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The Hustle

With Wimbledon finals ahead this weekend, there’s no better time to talk tennis ball supply chain: The famed British tourney uses 55k of the 300m+ new balls produced globally per year. As for the rest? The junkyard likely awaits. Per S&P Global Market Intelligence, 125m tennis balls are added to US landfills annually.

In today’s email:

  • Peddle to the Mattel: The business behind Barbie’s epic marketing push.
  • Buck up: Dollar stores rock, no matter how many dollars you have.
  • Weekend Reads: Let’s do a little unwinding and a little catching up.
  • Around the Web: Beer for fish, a pizza game, boopin’ snoots, and more.

👇 Listen: Sonic logos are essentially a brand’s soundtrack and have become increasingly popular. Do they actually work?

podcast media player
The big idea
Barbie and Ken in a car

Life’s fantastic — for Mattel

Yesterday, I noticed my local thrift store’s staff picks were all pink pantsuits and dresses. It’s officially hot Barbie summer — and that’s by design.

In anticipation of Barbie’s July 21 theatrical debut, Mattel launched 100+ collabs with various brands, on which the toy company either receives a flat fee or a 5%-15% cut, per The Wall Street Journal.

Like what?

Like everything.

  • Fashion crossovers with Forever 21, PacSun, Hot Topic, and more — including for pets
  • Barbie food: e.g., pop-up cafes, pasta, and glittery Pinkberry swirls (don’t worry, there’s also Barbie dental care)
  • Video game controllers stored in plastic pink DreamHouses
  • Airbnb even offered a stay at a real-life Barbie DreamHouse in Malibu

Meanwhile, the #barbiecore aesthetic is taking over social media with 508m+ hashtag views on TikTok.

Why is Mattel going so hard?

Thanks to IP licensing deals, Mattel saw a 20% increase in Q2 revenue, per The New York Times. Plus, movies can introduce new fans and reignite existing ones (see: rival Hasbro’s Dungeons & Dragons movie).

Mattel has 14 films planned, including a “Hot Wheels” flick — but of all Mattel’s brands, Barbie rules, making up roughly a third of profits in 2022.

This movie is looking like an absolute win, with an anticipated $100m domestic opening weekend box office, per Matt Belloni of Puck News (also the film’s budget, BTW).

Of course, Mattel didn’t spend that money — for the most part, Warner Bros. did. What Warner Bros. paid Mattel for the honor is unknown, but one analyst estimated $25m-$50m.

Boom: Even opening against Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer has been a boon: 20k+ fans have already bought tickets for a five-hour double feature, per AMC Theaters exec Elizabeth Frank.

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eyeball wearing a hat

Spooky: In the Te’omim Cave near Jerusalem, archaeologists have found coins, weapons, 120+ oil lamps, and three skulls they believe were arranged for necromancy rituals dating back ~2k years.


TodAI in AI: ChatGPT will be getting quite the media literacy upgrade — OpenAI and The Associated Press struck a deal to license the 177-year-old news organization’s text archives.

But also: The FTC is investigating how OpenAI handles consumer data and if ChatGPT’s inaccuracies, or “hallucinations,” could cause harm to users.

Here’s a cool AI thing: Stable Doodle is a new generative tool from Stability AI that can turn your rudimentary black-and-white doodles into complex, colorful images in seconds.

Oof: Celsius co-founder Alex Mashinsky was arrested Thursday for allegedly misleading customers; the crypto exchange agreed to pay $4.7B to settle the FTC’s fraud allegations.

Good idea: To reduce textile waste, France launched a new program that will subsidize clothing repairs.

Beer bummer: San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Co. is closing after 127 years, citing inflation, competition, and lost revenue due to closed restaurants and bars amid the pandemic.

Another one: Elon Musk announced xAI, an AI company dedicated to understanding “the true nature of the universe.” Whatever that means could be revealed during its Twitter Spaces chat today.

Wow, we’re such suckers: Amazon hailed this year’s Prime Day as its biggest yet, with Americans buying 375m+ items over the two-day sale.

