Posts tagged with "The Chicago Tribune"

Kohl’s will carry Lands’ End apparel online and in 150 stores this fall

March 19, 2020

Lands’ End is trading its partnership with Sears for one with another department store: Kohl’s.  The Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin-based department store chain will carry Lands’ End apparel and home merchandise online and in 150 of its more than 1,100 locations this fall, the retailers announced on March 16, according to a report by The Chicago Tribune.

“The addition of Lands’ End, a market leader in the classic, casual lifestyle, into Kohl’s brand portfolio further strengthens our product leadership and our ability to deliver unmatched national brands to Kohl’s customers,” Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass said in a news release. “Lands’ End brings its strong brand recognition, leadership in casual style and fit authority, and gives new and existing customers something to discover at Kohl’s.”

Kohl’s didn’t say which stores would carry the Lands’ End products.

Lands’ End was founded in Chicago in 1963, and initially sold yachting gear by catalog. Another Chicago-area retailer, Sears, bought Lands’ End in 2002.

The partnership with Sears gave Lands’ End, which had relied primarily on catalog and online sales, a presence in hundreds of Sears stores. Lands’ End continued to have shops in Sears stores after a spinoff separated the companies in 2014, the Tribune said.

But there was little overlap between the two retailers’ customers, Lands’ End CEO Jerome Griffith told the Tribune last year, when the company opened a store at Oakbrook Center mall, a premier shopping destination in Chicago’s western suburbs. The last of Lands’ End’s shops in Sears closed earlier this year.

Lands’ End has 26 stand-alone stores today, although all are closed through March 29 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

Ground controls: United Airlines is first major airline to cut U.S. domestic flights during coronavirus scare

March 6, 2020

As a growing number of U.S. businesses, schools, and event sponsors scale back , cancel, or pull back on participation in large-scale assemblages with a wary eye on the coronavirus outbreak, United Airlines has become the first major U.S. air carrier to make broad cuts to both domestic and international flights, The Chicago Tribune reports.

Several airlines already had canceled flights to China, where COVID-19 first emerged; as well as to a handful of other destinations affected by the outbreak.

But the virus, which has killed about a dozen people in the United States to date, with numbers rising daily (and about 3,200 globally) now is  a pandemic— with cases in 76 countries. As a result, more companies are restricting travel and pulling out of conferences to protect employees; and airlines are waiving flight change fees to encourage customers to book despite uncertainty about how far the outbreak will spread.

United is the major first U.S. carrier to announce broad cuts to its operations, but it’s unlikely to be the last, as the virus has “gutted” demand for air travel, Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst and president of Atmosphere Research Group, told The Chicago Tribune.

In April, United plans to slash its international schedule by 20% and its domestic schedule by 10%. Similar reductions are expected in May, airline executives said in a letter to employees Wednesday. The airline is asking employees to volunteer for unpaid leaves of absence, and is postponing some salary increases and hiring

.Scaling back its schedule now will make it easier for United to return to normal operations, spokesperson Charles Hobart told the news outlet. “We expect the recovery to be smoother than had we taken a more wait-and-see approach and lost the ability to control our own actions,” he said.

The airline declined to say how much demand for flights was down, but in a regulatory filing last month, United reported a 75% drop in demand for its Asian routes outside of China.

Its pared-back schedule is not expected to cut off service to any U.S. city it currently serves. In some cases, the airline is reducing the frequency of flights on a particular route, delaying the start of seasonal service, or halting routes if travelers can connect through another United hub. Seasonal flights between Chicago and Zurich that usually start in April will be pushed back, for instance, and United is suspending flights between Chicago and Eugene, Oregon, Hobart said.

United will contact affected customers who have already booked flights to offer alternatives, Hobart said.

Research contact: @united

Peapod to shut down grocery delivery in the Midwest and cut 500 jobs

February 13, 2020

Peapod, the grocery delivery pioneer developed by Stop & Shop in 1989, has announced plans to cease operations in the Midwest—a move that will mean the loss of 500 jobs, according to a report by The Chicago Tribune.

