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🧻 The end of public restrooms

The Hustle

The Jumbo Floating Restaurant, a three-story floating restaurant modeled after a Chinese imperial palace, sank over 1k meters to the bottom of the South China Sea on Sunday. The restaurant was a must-stop in Hong Kong, hosting everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to Tom Cruise.

In today’s email:

  • Bathrooms: They’re disappearing.
  • Lattes: The origins of a personal finance myth.
  • Dead swag: What happens when companies fail?
  • Around the web: High cats vs. mosquitos, a PC orchestra, a tool to enhance photos, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to hear Zack and Rob talk about Starbucks’ restroom policy, how the CEO of Rolls-Royce is fighting inflation, a ~$3B snack bar, and more.

The big idea
bathrooms gif

Where are all the public restrooms?

There are few things worse than having to hold it.

Unfortunately, your chance of finding a public restroom in many American cities has been falling for years, and recent news suggests it could get worse.

Starbucks, which opened its restrooms to non-paying visitors in 2018, may be reverting its policy, per Bloomberg.

Starbucks…

… isn’t the first private establishment to be known for its lavatory. The US has a long legacy of businesses using restrooms as a selling point, including:

  • Saloons, which were one of the most reliable places for men to relieve themselves in the 19th century, as long as they bought a pint.
  • Department stores, which made clean restrooms for women a selling point in the late 19th century after realizing there were few facilities dedicated to women.
  • Gas stations, which became a popular restroom destination with the advent of the automobile.

But it raises the question — why do we rely on private businesses for restrooms in the first place?

It’s complicated

Public restrooms experienced a boom in the early 20th century due in part to Prohibition, as some feared that shutting down saloons would result in a toilet shortage.

But several factors slowed momentum:

  • High costs: Early 20th-century public restrooms (or “comfort stations”) were built with high ceilings and ornate tiles to give the image of high sanitation standards, but also made for expensive upkeep.
  • Suburban flight: As Americans left cities for the ‘burbs after World War II, the focus shifted to highway rest stops.
  • Safety concerns: In the 1960s and ‘70s, public restrooms became known for violence and drug use, leading many cities to shut off access.

So, what now?

Starbucks is still a viable option, you may just have to purchase something. If you’re against spending to pee…

  • The Portland Loo, based in Oregon, is an affordable, single-user public toilet designed to deter crime. It’s also been installed in Denver, Cincinnati, and San Antonio.

BTW: For the New York City folk, this TikTok account reviews free bathrooms in the Big Apple so you know where to go, when you gotta go.

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SNIPPETS

Market moves: The S&P 500 bounced back from its worst week since 2020. The index was up 2.45%, and 441 of its 500 members were in the green.

Bar buyout: Mondelez International, the parent company of brands like Oreo, Ritz, and Triscuit, announced it will acquire Clif Bar for $2.9B+.

Drone doubters: Last week, Amazon announced it would kick off drone delivery in Lockeford, California, and locals aren’t thrilled. One resident is worried about privacy, claiming drone cameras will be able to see into his backyard. Another jokingly responded, “target practice,” when asked about it.

The Washington Post reportedly plans to keep its content management software platform, Arc XP, despite recent talks of a sale. Company leaders went as far as predicting its software business could be the largest revenue generator for the company within the next five years.

Before buying an agency, you should hear from the Trendster who owns six. Link Moser talks micro deals, client turnover, and an old-school outreach approach that hits. Read the Trends article for the full story.

Kellogg will split into three companies: its plant-based and North American cereal divisions, and a third for everything else, including snacks. #ecommerce-retail

The “duck curve” describes solar energy’s peak demand, which, on a graph, looks like a duck. The problem? It’s opposite solar’s peak production. #clean-energy

Meta’s Reality Labs showed off several VR headset prototypes. Though none are consumer-ready, Zuck anticipates they’ll soon be able to create realistic virtual scenes “with basically perfect fidelity.” #emerging-tech

Magic Eden, a Solana-based NFT marketplace, raised $130m, bringing its valuation to $1.6B. It’s now the third unicorn in the space behind OpenSea and LooksRare. #fintech-crypto

Hallelujah: A new feature in Apple’s iOS 16 and macOS Ventura will let users bypass CAPTCHAs. #big-tech

Chart
home prices vs wages over time

Zachary Crockett

‘Stop buying lattes’: The origins of a personal finance myth

Every millennial has heard some variation of this myth: “Can’t afford a house? Just stop buying lattes.”

