Wall Street briefly losses ground after Fed Beige Book

(Reuters) – The SP 500 briefly pared gains and the Dow added to losses on Wednesday after a Federal Reserve report said robust business borrowing, rising consumer spending, and tight labor markets indicate the U.S. economy remains on track for continued growth with trade war risks the one big outlier.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Stocks quickly regained ground after the so-called Beige Book report.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 4.45 points, or 0.02 percent, to 24,791.08, the SP 500 .SPX gained 8.85 points, or 0.33 percent, to 2,715.24 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 31.28 points, or 0.43 percent, to 7,312.37.

Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

$27 Million Is Raised by Esports Fan Engagement Startup

Esports and cryptocurrency are 2 industries growing with unbelievable speed, but also vastly misunderstood by the majority of the world. A lot of money is being poured into each industry with companies as large as HP even getting into the fold with esports.

Watching from afar as the revolutions in esports and crypto developed was Alexandre Dreyfus, who had mostly made a name for himself in the world of poker through his ownership of the largest live poker database Hendon Mob, the Global Poker Index, and more recently the Global Poker League, which turned the game of poker into this sort of international gamefied competition.

Dreyfus was pretty quiet about the fact that he has been very busy seeking an opportunity outside of the poker world that would join his interests in esports and crypto. That changes today with his announcement that a startup called chiliZ has raised $27 million through private placement.

It is being referred to as a blockchain-based platform allowing fans to crowd-manage sports — primarily esports — teams and organizations. Dreyfus took his inspiration for the project from the soccer clubs Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, which are collectively controlled by over 90,000 “socios” and 170,000 “socios,” respectively. These socios are essentially members who democratically elect the clubs’ presidents.

“After speaking to various esports teams, we realized they shared our experience and our frustrations – there were no tools, and there was no way to monetize that fan base,” says Dreyfus. “The solution to the problem was inspired by traditional sports, more specifically the way in which teams like Real Madrid/FC Barcelona, and also the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, were democratically managed by ‘socios’ or fans. We decided to explore and scale this idea to a completely different level thanks to the latest technologies.”

What chiliZ and Dreyfus anticipate is that the esports landscape, in particular, will not only be shaped by the games, teams and leagues that draw the most players and spectators, but by those best able to activate and monetize audiences by giving fans power. Dreyfus believes that fan engagement is the secret sauce to success of esports growth and chiliZ will serve as the engine to tokenize the process of giving fans power, which is where the crypto element comes in.

“Our vision – to build a tokenised voice platform that focuses on a fan-driven experience – is a first for the industry,” says Dreyfus. “While it is disruptive, it does not compete with the existing ecosystem. In essence, it complements the ecosystem, and will ultimately help to shape and grow the industry as a whole.”

Crypto investors in Asia largely put up the $27 million invested in chiliZ to date, according to Dreyfus. His biggest challenge with the raise was based on the prices of many crypto assets falling far from their peaks in the past few months.

“Raising crypto funds in a bear market is actually pretty difficult, but it’s also very exciting, mainly because we believe that we have a very strong business model and utility in the esports space,” adds Dreyfus. “Moreover, many of our crypto investors have invested on a strategic level, and are helping to further build our initiative.”

Stuck in a Rut? Here are 5 Ways to Breathe New Life into Your Career or Business

Everyone strives for that moment when all your hard work and dedication pays off and you can finally sit back and enjoy your work life. Everything gets a little bit easier and you can relish in what you have achieved.

Taking time to enjoy your success is important, however; it’s important to not get too comfortable for too long in any phase of your business. Before you know it, you may settle into a safe routine where you no longer strive to improve and grow, and you may miss critical opportunities. In essence, you may find that you can get into a rut with what you do and how you do it.

Sometimes the signs of being in a rut are not obvious. But there may be other warning signs –both emotionally and physically– that you should pay attention to. Do any of these sound familiar? You don’t feel excitement for your work, you have trouble keeping your focus, you often feel tired and find it hard to get motivated to go into the office, you reminisce about the past, or you don’t think about your future.   

Being in a rut too long can be tough to escape from, but here are four tips on how to break free from maintenance mode and keep moving forward.

1. Revisit your goals–or make new ones.

Goals are like maps that interconnect. Sometimes we focus only on our business goals, but don’t step back to assess our personal purpose and how it fits into our business vision and goals. Taking a little time to assess why you do what you do will help you to identify if you have gone off track in your business.

