Monday, July 13, 2020

Company Man describes the decline of GNC, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse and pandemic

Happy Monday the 13th, Garfield the Cat's least favorite day! For today's unlucky day, I'm following through on what I wrote to close Brooks Brothers files for bankruptcy while Men's Wearhouse and Jos. A Bank considering it, tales of the Retail Apocalypse and pandemic.
Company Man...uploaded a video yesterday about GNC, which announced it would close 900 stores last year. I plan on using that for another entry, making it the second update to Chuck E. Cheese, GNC, and Tuesday Morning all file for bankruptcy, tales of the Retail Apocalypse during the pandemic featuring a Company Man video.
As promised, here is Company Man's The Decline of GNC...What Happened?

GNC has filed for bankruptcy. This video explains the reasons behind it while taking at their unique history.
This is the first time Company Man has identified stock buybacks as a contributing factor in a company declaring bankruptcy. Usually it's private equity leveraging a company and making it vulnerable to bankruptcy during downturns, which happened to KB Toys, Sears and KMart, Toys R Us, Art Van, J. Crew, and Chuck E. Cheese's, although I failed to mention it until now. However, I might see stock buybacks as a cause of cash flow problems more often as the pandemic-caused recession continues.

That's it for the Retail Apocalypse for today. Stay tuned for my annual Bastille Day entry.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Marching music for the Puerto Rico Primary

As I promised in both Drink to the Puerto Rico statehood referendum for Piña Colada Day 2020 and Marching music and a drink for the Louisiana Primary on Mojito Day 2020, the marching music for a primary series returns for the Puerto Rico Democratic Primary, which is serving as the Sunday entertainment feature.* Before I entertain any of my readers who are waiting for the results, I'm sharing the description of today's election from Wikipedia.
The 2020 Puerto Rico Democratic presidential primary is currently taking place in July 12, 2020.[1] The primary was scheduled to take place on Sunday, March 29, 2020, but Puerto Rican governor Wanda Vazquez postponed the date to April 26, 2020,[2] amid concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic in Puerto Rico.[3] The approved delay was signed by the Puerto Rican governor on March 21.[2] It had then been postponed indefinitely until a date was chosen.[4] The Puerto Rico primary is an open primary, with the territory awarding 59 delegates, of which 51 are pledged delegates allocated on the basis of the results of the primary.
It doesn't seem like there are any other offices on the ballot, as the Wikipedia articles for both the 2020 New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico primaries and the 2020 Popular Democratic Party of Puerto Rico primaries still describe those elections as "postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic." Also, what passed for Puerto Rico's Republican Primary has already been held with Wikipedia reporting "The Republican Party of Puerto Rico held an online poll of party leaders on June 5, 2020, in lieu of an actual primary, awarding all 23 of its pledged delegates to the 2020 Republican National Convention to Incumbent President Donald Trump." That was a virtual convention, not a primary. Still, I doubt it would have changed the outcome if it were a primary.

With the information out of the way, it's time for today's entertainment, consisting of two marching bands visiting southern California for the Rose Parade recorded by Music213. Sorry, no drum corps in Puerto Rico. Follow over the jump for the marching music.

Happy Souther 2020!

Today is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Summer Solstice, so it's Souther, a holiday created by John Michael Greer and entrusted to me. He also designated the wombat as the animal mascot for the holiday. Since the first celebration fell on National Ice Cream Day and the holiday usually happens during July, which is National Ice Cream Month, the activity to celebrate the day is eating ice cream. If I were composing this entry on my desktop, I would be embedding a video of The Wombats singing "Ice Cream" and another video from Tipsy Bartender of an ice cream drink, but my home broadband is out again, so I am writing this on my smartphone. Sigh, no videos, no links, and no preview images.*

Here's to hoping this gets fixed soon. In the meantime, Happy Souther!

*ETA: No tags, either. I just fixed that now that my home broadband is back up.  The rest of the absences remain.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

U.S. birth rates continue to fall while life expectancy rises for World Population Day 2020


Not only is today National Mojito Day, but it's also World Population Day. Since I've already written a post for National Mojito Day, it's time to observe World Population Day.