It’s peppered all over Twitter, dispensed on personal finance blogs, and uttered by pundits on national television.

  • Sometimes, “latte” is exchanged for a different millennial trope, like avocado toast.

The idea that fewer lattes can solve financial woes has been around for more than 20 years and can be traced to one man: a financial adviser named David Bach.

Ever since Bach asked if you’re “latte-ing away your future” in a 1999 book, we’ve witnessed a dot-com crash, a Great Recession, a global pandemic, a housing shortage, 40-year-high inflation, and the massive growth of student debt.

And yet, despite broader affordability issues at play, the latte is still a flashpoint for arguments about personal finance. How did we get here?

Read the full story →
Free Resource

Ever dream about actually writing a book?

Jenna Kutcher has, too. The Goal Digger Podcast host kept a Gmail folder titled “If I Write a Book” for over 5 years.

She put it to use, though. How Are You, Really?” drops June 28.

And during the six months leading up to launch, she’s been documenting her top notes on the writing and publishing process for listeners. We’ve compiled some of the best below.

Four episodes for aspiring authors:

You never know when that spark will get you started. For Jenna, a massage and a mouse changed everything.

Listen for your daily dose of inspiration.

Tips on getting published →
Swag Cemetery
company swag

What happens to swag from failed companies?

If you’ve ever been to a conference, you probably got a branded tote bag filled with branded swag: T-shirts, keychains, mini-flashlights, water bottles, etc. (Shwaaaag, as Russ Hanneman would say.)

SwagUp founder Michael Martocci told The Information that his average customer spends ~$25k annually on swag, while larger companies can drop millions.

But what happens to it all if a company fails?

Well, it depends

Most items are trashed or donated. But if it could be seen as a historical artifact or a collector’s item, it might fetch a high price.

  • Christina Warren collects swag from companies that ended disastrously. She told NPR that she prizes her Fyre Festival T-shirt, but she’s hoping for something authentic from Theranos.

But she’s not alone — a Theranos pullover sold on eBay for $499. (Too much? There’s this Theranos water bottle for $220.)

Beyond startups

To sell merch immediately following the Super Bowl, the NFL prints T-shirts, hats, and other items celebrating both teams’ victories. Through a partnership with nonprofit Good360, the NFL donates the loser’s stuff to countries where people need clothing.

After a failed political campaign, materials that can’t be repurposed for future runs end up in storage, the trash, or, again, in other countries, per The New York Times. Like startups, it depends on the context.

Mitt Romney 2012 hats were shipped off to Kenya. But Steve Ferber, VP of Lori Ferber Collectibles, told the NYT that buttons from socialist Eugene V. Debs’ 1920 campaign can sell for up to $1k.

BTW: Love dead companies and products? The Museum of Failure highlights those that failed to flourish, like these Nike sunglasses that required you to glue magnets to your face.

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AROUND THE WEB

🏎️ On this day: In 2001, street racing flick The Fast and the Furious debuted. Today, there are 10 films in the franchise’s family.

🤳 Useful: Clipdrop is a new online tool that enhances your photos.

🐈 That’s interesting: Tired of mosquitos? Get your cat high. New research suggests that when cats chew on catnip or silver vine, it releases chemical compounds that work as a repellent.

🎪 Wow: Paweł Zadrożniak has upgraded his PC orchestra. It now contains 512 floppy disk drives, 16 hard disks, and four scanners. Hear it play “Entrance of the Gladiators.”

🐐 Aww: And now, a baby stoat gets a friend.

Meme
latte meme

Afford a house? In this economy? Lol. (Source: imgflip.com)

How did you like today’s email?
Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Jennifer “Still ordering lattes. What of it?” Wang.

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