If you find that you have gotten off track, you can compare your personal purpose to the direction your business has taken and note where you are out of alignment. If you find yourself drifting away from your original intention, it may be time to establish new goals.

2. Rediscover what inspires you.

What or who gets you excited? I’ve found that focusing my attention on something inspiring–even if it’s not necessarily related to my business or goals–can spark my attention and drive. Often it helps me to do activities outside of work that create a feeling of joy and happiness, like playing guitar. Being creative helps to inspire me and take that renewed energy back into my workday.

3. Ask for feedback.

When you are stuck, sometimes other people know how to nudge you. Reach out to a few colleagues and business associates and even close friends. Confide in them on how you are doing, what you feel your current strengths and weaknesses are, and your ideas on how you can improve. It may be tough to listen to honest feedback, but it may be just what you need. (As a payback, tell them you will do the same for them.)

I have some close friends–both personal and in business–who I trust with these types of conversations and who are outside of my work life. Since they have a unique perspective on me and my career, their advice often allows me to step back and rethink what I am doing and how to proceed forward.

4. Step away from it all.

The best way to gain a fresh perspective on your career is to step away for a while. Take a long vacation where you unplug from the world and enjoy some time to yourself. I’ve found that when you provide some distance from your life, you often can see everything a bit clearer.

I previously worked in a global role and found that many of my colleagues routinely take at least two weeks off for vacation. I was inspired since I had never taken that much time off at once during my entire career. When I experienced this for the first time, I found it really did take a full week to unplug and that second week was pure relaxation. By the time I got back to work, I was refueled and ready to be creative again.

5. Learn something new.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said that you should do something that frightens you every day, A great rut-buster is to take on a new challenge. Focus on something you have always wanted to do, especially if it’s outside your comfort zone. Not only will you be stimulated from learning a new skill, but it reignites your motivation and demonstrates how you can accomplish anything–and that there is still much to do in your life.

When I first started yoga 15 years ago, I felt completely out of my comfort zone. I couldn’t touch my toes or do many of the poses. At first, I compared myself to everyone else in the room, but gradually I learned to relax and enjoy the process of being a beginner again. Now I own my own studio, am an instructor and incorporate many helpful yogic principles into the way I run and manage my business. But none of this would have happened if I hadn’t found the courage to try yoga for the first time.  

Everyone gets into ruts at times. But the best way to bust through them is to acknowledge when they occur and never ignore them. A rut can be a wake-up call and a golden opportunity for propel yourself toward a new, exciting direction.  

5 Ways The World Would Be Better If We Were More Like Barbara Bush

Barbara Bush (née Pierce) died yesterday at the age of 92. A former First Lady, Second Lady, and mother of a president, Mrs. Bush was in the public eye for much of her eye. Anyone in that situation can expect to have all their flaws exposed in the least flattering way possible. But, here’s the thing: while she was a flawed individual (we all are), the world would be a lot better off if we followed her example. Here are five ways Barbara Bush stood out to me.

1. She disagreed politically with her husband and still had a great marriage.

It seems like now, anyone who disagrees over politics must be branded the enemy and we see families ripped apart. The feelings are so strong that we seem to be incapable of recognizing disagreement and remaining close. She explained about her husband’s job,”I don’t fool around with his office and he doesn’t fool around with my household.”

Mrs. Bush and her husband didn’t always see eye to eye on politics. She didn’t seek to undermine him or embarrass him. (And I’m purposely not giving examples because I don’t want people to take political sides.) Jack Steele, who was a longtime aide said, “She’ll speak her mind but only to him.” 

2. She was body positive before that was a thing

Mrs. Bush wasn’t skinny, but she always looked fabulous. She almost always wore the pearls, which gave her an air of high class at all times. But, this quote from her about Nancy Reagan has always stuck in my head:

”We have a lot in common. She adores her husband; I adore mine. She fights drugs; I fight illiteracy. She wears a size three; so’s my leg.”

That’s right. She cracked a joke. She was funny and not ashamed that she wasn’t as thin as Nancy Reagan. She also didn’t dye her hair. While that’s certainly a personal choice, she didn’t give in to pressure to be someone she wasn’t. That is a refreshing attitude indeed. 