For this year's celebration, I'm going to take a different take from years past, when I examined the holiday directly. Instead, I'm using it as an opportunity to update my readers on two factors that affect a country's population, birth rates and death rates, which I examine indirectly through life expectancy. Birth rates have been declining since 2008 and life expectancy has been falling since 2014, which means more people are dying younger. It's time to see if either of those have changed.

For U.S. birth rates, the answer is no, as the Today Show reported US Birthrate Drops To Lowest Rate In 35 Years in May.

The latest numbers from the CDC show that U.S. births continued to fall last year, leading to the fewest number of newborns in 35 years: There were just 3.7 million births in 2019.
Atlanta's 11Alive explained the continued trend last year when it answered Why is the U.S. birthrate declining?



The birthrate hit a 32-year low in 2018

The COVID-19 pandemic could either amplify the trend or slow it, as Newsy reported COVID-19 Could Trigger Further Drop In Already Falling U.S. Birth Rate last week.

A new survey shows 43% of Millennials and Gen Zers are less likely to have kids because of the pandemic.
I can believe these survey results. As a video I included in Next Media Animation thinks low birth rates in the U.S. and China aren't all good said "economy is the best form of birth control." Given that the U.S. is officially in recession, the weak and uncertain economy will likely outweigh the ability to be at home.

On the other hand, CBS News reported U.S. life expectancy increases for 1st time since 2014 at the end of January 2020.

Life expectancy for Americans increased a bit in the latest CDC data, reversing a downward trend. The first gain in four years is due in part to a decline in cancer deaths.
That's good news, but I have my doubts that the improvement will survive the pandemic. My readers and I will have to wait until next year to find out.

In the meantime, I'm going to conclude this entry by recycling what I last quoted in Destination Maternity/Motherhood Maternity files for bankruptcy and announces store closings, blaming lower birth rates, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse.
On the one hand, the U.S. is doing its part to slow down population growth. On the other hand, [this means] a possible shrinking economy in the future, which is bad for business as usual. It's time to be a good environmentalist and recycle what I wrote last year.
I have been in favor of zero population growth for as long as I can remember. However, I'm not sure the U.S. economy is set up for a stable or slowly declining population, a point I made in the Hipcrime Vocab: Why Slowing Population Growth is a Problem. We are going to have to figure how to do so. Otherwise, I might live long enough to experience the wisdom of the saying "Be careful what you wish for; you might get it."
Here's to hoping the U.S. learns how to thread that needle.

Marching music and a drink for the Louisiana Primary on Mojito Day 2020


Today is the Louisiana Primary, so it's time for a news report followed by some marching music to enjoy while waiting for the results. WWLTV has the news report, Louisiana Voting Day is tomorrow (at least it was tomorrow when the station broadcast the clip).

Voting officials say masks are recommended and all voting machines will be regularly wiped down
May all those voting in person stay safe and healthy at the polling places!

Now the marching music, beginning with the Pelican State's remaining drum corps, 2018 Louisiana Stars.


Follow over the jump for Louisiana's top college bands, LSU and Southern University, plus a drink from National Mojito Day.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Drink to the Puerto Rico statehood referendum for Piña Colada Day 2020


Happy National Piña Colada Day! This is the holiday when I write about the prospects for Puerto Rico statehood. For some background on the subject, watch NBCLXs The History of Puerto Rico's Second-Class Status.

The status of Puerto Rico has been a subject of debate since the U.S. took control of the island in 1898. In 1901, the Supreme Court wrote that Puerto Rico and other new U.S. territories were “inhabited by alien races” and so may be impossible to govern “according to Anglo-Saxon principles.” The island has remained a U.S. territory ever since.

Following the recent disasters on the island – including a devastating hurricane and a series of earthquakes – Puerto Rico’s second-class status is once again in the spotlight. Should Puerto Rico become America’s 51st state?

