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Austin, the well-rounded Intern in AZ, IL, IN and Korea

Hello!

I have just completed another lovely week here at DollarDays. It is amazing how my time here is flying by and I only have two weeks left. At the end of this month I will be returning back to Illinois for a brief period and then returning to school (Hanover) blog option 2 - Copyin Indiana for my senior year. Although I am excited to get back to school I am very sad to be leaving DollarDays. I will miss being in the office every day. Everyone here has been working hard during this busy back to school season. I have continued maintaining social media here as well as data entry and other tasks.

Recently I have been following the Federation of International Lacrosse World Lacrosse Championships. Team USA has so far been undefeated and is playing tomorrow against major rival Canada. Team USA has already beaten Canada once in round robin play and have never lost an international game played on US soil. I have also been active myself playing three or four times a week here.

I am currently reading the book, Escape From Camp 14, By Blaine Harden. The book is about a man named Shin who is from North Korea. The book details Shin’s life growing up in a North Korean prison camp, how he escaped, and how he has had issues adapting to life outside of North Korea. The book is extremely eye opening to the human rights violations happening in North Korea.

I’m highly excited for the next two weeks and any projects or challenges they bring. I am still learning new things everyday.

Regards,

Austin

P.S. My boss asked me for a photo to go with this post, so this is the one I gave her. Movie night at the fraternity—can you guess which movie I’m in? And you’ll never guess how I got the baby!

July 21, 2014   No Comments

How to Survive the Peak Seasons as a Retailer

Marc Josephby Marc Joseph, President and CEO of DollarDays

Running a retail business is like getting your report card every single day. It is a business of “thanks for what you did for me yesterday, but what can you do for me today?” It has to be one of the most stressful occupations in this country, yet if you do well, it can be the most exhilarating and fun businesses to live and breathe every day. What causes this stress versus reward cycle in retailing?

Good retailers balance looking into the future and planning for the next season with what is happening in my business today. The future plays to the heart of retailers because you analyze what went well last year and where there are opportunities to improve. Optimism abounds about the future because retailers are a confident and hopeful bunch…otherwise they would be in a profession that looks to the past rather than looking ahead. So planning ahead is the enjoyable part of retailing, because no mistakes have been made, yet.

Living in your business today is a different story. Most businesses measure themselves against what happened last year in sales. Sure there are mitigating circumstances that could alter the numbers you are up against, like more or less competition, change in customers’ taste preferences or suppliers of your key products going in or out of business. But every retailer has last year’s numbers recorded by day and look at these numbers three or four times a day during their peak seasons to see if they are going to beat them. Take my business as an example. Our two peak seasons are Back to School and Christmas. Currently we are in our Back to School season. Our staff meets quickly throughout the day to gauge where we are against last year each day. When we had the biggest day in our company’s history last week, it was the greatest feeling I have had since the day my son was born. When we only did half of what we did last year three days later, I felt like an old man who was on his way to retirement… so living each day in business to its fullest during peak seasons is like riding a roller coaster all day long. You are exhausted at the end of the day on bad days and exhilarated and can’t wait to wake up and start again on the good days.

We will get through the Back to School season, so now I am worried about the Christmas season. Do we have enough products to offer our customers and as important, are they the right products? Have we been watching the trends of the last few months to help give us an indication of what will be successful this fall? Do we have the most sophisticated methods to market to our customers efficiently and effectively during the holiday season? Do I have the right sales staff in place that will be able to relate to our customers? All of these are questions that will keep my staff and me up at night, because they are the unknowns…and then November hits and we are right back into the cycle of living day to day with our numbers much like we are in today for Back to School.

But I would not have it any other way. The ebb and flow of providing customers what they need when they need it at the right price is part of a true retailer’s heart and soul. The highs and lows that go with it are just part of the game of life.

July 18, 2014   No Comments

Hey look! It’s Austin the intern! He survived another week!

blog post photo 3Hello!

This past week at DollarDays has been another great one! Things have slowed down a bit since the new website launch but there is still plenty to do. I’ve been working hard to maintain the social media properties as well as creating databases for our business development division. I have enjoyed every minute here at DollarDays. I am hoping to continue growing our social media presence and contribute anywhere I can in the office.