Customers of the online grocer who live in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana won’t be able to place delivery orders through the Peapod website starting as soon as February 18, the parent company of both the online grocer and its bricks-and-mortar originator, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, announced Tuesday.

About 50,000 people in the Midwest currently use Peapod, placing 10,500 orders weekly.

Chicago-based Peapod will close a distribution center and food preparation facility in Lake Zurich, a pick-up point in Palatine; and distribution facilities in Chicago, Milwaukee and Indianapolis — affecting 400 employees. Another 30 employees will be cut at corporate headquarters in the West Loop, and about 100 drivers will lose their jobs.

Chicago will remain the headquarters for Peapod Digital Labs, which runs the e-commerce technology for Ahold Delhaize’s U.S. grocery brands. Peapod Digital Labs employs about 450 people, half of them in Chicago, and plans to hire 100 more people this year.

Peapod is exiting the Midwest as grocery delivery heats up, the Tribune says. The value of the online grocery market more than doubled from $12 billion in 2016 to $26 billion in 2018, and some projections have it reaching $100 billion by 2025.

Peapod will continue to serve customers on the East Coast, where Ahold Delhaize—the Dutch parent of Food Lion, Stop and Shop, and Giant—is the region’s largest grocery retailer. The decision to cut service in the Midwest will allow the company to focus on a strategy that offers in-store, delivery, and pick-up options.

“Customers really want groceries to be available for them whichever way they choose to shop,” JJ Fleeman, Chief ECommerce Officer and president of Peapod Digital Labs, explained to the news outlet.

Peapod’s Midwest operation posed challenges because it was online only, so it didn’t have a network of stores to connect to the supply chain and it was more difficult to gain new customers who want to know the grocery brand where their fresh food is coming from, said Selma Postma, president of Peapod.

“This was a very difficult decision given our rich history in Chicago,” Postma told the Tribune. “We have a lot of loyal customers, we have a lot of loyal employees.”

Peapod’s Midwest operations accounted for about $97 million of Ahold Delhaize’s $1.1 billion in online revenue in the United States.

 Research contact: @chicagotribune

Should pigs fly? New DOT rules would allow only service animals

January 23, 2020

Airlines would no longer be required to accommodate emotional support animals under new federal rules proposed January 22 that seek to rein in passengers who try to bring their pets on-board, The Chicago Tribune reports.

The U.S. Department of Transportation says it “wants to ensure that individuals with disabilities can continue using their service animals while also reducing the likelihood that passengers wishing to travel with their pets on aircraft will be able to falsely claim their pets are service animals.”

According to the Tribune, federal laws currently require airlines to permit passengers with disabilities to travel with service and emotional support animals in the cabin, although support animals don’t have to have the specialized training service animals receive. Unlike pets, service and support animals fly at no added fee.

U.S. airlines already have started tightening rules for emotional support animals over the past couple of years, citing an increase in problems with animals such as miniature horses, peacocks, and tarantulas in the cabin.

Transportation officials said last year they were working on new rules for service animals. Under the proposal, which must undergo a public comment phase before being finalized, airlines wouldn’t be required to treat emotional support animals differently than a household pet. They also wouldn’t be required to transport service animals other than dogs.

The proposal would define a service animal as a dog “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, “ the Tribune reports. Psychiatric service animals would have the same requirements as other service animals.

The carriers also would be able to limit passengers to two service animals that fit within the traveler’s foot space on the aircraft.

In addition, the news outlet notes, airlines would be allowed to require passengers to submit forms developed by the transportation department—attesting to the animal’s good behavior, health, and ability to either not relieve itself or do so in a sanitary way on long flights.

Finally, carriers could require travelers with service animals to check in an hour before other passengers to allow time to process the animal’s documents, DOT said.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

Pedal pusher: ‘Peloton husband’ gives real-life girlfriend an exercise bike for Christmas

December 30, 2019

Some people just love “feeling the burn”—even if that extends beyond muscles to public opinion. In fact, the much-maligned Peloton Husband featured in the company’s polarizing holiday commercial isn’t back-pedaling on his choice of gift, according to a report by The Chicago Tribune/TNS.