3. She was kind

When you think about Barbara Bush, kindness often comes to mind. I’m not a person who is involved in politics, nor do I have many friends who run in political circles, but two separate friends commented about their personal encounters with Mrs. Bush and kindness was the key thing.

Rafael Prado said:

Today a very classy lady passed away who I had the opportunity to meet in person at my alma mater in 1992 when her husband (President George H.W. Bush) came to speak. I remember the impression she left on me of being someone very down to earth and truly taking the time to not only shake my hand, but ask about me and my family. Rest In Peace former First Lady Barbara Bush. You were a class act.

Ann Fromholz said:

On Alden’s first Easter, in 2010, we were living in Houston. We went to St. Martin’s Church, where we were members. After the service, I was talking to friends and Alden was in her carrier at my feet. I heard a voice behind me say, “She’s beautiful!”

I turned, and there was Barbara Bush. May she Rest In Peace.

Taking the time to talk to others, to comment on a baby, to ask about family members makes the world a better place. Looking through the media about her death, stories like this are all over. She was kind. There is great strength and power in being kind. 

4. Family first

Now, to be clear, as a politicians wife, she undoubtedly spent a lot of time away from home, but her family was her priority. She said:

At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent.

Jobs come and go. Even if you think, “this is my company!” it’s no guarantee that the job will be there in a year. What will be with you is your family. If you sacrifice your family for your job, you may find yourself jobless and without a family. That’s no way to live. Put your family first.

5. She recognized the fun in things

I imagine being involved in politics would be physically and emotionally draining. You’re always on, always under pressure, always asking for money, and always have people who think you’re horrible. It doesn’t sound like the best way to live a life. But, Mrs. Bush described her time in the White House as  “I had the best job in America. Every single day was interesting, rewarding, and sometimes just plain fun.”

I would bet that there was a lot of hard work involved as well, but Mrs. Bush saw it as interesting, rewarding, and fun. How much better would our lives be if we looked for this in our own lives? It doesn’t mean that work doesn’t have to get done. It just means that she looked to the positive in life. 

These five things make life so much better–not just for ourselves, but for all of those around us. That’s a great example.

 

10 Easy Ways to Build Your Email List Today

The recent Facebook news of its data being comprised is a great reminder of how important it is for businesses to own the platform in which they communicate to their customers. In many cases, that’s in the form of an email.

Building your email list should be a top priority if your goal is to communicate regularly with your customers. Like phone numbers, though, convincing someone to give you their email address isn’t easy since no one wants to receive spam.

Here are ten easy ways to build your email list:

1. Get an accountability buddy.

Make it a competition and ask a non-competing business to grow your respective lists. At the end of each month, check in and see how much you’ve grown your list and what you’ve done.

2. Use social media.

For its recent ills, social media is still an important part of many of our marketing plans. It’d be foolish to abandon them right now. Include a link on all of your social media pages to your subscription page so your fans can opt in. Provide an incentive for them to share their emails. Some platforms (like Facebook) allow you to add this option through a third-party app.

3. Reconnect with inactive subscribers. 

Some email service providers are able to generate a list of recipients who haven’t opened your emails. Consider these your low-hanging fruit since they’ve opted in to receive your information. Ask them if the information you’re sending doesn’t appeal to them anymore or if it’s hitting their Spam box. It doesn’t do your company any good to boast a high number of subscribers if they’re not opening your emails. Having a cleaner list is more important. 

4. Sharing is caring. 

Does your email include carefully-curated content that might be of interest beyond the recipient? If so, ask if they’d consider sharing your email with someone else who might find the information useful. Aim to make one e-newsletter a month “share-worthy” and test its impact.

5. Blog.

Not all your content needs to be original. I often use my blog posts as email fodder, for example. It’s not only a time-saver, but provides richer content for an email which makes it more likely to be shared.

6. Do an email list exchange.

This can be tricky because it largely depends on how you acquired the emails. You don’t want to sell your list to another business since that’s often foolish and might be violating the terms with which you gathered those emails. However, you can offer to send an email from another business to your list (and encourage your customers to sign up for their emails) in exchange for the same courtesy by the other business.

Test this with a few businesses that complement yours and see if your list bump is worth exploring more of these opportunities. I’ve done this with a handful of business with great success, especially when our core target market is similar.

