Category — Marc Joseph
In the United States, one in five children live in a household with not enough food to eat. Feeding America reports that 15.9 million kids under the age of 18 live in this condition where they are unable to consistently access nutritious and adequate amounts of food necessary for a healthy life. Last month Congress passed a sweeping that cut an additional $8.6 billion from food stamps (SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) over the next 10 years. This is on top of the $5 billion the program lost last November because the 2009 Recovery Act stimulus bill expired. Forty-seven million Americans currently participate in SNAP, up 47 percent since the Great Recession started in 2008. This means that 15 percent of us rely on this program to eat. Last year the US spent $78 billion on the SNAP program.
We don’t have to be math whizzes to know that a 47 percent increase in participation coupled with a reduction in the funding of $13.6 billion spells misery for millions of Americans. This program has been the federal social safety net for low-income Americans and now this safety net is beginning to tear.
The New York Times reports that more and more people are beginning to show up at soup kitchens and food pantries. The first reduction in November cut out 23 meals per month for a family of four. In New York City, the number of people seeking food aid grew by 85 percent after the November cuts while 23 percent of the city’s food pantries and soup kitchens reduced the number of meals they provided. Food stamps were the signature program of President Johnson’s War on Poverty during the 1960s which led to fewer poor children going hungry or having nutrition related developmental delays. Birth weights also grew for children of poor mothers on food stamps. As a nation, we can’t afford to go back to the nutritional standards before the War on Poverty.
Luckily for us, our nonprofit organizations are stepping in and have created food banks to help fill the void continually shaped by Congress. The world’s first food bank started in 1967, right after the War on Poverty began. St. Mary’s Food Bank was started by John Van Hengel who was volunteering at St. Vincent DePaul in Phoenix, Arizona, serving dinners to those in need. A mother told him the soup kitchens and grocery store dumpsters were the only way she could feed her children. John went to the local parish, St. Mary’s Basilica and shared his vision of collecting food and money for food and depositing it where those in need could withdraw it. They gave John $3,000 and an abandoned building to get the food bank up and running. Today food banks touch just about every corner of the USA.
For example, Ozarks Food Harvest, one of the Feeding America food banks in Springfield, MO, distributes food to 320 hunger relief organizations across 29 Missouri counties reaching 41,000 people a month. To help hungry children, they have a weekend backpack program, where they fill 1,500 backpacks with food so these underprivileged kids can have something to eat when they can’t eat at school. How can you not love an organization that takes care of others every day of the week!
The State of Kentucky is setting an example for the rest of government in how to encourage its citizens to help others. Its legislature has made it easier for Kentuckians to donate to the Farms to Food Banks Program by just checking a box on their state tax returns to have part of their tax refunds to automatically go to this program which brings farm food directly into the food banks. This is how the government should behave in inspiring it citizenship to help each other.
Once again, we as individuals must step in to fill the gap recently created by our Congress. If you can’t devote your time, start by helping with cash to donate for food to our food banks. Here is a link to all the Feeding America Food Banks in your area. Here is a link to helping Meals On Wheels, which brings together 5,000 local nutritional programs for seniors and deliver over 1 million meals a day. And at DollarDays on our Facebook page, we are giving away $5,000 in food and products to local food banks, so make sure you nominate the one in your town.
General Motors Foundation last month donated $500,000 to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen serving the people of metro Detroit. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Florida recently donated $250,000 to the Florida Association of Food Banks. The Alaska Federal Credit Union donated money to 17 food banks. Businesses with a conscience are beginning to step up to fill this massive void, but so far there is too big a gap to fill. We have got to make up the billions of dollars lost to support those in the most need in this new order of priorities created by Congress. We as citizens of this fine country need to create a new grass roots effort for this latest War on Poverty. Having 47 million Americans in need of food is not the country our forefathers envisioned. It is also not the country we want to leave to our children.
March 4, 2014 No Comments
by Marc Joseph, CEO of DollarDays; reprinted from The Huffington Post
The compromise spending bill for $1.1 trillion keeps the government open through September, according to CNN. It increases funding to Head Start by $1 billion for early childhood education which makes sense after its recent low point with the forced budget cuts last year. It increases the paychecks of federal workers and military personnel by one percent. It reduces funding to the IRS and Environmental Protection Agency. It launches policies at getting more low-risk passengers through security quicker at airports. So it has a little bit in it for just about everyone. But once again, Congress is kicking the can down the road because we are going to have this same contentious conversation next fall when this extension expires.