After he was skewered for inflicting the Peloton bike on his reluctant-seeming “wife” in the viral ad—which attracted widespread criticism for being sexist and culturally insensitive—on Christmas Day, he gave his real-life girlfriend one of the exercise bikes.

“Here’s hoping this goes over better the second time. … Merry Christmas to my actual girlfriend (pls don’t leave me),” actor Sean Hunter, a.k.a. @pelotonhusband, wrote Wednesdaym, December 25, on Instagram—sharing a picture of himself and his girlfriend posing with the pricey bike.

The Vancouver, Canada-based elementary school teacher defended himself in Psychology Today when the ad went viral and he and his costar, Monica Ruiz, were roasted on social media.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My five seconds of air time created an array of malicious feedback that is all associated with my face. My friend texted me today declaring that I’m ‘a symbol of the patriarchy,'” Hunter said. “As my face continues to be screen shot online, I wonder what repercussions will come back to me.”

Only some of that criticism cycled back after his Christmas Day reveal, with feedback calling out the real-life gift as a Peloton-backed publicity stunt and others praising his levity for bringing the narrative full circle.

Although Peloton defended the “The Gift That Gives Back” spot as a way “to celebrate that fitness and wellness journey,” the company said it was “disappointed in how some have misinterpreted this commercial.”

On Thursday, however, it endorsed Hunter’s gifting idea, commenting on his post, “Looks like a successful Christmas gift to us! We hope you love it, and we’re so glad you’re a part of the Peloton family!”

Meanwhile, Ruiz blamed her brief but nervous smile in the ad for kick-starting the controversy earlier this month. “I think it was my fault. My eyebrows looked worried, I guess?” Ruiz said on the “Today” show.  “People were like, ‘She looks scared!'” she said, laughing. “I’m telling you, it was my face. That was the problem. And it just exploded from there.”

Ruiz fared a little better than her costar did amid the backlash. The actress was commissioned by Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin company for a follow-up ad spoofing her Peloton appearance and has landed a gig on CBS’ daytime drama  The Bold and the Beautiful.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

$40M Jeep museum in Ohio to offer visitor amenities–including outdoor track, maybe hotel

December 26, 2019

From coast to coast, owners of the off-road models of the iconic American Jeep—who call themselves “Jeepers”—gather several times a year to put their vehicles to the test in such wild locations as Moab Utah, Death Valley, The Rubicon Trail, and Tillamook, Oregon. But now, they won’t have to wait for a special group event.

The Jeep Wrangler is manufactured at the automaker’s Toledo, Ohio, factory—and, The Chicago Tribune reports, a nonprofit group plans to open a 56,000-square-foot museum in metropolitan Toledo in 2022 devoted to the history of the Jeep and its fandom.

The project is expected to cost $40 million, and the group anticipates about 250,000 visitors per year.

An outdoor track where Jeeps can be driven will be among the museum’s exhibits, group members told the Tribune, and there’s been discussion about building a hotel nearby. The group has worked to model the facility around the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee and the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Planners are keeping the location quiet while the contract is finalized.

“It’ll be on that list of [top] institutions in our community that draw visitors into Toledo,” said Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz, who put it “up there” with The Toledo Museum of Art, the Toledo Zoo, and other attractions.

Jeep’s parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automotive, has been very involved in the planning, groups members said.

“We are thrilled by this initiative to honor the heritage of such an iconic brand, and celebrate the women and men who have dedicated their lives to building these vehicles for nearly 80 years,” Fiat Chrysler said in a statement. “We look forward to working with [the] Toledo community leaders to bring this interactive Jeep experience to life.”