SAG-AFTRA, the union that reps Hollywood actors, is officially on strike, joining the 11k+ writers guild members who’ve been on strike since May. Oppenheimer stars ditched the film’s London premiere upon the news.

Opill, America’s first non-prescription birth control pill, got FDA approval. The pill’s maker, HRA Pharma, expects it to be on store shelves in early 2024.

dollar store shopping by income group
Olivia Heller

Wealthier Americans are splurging — at dollar stores

Of all the stores out there, dollar stores probably live up to their name better than any.

Not just because of their prices (though, honestly, they often substantially exceed $1), but also because they’ve gone on an absolute cash-printing tear.

In 2022, Dollar General and Dollar Tree commanded revenues of $37.8B and $28.3B, respectively.

Dollars and sense

As pandemic-era inflation drove grocery receipts through the roof, Americans pivoted their carts. For instance, grocery spending at discount chains jumped 71% between October 2021 and June 2022, per The Wall Street Journal, while other grocers saw sales dip 5%.

What’s particularly interesting is how this trend extends across demographics, especially among those for whom dollar store shopping is not a necessity.

  • The share of dollar store visits among customers making $100k+ rose 4% this year, compared to the second half of 2022, per InMarket.
  • Morning Consult found 45% of six-figure households are open to shopping at dollar stores, up from 39% last year.

(Saving) money talks

Part of the trend may be awareness. On TikTok, the hashtag #dollartree has 8B views, and the platform is full of frugal shopping tips centered around dollar stores.

Another part may be improved offerings and access — Dollar General is expanding its fresh-produce offerings, and discount grocery chain Aldi is adding 120 US stores this year, targeting higher-income areas.

For more: Read our in-depth visual explainer on the economics of dollar stores.

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Watch Now

The art of interviewing for a job

Ah, yes. Another clean slate for you to stunt your stuff on.

Don’t forget — you are also interviewing them, not just the other way around. And they’ve already plucked your name from a ream of resumes, which means you’re off to an elevated start.

To help you nail what’s next, our YouTube teacher Tory explains how to ace that first interview. It’s 10 minutes of tips on understanding soft skills, perfecting your pitch, and asking thoughtful questions.

Get the gig. Let it rip.

Job interview tips →
Weekend Reads

Missed you this week. How about we set aside a little “us” time this weekend? We’ll bring the links…

  • Tweet: “I’m just so slammed right now,” says the person with only one looming thing in their inbox.
  • Story: Meet the people paid to make it rain — or, more accurately, to make it rain more than it would otherwise through a process known as cloud seeding. Talking about weather is so droll, but talking about harnessing and modifying weather? Yes, please.
  • Video: Dig around social media long enough and you’ll find tons of people saying they’re making money putting ChatGPT to work for them. We’re not buying it — yet. Come debunking with us.
  • Blog: Ready to take your business to the next level? It might be time to make it official with a trademark. Here’s everything you need to know about buying one.

On this day: In 1968, Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hit his 500th home run. By the time he retired in 1976, he’d hit 755.

🐟 That’s interesting: How Oregon researchers are attempting to lead wayward salmon home with beer.

🚀 Blog: Startup accelerators can launch your business into the big leagues. We rounded up the 29 best ones you can apply to.

🍕 Cure boredom: Speedily sling pies in this online game made by Grimaldi’s Pizzeria.

🖕Aww: And now, boop!

  1. Being friendly, punctual, and answering emails at the speed of light can completely offset mediocre job performance. SOURCE

  2. Calling yourself an AI artist is almost exactly the same as calling yourself a cook for heating ready-made meals in a microwave. SOURCE

  3. Hard to be a baby. Imagine crying because your feet itch and they just feed you some milk. SOURCE

  4. Couples can get anybody to leave them alone if they just start arguing. SOURCE

  5. The size of hot tubs is measured in humans. SOURCE

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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett Rylah.
Editing by: Ben “Discount your blessings” Berkley.

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