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The Hustle

You probably think Shaggy’s 2000 hit “It Wasn’t Me” glorifies cheating — but you’re wrong. The Jamaican rapper clarified that it’s actually an anti-cheating song, only misunderstood because people don’t listen to the end. Oh. Whoops.

In today’s email:

  • Thick as thieves: Retailers’ tricky (but maybe overblown?) shoplifting issues.
  • Pwock block: A man on a mission to dull the sound of pickleball.
  • Tickled pink: The Barbie movie’s impact on pink paint supply.
  • Around the Web: A cool way to view history, a musical escape room, a cuddly otter, and more.

👇 Listen: Rounding up top stories faster than the SEC’s rounding up crypto companies.

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The Big Idea

What can be done about shoplifting — and how bad is it, actually?

Two Atlanta-area Lululemon employees were fired for confronting shoplifters. It sparked a lot of discussion, but CEO Calvin McDonald has doubled down on the decision, citing the store’s strict safety-first, no interference policy.

“It’s only merchandise at the end,” McDonald told CNBC, clarifying that employees may call police, but should step back and let cameras gather evidence.

Shoplifting is on the rise…

… or is it? We’ve seen the locked cases at grocery stores and pharmacies, but what’s actually happening is a bit murky.

In retail, shrinkage refers to loss of inventory, whether that’s due to theft, human error, or damage. Per the National Retail Federation’s annual survey, retailers saw an average shrink rate of 1.4% in 2021, accounting for $94.5B in losses.

  • But shrink has consistently hit ~1.4% for the last 10+ years, per CNN.
  • Yet retailers cited a 26.5% increase, on average, in organized retail crime (pro shoplifters who steal to resell); 80% claimed an increase in violent or aggressive incidents.

Also interesting: In San Francisco’s central district, larceny theft was up 88% in 2021 — compared to 2020, when stores closed for months. Compared to 2019, larceny theft was down, per The Atlantic’s Amanda Mull, who tried unsuccessfully to coax more specific data from retailers.

So, essentially, the numbers are hard to parse. Could it be that shoplifting hasn’t increased, but more brazen incidents — those more prone to go viral — have?

What can be done?

Confronting shoplifters can be dangerous, even deadly.

Last week, the California state senate passed a bill that would stop retailers from asking staff to confront shoplifters, in line with Lululemon’s prioritization of employee safety.

Retailers are instead turning to tech, including:

  • AI that monitors checkouts for barcode switching or other irregularities
  • Self-service cases that customers unlock with personal info
  • RFID tags, which track specific items
  • Robots

For example: Philadelphia Lowe’s stores are piloting security bots. But they’re much cuter and much less intimidating than RoboCop.

View on site

eyeball wearing a hat

Scientists just realized Earth has a fake moon. No, no, the moon we know and love is still real. The phony is an asteroid, named 2023 FW13, that’s been orbiting the sun and trailing our planet since 100 BC.


TodAI in AI: Stability AI, looking to raise funds at a $4B valuation, now faces another challenge: Forbes detailed founder Emad Mostaque’s “history of exaggeration” and “misleading claims.” Mostaque called Forbes “unprofessional.”

Crypto crackdown: The day after suing Binance for alleged securities violations, the SEC also sued Coinbase for allegedly operating as an unregistered exchange. Shares dropped 16%.

Obligatory Apple follow-up: Perhaps you’ve heard the Vision Pro headset was unveiled this week? It still costs $3.5k. And it’s still not arriving too soon. But now journalists have tried it.

They’re worth it: L’Oreal’s VC arm raised $34m for Debut, a biotech startup that will work with the beauty giant to create new, sustainable ingredients.

Swimply, the app that lets you rent other people’s pools, will now also let users rent pickleball courts.

Stop the presses: Gannett journalists in seven states walked off their jobs this week, protesting inadequate pay coupled with increased work duties. Gannett owns 218 daily media outlets across the US and UK.