Research contact: @Jeep

A ‘loo’ review: Trump says people are flushing toilets 10-15 times, asks EPA to rethink efficiency

December 10, 2019

President Donald Trump’s mind is in the toilet—but not necessarily in a bad way, for a change.  Complaining that  “people are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times as opposed to once” in homes with low-flow appliances, the president said on December 6 that he wants the EPA to review water efficiency standards in bathroom fixtures, The Chicago Tribune reported.

He said other bathroom fixtures have slowed water flow to a trickle. “You can’t wash your hands practically, there’s so little water comes out of the faucet, and the end result is you leave the faucet on and it takes you much longer to wash your hands, you end up using the same amount of water,” Trump said at an event with small-business owners at the White House.

According to the Tribune report, the president said it was “common sense” to review standards he said resulted in showers with water “quietly dripping out” and toilets that “end up using more water” because of repeat flushing.

Trump has championed rolling back regulations since taking office in 2017, with a focus on environmental rules imposed or proposed during the Obama administration. The president routinely portrays himself as a champion of clean air and water, while his critics say he’s weakened regulations intended to fight climate change, conserve resources and promote clean air and water.

While the president said the Environmental Protection Agency was looking at the standards “at my suggestion,” the Tribune pointed out that a review of the WaterSense program was mandated under 2018 legislation passed by Congress that said the agency should look at any regulations adopted before 2012. That means the government is forced to revisit specifications for tank-type toilets, lavatory faucets, and faucet accessories, showerheads, flushing urinals, and weather-based irrigation controllers.

Those regulations include a 20% reduction in water use on tank-type toilets compared to standards adopted in 1992, and a 32% reduction in maximum water flow on lavatory faucets, according to the EPA.

Use of low-flush toilets started in the 1990s after President George H.W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act. That 1992 law said new toilets could use no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. The law went into effect in 1994 for residential buildings and 1997 for commercial structures.

But the government has also said that the water savings make a difference—particularly in bathrooms, which represent more than half of all indoor water use. The EPA says an average family can save $380 in water costs per year and save more than 17 gallons per day by using appliances certified to WaterSense standards.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

Cheap thrills: How discount grocery chain Aldi is giving fancy supermarkets a run for their money

December 9, 2019

For years, Amber Walker held a dim view of Aldi, the discount grocer whose U.S. headquarters sits just a mile from her Batavia home, outside Chicago.  She associated it with dented 10-cent cans and no-name brands. She did not understand why, of all things, it also sold hammocks.

But Walker’s negative perception swiftly changed after her first visit to Aldi in decades in 2016, when the chain started accepting credit cards, and she found not the dingy floors from her childhood memories but a budget Shangri-La, The Chicago Tribune reports.

She could buy a week’s worth of groceries for her family of four for less than $100, and discover treasures in an aisle dedicated to random rotating items that “I don’t need but can’t live without.” Aldi, at least in Walker’s eyes, got even better when it broadened its limited selection to include more fresh, organic and high-end products—still at steep discounts— while undergoing an aggressive national expansion and chainwide remodeling blitz. Walker’s store in Batavia, renovated in 2017, even got a bakery.

Indeed, today, Aldi—which operates more than 1,900 stores in 36 states—takes what it calls “a simple, cost-effective approach to grocery shopping that saves [customers] on their grocery bills.” The store claims to save  shoppers up to 50% on their weekly must-haves by offering Aldi-branded goods—many of them manufactured by the nation’s leading food producers—instead of  name brands.

As a spruced-up Aldi climbs toward its goal of having 2,500 stores by 2022—which would make it the third-largest grocer in the nation by store count—converts like Walker are putting aside old perceptions of the brand and embracing the no-frills ethos that allows Aldi to sell quality products for cheap.

Although, The Chicago Tribune reports, behemoths like Walmart and Kroger continue to dominate the market, they are watching their backs as the German-born chain reshapes expectations of the shopping experience.

“I’m always shocked at what I can get for the cost,” said Walker, 37, an animal trainer who previously did her regular shopping at Walmart, Meijer, Costco and Super Target. “Aldi gets my business first, and then I will fill in holes elsewhere.”