7. Business cards.

This inexpensive and small printed piece has been all but forsaken by many businesses, which is unfortunate since it’s also quite effective. If it’s too much trouble to add a “subscribe to our newsletter” message to your core business card, consider printing one where it’s the only message. I have one business card devoted to all of my social media accounts and to encourage people to subscribe to my email list. It’s a cost-effective and easy way to let customers know how to stay in contact with you.

8. Pitch yourself to podcast hosts. 

Podcast hosts are always looking for great people to interview and it’s often easier to get air time since there are so many great podcasts out there right now. While on, remind listeners they can sign up for your emails. Ask the host to include that information to their show notes online so customers can find you long after the podcast airs.

9. Ask for emails at every encounter. 

Ask for emails from attendees who come to special events, at check-out, on your blog, guest blog posts, any touch point that makes sense. Consider every opportunity to engage with customers as an opportunity to ask for their email address and remind them of the benefit of subscribing.

10. Welcome new subscribers.

If someone has gone through the trouble of sharing one of their most precious pieces of data with you, say thank you and welcome them. You can also use the opportunity to ask them if they have any friends who might appreciate the email as well. 

Building a solid email list for your business will take time and is something that doesn’t have an end date. It’s time well spent as it’s one of the best, easiest and cost-effective ways to communicate with your audience.

A Simple, Surprising Way for Leaders to Increase Employee Engagement

Every effective leader understands the importance of communicating with employees. But because most leaders concentrate on organization-wide communication like town hall meetings, email announcements and blog posts, they fail to take advantage of a crucial approach for engaging employees.

That approach? Informal small-group or one-on-one conversations.

“Town-hall meetings and other venues give employees a chance to hear from their leader, but they keep the leader at arm’s length,” says Colin Lange, North America executive director, brand engagement at  Landor, the brand consulting and design firm. “And the encounter is largely one-way: The leader talks and employees listen.”

In my experience, leaders concentrate on those formal venues because they think it’s the best use of their time; as one leader told me, “I’m so busy that I need to concentrate only on high-impact activities.”

But Lange explains that informal communication encounters–walking around, having 10-minute chats, asking a few people to have coffee, eating lunch in the cafeteria–are high-impact activities that improve employee engagement.

To understand why, it’s helpful to recall the work of Edgar Schein, former professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, whose book, Organizational Culture and Leadership, is recognized as essential on the topic. Schein explains that culture is experienced within an organization in three key ways: in observable artifacts, espoused values and basic underlying assumptions.

We’ll focus on “observable artifacts,” which Schein describes as an organization’s attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs–what it considers important and meaningful.

As Lange explains, when a leader has an informal interaction with an employee, that leader is sending a strong signal about culture–he/she is creating an “observable artifact.”

“By stopping and talking to an individual employee, you demonstrate that you are interested in what that person is working on and has to say,” says Lange.

Plus, those conversations show that you’re not on a pedestal or sequestered in the executive suite; you’re a regular human being who relates to other human beings. That connection builds trust.

And every informal encounter has “a ripple effect in the organization,” says Lange. “Other employees notice that leaders are interacting in a personal, caring way.”

All of that is important, but the value of those interactions doesn’t stop there. An informal conversation is not only meaningful to the employee, it’s a unique opportunity for you as a leader to gain perspectives that will help you be more successful.

Although you may feel like you spend every waking moment in meetings, you’re only exposed to a narrow group of people within the organization: usually other leaders, people who head functions and initiative owners. And many of those people are trying to impress you, so they carefully craft their messages to put a positive spin on things.

But by reaching out to all levels of employees, you have the opportunity to get fresh viewpoints on what’s happening throughout the organization. People are more likely to be candid in one-one-one or small-group conversations, especially when your focus is on observing what they do and listening to them.

Lange tells the story of a company headquartered in Chicago that appointed a new CEO. A few weeks after the CEO came on board, she paid a visit to the company’s second largest location in the New York City area.

“The CEO walked into the office and went immediately to the large conference room, where she stayed all day,” he says. “She had a series of meetings at which department heads presented their plans and progress. At lunchtime, food was brought in and the meetings continued throughout the afternoon.”