NBCLX storyteller Bianca Graulau examines the history of the island’s unusual relationship with the U.S., and the statehood debate that has divided even Puerto Ricans.
NBCLX Bianca Graulau returned to the topic of Puerto Rico's exploitation in In Puerto Rico, U.S. Companies Profit While People Still Don't Have Reliable Power.*

Critics say Puerto Rico's power grid isn’t much more resilient than it was before Hurricane Maria, despite billions of dollars awarded in contracts. After Maria, some Puerto Ricans went nine months without power, and they fear it could happen again this hurricane season. NBCLX storyteller Bianca Graulau spoke to a family who lost a loved one when he had an asthma attack after the hurricane and no electricity to use his breathing machine.
It's been a long time since I've mentioned Chris Christie on this blog, but I was neither that surprised that he got involved in consulting about Puerto Rico's power problems nor surprised that Puerto Rico may not be getting all that it paid for.

As for the question of statehood, that's on the ballot this November. Ballotpedia has a page on the referendum, which will be held concurrently with the general election in November. While I'm rooting for statehood, I'm not Puerto Rican. I suspect that, should the opposition to state fully participate, which I hope for the sake of a legitimate result they do, the outcome will be just as likely for continuing the Commonwealth or negotiating for Free Association. On the other hand, if statehood wins, it will be the third time in a row that the voters chose the option I favor. That written, whatever the people of Puerto Rico choose, I'll support it.

Enough about the history and politics of Puerto Rico's relationship with the rest of the United States. Follow over the jump for the piña colada recipes to celebrate today.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Brooks Brothers files for bankruptcy while Men's Wearhouse and Jos. A Bank considering it, tales of the Retail Apocalypse and pandemic

I made a promise at the end of Company Man explains the rise and fall of Chuck E. Cheese's, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse and pandemic.
Going from the ridiculous to the sublime, Chuck E. Cheese's is not the most recent retail bankruptcy. Brooks Brothers filed for Chapter 11 today. I guess no one needs a business suit when they work from home and conduct business over Zoom. When I get a good video about it, I'll post an entry about it here. Stay tuned.
Not long after I posted that, CNBC uploaded Brooks Brothers files for bankruptcy as coronavirus claims another storied retail brand. Watch.

Apparel brand Brooks Brothers filed for bankruptcy Wednesday, as the coronavirus pandemic claimed another storied retail brand. The retailer began in 1818 and prided itself on dressing 40 U.S. presidents. Early to the office-casual look, it became known for its button-down oxford shirts and sports jackers. But rent had become a burden, and the pandemic torpedoed a sale process that began in 2019.
Brooks Brothers isn't the only clothing store selling suits in trouble because of the pandemic. Last month, Wochit Business uploaded Pandemic Lockdowns Drive Workers Into PJ's And Men's Wearhouse Out Of Business.

The parent company of Men's Wearhouse and Jos. Bank is eyeing filing for bankruptcy.
Tailored Brands was facing sales challenges even before office workers started working from home and events like weddings were postponed.
Business Insider reports a number of workwear and special events clothing is struggling amid the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
Brooks Brothers is considering closing three factories in July, and Banana Republic was a low point of Gap Inc.'s earnings report last week.
In this crisis...Banana Republic was disadvantaged in its product mix as customers opted for casual style. Sonia Syngal CEO, Gap Inc.
If (when) Taylored Brands, which also runs Moore's and K&G Fashion Superstore, files for bankruptcy and a reputable source uploads a video about, I'll blog about it. I should also write an entry about Zoom, which I have used for years for Coffee Party business and is allowing people to attend meetings and classes while working and studying from home. Company Man has a video about the company that I will use. He also has uploaded a video yesterday about GNC, which announced it would close 900 stores last year. I plan on using that for another entry, making it the second update to Chuck E. Cheese, GNC, and Tuesday Morning all file for bankruptcy, tales of the Retail Apocalypse during the pandemic featuring a Company Man video.

