From Owen Sound Sun Times:
SEATTLE - An Oregon mother says she got more than she bargained for when she picked up an Easter gift for her toddler in the clearance section of a local Walmart.
Christina Marie Hannahs, of Otis, said she found three bags of marijuana stuffed inside the "Smart Shots Sports Center," toy, according to a police spokesman in the city of Newport, where the item was purchased.
The toy, made by VTech, is for children around the ages of one and two and comes with multiple parts including balls to toss in a basket and a screen that lights up.
Hannahs told local broadcaster KATU that as she assembled the item for her toddler, she found some parts were missing. Left behind in the box were the clear plastic bags of what she said was marijuana.
"I was shocked at first," she told KATU. "I would love a drug-free gift for Easter."
Hannahs filed a police report and the Lincoln County Sheriff would handle the investigation, Newport police said. The sheriff's office could not be reached for comment about whether the bags had tested positive for marijuana and how much of the drug was found.
Hannahs told KATU she thinks the toy, which she found on the clearance section of the Walmart, might have been returned by someone who stashed the drugs inside.
"If a little bit of weed gets into packages, what else could get in there?" she said.
A spokesman for Walmart said all questions about the investigation should be referred to the sheriff's office until more details were known.
(Reuters)Wal-Mart US CEO Greg Foran has spent a lot of time visiting the company's stores since he took the helm eight months ago.
With sales in the US lagging, Foran has traveled to Wal-Mart stores across the country in search of ways to improve customers' experiences with the retailer.
Foran shared what he learned during his travels in a meeting with investors on Wednesday. Here's what he said:
1. Many Wal-Mart stores lack cleanliness and tidiness.
"We want this year to be the year of improving our stores," Foran said, according to a transcript of his remarks. "So by the time we hit holiday season, our stores are clean, tidy, well merchandised and run by engaged associates. Today in the main, we’re not."
2. Stores aren't restocking shelves fast enough. "We’ve got too much inventory in the back rooms and our processes are not where we want them to be and that’s causing some undue shrinkage and some out-of-stocks," Foran said.
The company has already started to implement some changes to fix these issues, such as marking down foods that are nearing their expiration date to reduce the amount of food that goes to waste.
"Both Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets have potential to be better" when it comes to layout, design, lighting, and even store temperature, Foran said.
"Some of the stores recently opened in our opinion are not quite as good as ones that we had opened in previous years," he said.
4. Digital services need to be integrated with physical stores.
For example, Wal-Mart wants to expand its service allowing customers to order groceries online for in-store pickup and delivery.5. The retailer needs to improve traffic-driving side businesses like gas, care clinics and financial services.
"We have a mindset that we are building scalable profitable businesses whilst driving additional traffic to our stores," he said. "Consider how important pharmacy is to Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets as a traffic driver."
6. Prices aren't always as low as competitors'.
"While we have pockets of leadership [on price], in more competitive markets, our gain is too small," Foran said.
7. The brand needs to offer a wider product assortment in general merchandise, fresh produce, grocery and private label.
"When we get the assortment right, we know that the customers respond," Foran said.
8. The Bentonville, Arkansas headquarters needs to be focused on customer service.
"Our job at the home office in Bentonville is to serve the stores to in turn serve customers. Sam Walton, founder of our business based on this principle," Foran said. "But to be frank, in some recent years, we’ve slipped a little away from this. We’ve recently undertaken some important activities to simplify our organization and empower our stores, our associates in our stores to make decisions, but [there's] more to do."
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From Huff Po:
Some of the country’s biggest employers are finally raising wages amid mounting pressure from protesters and a hardier job market.
McDonald’s on Wednesday became the latest major company to give workers -- albeit a fraction of its total workforce -- a pay bump that will lift average hourly pay to $9.90 from $9.01. The move, which will go into effect on July 1, follows a similar change made in February by Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer.
What, after years of stagnant wage growth for low-paid workers, is causing corporations to shell out more to their staff?
or some companies, the pay raise has been compelled by a sense of ethical leadership.
Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini raised the minimum wage at the health insurance company to $16 per hour after reading French economist Thomas Piketty’s bestseller Capital In The Twenty-First Century, which warns of the increasingly wide gap between rich and poor.
Other firms have been motivated by the desire to maintain market share.
“We’ve known for a really long time that if you look like a good corporate citizen, that’s good for sales,” Bob Keener, spokesman for the nonprofit Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, told The Huffington Post. “If you make a big public announcement about how you’re going to raise wages, you look like a good corporate citizen, and that’s going to increase your sales.”
Competition is also driving wages up. Call it a wage-hike domino effect. As the U.S. economy continues to add jobs, even retailers who claim to keep prices low in part by minimizing payroll expenses must increase how much they pay their workers to avoid losing them.
“When other large, low-wage employers boost their wages, McDonald’s has to be concerned about its employees moving to another employer where they can get another buck per hour,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the nonprofit National Employment Law Project. “There is undoubtedly some tightening in the labor market at the low end that is having an effect on wages.”
For every extra $1 a company spends each month in payroll, it could get back anywhere from $4 to $28 in monthly sales, according to a 2007 study by professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and elsewhere.
Companies are also facing intense pressure from protesters to pay a living wage. Workers united under such groups as the "Fight for 15," which advocates for a $15 minimum wage, have led rallies in cities across the world, including a major gathering outside McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, last May. Fight for 15 is also planning a series of strikes for later this month.
Protests for higher pay are gaining steam. This week, Seattle began the process of raising its minimum wage to $15 per hour. Los Angeles is considering bumping the minimum wage for the city’s hotel workers to $15.37 -- making it the highest in the country.
While both McDonald’s and Walmart aim for a $10 average wage by next year, that is still $5 below the wage that protesters are demanding. Critics worry that these incremental pay boosts could be an attempt to undercut a movement that is gaining serious clout.
“This is a PR and a political move meant to knock the wind out of this growing and increasingly militant movement,” Peter Dreier, a professor of urban policy at Occidental College, told HuffPost. “The companies are now competing with each other not to look like they’re the worst employer in the world.”
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