The New York Times broke down the cost of this new budget per each US resident: $259 goes to food stamps now known as SNAP, $61 goes to the child school lunch program, $30 goes for crop insurance and $40 to loans and direct payments to farmers, $2,672 covers Social Security and $1,591 for Medicare, $26 goes to the FBI and $22 to the Federal prison system.
These budget impasses remind me of the movie “Groundhog Day,” where we wake up and repeat the same mistake month after month, year after year. There has got to be some innovative thinkers outside and inside of government that can get us out of this rut of repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
One big idea is coming from Ron Unz according to USA Today. Mr. Unz is a Silicon Valley multimillionaire and registered Republican, who is pushing a California proposal to boost the minimum pay rate to $12 an hour. Unz believes that taxpayers, for too long, have been subsidizing low wages since the government pays for food stamps and other programs these workers utilize. He feels raising the minimum wage to $12 would lift millions of people out of poverty, driving up income and sales tax revenue; at the same time saving taxpayers billions of dollars, since these workers would no longer qualify for many of the welfare benefits.
Another big idea came out of Chicago under the leadership of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. He created the small business center in City Hall last spring to streamline small business services. The city has reduced the number of business licenses from 117 to 49, which has saved small businesses $700,000 in just the last 6 months. Chicago is phasing out the Head Tax which saved small businesses $4.8 million in 2013. This is just an example of how cities can cut through the red tape to not only make its citizens’ lives easier, but to actually save money.
TOMS is a for profit company that whenever it sells a pair of its shoes, another pair of shoes is given to an impoverished child. Additionally, when TOMS sells a pair of eyewear, part of the profit goes to help restoring sight in those who need help, and according to their site, “helping to restore sight restores independence, economic potential and educational opportunity.” They have taken the “giving back” theory a step further and last fall launched TOMS Marketplace , that gives socially conscious suppliers a platform to sell products that help support causes ranging from education and health to nutrition and clean water.
Most organizations don’t have the resources like the city of Chicago or TOMS to help make a major impact in changing our country or making our Federal Budget a non-issue. The largest charity in the US is the United Way which is a network of 1,800 United Way communities and manages $4.26 billion. They “envision a world where all individuals and families achieve their human potential through education, income stability and healthy lives.” The second largest is the Salvation Army, that manages $4.08 billion to carry out their mission of “to feed, to clothe, to comfort and to care.” These budgets seem small compared to the $1.1 trillion Federal Budget, yet they do take some pressure off the government in taking care of everything the underprivileged need. I guess it is up to all of us to do our best to relieve some of this pressure. At DollarDays on our Facebookpage, we are giving away hundreds of flip flops (the TOMS model inspired us) to organizations who help kids in need, so make sure you nominate a worthy organization.
Sometimes I think we put too much faith in our government that they will take care of pushing our economy forward as well as taking care of those most in need. Gallup Poll just reported that just 13% of Americans approve the job Congress is doing. If that was the approval rating in any other part of our society, they would all be gone. This is the group we must rely on next fall to permanently fix our day to day operations of our government. Based on their recent history, I am skeptical this will happen. That is why the rest of us have to step up with the “big ideas” to make our civilization work with or without our government’s support.
February 6, 2014 No Comments
The weather this past December not only played havoc on retail sales, but ruined many holiday celebrations by causing electrical outages, undelivered packages and relatives unable to travel to be with family. CBN news reports that December brought the coldest weather some areas have seen in decades. I don’t think global warming was a factor this December. In fact this year a reading of 135.8 degrees below zero was measured in Antarctica, which is the lowest temperature ever recorded on earth, so even though the cold ruined the holidays for many retailers and families, in comparison to other places on earth, the USA made it through—but wait until January which is set to look much like December’s weather.
