Posted by Al Lewison January 31, 2013 Companies /
Maxine Clark, “chief executive bear” of Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc., is resigning amid disappointing financial results for the struggling retailer, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. Click here to read all about it.
Let’s face it, despite all the talk of a recovering economy, it’s been tough out there for retailers.
In some ways, it’s a testament to her leadership that a retailer, taking up expensive mall space to sell teddy bears, has survived this long. Click here to read what I wrote about Build-A-Bear in 2008. I had no idea it would still be here in 2013.
Posted by Al Lewison January 31, 2013 Economy /
No matter what you do for a living, the unemployment rate in your occupation rate is probably still a lot higher than before the Great Recession, according to this chart complied by the Economic Policy Institute.
So much for all that banter about worker shortages in some fields. “We are not seeing any occupational categories where demand for workers isn’t substantially lower than it was five years ago,” EPI reports.
Posted by Al Lewison January 31, 2013 People /
Who is a more admirable athlete? Lance Armstrong who won several Tour de France bicycle races by doping? Or Mirsada Buric who went to the 1992 Olympics shortly after surviving captivity in a concentration camp?
Ms. Buric, representing Bosnia, did not win. But as it turns out, neither did Mr. Armstrong now that he’s been stripped of his victories.
Plenty of pampered athletes make it big, but how many concentration camp survivors even get to compete at a top level?
Ms. Buric is now a financial services advisor at BBVA Compass bank in Prescott, Ariz. She told me about her improbable life in an in a long telephone interview.
After being released from a concentration camp in Bosnia, she was selected to represent her country in the 1992 Olympics. She barely had food to eat, or shoes to wear, let alone expensive drugs, yet she was selected for doping tests.
“Here I am from this war zone. I didn’t even have normal nutrition, normal food to eat, and I’m selected for a doping control? I mean, how ironic is that?”
Doping, she learned, was a big part of the game.
“It’s not a matter of whether you are using, it’s a matter of not getting caught,” she said. “It boils down to your conscience. If you can live with yourself as a cheater then you go with it. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself that way.
“It taints the whole sport for athletes who are not cheaters.”
Nike had to let Mr. Armstrong go. It would have fared better with this lessor-known hero.
I would love to see more inanimate objects plead guilty to felonies – not just companies.
BP’s guilty plea, accepted by a judge on Tuesday, is just a start. Click here to read more about it. The company is a convicted criminal. Its top executives are not.
Clearly, justice does not go far enough. Why not charge the oil rig, itself, for blowing up? Why not file a criminal complaint against the water for letting oil get in it? And to take it a step further, to slightly more sentient objects, what about those fish? Why did they have to swim into the oil like that?
The legal doctrine of charging things – like corporations – should be expanded to rocks and trees as well. Plenty of rocks and trees that ended up in the way of drunk drivers were complacent in those crimes.
“Whiskey bottles, and brand new cars. Oak tree you’re in my way.” That’s how Lynyrd Skynyrd put it oh so many years ago. Why has nothing been done?
I love justice. Don’t you? Especially when only things are involved in the crimes.
Posted by Al Lewison January 27, 2013 Companies /
Technology changes rapidly, but the way we watch videos does not.
Last, week the company that owns Blockbuster said it would close an additional 300 stores and layoff about 3,000 people. What’s amazing is that there are still Blockbuster stores to close. Do people still drive to the store to watch movies?
Blockbuster filed bankruptcy in 2010 and satellite company Dish Network purchased the chain out of bankruptcy court with plans to somehow keep it going.
There were about 5,700 Blockbuster stores as recently as 2005. With Dish’s latest announcement it will be down to about 500.
On another front last week, Netflix made a surprise announcement that it added 5.8 million customers for online streaming accounts that go for $8 a month. In 2011, Netflix made a sudden and unpopular move to separate its mail-order DVD from its streaming business, spawning a mass exodus of customers.
People still like getting DVDs the old-fashioned way: In the mail.
News that Netflix is beginning to recover from this sent its stock up more than 40% in a single day last week.
Click here to read my column in The Sunday Wall Street Journal. And click here to watch me talk about it with Matt Flener, anchor of Denver’s NBC affiliate, 9News.
Posted by Al Lewison January 25, 2013 Trends /
I find it amazing the number of people I run into who see unions as all that is wrong with America.
Unions are barely a force in the economy, and they’re becoming less of a force every year.
Last year, union membership declined to 11.3% from 11.8% of all workers, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Wednesday. Unions lost about 400,000 members last year, lowering their ranks to about 14.4 million members.
Meantime, one of the most successful unions in the history of planet Earth seems to be as solid as ever. That being the union CEOs have formed to sack corporations with some of the highest pay anyone has ever counted.
Posted by Al Lewison January 20, 2013 Companies /
Boeing may not have extinguished the issue of burning batteries in it’s 787 Dreamliners, but it’s sure keeping it’s investors cool.
Stock of Boeing closed Friday just a little bit about $75, just a few pegs below it’s $52-week high of about $78.
Meantime, it’s future is stranded on the tarmac. No one can quite yet tell how long it will take Boeing to prove to aviation regulators around the globe that it’s Dreamliners are safe after a couple of incidents involving smoking batteries.
This isn’t going to be like changing the battery in a car. The entire plane was designed around lithium-ion batteries that are both light-weight and quick-charging. Using a more traditional cell will likely involved a long and costly redesign of the plane.
Given the unknowns, it’s amazing how muted the market reaction was to the news.
Click here to read my column in The Sunday Wall Street Journal. And click here to watch me talk about it with Matt Flener of Denver’s NBC affiliate, 9News.
Posted by Al Lewison January 20, 2013 Trends /
I wrote a column last week enumerating instances were allegedly responsible gun owners inexplicably lost their guns.
Then I open the Denver Post and find this: A guy loses his .380 semiautomatic pistol while riding a scooter through the park in Longmont, Colo., and now he’s worried some kid is going to find it. Click here to read that.
Newspapers are filled with reports of absent-minded gun enthusiasts who simply lost their guns. Gun control should mean keeping control of your own guns.
As our nation debates stricter gun control laws, how about adding this: Anybody who loses their gun doesn’t get it back.