Outside of the office, I have been playing lots of box and outdoor lacrosse. Lacrosse is a major passion in my life and I am glad I get to play as much as I do here (even though it’s like 107 degrees every day!). Currently, the Lacrosse World Championships are being held in Denver. This event only happens every four years and I am very excited to see all the great games and hopefully see the United States bring home their 10th Gold Medal.

Also, I recently started to read the book, Flags of our Fathers,  by James Bradley and Ron Powers. This book takes an in depth look into the men who were raising the American flag in the famous photograph taken on Iwo Jima. The book is absolutely captivating and once I start reading, I have a hard time putting it down! Did you know Hollywood made it into a movie in 2006? Yes, it’s that good!

I also had a fantastic 4th of July in Cincinnati where I got to see a lot of my lacrosse teammates and got to see the Milwaukee Brewers play (they beat the Reds!).

The new website has been working phenomenally and I am glad that I had the opportunity to witness some of the work that goes into a new site. I learned a ton from everyone here about what goes into a new website and the different metrics that are used to measure the success of a website. I am excited for the next few weeks and am dreading leaving at the end of summer. I know I will learn a lot more in my remaining time here.

Regards,

Austin

July 11, 2014   No Comments

Give $500 to your favorite teacher (and that can be you!)

Each month, DollarDays gives away $5,000  via Facebook to good causes.  Education is a cause that  DollarDays is quite passionate about, hence the three or four months of the year they donate to teachers, students and education. DollarDays’ CEO, Marc Joseph wrote his July Huffington Post article about teachers spending money from their own pockets for school supplies—good read.

During the month of July, DollarDays would like you to nominate a teacher to be put into a pool to win in the $5,000 giveaway. Ten teachers will each receive a $500 shopping spree at DollarDays for back to school supplies, or whatever floats their boats!

Please nominate your favorite teacher on our Facebook page! And if you’re happy with it, please tell your friends—even post it on your own page! Pass it on and pay it forward!

Hurry! You must enter by 10 am July 31!FB Button Nominate2

July 11, 2014   No Comments

Austin the intern wraps up his first month at DollarDays

austin the internGreetings!

My last post was on June 13. I’ve been trying to post every week so you all know what “Austin the intern” has been up to!  I’m a little behind, but here’s my latest!

The last couple weeks at DollarDays have been fantastic! I highly enjoy working here. I’ve been busy with many projects such as helping launch the new website on July 1 by combing through it to ensure everything was working properly, doing different data entry tasks and running the social media for the company. In fact, I have discovered a way to grow our audience and reach on Facebook—I’m having a photo caption contest every Friday and the best caption gets a $100 shopping spree! Managing the social media has been fun! I have learned a ton in the short time that I have been here and I know I will learn more in the coming weeks. One of the most exciting events that has occurred is the launch of the new design for DollarDays website. I am excited about the new design and I know that a lot of hard work has gone into it.

Outside of DollarDays I have been enjoying activities such as reading, fishing, riding my bike, swimming, lacrosse and playing video games. I am currently reading Super Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. The book tries to take economic theories and use them in areas that economics would not typically cover. It’s a great read and Levitt and Dubner are two of my favorite authors. I’ve also found a great fishing spot (here in the middle of the desert!) and there are plenty of catfish just waiting for me!

I am extremely excited for the coming weeks and plan to continue contributing my best effort.  I have never been involved in a launch of a new website for a company as large as DollarDays. They have as many as 30,000 customers each day, so as you might imagine, we continue to find little things on the site that need to be fixed, added or removed. The entire company gives feedback to the IT department and they take it from there. In case you thought a website launches and it’s “set it and forget it,” that’s not the case. I was told the website will be in beta indefinitely! I AM learning!

I hope you all have a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend!

Regards,

Austin

July 3, 2014   No Comments

Winners receive 100 stuffed backpacks for kids

free backpacksWE HAVE WINNERS!!

Congratulations to:
Mary Jane Coward of Dillion, SC
Teresa Riddle of Clayton, NC
Ann Welch of Ludington, MI
Mary Shariat of Mobile, AL

Each of the above nominees won 25 backpacks stuffed with school supplies in our June Facebook Giveaway.

Thank you to the THOUSANDS of people who took the time to nominate teachers to help their students.

