Posts tagged with "American Dream"

Toys‘R’Us, once bankrupt, plans new flagship stores

October 3, 2023

WHP Global, the parent company of Toys“R”Us, announced on Friday, September 29, that it plans to open up to two dozen flagship stores nationwide starting next year, along with shops in airports and cruise ships, reports The New York Times.

Toys“R”Us, the once ubiquitous chain that drew generations of children with its signature primary colors and its Geoffrey the Giraffe mascot, will attempt a comeback six years after filing for bankruptcy.

WHP Global—which acquired a controlling stake of Toys“R”Us in 2021—says that, in addition to the new brick-and-mortar stores, Toys“R”Us also will open shops in airports and on cruise ships through a partnership with Go! Retail Group.

The first airport shop will open in early November in Terminal A of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world, ahead of the holiday shopping season, the company said.

Yehuda Shmidman, the CEO of WHP Global, said in a statement that Toys“R”Us “is growing fast and our expansion into air, land and sea is a testament to the brand’s strength.”

WHP Global—which also owns brands such as Anne Klein, Joseph Abboud, and Bonobos—did not say where the flagship stores would open. A spokesperson for the company said that “prime locations” were being identified.

Toys“R”Us signaled the start of an attempt at a comeback in 2021, when it opened a 20,000 square feet flagship store at American Dream mall in New Jersey. After that, Toys “R” Us launched 452 mini-shops inside Macy’s stores across the United States.

The comeback attempt for Toys “R” Us comes during what has been a difficult time for brick-and-mortar stores, with many closing in the past several years as they have had to contend with the continued growth of e-commerce followed by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lars Perner, an assistant professor of Clinical Marketing at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, says he would not have predicted a return of flagship Toys“R”Us stores—noting, “It’s very much of a contrarian kind of strategy when you see so many others pulling back from your brick-and-mortar retailers.”

It’s possible, Perner says, that nostalgia could play a role in driving business for the new flagship stores.

Many parents and children born after 1957 likely have fond memories of wandering giant Toys“R”Us stores filled with everything from scooters to video games to dolls and action figures

“If you have people who got gifts from Toys‘R’Us when they were growing up and now have their own children, there could be some appeal,” Perner says.

Research contact: @nytimes

Elissa Slotkin announces Senate run

February 28, 2023

Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan) is running for the Michigan Senate seat being vacated by retiring Senator Debbie Stabenow. “We need a new generation of leaders that thinks differently, works harder, and never forgets that we are public servants,” Slotkin said in a video announcing her 2024 Senate run, reports Politico.

Slotkin is one of the first candidates to enter the race since Stabenow announced in January that she would not seek a fifth term—teeing up a high-stakes contest that could ultimately determine the balance of power in the Senate. Slotkin has since been gradually and methodically preparing for an announcement, according to two Democrats with knowledge of her campaign strategy.

Although the state has a strong bench of potential candidates—including Attorney General Dana Nessel, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Representative Debbie Dingell—Slotkin already is emerging as the “consensus candidate” among the state’s Democratic leadership, according to a senior Democrat in Michigan.

On the GOP side, Nikki Snyder, a Republican State Board of Education member, announced her run for Stabenow’s seat earlier in February. Other potential Republican candidates include former Representative Pete Meijer, one of a handful of Republicans who voted in 2021 to impeach former President Donald Trump; and former Representative Mike Rogers, who served as chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. If Meijer runs, Democrats are banking on Trump resurfacing to campaign against him, as happened in the 2022 midterm election.

The 46-year-old Slotkin has won three races in a row in one of the toughest and most expensive congressional districts in the country. While the district lines have been redrawn, Slotkin’s central Michigan district was originally the same one Stabenow represented before being elected to the Senate. A mix of suburban and rural areas just northwest of Detroit, the GOP had held the seat for 20 years before Slotkin flipped it blue.

“I think she will turn out to be the clear consensus candidate among Democratic leadership. She has a very strong organization, great credentials and a national fundraising network. Very few people have that anywhere and in Michigan,” said a top Democrat with knowledge of discussions among top state officials.

Would-be competitors have in recent days announced that they will not seek the seat, including Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist and state Senator Mallory McMorrow. Benson, likewise, has said she’s “happy” in her current job and is considered more likely to have her eyes on the governor’s mansion, according to the top Democrat who has spoken directly with her.

In her campaign video, the Slotkin touted her background at the CIA, doing three tours in Iraq alongside the U.S. military, and her time working at the White House. She also pointed to the Michigan “values” she was raised under, of coming together at times of crisis, being able to live a middle class lifestyle, and of pursuing the “American dream.”

“Look, we all know America is going through something right now. We seem to be living crisis to crisis,” Slotkin said. “But there are certain things that should be really simple, like living a middle class life in the state that invented the middle class.”

Research contact: @politico

Biden raises limit on number of refugees allowed into the U.S.A.

May 5, 2021

President Joe Biden on Monday, May 3, offered a chance at the American dream to more than four times as many immigrants as he had offered to admit previously—exceeding former President Donald Trump’s limit of 15,000 refugees to allow as many as 62,500 refugees to enter the United States during the next six months, The New York Times reported.

