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🍹 The Margaritaville gold mine

The Hustle

Lego’s newest set is going to make fans of “The Office” very happy. The Dunder Mifflin replica includes spot-on depictions of the cast, Michael’s “World’s Best Boss” mug, and even Dwight’s stapler in Jell-O.

In today’s email:

  • Margaritaville: Jimmy Buffett’s hospitality gold mine.
  • Baggage: Airlines keep losing it.
  • Digits: Bill Gates, Prime Day, and more.
  • Around the web: An inspirational podcast, protecting your email, Japanese food holidays, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s quick podcast to hear about how a beachy anthem inspired a $1B+ hospitality business built around 11-foot-tall pairs of flip-flops. Plus, a quick news rundown to start your week.

The big idea
Jimmy Buffett performing

The big business of Margaritaville

In 1977, Jimmy Buffett released his most popular song, “Margaritaville.”

He may not have known it then, but with the track, Buffett planted the seeds for a business empire.

While the idea of an experiential lifestyle brand feels new, Buffett’s team at Margaritaville Holdings has been leveraging the strategy for years and has built a hospitality juggernaut in the process, per Skift.

The Margaritaville empire…

… started in 1985, when Buffett opened a retail store with the name. The real breakthrough came in 1999, when Buffett and business partner John Cohlan opened a 20k-square-foot Margaritaville restaurant at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.

Rampant expansion followed, and the brand’s portfolio now includes:

  • 33 hotels, resorts, and other lodging concepts
  • 150 restaurants, bars, and cafes

Across those entities, the company brought in $1.5B in sales in 2019.

How is Margaritaville so successful?

According to Cohlan, now the CEO of Margaritaville Holdings, it’s all about emotion.

“Margaritaville was a synonym for paradise and casual fun, and the brand generates an emotion that makes you feel good,” Cohlan told Skift.

With that in mind, the team is laser-focused on the brand’s aesthetic, using several design staples in every location, including:

  • An 11-foot-tall pair of flip-flops at the center of every hotel lobby, a popular photo destination for guests
  • Faucets shaped like whale tails in hotel bathrooms

Each lobby also contains a replica of the Statue of Liberty, but with Lady Liberty holding a margarita instead of a torch.

Buffett isn’t the first musician…

… to bottle a feeling and build a brand with it. The Grateful Dead are still pulling in millions off of a variety of revenue streams, even though the original band members played their last show together in 1995.

  • One key to the success of both is that their fans can easily make fanhood part of their identity. Both Buffett and the Grateful Dead have nicknames for passionate devotees: “Parrot Heads,” and “Deadheads,” respectively.

For more on the Grateful Dead’s business genius, check out Hubspot co-founder Brian Halligan’s book, Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead.

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Rising rates: The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates by another 0.75 percentage points this month in an effort to combat inflation. The news follows a 9.1% increase in the consumer price index, the largest YoY rise in ~40 years.

Coming down: Flight prices are finally coming back to earth. Airfares dropped by 1.8% in June. But don’t get too excited — they’re still up 34% YoY.

Price hike: Disney is raising the price of its ESPN+ premium subscription to $9.99/mo., a 43% increase from its current price of $6.99/mo. Notably, the cost of the Disney Bundle, which includes Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu, will remain at $13.99/mo.

Cringe rap: Heather Morgan, the YouTube rapper accused of laundering $4.5B in stolen bitcoin, received court approval to engage in “legitimate employment” — which could include more raps, right?

Do not taste the rainbow: A California consumer is suing Mars Inc., claiming the candymaker’s Skittles are “unfit for human consumption” given its levels of titanium dioxide. Mars counters that it’s FDA compliant.

pile of luggage

Luggage piles up at Heathrow. (Photo by Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

Luggage mayhem adds to airport chaos

Airlines are not having a chill time. On top of canceled and delayed flights, mishandled bags are up 135% YoY.

Twitter — the preferred platform for yelling at airlines — reveals a myriad of angry passengers wondering where their bags are.

And Edinburgh Airport — where hundreds of missing bags are being stored at a nearby warehouse — suspended its customer helpline because callers were verbally abusing agents over missing luggage.

Why is this happening?

Airlines actually mishandled luggage at a higher rate in April 2019.

But many airlines and airports that let staff go amid the pandemic have been unable to restaff, and that labor shortage combined with a surge in travel is creating unusual levels of chaos.

  • For example: London’s Heathrow Airport has capped the number of departing passengers to 100k per day as videos show missing bags piling up. To help, Delta flew 1k bags from London to its Detroit hub on a passengerless plane.

What can passengers do?

The simplest solution? Pack light to avoid checking bags.

And some travelers are tracking checked luggage with AirTags or similar devices, which use Bluetooth and are permissible on planes, per Bloomberg.

  • Some trackers revealed bags sitting in airports for days, while one Florida man tracked his bags across England and Scotland.

While tracking devices may provide some peace of mind — at least you know where your bags are even if the airline doesn’t — only an end to the staffing shortage is apt to end the madness.

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By the numbers

Digits: Bill Gates, Prime Day, and more

1) Bill Gates will be upping his charitable contributions to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation by 50%, from ~$6B pre-covid to ~$9B annually by 2026. “I will move down and eventually off of the list of the world’s richest people,” Gates wrote.

2) Worldwide, Prime Day shoppers ordered 100k+ items per minute during Amazon’s annual soirée last week. The most popular shopping time was from 9 am to 10 am PT on Tuesday, July 12.

3) TikTok is the search engine of choice for ~40% of youngsters, according to Google exec Prabhakar Raghavan. “When they’re looking for a place for lunch… they go to TikTok or Instagram,” he said.

4) In 2021, North American comic book sales hit $2.1B, up 62% from $1.28B in 2020. Impressively, sales made through comic stores were up 60% from 2020 and 34% from 2019.

5) Last year saw 82.4m PCs shipped in Q2 2021. But this year, with work-from-home demand subsiding, 72m PCs were shipped in Q2. Chromebooks, in particular, dipped 50%.

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🖥️ On this day: In 1968, Robert Noyce, Andy Grove, and Gordon Moore incorporated microprocessor company Intel. They released their first processor for use in calculators in 1971.

📧 Useful: Hate randos sending you pointless emails? Gated is a free email service that prioritizes messages and challenges unknown senders to donate to charity in order to reach you.

🍌 That’s interesting: Japan has a ton of food holidays — Curry Day, Banana Day, etc. Here’s why.

🎧 Podcast: People make a lot of excuses as to why they can’t launch their business, but Parents Making Profits isn’t having it. Listen to part one of “Launch The Damn Thing Already” now.

🐶 Aww: A tiny puppy gets a bath.

emotional baggage meme

We carry it with us. (Source:

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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Jennifer “Never checking a bag again” Wang.

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