With this extreme weather we are having, I just can’t imagine what it would be like to be homeless during this time. USA Today reported on a financial advisor, Isaac Simon, who on Tuesday evenings for the last six years in Manhattan, packs his white van with soup, bagels, milk and oranges and drives into areas where the homeless gather. He also has clothes to help those less fortunate. When you think that New York City, one of the wealthiest cities in the world, has a census in their homeless shelters of 51,000 which happens to be the entire population of Charleston, the capital of West Virginia, you know America has a problem that we can’t just sweep under the rug. With that many people in need, we need hundreds of Isaac Simons to help just in Manhattan alone.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the US Conference of Mayors survey of 25 large and midsize cities indicates that homelessness and hunger have increased and are expected to continue to rise in 2014. The poverty rate in the US of 15% is still near the Great Recession’s high of 15.1%. In Los Angeles, 20,000 people sleep on the streets every night and 2,000 of them are families or children living on their own. Homelessness has increased by 26% in LA since last year. Chicago reported an 11.4% increase in the number of homeless families since last year. This survey also reported that 21% of people needing emergency food assistance could not get help.
In my city of Phoenix, nonprofit organizations and government are acutely aware of the issues facing the poor. We have St. Vincent De Paul serving over 3,600 meals a day to the homeless and families in need. We have the city helping homeless vets to find places to live off the streets. Two years ago, the city identified 222 chronically homeless veterans, of which more than half served in Vietnam. Our mayor, Greg Stanton announced right before Christmas that the final 56 veterans were placed in housing. This happened because the city council allocated an additional $100,000 in November to accelerate the efforts to help homeless vets.
President Obama’s administration has pledged to eliminate homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015, but it looks like time is running short unless cities and states get involved like Phoenix has. The Washington Post talks about the state of Massachusetts and the Department of Veteran Affairs have put aside dollars to hire veterans, some formerly homeless themselves, to help get veterans off the streets in Boston. They spend one day a week roaming the city’s storefronts, alleys and shelters seeking out these homeless veterans. The rest of the week is spent making sure those put into housing stay the course.
Now that the holidays are over, we as a society begin to focus back on our own needs in January. Whether it is finding a gym to get back in shape, or a diet to lose the holiday pounds, our attention naturally shifts away from those who need our help 365 days a year. Homelessness is not just the responsibility of our government; it is all of our communal responsibility whether it is in the dead of winter or the heat of summer. Obviously volunteering is the best way to get involved, but if you don’t have the gumption of Isaac Simon or the political prowess of Mayor Stanton, then helping out with donated money is a high priority. There are several organizations to support. The National Homeless Coalition, The Salvation Army and The Gospel Rescue Mission all make homelessness their priorities. And at DollarDays on our Facebook page, we are giving away blankets to help those in need, so make sure you nominate a worthy organization.
Maybe what we should all do is what the Lakewood Congregational Church Youth Foundation in northern Ohio does and has been doing for years. On a night in January, they sleep in cardboard boxes outside in the bitter cold and spend the evening seeking donations from community member passing by to help less fortunate families. If that does not wake up the younger generation to the needs of the homeless, then nothing will. Can you imagine if in every city in every state, we all give up the comforts of our homes for one night to experience the immorality of homelessness, what that would do for the psyche of America? I am sure that if we addressed this issue on a grass roots level and all woke up the next morning freezing cold and hungry, our ineffective congress would hear our collective voices saying enough is enough, and Congress would reverse the recent cuts in food stamps, show compassion with the new congressional budget deal and help those who need unemployment benefits. Wouldn’t that be a way to start off 2014…
December 31, 2013 No Comments
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and started in 2010 Small Business Saturday. November and December sales represent as much as 40% of yearly retail stores sales according to the National Retail Federation. Because Thanksgiving is falling so late in the calendar, there are six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This squeeze in shopping days has not happened to retailers since 2002. On top of that, you have Chanukah falling on Thanksgiving which last happened in 1888 and won’t happen again during our lifetime. This leaves only 26 shopping days left to buy stuff and Chanukah in the rear view mirror, so you can’t count on those sales, either. Can small businesses, who many are teetering on survival with the lackluster retail year, that saw bumps along the way like sequestration and a 16 day government shutdown, actually survive into 2014?
