold eight to 10 events per month in order to be financially sustainable.”
“The typical cost of a funeral at Sparrow with a viewing, ceremony, and casket can cost (without a plot or embalming) about $7,500. Just a cremation with a memorial service is about $5,000, and a cremation alone is $2,400.” READ MORE
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