Known for cost-saving measures—such as requiring customers to bag their own groceries and pay a quarter deposit to access a grocery cart—Aldi says its customer base has swelled as it modernizes its digs and broadens its selection to include items like fresh salmon, organic strawberries and artisanal cheeses.

At remodeled stores, which have been expanded to fit a bigger produce and fresh foods section, customer traffic has increased by 30% to 40%, Scott Patton, vice president of Corporate Buying told the Chicago-based news outlet.

“The more variety of products we carry, the more customers view Aldi as a place they can do their first shop of the week,” he said. While shoppers still have to go elsewhere for fresh ginger or water chestnuts or organic tofu— though Aldi is testing the latter—and can’t get a single lime without buying a one-pound bag, Patton said Aldi should cover 90% to 95% of their grocery list.

Aldi is ending the year with 2,000 stores, including 160 in the Chicago area, its largest market by store count. It has completed 70% of its $180 million in planned local renovations and is gaining ground on Jewel-Osco, the biggest local player, which has 188 stores in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa.

And the outlook is excellent: In a report last year, Morgan Stanley said one in five customers who recently switched grocery stores took their business to Aldi, a greater share than opted for Costco, Kroger, Target and Whole Foods. Walmart, the market leader, got 30% of switchers, but that was flat from the prior year while Aldi’s share was up significantly.

However, for all the Aldi nerds, there are plenty of people who prefer a more robust grocery experience, The Chicago Tribune says. Aldi does not have prepared hot foods or in-store dining options or butcher counters that shoppers value elsewhere.  At least, not yet.

“Would we ever have a piano player, a sushi bar or juice bar?” Patton said. “I would never say never. But I would say this: If we ever had any of those things, it would be the most efficient of our competitors, and we would do it better and faster than anyone else.”

Research contact: @chicagotribune

Is your Canada Goose parka keeping you single?

December 4, 2019

When it comes to potential partners, Lily Primamore, 28, considers herself pretty “non-judgmental.”

“I love everyone,” Primamore, who works at a gallery in New York City’s Soho, told The Daily Beast. Well, except. . .

“If you came to me and said, ‘Hey Lily, I’m going to set you up on a blind date,’” Primamore suggested, “And I went and saw someone sitting across from me in a Canada Goose coat, I would have to ask: ‘How would you feel if Freddy Krueger was sitting at [your] table?’ I’m going to have to go the other way, no thank you.”

Primamore, who has been vegan for about a year, loathes the trending Canadian label’s use of coyote fur trim and goose down lining, The Daily Beast reports.

What’s more, the knee-length padded parka—complete with the label’s insignia patch stamped over the right shoulder—costs over $1,000. Originally created in the 1950s as rugged outdoor gear for Canadian Rangers and other open-air workers, the parka gained instant “it” status when it was spotted on Rihanna and given away as Sundance Festival swag, the news outlet says.

But with its rise in prominence came overexposure. The perhaps inevitable backlash manifested in blogs like the now-dormant Canada Douche tumblr, which existed to publicly shame college students wearing the label. This month, the Chicago Tribune published a list of “Canada Goose alternatives: 10 ultra-warm winter coats that won’t set you back $1,000.” Animal

While at dinner a few weeks ago, a friend of The Daily Beast’s style writer Alaina Demopoulos posed the question, “What if you met someone in the summer who was perfect, but then it got cold and you realized they had a Canada Goose jacket?”

Afterward, she says she conducted “a very unscientific poll on my Instagram stories”—learning that 75% of those who answered would consider the offense a deal-breaker.

The reasons? “Animals rights [represented] the top concern, along with the coat being a major wealth flex and, to some, just plain boring.”

As Primamore asked, “What are you trying to symbolize [by wearing that brand of coat] other than being ridiculously expensive?”

“Everybody has those jackets,” Berto Calkins, 30, told The Daily Beast. “It’s kind of corny to be following that trend just because it’s expensive. You could get a different brand. Go to Zara and get a warm jacket—or worse-case scenario, layer!”