Who are these small business owners that may not be around next year? One section is immigrants who since the beginning of America have been the backbone of small business retailers. In Europe for centuries there has been a merchant class that had a long history of selling products into established clientele. Many laws in Europe protect these small retailers against bigger competitors. In America, the desire to throw yourself whole heartedly into your business by putting in long hours and becoming a beacon where relatives follow you and work for you to have room and board, is part of the price of entry into retailing for many of our immigrants. Much like the family farm over the last 150 years on the American frontier, it has become the family store for the immigrant classes to start their life in the New World.
Another section of small business retailers who have emerged are entrepreneurs who are pursuing their dream. Some may have worked for big stores and felt they could do it better. Others may be following an idea they have been honing since they first started shopping. These entrepreneurs are disciplined and are focused on making their business work. These individuals are confident and don’t ask questions about whether they can succeed or are even worthy of success, because they know their business will succeed. They are open minded knowing that every situation is a business opportunity. These entrepreneurs are self-starters, knowing that if something needs to be done, they have the ability to start it themselves. They are competitive, knowing they can do it better than anyone else. They are creative and can make a connection between seemingly unrelated events. But most of all they are passionate and genuinely love the products they sell in their stores
We know we have to support small businesses. The government has an important division known as the US Small Business Administration. Retired successful business people know that our small businesses must survive so they have formed SCORE (service core of retired executives) whose mission is to mentor and grow small businesses across America, one business at a time. At DollarDays on our Facebook page, we are giving away $5,000 in products to small businesses across the country, so make sure you nominate your favorite local business.
Americans have tried to not forget about their neighbors running the small businesses in their towns. In 2012 when Small Business Saturday fell on November 24, $5.5 Billion was spent at small businesses. 100 Million People participated in Small Business Saturday last year, but obviously this number is surpassed by the 247 million who shopped on Black Friday. Retailers know that an increase in sales cures most problems and evidently a decrease in sales creates most problems. None of us want to see more and more of these small businesses going out of business. But unless all of us step up and buy locally rather than have these local dollars go to an unknown chain corporate office outside of our city, we will see more and more of our neighbors’ businesses disappear. Local retailers give a city its character. When you think America is the true melting pot of characters, we have to support small businesses.
December 2, 2013 No Comments
by Marc Joseph, reprinted from The Huffington Post
The partial government shutdown for 16 days caused some Americans to lose hope in our democratic way of life. If our elected officials can’t get along, what does that say about how the normal citizen can get along with their neighbors? If we can’t take care of ourselves and the basic functions of daily living, how can we even expect that we can take care of others?
Why is it acceptable to hurt so many people, most of who do not deserve it? Even though Congress postponed the inevitable with the recent passage of the funding of the government and raising the debt ceiling, both issues were just kicking the can down the road until January 15, 2014 for the budget and February 7, 2014 for the debt ceiling. Through all of this, the country forgot about the sequestration that started on March 1, 2013. As reported in the Washington Post, the impact of this sequester has become very harsh to those in our society in the most need. During this fiscal year, the effect on domestic programs is quite severe. Head Start will be cutting an additional 177,000 children from their program which helps young children from low-income families develop. President Johnson started this program as part of his War on Poverty back in 1965. Since then 30 million children have participated. In addition to the suffering we are inflicting on Head Start, 1.3 million fewer students will receive Title I education assistance, which distributes funding to schools with a high percentage of students from low-income families. This is another program that came out President Johnson’s War on Poverty and was renewed with President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” Act in 2001. On top of all of this we are inflicting on our children, there will be 9,000 fewer special education staff in our classrooms and $291 million less for child-care subsidies for working families.
This no action on the sequestration not only affects kids, it is affecting other parts of our society. 760,000 fewer households will receive less heating and cooling assistance under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. $2 billion less is being sent to the National Institutes of Health which corresponds with 1,300 fewer research grants. And it goes on and on with what we are not doing.