The CEO probably thought the day was productive, but she missed an important opportunity, says Lange. “She would have demonstrated her openness and interest in listening if she had simply walked around the office and chatted with people. Even better, she could have visited the cafeteria for 30 minutes and eaten her salad while getting to know some team members.

“And, by asking the right questions, the CEO could have learned some things about the company that she didn’t hear by talking only to leaders.”

Morgan Stanley profit jumps 40% on trading boost

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This is a blowout year for earnings: Brian Wesbury

First Trust Advisors Chief Economist Brian Wesbury on the outlook for stocks.

(Reuters) – Morgan Stanley posted a better-than-expected first-quarter profit on Wednesday, as its trading business drew strength from increased market volatility in line with other major banks.

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Sales and trading revenue at the United States’ sixth biggest bank rose 26 percent in the quarter, driven by strong gains in equities trading.

Strength in wealth management also helped overall profit and the bank’s shares rose nearly 2 percent in premarket trading.

After a subdued 2017, volatility has returned to global financial markets, roiling stocks, bonds, currencies and commodities on fears of a trade war between the United States and China as well as concerns about inflation.

This has led to big revenue gains at banks with sizable trading operations such as Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc in the latest quarter.

Morgan Stanley’s total trading revenue was $4.40 billion, slightly better than Goldman’s $4.39 billion.

Morgan Stanley’s bond trading revenue rose 9.3 percent on increased client activity after several sluggish quarters, in contrast to rivals JPMorgan Chase Co. and Citigroup Inc.

Wealth management revenue rose 7.8 percent while pretax profit margin came in at 27 percent, the mid-point of Chief Executive Officer James Gorman’s target of 26 percent to 28 percent.

Under Gorman, Morgan Stanley has been relying more on businesses that generate steady fees, like wealth management, after its risk-taking nearly capsized it during the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

Investment banking revenue rose 6.8 percent, helped by higher advisory fees, while total underwriting revenue rose 2 percent.

For comparison, Goldman’s investment banking revenue grew 5 percent, while total underwriting revenue rose 27 percent.

Morgan Stanley’s total revenue rose 13.7 percent to $11.08 billion.

The bank’s net income applicable to common shareholders rose 40 percent to $2.58 billion in the first quarter ended March 31.

On a per-share basis, the company’s earnings rose to $1.45 from $1. Analysts were looking for $1.25 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

(Reporting By Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

Abu Dhabi’s Warner Bros. indoor amusement park opens in July

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Abu Dhabi will open a $1 billion indoor Warner Bros. amusement park this July, officials announced Wednesday, the latest offering in a crowded market in the United Arab Emirates where one marquee park already faces serious financial problems.

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The Warner Bros. World park, built by the Abu Dhabi government-owned Miral Asset Management, encompasses 1.65 million square feet (153,290 square meters) on Yas Island, a leisure destination for the Emirati capital.

Officials say the draw of the Warner Bros. brand, encompassing cartoons and comic books, will help them overcome the challenges faced by other theme parks in the Emirates, including a Dubai park that lost $300 million last year.

“This is history, a hundred year’s history, when we talk about Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman,” said Mohamed Khalifa al-Mubarak, the chairman of both Miral and Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism. “It’s something we grew up with, our parents grew up with and our children will grow up with. In this theme park, you will be part of their world.”

The large park looks like a big-box department store from the outside, though its bright yellow paint and massive stencils of Tweety bird and other characters give it away. Inside, the park is separated into Bedrock of “The Flintstones'” fame, Superman’s Metropolis, Batman’s Gotham City, Cartoon Junction and Yosemite Sam’s Dynamite Gulch. Only two of the park’s 29 rides have height restrictions.

Being inside also helps. Summertime temperatures easily reach above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) with high humidity across the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula.

The park, opening July 25, will sell tickets from 290 dirhams ($79) for adults and 230 dirhams ($63) for children.

However, there has been trouble for other amusement park projects in the Emirates.

Dubai Parks Resorts opened a massive park worth over $3 billion in 2016 along the dusty highway connecting Dubai to Abu Dhabi. Featuring a Legoland, a movie-themed Motiongate park, a Bollywood park, a hotel and shopping district, the massive investment is majority-owned by Meraas, a firm backed by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

But the park, whose biggest foreign shareholders include sovereign wealth funds in Qatar and Kuwait, posted a loss of 1.1 billion dirhams ($300 million) in 2017. Its stock dropped by half from a high of 1.01 dirhams (27 cents) to 45 fils (12 cents) a share over the last year.