Before I do any of that, stay tuned for the latest on Puerto Rico statehood for National Pina Colada Day, World Population Day, National Mojito Day, and the Louisiana and, Puerto Rico primaries. I love holidays, but they will keep me busy!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Company Man explains the rise and fall of Chuck E. Cheese's, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse and pandemic

I posted Chuck E. Cheese, GNC, and Tuesday Morning all file for bankruptcy, tales of the Retail Apocalypse during the pandemic last month. The next day, Company Man wasted no time and uploaded The Decline of Chuck E. Cheese's...What Happened? It's time to follow up on my previous post with Company Man's answer to his question, which supports my contention that the company was already having issues that made it vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chuck E. Cheese's has filed for bankruptcy, a headline I never wanted to see. This video investigates the deeper reasoning behind it while taking a look at their eventful history.
As usual, Company Man did a great job of researching and presenting the topic, which proved popular beyond his wildest imaginings. Here's what he posted on Twitter two days later with the caption of "What?!"



Two days later, he tweeted "My latest video has gotten such a strong and positive response that I wanted to thank everyone for supporting it. I believe many people that follow me here tend to be the earliest viewers so I do appreciate it." He continued expressing his appreciation on July 5th, tweeting, "I'm still stunned by the great response to my Chuck E. Cheese's video. After a little more than a week it has over 50,000 likes which is already more than any other video I've ever made. Everyone has been so terrific." It may have more likes, but it still has 1.7 million fewer views than his first and most watched video, which I featured in Company Man and WXYZ on KMart, a tale of the retail apocalypse. Let's see how long it takes to get there.

Going from the ridiculous to the sublime, Chuck E. Cheese's is not the most recent retail bankruptcy. Brooks Brothers filed for Chapter 11 today. I guess no one needs a business suit when they work from home and conduct business over Zoom. When I get a good video about it, I'll post an entry about it here. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Marching music for the New Jersey and Delaware primaries


As I promised at the end of Verge Science points out that one rocket launch can't unify America, it's time for marching music for the New Jersey and Delaware primaries! Before I begin the music, I have some news. First, CBS Philly covered both contests in Primaries Being Held Today In New Jersey, Delaware.



The polls are open until 8 p.m. in both states.

Next, New York's WPIX, PIX11 News, reported NJ voters head to the polls for primary day Tuesday.

New Jersey holds its primary Tuesday amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The presidential contest may be over, but there are interesting races from U.S. Senate down on the ballot.

The last bit of news comes from Delaware Governor John Carney, who signed vote by mail legislation for the 2020 elections last week.

Governor John Carney on Wednesday signed into law House Bill 346, legislation sponsored by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst that allows Delawareans to vote by mail in the 2020 primary, general and special elections.
That wasn't specifically about this primary, but it is important election reform news just the same.

That's it for the news. Now for the marching music, beginning with Hawthorne Caballeros 2017.



4th place - 94.38

Monday, July 6, 2020

Verge Science points out that one rocket launch can't unify America

Even after blogging about Disney's America and "Hamilton," I'm still not done with the holiday. I'm taking a cue from the phrase "the rockets' red glare" in The Star-Spangled Banner and sharing Verge Science's One rocket launch can't unify America, which I'm treating as a follow-up to SpaceX launches first crewed mission from U.S. soil since 2011.

In May, SpaceX and NASA launched their historic DM-2 mission while protests over the death of George Floyd roiled the country. Can the space industry hope to unite Americans behind a common cause, when it largely ignores the division and injustice here on the ground?
When I wrote in a footnote to Samantha Bee on Trump and the police attacking the press that "I haven't examined the first part, the 'today is 1968' comparison much, but I have something planned...that should work," this was what I had in mind. It explictly makes the comparison between now and 1968-1969, when the Apollo 8 through Apollo 11 missions were happening but so were protests and demonstrations like the ones this month and last. The video also points out that the unifying effect of the Apollo missions, even the successful failure of Apollo 13, is remembered as larger now than it was at the time. For Verge Science, which is very much pro-space-exploration, that's quite an admission.

Speaking of admissions, The Vintage Space uploaded Space Exploration is All Politics last week, which I think goes well with Verge Science's video.


Amy Shira Teitel of The Vintage Space is also very pro-space, but recognizes the reality of why countries pursue space exploration. So should my readers, which is why I included her video.

That's it for space until National Moon Day. Stay tuned for marching music for the New Jersey and Delaware primaries.