Posts tagged with "Toilet paper"

Chicago artist takes COVID-19 to the streets with pothole mosaics

May 18, 2020

Talk about street cred: Chicago’s pothole artist has struck again—this time, embedding an Uptown street with tile mosaics inspired by the coronavirus pandemic, The Chicago Tribune reports.

Embedded in former potholes, the artwork both glams up the streets and repairs a dangerous problem. If you are in Chicago, you can see the street art on Gunnison Street, just west of Broadway: The images include a roll of toilet paper, a bottle of Purell and a can of Old Style, each with a halo. Plus a red star from the Chicago flag.

Free spirit Jim Bachor, age 56, is known for works that have filled Chicago’s famously cratered pavements with everything from pictures of cats to “LIAR” spelled out on Wabash Avenue outside of Trump Tower.

Speaking from his hometown of Detroit, where he traveled recently to help his parents during the COVID-19 crisis Bachor told the Tribune that he installed the new mosaics last week and wanted to do something in response to the pandemic. A friend tipped him to the four potholes all together, a chance at a quartet too good to pass up.

“This is a really weird time,” he told the news outlet. “Of course, potholes are universally hated, and with the coronavirus affecting everyone, I thought, what can everyone relate to?

Toilet paper seemed a natural choice. This is not necessarily a time to be funny, he said, “but there is some humor there, this human nature of hoarding. Toilet paper? It’s like, ‘What?’ It’s not like the virus attacks your digestive system. Then there’s our alcohol consumption—and Old Style is Chicago’s beer.”

There’s real gold in the images—gold foil, Bachor said. “Maybe $30 worth in each piece.” The Old Style image got damaged by a truck tire rolling over it before it was fully set and dried, across his cones, but he can’t really complain about how his street art is treated. “I’m not really supposed to be out there.”

Bachor started doing street art tile mosaics in 2013 in a pothole right outside of his house.

He was attracted to the permanence of the art form more than anything else: “I could possibly do a work of art that would still be around in a thousand years. It probably won’t, but it could.”

Research contact: @chicagotribune

Consumer wallets ‘spring a leak’ as prices soar on diapers, kitty litter, and toilet paper

February 12, 2019

Most of us cut back on everything but the essentials when household prices go up, but our budget remains the same. However, according to a February 10 report by The Wall Street Journal, the cost of staples—including such fundamentals as diapers and cat litter—is expected to increase in 2019, leaving us little choice but to ante up.

Producers of household products, from toilet paper to bleach, are set to raise prices again this year after already hiking prices in 2018, hoping to offset higher commodity costs and boost profits, the financial news outlet says.

New Jersey-based Church & Dwight already has increased prices for about one-third of its products, including Arm & Hammer cat litter and baking soda, and some OxiClean cleaning products.

“The good news is that competitors are raising [prices] in those categories as we speak,” Church & Dwight CEO Matthew Farrell said on a conference call last week, during which the company reported higher quarterly sales and lower profits.

What he left out of that statement to financial analysts was that it was good news for the company and its stockholders—but not for America’s consumers.

The company is now discussing more price increases with retailers, including for personal-care products, Farrell told analysts Tuesday. Those brands include Nair, Arm & Hammer Toothpaste, Orajel, Simply Saline, Waterpik, and Viviscal, among others.

Other household names that are planning to release similarly “good” news, according to the Journal, include Procter & GambleColgate-Palmolive, and Clorox, which are raising prices in response to higher costs of raw materials and transportation, as well as unfavorable foreign-currency swings.

For much of the past decade, the Journal notes, price cuts have been far more common than price increases as U.S. companies were mostly reluctant to test consumers’ spending power and brand loyalty in a fragile economic recovery.

When companies tried to raise prices, “they better have had a uniquely strong innovation or be willing to lose market share to competitors,” Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Ali Dibadj told the news outlet.

Adding to the challenge of raising prices is that more shoppers have been switching to store-branded paper towels and discount detergents, or opting for online upstarts such as Dollar Shave Club.

Traditional brands also have been under pressure from big-box retailers such as Costco and discounters like Walmart Inc. and Amazon to keep prices low—pushing the manufacturers to focus on lowering costs in their supply chains or pare back advertising.

Finally, after failing to see success when they tried to combat weak demand by lowering prices, the industry’s biggest player, P&G, shifted its course last summer, announcing it would charge more for several of its brands—and several rivals followed suit, the Journal reports.

The recent price increases are largely playing out in the companies’ favor, Wells Fargo Securities analyst Bonnie Herzog told the Journal. Sales volumes of household and personal products in the United States. declined 1.4% in January, according to Bernstein’s analysis of data from Nielsen. Dollar sales of those products rose 0.7% in the period, Bernstein said, indicating that the price increases, on balance, are padding the bottom lines at consumer-goods companies.

How consumers will deal with the price hikes long-term remains to be seen.

Research contact: aisha.al-muslim@wsj.com