The action comes about two weeks after Biden announced that he was leaving Trump’s limit of 15,000 refugees in place—which drew widespread condemnation from Democrats and refugee advocates,  who accused the president of reneging on a campaign promise to welcome those in need.

According to the Times report, Biden quickly backtracked, promising only hours later that he intended to increase refugee admissions. With Monday’s announcement, the president formally bowed to the pressure.

“This erases the historically low number set by the previous administration of 15,000, which did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees,” Biden said in a statement issued by the White House.

His sharp reversal underscored the difficulty he has had on issues involving immigration since taking office. The president has struggled to unwind what he calls Trump’s “racist” immigration policies while also managing a surge of migrant children at the southwestern border, according to the Times. His initial hesitation to allow tens of thousands of additional refugees into the country was a recognition that he was already being criticized for failing to stem the flow of illegal immigration from Central America.

Over the past four years, efforts by Trump to limit the entry of refugees were among the most potent symbols of the United States’ decision to turn away from its decades-long role as the leading destination for displaced people around the globe.

During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden promised to restore the country’s reputation for welcoming those seeking safety, saying he would allow as many as 125,000 refugees to enter in his first full year in office. He took a step toward that goal in February, promising to allow as many as 62,500 refugees into the United States for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends September 30.

So an announcement on April 16 that he was keeping the Trump-era limits in place for the time being was all the more baffling for those expecting a significant increase.

White House officials have insisted that ,Biden’s intentions in mid-April were misunderstood. The president says he always intended to raise the refugee cap, “should the pre-existing level be reached and the emergency refugee situation persist.” The Biden administration has resettled roughly 2,360 refugees out of the initial mandate of 15,000, according to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, a resettlement agency.

Administration officials also argued that increasing refugee admissions could overwhelm the Department of Health and Human Services, which also is responding to thousands of young asylum seekers crossing the border.

That logic, which was also adopted by the Trump Administration to sharply cut refugee numbers, drew criticism from refugee advocates, who accused Biden of conflating two different immigration systems.

While the Department of Health and Human Services does provide shelter to minors who cross the border, it plays a smaller role in processing refugees compared with the Departments of State and Homeland Security. The Department of Health and Human Services does eventually provide financial assistance to refugees after they arrive in the United States.

In his statement on Monday, Biden appeared to acknowledge that he had fumbled his handling of the issue by sending the wrong signal to the world, noting, “The United States Refugee Admissions Program embodies America’s commitment to protect the most vulnerable, and to stand as a beacon of liberty and refuge to the world,” he said. “It’s a statement about who we are, and who we want to be.”

Still, Mr. Biden acknowledged that the government was unlikely to reach the limit of 62,500 refugees—blaming budget and staffing cuts during the Trump administration. But he said the decision to raise the limit was necessary “to remove any lingering doubt in the minds of refugees around the world” that the United States would help them.

“The sad truth is that we will not achieve 62,500 admissions this year,” the president said. “We are working quickly to undo the damage of the last four years. It will take some time, but that work is already underway.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Americans again aspire to own homes

November 14, 2017

Nationally, about two-thirds of both Republicans (65.71) and Democrats (68.7%) agree that owning a home is necessary to live the American Dream, according to findings of a Zillow Housing Aspirations Report released on November 10.

The biannual survey found that 73% of  Republicans and Democrats believe that owning a home increases a person’s standing in the local community.

In line with these opinions, national homeownership rates are returning from a historical low point following the housing crisis—a signal that the recession did not fundamentally harm overall sentiment toward homeownership. Millennials, who delayed homeownership but are finally buying homes, are the generation most likely to say homeownership is part of the American Dream, regardless of political affiliation.

“In a time of political division, these survey results remind us of something most Americans share – the sense that owning a home is a big part of living the American Dream,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. “Home ownership — and its ability to create wealth, stability, and community – doesn’t depend on political affiliation. As we debate the national and local politics surrounding affordability and tax reform, it’s worthwhile to pause and remember a value most of us can agree on.”

Los Angeles is one of the least affordable housing markets in the country, and nearly half of the survey respondents expect they will have to wait at least three years to buy a home. However, Los Angeles residents are more likely than residents of other large metropolitan areas to say that owning a home is necessary to live the American Dream, with 72% of respondents agreeing with the statement.

In Las Vegas, home values are still 23.3% below the peak values set during the housing bubblei, and 15.9% of homeowners still are underwater on their mortgagesiii. Despite this, 67% of respondents agree that homeownership is essential to the American Dream.

The survey also revealed that even amidst rapidly rising home values, 91% of Republicans and 89.6% of Democrats are confident that they will be able to stay in their current homes as long as they would like.

The Zillow Housing Aspirations Report is a semi-annual survey sponsored by Zillow and conducted by Ipsos. It asks 10,000 renters and homeowners in 20 metropolitan areas nationwide about their views on homeownership and their personal housing expectations for the future.

Research contact: @SvenjaGudell