DollarDays is absolutely committed to helping teachers. We are a strong advocate of education and helping our teachers (who we call heroes) have the tools they need to teach and grow our future leaders. Marc Joseph, our CEO, wrote a thoughtful article on education in the Huffington Post that we hope you’ll read. We truly ARE champions of education.

This month, we are giving ten teachers each $500 to spend at DollarDays to help stock their classrooms! Please nominate a teacher on our Facebook page contest.

July 2, 2014   No Comments

Sneak peek: the anatomy of the NEW Dollardays.com

ddiWe’ve all known it for sometime; years in fact. Our website needed a facelift. Not just a cosmetic one, but one that included the new technologies that had surfaced over the years, such as mobile adaptability. We wanted to create an inviting, user friendly experience.

That said, last December, DollarDays decided it was time to begin the process. That included creating an RFP (request for proposal), which is essentially pages and pages and pages of our demands, painstakingly prepared to send to digital agencies with hope they would respond. Seriously, with a website the size of DollarDays, there was more to consider for an RFP than we imagined.

Digital agencies vetted and selected, RFPs sent. Then the wait for proposals. We received nearly a dozen of proposals, each that once again, needed careful vetting by the website committee. We narrowed it down to about four agencies that came to our offices, gave their presentations and hoped for the win. Yep, more vetting. We had to cut through the miracle (or disaster) of presentations to dive deep and determine the agency that took the time to understand our business model, identify our strengths and weaknesses and make recommendations to achieve our original goal: an inviting, user friendly experience.

The agency we chose was Resound Creative from Tempe, ARIZ. Mike Jones, principal, and our main contact, has been amazing throughout the process. His copywriter has worked hard to get the right messaging that aligns with who we are as a company, and his programmer has been more than amazing—he’s been within arm’s reach throughout the process of creating our new look. Resound Creative has simply been stellar.

In addition to the agency creating our new look, every person on the DollarDays redesign team has been in overdrive, vetting the process. Checking what’s working, what could be better, what should be added or subtracted. Whew. And as of this very moment, we are STILL vetting and preparing for the official launch on July 1.

What we know for sure, a website (any website) is ALWAYS in beta! There’s always more we can do to improve it. And no one knows better than Ryan Grange, our IT manager and programmer extraordinaire who logged hundreds and hundreds of hours to ensure the site is is a masterpiece.

Want a sneak peek? Click here. Enjoy. Let us know what you think.

June 18, 2014   1 Comment

Meet DollarDays’ New Summer Intern!

Greetings!

I am Austin Czisny, the new summer intern here at Dollar Days. I will be working with  the great DollarDays team  while on break from school. They have already been awesome and I can tell that I will highly enjoy my time here this summer.

A little about me…I am about to enter my senior year at Hanover College in Hanover ,IN. While I’m a political science major, I also participate in the Business Scholars program that Hanover offers. Through the Business Scholar program, I was able to secure a summer internship here at Dollar Days. The program is designed to supplement my major and give me the skills needed to be successful in a business environment. The curriculum of the program calls for me to have an internship at the end of my junior year and I am very excited to have one with Dollar Days.

I will be working in the marketing department and have already learned a lot as well as shared new ideas with my coworkers. I am excited to be working under Jackie Eldridge and I can already tell I will walk away with lots of new skills and experience that will help me in the future.

Besides my academics, I am also a member of the varsity lacrosse team, Student Athletic Advisory Board, and Greek Life at Hanover. In my free time I enjoy many outdoor activities such as fishing and hiking. I also enjoy playing video games, reading and keeping up to date with current events.

Regards,

Austin

large mouth bass

4 lbs.,10 oz., 22 inches!
Largemouth bass.

June 13, 2014   No Comments

AgoraPulse is a great find for Facebook management

Tagorapulsewo years ago, Jackie Eldridge, Marketing Director for DollarDays.com, met Richard Beeson, Director of Client Happiness Enforcement for AgoraPulse at a Social Media Conference in New York City. Eldridge was impressed with the platform at first pass; it seemed to be the perfect tool to manage our Facebook promotions and growth. The bonus to a platform that has every feature we’d been looking for is the customer service. Seriously, it’s not even customer service—DollarDays feels like this vendor is more like family, and that’s because they are are genuine in all of our communications AND available nearly on a moment’s notice. They are fun, light and extremely passionate about AgoraPulse.