We are approaching another holiday season, but it sure does not feel too festive after living through these 16 days of dysfunction. But the spirit of America seems to be alive even though our leaders can’t get along. The boots on the ground Americans are rising above the fray in Washington D.C. to help those who need help. WGGB in Springfield, MA reports the “Coats for Kids” campaign has begun to collect gently used coats to help families in need. The Salvation Army has been doing this campaign to help those who need it most for 33 years. WKRC in Cincinnati reports how local law enforcement officers are getting child seats into the hands of those who cannot afford them so all children will be safer on the roads of Southwest Ohio. The Coshocton Tribune reports about the “Rags to Riches Clothing Drive” where Ridgewood Elementary has taken the lead in helping to collect clothes for the underprivileged children in their town in Ohio.
Helping others who are struggling is a core American value that in every town across America has to get stronger with the lack of leadership out of Washington. Volunteering is great, but we are at a point that people will not survive unless all of us step in to help financially. We have all seen an image of the Great Depression in the 1930′s where America looked like a third world country and none of us have the desire to see that again in 2014. Most communities have The Salvation Army and The United Way where you can donate locally. Nationally the Children’s Defense Fund and Kids in Distressed Situations help get the funds where they are most needed. And at DollarDays on our Facebook page, we are giving away $5,000 in products to families in need.
NBC reported that 950 miles west of Capitol Hill, Marion, Iowa mothers have stepped in to help low income mothers who depend on the federally funded nutrition program for women, infants and children (WIC). They are handing out baby food, formula and cereal to those who used to rely on the government to help them. This scene needs to repeat itself in every city and town across America. We have to take care of each other now, because with the current chaos in Washington, we can’t count on our government to take care of those most in need.
November 12, 2013 No Comments
by Marc Joseph
Auctions have been an integral piece of the Internet since the beginning. AuctionWeb (which became eBay) was founded in San Jose, California in 1995 by French born Iranian-American computer programmer Pierre Omidyar. One of the first items sold on AuctionWeb was a broken laser pointer. When Pierre called the buyer to ask why he bought a broken product, the buyer told him he was a collector of broken laser pointers. This answer helped reinforce the idea that the Internet was made up of lots of little niches of interest and a robust auction site could bring them all together.
As eBay grew, so did the fees that were charged the sellers (those listing products). EBay generates revenues from all kinds of fees. There are fees to list a product. There are fees when the products sell and optional marketing fees to sell products. To the long time sellers on eBay, the increase of fees over the years has become quite disheartening. So out of this frustration, several alternative auction sites sprang up.
The auction site DollarDays sees as the fairest site for both buyers and sellers is http://dollardays.com/landing/auction . Sellers pay only $8 a month and they get a free storefront and can list up to 8,000 products. Sellers don’t have to worry about any other hidden charges. This site seems the best way to move overstocks, shelf pulls, leftovers and end of season inventory. Hundreds of thousands of interesting products from coins to collectibles help drive committed buyers to this site.
As a seller, the other way to move your products through Internet sales is to get involved in marketplaces. Online ecommerce marketplaces are sites where the platform of a site containing sellers products, is provided by third parties and transactions are processed by these third party marketplace operators. Some of the most well-known include Amazon, Newegg and Rakuten (previously known as buy.com) If you own your own products, all you need to do is contact these sites directly and add your products. These sites take a percentage of all sales, so make sure you have built enough margins into your pricing to cover these expenses. If you don’t own your own goods and want to sell on these sites, become involved in a drop shipping program which is a technique where you do not keep the inventory in stock, but transfer customer orders and shipment details to a company like a manufacturer or wholesaler who stocks the goods and ships directly to your customer. I obviously recommend our drop shipping program at http://www.dollardays.com/aboutus/dropship.htm
Don’t kid yourself. Both listing and selling products for auctions and marketplaces takes work. The philosophy of “build it and they will come” does not work on the Internet. You need to have the right products, at the right price at the right time and then find the right venue that has the right amount of customers shopping for your goods. The easiest way today to see if you have the right products at the right price is to throw them up on http://dollardays.com/landing/auction . At $8 a month, how can you go wrong and if it does not work, just shut it down…but if it does work, laugh all the way to the bank as you think about how much those poor sellers on eBay are paying just to get their sales!
