Seniors rule (the grocery store)

March 19, 2020

This week, we’ve told you a lot about industries and companies being upended by the coronavirus pandemic. Now we want to tell a more personal story: yours. How has your job (or jobs) been affected? How have those changes impacted your life? Tell us here, and watch this space in the coming days.

Social Distancing

Adult swim, but for brown bags: Grocers pivot to ‘senior hours’

If the global lockdowns continue at their current pace, there’ll be only a few brick-and-mortar businesses left with their lights on.

Grocery stores are definitely one of them. We gotta eat, right?

Those pics of empty shelves and a sad, solitary can o’ Campbell’s cream of celery might alarm you. But the food supply in the US is still going strong

It’s the flow of customers that needs controlling. (Stop fighting over that last bag of bucatini, there’s plenty for everyone.)

The solution? Let’s see some ID

This week, grocers and other shops started rolling out special hours for seniors — one of the groups that’s most vulnerable to COVID-19.

The special hours apply at grocers across the land, from the dealmeisters at Dollar General to the upscale aisles of Whole Foods.

Not everyone is convinced it’s a good idea. 

H-E-B, a chain with 300+ stores in Texas, said last week that it was “not the best and safest option” for customers. Some experts are torn, too — what’s the point of social distancing if the checkout line looks like a can of sardines?

H-E-B is on board, however, with rolling back store hours to restock — and limiting how many frozen pizzas people can pile into their carts per trip (4, if you’re wondering).

If you’d rather make it a virtual supermarket sweep…

…it might be a while. In the UK, one grocery chain is hiring 3.5k people to expand its delivery service as demand surges. One Brooklynite told Bloomberg he placed a Wegmans order on Tuesday, but the goods weren’t scheduled to arrive ‘til Saturday.

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The Hustle Slack

Working rmoty is hard.

Bond, Dining Bond

In tough times, restaurants roll out a new investment opportunity: ‘Dining bonds’

Gift cards — which offer much-needed liquidity to small businesses — are a good way for consumers to help out cash-strapped companies during the dining shutdown.

But a growing number of restaurants think “dining bonds” could be an even better way, and they’re banding together to sell them to customers.

Dining bonds are just like government bonds

Would-be diners buy a restaurant-issued bond for a discounted rate (usually 25% less), and then redeem it after a predetermined amount of time (typically 30-60 days) for a greater amount. 

So, for example, a buyer might purchase a bond from their favorite taqueria for $75 and then redeem it for $100 worth of burritos in 3 months.

The restaurant biz is working together to sell these bad boys

A group of New York restaurants launched a website called that is dedicated to the sale of dining bonds.

As of yesterday, the website had already attracted 142 partner restaurants to its platform (hungry readers can find a map of the restaurants, which are located across the US, here). is a non-profit that does not collect fees from its partners. Participating restaurants set their own terms for the sale and redemption of these bonds (if you own or work at a restaurant and want to get involved, go here).

And the model could work for other industries, too

One site, called HelpMainStreet, offers consumers an interactive list of local businesses that are still selling gift cards.

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Forget sweats — these former Under Armour execs just made your new favorite jeans

It’s no surprise: If you work for a performance athletic brand, you work with some pretty amazing materials. Materials that stretch, breathe, and move with you. 

You know, materials that are not denim. 

So when Under Armour execs Henry Stafford, Steven Battista, and Matt Maasdam (who were UA’s Head of Product, Head of Brand, and Head of eCommerce Ops, respectively) left to blaze their own seams, they started by addressing the shortfalls of denim: Moving in it. 

After a few years of R&D, Pittsburgh-based Revtown was full sew ahead. 

Look like you’re in the office, feel like you’re working from home

Toss those nasty old cotton sweatpants in the trash, because there’s a new most comfortable outfit around the house: your Revtowns. 

Their Decade Denim jeans are made with proprietary, Italian-milled denim that’s tough as nails, but still mobile. By combining the 3 best parts of great jeans — comfort, function, and durability — they’ve created the only pair of pants you’ll actually want to put on at home. 

The hem, the inseam, even the belt loops are all designed to move with you. That means no bunching, no rubbing, and definitely no unbuttoning when you eat your third lunch of the day straight from the fridge.

To top it all off, Revtown is fully D2C, so they can sell their designer-quality jeans at a fraction of the price of other fashion brands. 

The end result? A pair of jeans that feel like the coziest sweats while still looking sharp as hell… meaning next time you accidentally stand up during a video conference, your coworkers will gasp in awe — not embarrassment. 

No sweats, no prob →
Coping With Coronavirus

‘When you run a small business it’s not just about numbers, it’s about people’

We asked readers to tell us about how their businesses are coping with the coronavirus. We’re featuring highlights of those conversations here.

In business, hitting the 5-year mark is cause for celebration. Troy Monroe just blew out 5 candles for Scout Collective, his brand and digital marketing studio.

“Everybody says if you can stay in business 5 years, that’s the tipping point,” he told us. “And then a day later, everything imploded.”

Last year, Scout Collective brought in $260k. Monroe said he expects the pandemic to reduce business by 10-25%, because in times like these, marketing budgets get squeezed.

All is not lost, however. Monroe says he sees opportunities in appealing to community, and marketing with emotion. When businesses are open about what they’re going through, he said, customers will support them more.

That mindset mirrors how he’s communicating with his own team. 

“When you run a small business, it’s not just about numbers, it’s about people,” he said. “The people matter to me more than the financial side of it. The only thing I can guarantee right now is honest and open dialogue and complete empathy.”

Want your story featured? Fill out our survey to tell us more about how your company is navigating these uncertain waters. 

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Zoom is taking over our lives. Things are getting weird.

The video-conferencing service Zoom is hosting your work meetings, your church services, your college classes, your art shows, your birthday parties, and your blind dates

But for residents of Zoomtown, USA, the new landscape has its own tangle of social rules. 

For instance: Do you look directly into your laptop camera to make eye contact with the speaker? (According to Zoom itself, yes.) Is it still fashionable to show up late to a Zoom party? (Unclear.) What happens if a cat jumps onto your shoulder while you’re working? (Depends on the company pet policy.) 

Big Zoom can track you now

There’s the cutesy side to Zoom — when chatting, you can change your background to the set of The Office, among many other options. Some remote work companies are even rolling out custom Zoom backgrounds — “Hotline Bling,” anyone? — to drive customers.

There’s the embarassing, such as the professor who tried to screen-share with her students and accidentally revealed a desktop folder labelled “DIVORCE.” Or the executive at Impossible Foods who spent a full work meeting vaguely resembling an alien because of a video glitch.

And there’s the creepy: Zoom has an attention-tracking feature that alerts hosts if an “attendee does not have Zoom Desktop Client or Mobile App in focus for more than 30 seconds.” 

Just wait for the ZoomBomb to drop 

Yesterday, a troll slipped into a public meeting and turned on screen-sharing, only to expose participants to a sexual video — a practice dubbed “ZoomBombing.” 

As Facebook and Twitter get slammed over their content moderation failures, Zoom might be next in the (remote) hot seat.

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The news is grim, but the headlines aren’t all bad. 

🧀 If WFH is drivin’ you nuts, look on the bright side. You probably haven’t confused a piece of cheese for a bar of soap.

🐈 Then again, maybe we are going a little stir crazy. Why #ReleaseTheButtholeCut was trending on Twitter, explained.

🍸 The “quarantini” is the hottest drink at your virtual happy hour.

🛋 Service journalism at its finest: how to binge watch Netflix with your friends at the same time.

🐬 The Italian quarantine has brought news of dolphin sightings around the city of Caligari.

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