The personal trainer and nutritionist is currently coupled up, but if he were still dating, he’d pass on Canada Goose clones. “Some people buy the coat because it’s warm or whatever, but at the end of the day you’re buying it because of the branding.”

But Tedi Sarah, 32, who has been vegan for six years, takes a more measured approach, she said in an interview with the news outlet. “I’m all about living a cruelty-free lifestyle and making kinder choices for animals, people, and the planet, but there was a time when I didn’t know about these issues either,” she said. “As long as the person I’m dating is interested in learning more and open to making kinder choices, that works for me. It’s all about progress, not perfection.”

Canada Goose’s trapping methods have been meticulously documented by animal-welfare groups like PETA, which regularly stage protests outside stores, complete with fake blood strewn over cuddly coyote costumes.

This increased awareness, spurred by watchdog groups, does not seem to deter customers. Canada Goose revealed last month that its revenue increased over 27% from last year, bringing in a total of CA$249 million.

The brand has responded on its website, writing in a statement that “We do not condone any willful mistreatment, neglect, or acts that maliciously cause animals undue suffering. Our standards for sourcing and use of fur, down, and wool reflect our commitment that materials are sourced from animals that are not subject to willful mistreatment or undue harm.”

But maybe leave the parka at home on your next date. There are other ways to flaunt your six-figure salary. Or as Primamore put it, “It’s a black jacket with f**ing fur on it. You can find that from Chanel and Gucci, too.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Fruit that doesn’t spoil? Extending shelf life is a key tactic in the battle against food waste—and a startup is on the front lines

December 2, 2019

Imagine avocados that never go bad. To Aidan Mouat, CEO of Hazel Technologies, that’s not so far-fetched, The Chicago Tribune reports.

His company makes a product that extends the shelf life of all sorts of produce — bananas, cherries, pears, broccoli—by slowing the chemical process that causes decay.

Now, some of the world’s largest growers are using it to send their produce longer distances, or to reduce the amount that retailers throw away; and Mouat tells the Tribune that a consumer version could be next.

Indeed, as much as 40% of food produced annually in the United States, and nearly half of produce, goes uneaten, according to government estimates. While the waste happens throughout the supply chain, the vast majority of the $218 billion worth of uneaten food annually gets tossed at home or at grocery stores and restaurants, according to ReFED, a Berkeley, California-based nonprofit that seeks solutions to reduce food waste.

The average American family throws away 25% of groceries purchased, costing a family of four an estimated $1,600 annually, ReFED says. U.S. supermarkets lose $15 billion annually in unsold fruits and vegetables, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 “I envision, in the next 18 months or so, literally selling a banana box to consumers,” Mouat said from Hazel’s growing office space at University Technology Park, a startup innovation hub on the Illinois Institute of Technology campus. “You keep it on your counter, put a (Hazel) sachet in there once a month, and you have bananas that last forever.”

Whate are those sachets? The company makes the small packs—the size of a salt or pepper packet included with takeout—that can be thrown into a box of produce to shut down the food’s response to ethylene, a chemical naturally emitted by many fruits and vegetables that triggers the loss of firmness, texture and color. The sachets continuously emit a small amount of an ethylene inhibitor, changing the atmosphere in the storage box but not the food itself.

How much Hazel can extend the shelf life depends on the type of food. For example, tests show an unripened pear gets an extra seven to 10 days after being treated with a Hazel sachet, plus an extra three to four days once ripe.

While ethylene management technology isn’t new, Hazel’s sachets are gaining fans because they are easy to use, whether in okra fields in Honduras or avocado packing houses in the United States, Mouat told the Tribune. In addition to ethylene inhibitors, the company is working on anti-microbial reactions and will soon bring to market antimicrobial liners for packages of berries, to ward off the white fuzz.

And the company also is gaining buzz and investors. Founded in 2015 by a group of Northwestern University graduate students, Hazel Technologies has raised $18 million so far, including nearly $1 million in grants from the USDA. It has 100 clients in 12 countries in North and South America.

Research contact: @chicagotribune