October 7, 2013 No Comments
By Marc Jospeh
reprinted from The Huffington Post
The effort in the recent Colorado floods shows our rescue missions for animals have come a long way since the pet loss disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans where people would not evacuate for fear of leaving their pets. CBS reported that some helicopters rescuing people in the Colorado flooding carried more dogs, cats and fish than people. Rescuers, using zip lines to evacuate people over the enlarged raging rivers, also risked their lives to make sure the animal members of the families were safe. The National Guard took the posture that including the pets in the rescue helped convince reluctant residents to leave their homes. Once the pets were on dry ground, the Red Cross shelters had water bowls, on-site kennels and other supplies so the already anxious evacuees would not have to be separated from their pets.
If we can rally around a disaster to ensure our four legged companions are safe, why can’t we do the same in our day in day out regular life? You have an ex-marine in Glennie, MI accused of torturing 5 dogs and 6 horses. In August we had the second largest dog fighting raid in US history affecting 372 dogs in Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Georgia. These dogs ranged in age between a few days and 12 years old; and were left to suffer in life-threatening heat with no visible fresh water or food, while some were tethered by chains and cables to cinder blocks and car tires. And then you have an animal control officer in Long Island facing multiple charges because he had 850 snakes in his house and garage. When does our morality of the sacredness of kindness in life kick in?
There are success stories. In Monticello, KY, 80 dogs were rescued from a puppy mill. The Brown County Animal Center, near Cincinnati, was going to have to euthanize 8 dogs at the end of the week, so they started a campaign for adoptions and 10 dogs were adopted in time. But in all reality there are just not enough success stories to brag about.
The fourth quarter of the year is when we celebrate all kinds of holidays that reinforce our commitment to each other. We also should be taking care of the cats and dogs that are not as fortunate to have secure homes. We can help those suffering in Colorado from people to animals. Here is a link that lists many of the agencies and foundations responding to the flood victims. Also, Global Animal is taking donations to help rescue animals from the Colorado flooding. And if you actually want to volunteer to help all animals in all cities, The Humane Society has a wonderful program to join their animal rescue team where you can help save animals who are the victims of illegal animal cruelty and natural disasters. At DollarDays on our Facebook page, we are giving away $5,000 in products to animal shelters, so make sure you nominate your favorite shelter that can use our help.
In 2012 according to Statistic Brain, there were a little over 5,000 animal shelters in the USA. Five million animals entered these shelters and 3.5 million were euthanized. This affected 60% of the dogs and 70% of the cats. Fifteen percent of the dogs and 2% of the cats were returned to their owners. Taxpayers pay $2 Billion annually to round up, house and dispose of homeless animals. Sixty three percent of US homes have a companion animal, which is 70 million homes. All of these numbers are mind boggling. Yet, we only think about these poor victims when there is a flood in Colorado or a dog fighting raid in Alabama. Since the majority of us are pet owners and pet lovers, these blameless animals that need our help every day should be at the top of our minds. Helping to support animals in need is the core of our decency. These innocent animals give us much happiness; let’s do everything we can to eliminate their pain and suffering and get them into loving homes.
October 7, 2013 No Comments
by Marc Joseph
You have just opened your business and you are very proud. Only 10% of entrepreneurs who say they want to go into business for themselves actually have the guts to follow through and open the business. There are all kinds of reasons why the 90% don’t make it to the goal line. The number one reason is they can’t secure the funding.
Cash to open businesses usually comes from several different sources. Self-funding is the most common. You may have been working overtime in your current job or had a couple of jobs to stash away a few bucks. You may have been able to save money in a 401K and felt it was time to put it to better use. At one time before this great recession, many people had equity in their homes to borrow against.
Using the credit on your credit cards is another scarier way to raise cash. Borrowing from family or friends is also used frequently. If there is any way to avoid using either one of these methods, for your long term sanity, please circumvent them. Credit card interest rates will haunt you for years to come and a relative you can’t pay back will haunt you for the rest of your life.
Getting a loan from your local bank plays out well in movies, but in today’s world where so many banks went under during the great recession, actually getting a bank to show an interest in what you do is another long shot.
In the headlines we read about these successful venture capital groups financing all these large companies, but in reality you really don’t see them on Main Street America. Many communities do have Angel Investors, which are usually people who have made it big and are looking to help out other entrepreneurs. Like the TV Show “Shark Tank”, they usually want a nice chunk of your business for the funding.
