Diving into the Numbers

In the world of retail and work, things can change by the hour. Here is a breakdown of some of the major headlines and numbers that shaped the industry in the last week:

🌏 2020. The year in which the number of Americans working for themselves could triple -- to 42 million people, according to a survey by FreshBooks.

🚚 560,000. The number of Amazon employees globally -- 40,000 of which work in the Seattle HQ. In a rare move, that number will take a minor hit as the company announced it would be "shedding hundreds of corporate jobs, most of which are in the company's retail division."

🎯 4/18. The month that Target will roll out same-day delivery, beginning in Minneapolis.

πŸ“š 1,800. The number of employees that Barnes & Noble laid off Monday as the 132-year-old brand faced weaker than projected holiday sales this past December -- a key month for the bookseller.

🍎 80. The number of Applebee's restaurants that will close this year in a bid to reverse parent company Dine Brands Global fortunes.

πŸ’Š 2,569. The number of Rite Aid store locations that will now be merged with Albertsons. The grocery shakeup continues. Last week, Supermarket operator Albertsons agreed to buy what remains of the Rite Aid drug chain.

News ⚑️

πŸ‘€ Leggo My Eggo, Eleven! | Via: Business Insider
Netflix hit "Stranger Things" has not only been a smashing success in part because it has successfully tapped a vein of nostalgia from the 1980s film and television culture it so richly weaves into its structure. An interesting result has been a boon to one of the food staples of the time: the Eggo waffle. According to a slide presented at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference, when "Stranger Things" season 2 arrived on Netflix in October 2017, Eggo waffles saw the most social mentions in a single month ever. In the fourth quarter of this past year, Eggo consumption saw a 14 percent year-on-year increase. Leggo my Eggo, Eleven!

As Economy Gets πŸ”₯ Hotter, Is Productivity Boom Next? | Via: New York Times
New research from McKinsey suggests that for the economy to become more productive, demand matters.

🏨 Airbnb + | Via: The Verge
In a bid to take on hotels and increase its users, Airbnb announced a new level of service, Airbnb Plus. The service ensures properties are "verified" and quality-checked to contain any number of a hundred items like refrigerators and toiletries and items one would expect to find at hotels. The platform also said they would start to surface listings from boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts, making them easier to find than other online travel search engines.

The Big Idea πŸ€”

β˜•οΈ Earning an MBA in Coffee | Via: NPR Marketplace
It's easy to say something has potential. It's a lot more difficult to see that those things that harness potential are often already living up to it. That's the story with Hannah Kirby, who opened up a coffee shop in oft-overlooked Erie, Pennsylvania. After receiving her MBA at Gorman University, Hannah decided that her true love was the people of Erie. So, she decided to stay locally and turn her passion for coffee into a business. Today, she runs Ember + Forge in downtown Erie and sees it as a catalyst for growth in a city that is shedding its Rust Belt image.

"You know, a lot of people say Erie has a lot of potential, and it most certainly does, but saying that it has potential implies it's not totally living up to it. And I think that Erie already is doing a lot. Growth is certainly welcomed, but I think that we have a lot to offer. You know, the younger generation, I feel like we don't expect to have those jobs that an older generation had. They have never existed for us β€” so where you come out of high school and work in a manufacturing job, and that is a wage you're able to raise a family on. We've never had that opportunity. So we realize that we have to make those jobs that are family-sustaining, life-sustaining," she explained to NPR's Marketplace.

πŸ™ WeWork = πŸ› WeShop? | Via: CNN
Last year, WeWork pushed into the world of retail when they opened up shop at the headquarters of Lord & Taylor in an $850 million acquisition from Hudson's Bay company. Now the company that has drastically changed the way the millennial workforce works is looking to dive into the world of retail -- namely, brick and mortar retail.

β€œRetail is changing and the role that real estate has to play in the way that we shop today must change with it,” WeWork’s co-founder Adam Neumann said after the Lord & Taylor acquisition. The company's website this month listed two senior roles to help lead a deep push into retail.

Home Is Where The ❀️ Is | Via: The News & Observer
Kinston, North Carolina was all about tobacco and textiles. When those industries died and jobs dried up, the city took an economic hit. It's still been searching for its path but in the last decade it has become an unlikely backdrop of a culinary mecca created by one of it's own. Moving from New York, Vivian Howard returned to her hometown to open up the Chef & the Farmer, an elevated restaurant experience that has become not only a massive tourist draw, but has also been featured in a popular PBS docu-series. While the town continues to find its way -- it still remains the center of one of the most economically-depressed counties in the Carolinas, it's created an orbit of new business in town including shops, restaurants, and a brewery.

Howard is reticent to take claim for the changes and insists that Kinston has a long way to go, but she has become a powerful role model for young girls and weary travelers who have come great distances to eat her food and catch sight of her kitchen magic that is telling the story and sharing culinary traditions of Eastern North Carolina.

Heard Around The Web πŸ’¬

πŸ• World's Most Expensive Pizza Rolls [Video] | Via: USA Today
Bill Gates knows a thing or two. But, the Microsoft co-founder doesn't seem to be hitting the aisles of his local Trader Joe's on a regular basis. Recently, he appeared on Ellen for a hilarious game of guessing prices of grocery products. In order to win, he had to come within a dollar. His guess for Totino's Pizza Rolls: $22. Actual price: you'll have to watch to see if he was remotely close. Hint: He was not.

Psst. Wanna buy some DEISEL? | Via: Vogue UK
Would a major clothing brand go to great lengths to create knockoff items and sell them in New York City's Chinatown alongside other counterfeit dealers? Turns out, yes. Why Vogue started selling "DEISEL" as an attempt to undertake the ultimate brand strengthening exercise.