As a company, we’ve never stepped out and fully endorsed a product, except now.  Give it a look—we recommend it to any company who manages Facebook pages and is looking to grow their audience and reach, while having hands-on reporting tools and cutting edge promotional apps. Watch the video that captures our unsolicited take on AgoraPulse.

One more thing. You will not believe the price. Hint: the monthly fee makes our CFO very happy.

June 5, 2014   No Comments

Kids lose their future to poverty

Reposted from The Huffington Post 

marc huff poNow that one school year is over and we are preparing for the next, June is a month of reflection for educators and parents on how to do better next school year. It is hard enough for students to learn at school in today’s world. You throw in overcrowding, teacher to student ratios, poverty affecting too many students and lack of funding for supplies, and it becomes almost impossible for the average student to get ahead.

The New York Daily News reported that in New York City, 6,313 classes ( 200 more than last year) were overcrowded, based on the teacher’s union contract which sets 34 kids as the limit in high schools and 25 in kindergarten. In these classrooms, kids were sitting on the floors or standing, the whole period. It is tough to imagine how children can function in these overcrowded situations, let alone how can teachers concentrate and keep the kids interested? How can these kids learn when they are sitting on top of each other?

Add, on top of this, 16 million children in the USA (22% of all children) live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level of $23,550 a year (which is $65 a day) for a family of four, according to the National Center of Children in Poverty. These children are far more likely to have limited access to sufficient food (known as food insecurity). And with Congress cutting out $8.6 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (known as SNAP) earlier this year, these kids just got a little bit hungrier. The states where the most kids go hungry include New Mexico at 29.2%, Mississippi at 28.7%, Arizona at 28.2% and Georgia and Nevada both at 28.1%. How can these kids learn when they go to school hungry?

Now look at the 1.2 million children in the USA who are homeless. Forty-one states saw a rise in homelessness among school-aged children. According to the  American Institutes for Research, homeless children have four times as many respiratory infections, twice as many ear infections, five times more gastrointestinal problems and four times more likely to have asthma. And when at school, they have three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems compared to non-homeless children. How can these kids learn when they have so many personal problems?

Poverty and poor performance go hand in hand in school. DoSomething.org reports that children living in poverty have a higher number of absenteeism or leave school all together because they are more likely to have to work or care for family members. Dropout rates of 16-24 year old students from low income families are seven times more likely than those from families with higher income. By the end of the fourth grade, low income students are already two years behind, and by the twelfth grade, they are four years behind. How can these kids perform when they are adults, when they fall so far behind in school?

The USA educational system is ranked as the fourteenth best in the world. South Korea is number one, followed by Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Finland, UK, Canada, The Netherlands, Ireland, Poland, Denmark, Germany and Russia. Why is the most powerful nation in the world ranked in the middle of the pack in educating its children? Last year $1.15 trillion was spent on education in the US, of which 10.8% came from federal funds and the rest from state and local contributions. You would think that is enough to educate every student, rich or poor, but obviously it was not sufficient.

The US sure has a lot of things to fix to break into the top ten countries in educating its kids. Since the vast majority of funding for education falls back to the states and local communities, local help is where it has got to begin. It has to fix the children who go hungry and the children of the poor. There are great organizations to contribute to for this—like Save the Children and the Children’s Defense League to help these less fortunate kids. We have to fix the homeless children situation where organizations like Stand Up for Kids and NationalHomeless.org focus on these suffering children. And somehow we have to get the right equipment into the hands of these poor kids, like the right books, pencils, paper and calculators so they can keep up with everyone else in their classrooms. At DollarDays on our Facebook page, we are giving away backpacks stuffed with school supplies to four different classrooms (25 of the stuffed backpacks to each classroom), so make sure you nominate your favorite teacher or school or town to win these backpacks.

I wish we could just flip a switch and poverty and hunger and homelessness would disappear for our kids, but we all know that won’t happen. Who chooses what kids are born into wealth and those who are born to live on the streets? Who chooses the kids who suffer in overcrowded schools or those who go to schools with sophisticated arts, music and computer programs? Back in 1918, the US House of Representatives passed the American Creed, which states “The United States of America is a government of the people, by the people and for the people, established on the principles of freedom, equality, justice and humanity for all.” It is up to all of us to bring these poor, hungry and homeless children up to the standards our forefathers envisioned for all of us, and we need to start today.

May 31, 2014   No Comments