In the time since, the park has changed CEOs, sought a freeze on loan repayments for three years and fired nearly a third of its staff. It says its strategy is working and is likely pinning much of its hopes on the 25 million people it anticipates coming to the area as part of the 2020 World Expo, or world’s fair.

Dubai Parks Resorts told The Associated Press on Wednesday it still planned to finish a planned Six Flags expansion by next year and that “2017 is not reflective of the full potential of the destination.”

“The company has received support from its financing partners as well as its majority shareholder who maintain their conviction in the long-term prospects of the business,” the park said in a statement.

Dubai hosts another indoor park similar to Warner Bros. called IMG Worlds of Adventure, which opened in August 2016. That park, owned by a private company called the Ilyas and Mustafa Galadari Group that doesn’t publicly disclose its earnings, did not respond to a request for comment.

Al-Mubarak made a point to say the Warner Bros. park would be “the world’s biggest indoor theme park,” a claim previously made by IMG Worlds of Adventure, which is 1.5 million square feet (140,000 square meters).

Asked at a news conference about Dubai Parks Resorts’ $300 million loss last year, al-Mubarak said he believed the Warner Bros. park had “a sustainable business plan.”

“It is a business plan that’s not based on an optimistic perspective,” he said.

Al-Mubarak said he’d elaborate after the news conference. Staff at the Warner Bros. park later declined to make any official available to speak to the AP.

The Warner Bros. park does benefit from being on Yas Island, already home to the Ferrari World theme park, Abu Dhabi’s Formula 1 race track, a large mall and a waterpark. Both Dubai theme parks are further out in the desert, away from other attractions.

However, such attractions could face a new challenge in coming years. Typically, Dubai and other UAE destinations rely heavily on tourism from other countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional bloc encompassing Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Already, the ongoing Qatar diplomatic crisis has stopped visitors from Doha coming into the UAE. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia under its assertive 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is rapidly loosening social more in the ultraconservative kingdom. Wednesday night, it planned to a private screening of the Hollywood blockbuster “Black Panther” to mark the reopening of cinemas after a 35-year absence.

Saudi Arabia separately signed an agreement earlier this month with Grand Prairie, Texas-based amusement park chain Six Flags to open a park near the capital, Riyadh, in 2022.

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Online:

Warner Bros. park: www.wbworldabudhabi.com

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Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellap . His work can be found at http://apne.ws/2galNpz .

Target stores offering drive-up service in Florida, Texas

Target stores in Florida and Texas are now offering drive-up service.

The retail chain announced Tuesday customers can buy items without leaving their car.

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The service began last fall in Minneapolis, where the company is headquartered. Target hopes to expand the service to nearly 1,000 stores across the U.S. by the end of the year.

Orders can be placed with the Target mobile app and should be ready in less than two hours. Customers then park in designated spots outside the store and employees bring out the orders.

Other states with Target’s drive-up service are Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

Walmart officers a similar drive-up service for groceries at some locations, but Target’s service applies to any in-stock items at the store.

Both retailers have previously offered in-store pickup.

Wayfair follows Amazon with its own made-up holiday: Way Day

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Amazon started Prime Day. Alibaba capitalized on Singles Day. Now another e-commerce company is hoping for success with an invented shopping holiday.

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Online furniture seller Wayfair is calling April 25 Way Day and will offer discounts that it says are comparable to its Black Friday deals.

Those kind of days are a tactic online retailers use to try to increase customer excitement and boost sales. Amazon launched Prime Day in 2015 to mark its 20th anniversary and has brought it back every July since. Singles Day was started in the 1990s by Chinese college students as a version of Valentine’s Day for people without dates, but it has since been closely linked with Alibaba, which adopted it as a shopping event about a decade ago. Both have become windfalls for the companies.

Wayfair, which is much smaller than Amazon and Alibaba, says it’s holding Way Day in the spring when people tend to move or clean out their houses and may be looking to buy new home goods. It has also seen more competition from Amazon, Target and Walmart, which are selling more furniture online than in the past.

The Boston-based company says Way Day may return next year if it performs well.

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Follow Joseph Pisani at http://twitter.com/josephpisani