But I regress talking about all the financial reasons why entrepreneurs can’t get started. If your business is open now, you have figured out how to fund it. The key is once you are up and running, how do you keep the cash flow going so you can continue to keep the lights on and buy products to sell? Ideally, every business should establish a line of credit with their local bank to help with the seasonality of the ups and downs of sales ebbs. But most businesses have the same problem when they were trying to get funding to open in the first place – banks just aren’t as generous as they once were.
That is one reason why DollarDays worked so hard to establish a strategic partnership with First Bankcard to help offer credit through the new DollarDays Business Edition Visa card to the 23 million small business owners throughout the country. Having a credit card like this enables businesses to better manage their cash flow throughout the year and rewards the businesses for all of their purchases. Small businesses can now earn reward points on all of their DollarDays purchases, as well as earn three points for each dollar spent on certain types of qualifying business expenses important to small businesses. The rewards points can be redeemed as cash back as a credit to the account, for travel, merchandise or gift cards. Here is a link to this valuable financial solution.
Funding your business from the beginning through the day in day out sales has always been the most challenging part of running a business. Just look at the issues our government has been trying to overcome the last several years; and if we ran our business like they do, we would all be out of business. If you have deep enough personal pockets to pay your bills during the lean times; than more power to you. But since most of us don’t have this luxury; finding the right partners to fund you during the down times is crucial to long term success.
October 7, 2013 No Comments
By Marc Joseph, CEO & Founder of DollarDays (Reposted from The Huffington Post)
With the start of the school year, we have yet another terrifying shooting incident at the McNair Discovery Learning Academy elementary school in Decatur, Georgia. This is less than a year away from the tragedy in Newtown, CT. Between Newtown and Decatur, the U.S. has experienced 12 other shootings at schools. I just can’t image how much stress this puts on all teachers. Our dedicated teachers do what they do because they have a passion to help mold the future of this country, foster creativity in young people, develop character in students and help people lead productive lives. They become teachers because of their sense of service. Having to protect kids from shootings was not part of their original job description — but it is now.
Then on top of the stress to protect our kids, salaries have not moved much for teachers during the recession we have weathered since 2008. But what has moved up is the money teachers take out of their own pockets to help their kids. According to USA Today, teachers will be spending an average of $400 out of their own pockets for classroom supplies and other help for their kids this fall, which is up 3 percent from last year. Mallori Lucas, a language arts teacher in Valparaiso, IN, says, “Of course we’re not forced to spend our money. But some of these kids don’t even get breakfast before they come to school, so we buy those snacks and treats.” Comparing today’s school spending trends to 10 years ago, the National Center for Education has school spending on supplies at 4.1 percent of the budget compared to 8.1 percent. Kids still need the same amount of supplies and learning materials they needed 10 years ago, but it does not look like our schools have this in their budgets.
Teachers by nature are resourceful considering that last year they took $3 Billion out of their own pockets to help their kids; and they are going to spend even more this year. You can see this inventive behavior with what happened all over the country this summer as teachers anticipated they needed to help their students more than ever. Elementary school teacher Mary Loung started Educycle which helps other teachers sell or pass along useable school materials, and shop for supplies they need in their classrooms in California. Businesses can also donate any surpluses to schools through Educycle. The Chicago Sun Times reports that David Zine and Peter Baker, high school social study teachers from Aurora rode their bicycles to Seattle to raise money for Best Buddies, a nonprofit that partners special needs and general education students to help forge friendships. The Memphis Business Journal talks about teacher Elizabeth Monda from Corning Achievement Elementary, who was one of the first teachers to use the site PledgeCents, a crowd funding site, to raise $4,000 for materials for her students. And this dedication happens in every city, every state to make sure our kids are prepared to learn this year.
Charles Best, CEO of DonorsChoose, an online nonprofit charity group that matches donors and teachers for supplies and projects reports, “We’ve had a 30 percent increase over last year in requests from teachers.” So we should all go to DonorsChoose to help out these teachers in need. At DollarDays on our Facebook page, we are giving away a total of $2,500 in products to 13 teachers who are nominated, so submit your favorite teacher to win.