That’s one way to market: There is now a Cheez-It filling station in California’s Joshua Tree National Park. But instead of gas, the pump shoots out little bags of Cheez-Its.

Whole-in-one: The golf world was stunned by a merger agreement between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and Saudi-funded LIV Golf League. The deal will end months of bitter court battles between PGA and LIV.

In-house entrepreneur: For companies that want to chase innovative new ideas, an entrepreneur in residence might be the answer.

pickleball players by year

One man’s quest to make pickleball quiet

The new sound of summer in America is pwock.

For pickleball players, pwock is glorious. It’s the sound of a solid hit, an auditory cue that means you’re having fun, competing, and maybe even getting revenge on that pompous high school PE teacher who once tormented your class with his crafty pickleball skills (although that last part might just be our colleague Mark).

Once a niche sport for retirees…

… pickleball has exploded. Last year, 8.9m Americans played pickleball regularly, while another ~27m played at least once, making the sport nearly as popular as running.

But many people living near the pickleball courts, however, have a knock with the pwock.

“It’s touched a nerve, literally, around America,” says Robert Ducharme, a New Hampshire attorney who has advised homeowner associations and condo groups on pickleball. “It’s becoming more and more of an issue.”

Enter Bob Unetich…

… A retired engineer and Carnegie Mellon University professor, Unetich is the founder of Pickleball Sound Mitigation LLC.

If America starts hearing fainter pwock sounds, it might just be because the sport started listening to Unetich.

Read the full story →

Free Resource

5 mad skills development templates

You have to keep on learning new things. Every day. All the time. Because staying curious is one of those classified secrets to winning at life.

For a stronger sense of structure, try these tidy skill-building templates. Use the space to kick-start new habits, better manage time, read more books, or otherwise get shit done.

You get a template, and You get a template, and…

  • Five-year plan template
  • Individual skill development template
  • SMART goal setting template
  • Management by objective template
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We also call them “skillets.” They help you break in beautifully.

5 free skillets →

Pretty in Pink

Barbie used up all the pink paint

The upcoming Barbie movie has inspired a deluge of memes — but did it also cause a global shortage of pink paint? Well, kinda.

Though the first Barbie, released in 1959, donned a black-and-white swimsuit, her logo has always been a vivid pink.

For the live-action film, director Greta Gerwig insisted that Barbie’s world be unapologetically pink, including her mid-century, modern-inspired “Dreamhouse.”

Production designer Sarah Greenwood told Architectural Digest that the set used so much of Rosco’s fluorescent pink paint, it caused a shortage.


… specializes in paint for film and theater productions. Lauren Proud, VP of global marketing, confirmed to The Los Angeles Times that the film “did clean us out on paint” in 2022. But it was already in short supply due to:

  • The pandemic’s grip on the supply chain
  • The 2021 Texas freeze, which damaged raw materials

That’s not all

The paint’s back in stock, but the Barbie frenzy is just beginning, with #Barbiecore — full of perfectly pink fashion and decor trends — racking up 349m+ views on TikTok.

The brand generated $1.5B in sales for Mattel in 2022. It’s clearly hoping the movie will boost sales further, dropping a line of related dolls and accessories — including a ~1.8k-piece replica Dreamhouse for ~$150.

BTW: Check out this Barbie-inspired condo in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

View on site


⛰️ On this day: In 1913, missionary Hudson Stuck led the first successful climb of Alaska’s Denali, ascending 20.3k+ feet to North America’s highest peak.

That’s cool: Histography offers a visual timeline of key events.

🎧 Podcast: On this episode of Techish, the Black women who predicted AI risk, the downfall of millennial media companies Vice and BuzzFeed, and more.

🔑 Cure boredom: To promote its latest EP, the band Ghost released an online escape room.

🦦 Aww: And now, a cuddly little otter.

Tweet of the Day
coming back from vacation Tweet

Here’s hoping we all run into this “problem” before the summer ends. (Link)

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