How did we, as a well-educated society, get ourselves into this mess where we are putting so much stress on the teachers who we entrust with our kids every day? School should be a sanctuary of learning, maturing and growing our children into the next greatest generation. Instead teachers worry about bullets and having enough money for the basic functions needed to educate the leaders of tomorrow. Our current leaders have raised taxes, have us in a sequestration and can’t agree on anything to help move this country forward. Nothing has changed since Newtown, except we are spending less to help our teachers teach our kids to be decent and honorable. It is the teachers of today with their dedication and determination who will set the example for their students by their actions of caring and giving. The rest of us need to support these public servants and ease their personal burden of doing the right thing for our kids.
September 4, 2013 No Comments
Upon cursory inspection, the DollarDays website appears to be as American as Chicken McNuggets. After all, the site’s name is not RupeeDays or YenDays, and there’s a U.S. flag peeking out from the banner on the home page. Since its debut in 2001, the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based online wholesaler and closeout-goods vendor has been distributing a wide array of low-cost merchandise to dollar stores, gift shops and other discount retailers, the vast majority of them in the U.S. All of the 300,000 products available on the site are sourced in the U.S., too.
DollarDays CEO Marc Joseph is not exactly leaving those American roots behind—but he is expanding his root system. Joseph, who founded the site because he thought the cost efficiencies of Internet-based distribution “would give small businesses a chance to play on a level playing field with the big guys,” today is growing his e-commerce business by using the Internet to go global.
The Internet “has made the world a lot smaller,” says Joseph, a retail industry veteran who worked for Federated Department Stores and was a senior vice president at Crown Books. “When I was younger I had to jump on a plane to go have a face-to-face with vendors in the Philippines, China, India. It was very expensive and time-consuming. The Internet has streamlined all that.”
E-commerce is also making it easier for merchants to market and sell their goods overseas. Although DollarDays, which has 3.5 million registered users and gets about a million visitors a month, has only just begun a serious international expansion effort, last year small retailers and entrepreneurs in some 40 countries purchased goods from the site, which specifically advertises its shipping service to Canada, the U.K., Europe, Puerto Rico, Australia and New Zealand.
DollarDays also runs a Canadian mini-site featuring products targeted for that market. But Joseph says he’s not interested in developing foreign-language mini-sites because of the complexity and cost. With just 50 employees, “We are lean and mean and all of our people are concentrating on how we grow the business,” says Joseph, who still finds time to blog about business and charity for The Huffington Post website. “Creating websites in other languages is a whole other effort.”
Click here to read Joseph’s Huffington Post column on the outlook for back-to-school sales in the U.S. this year.
Instead, he’s turning to online marketplaces to expand DollarDays’ reach. DollarDays is selling on Amazon.com and Sears.com marketplaces, in addition to running its stand-alone website. For additional international exposure, DollarDays recently opened a storefront on Alibaba.com, an English-language B2B marketplace with more than 36 million registered users from more than 240 countries and regions.
Marketplaces like Alibaba.com are a cost-effective way to reach more potential customers. That’s because the big ones get a lot of traffic and opening a storefront doesn’t require much technical expertise or investment. Alibaba “is doing all the heavy lifting that we don’t have to get involved in,” Joseph says. That allows DollarDays to remain focused on what it does best. “We are a marketing company that sells product, and [Alibaba] is focused on bringing the world together.”
International orders currently amount to about 15 percent of DollarDays total sales. It’s too early to tell whether the Alibaba storefront, launched in June, will boost that percentage significantly.
But Joseph says he’s positioned for growth, having increased the number of products being sold on the site from 100,000 to 300,000 over the last 18 months. He anticipates eventually attracting buyers from countries such as China, where concern over the quality and safety of domestically manufactured goods is generating interest among consumers for products made in the U.S.A. About six months ago, DollarDays created a specialty store on the website featuring thousands of U.S.-made products.
“Our name has always been Dollar Days International,” Joseph says. “We’ve always envisioned we could sell all around the world. Being with Alibaba is going to speed that up for us.”
This story first appeared on Alizila, Alibaba Group’s e-commerce and corporate news website.
August 9, 2013 No Comments