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Post to repay shoppers for black-market Grape-Nuts purchases

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Feeling buyer’s remorse for that $100 box of Grape-Nuts? Help is on the way.

The maker of the cereal has pledged to reimburse shoppers who paid exorbitant prices for black-market boxes during a months-long supply shortage.

Post Consumer Brands declared that shortage officially over Wednesday by announcing that it’s once again shipping Grape-Nuts at full capacity to stores across the US.

But fans who turned to the secondary market during the drought faced prices as high as $110 for a single box of the high-fiber breakfast staple, the Minnesota-based company said.

“It became abundantly clear during the shortage that Grape-Nuts fans are ‘Nuts for Grape-Nuts,’” Kristin DeRock, the Grape-Nuts brand manager at Post Consumer Brands, said in a statement. “So much so that some of our loyal super fans were willing to pay extreme prices just to ensure they wouldn’t be without their favorite crunchy cereal.”

Post has reportedly blamed the shortage on a combination of supply constraints and high demand for Grape-Nuts — which is made from wheat and barley, but no grapes or nuts — amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Post is offering reimbursements of up to $115 for anyone who paid at least $10 for a box of Grape-Nuts between Nov. 1 of last year and March 15.
Post is offering reimbursements of up to $115 for anyone who paid at least $10 for a box of Grape-Nuts between Nov. 1 of last year and March 15.
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DeRock told news outlets in January that Post makes the mealy cereal with “proprietary technology and a production process that isn’t easily replicated, which has made it more difficult to shift production to meet demand during this time.” The company said last month that “healthy inventory levels” would return by mid-March after it ramped up production.

The shortage was a big enough deal among Grape-Nuts superfans that the brand acknowledged it in several social media posts, including one spotlighting an 89-year-old man who scoured supermarket shelves for the “biggest box of Grape-Nuts he could find.”

But many people on Twitter were shocked to learn that there was a black market for a cereal that tastes like cardboard to its detractors.

“Grape nuts being sold on the black market is a string of words I never thought would coexist together,” one person tweeted Wednesday.

“If you bought a box of GRAPE NUTS on the black market, I personally don’t think you should be reimbursed,” wrote another user named Parker Padgett.

Post Consumer Brands, however, does think you should be reimbursed. It’s offering up to $115 to anyone who paid at least $10 for a box of Grape-Nuts between Nov. 1 of last year and March 15.

The conglomerate says it will pay the difference between the inflated price and the suggested retail price — $4.29 for a 20.5-ounce box, $4.99 for 29 ounces or $6.49 for 64 ounces.

But the offer comes with some caveats — eligible consumers have to submit a receipt through Post’s website by April 15, and payments are limited to one per household. The company will only pay out a total of $10,000 in reimbursements, so it’s possible that not everyone will get some money back.



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Glasses retailer Warby Parker eyeing IPO as soon as this year

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Hipster glasses retailer Warby Parker is eyeing an initial public offering.

The 11-year-old business, which started out as an e-tailer before rolling out some 130 stores across the US, is considering an IPO as early as this year, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

The New York-based company has amassed a huge customer following by offering less expensive prescription glasses. Warby Parker raised $120 million in its most recent funding round giving it a $3 billion valuation, according to the report.

“We’ve always explored various financing opportunities in both the debt and equity markets,” the company said in a statement. “To date, we have successfully and deliberately raised money within the private market on favorable terms and have plenty of cash on our balance sheet. We’ll continue to make strategic decisions in line with our commitment to sustainable growth.”

Founded by college buddies Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal, who met at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Warby Parker has attracted some large investors including the mutual fund company, T. Rowe Price.

It turned it first profit in 2018, Gilboa told The New York Times at the time.

Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal
Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal
Brian Ach/Getty Images

Customers can get prescriptions through their apps on their smartphones and use cameras to pick out frames. The company also has an optical lab in Sloatsburg, NY where it produces lenses.

While Warby Parker is not the least expensive option, it beats Costco in a recent comparison with Costco charging as little a $126 for a pair of prescription glasses compared with Warby Parker’s least expensive pair at $95.

“As consumer walk into a LensCrafters or Sunglass Hut, they see 50 different brands of glasses but don’t realize that all those brands are owned by the same company that owns the store that they’re standing in, that probably owns the vision insurance plan they’r using to pay for those glasses,” Gilboa said in a recent CNBC interview.

“And so, it’s no surprise that a lot of those glasses are marked up 10 to 20 times what they cost to manufacture,” he said.

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Dogecoin hits new high boosted by DogeDay hashtags

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Dogecoin prices hit an all-time high on Tuesday, with a market capitalization above $50 billion, after social media fans used hashtags to fuel a rally in the meme-based cryptocurrency.

An 8,000 percent price surge this year has seen Dogecoin, which was launched as a satirical critique of 2013′s cryptocurrency frenzy, overtake more widely-used cryptocurrencies like Tether to become the fifth-largest coin.

While Dogecoin, whose logo features a Shiba Inu dog at the center of the meme, a represents only a fraction of bitcoin’s $1 trillion value, it can be traded on crypto exchanges and more popular mainstream trading apps.

“The Doge rally represents an interesting convergence,” said Diana Biggs, CEO of crypto start-up Valour, after Dogecoin’s price soared by more than five-fold in the last week to a record 42 cents, according to CoinMarketCap.

“A meme coin created as a joke for early crypto adopters whose community found that kind of thing to be fun, with now a new generation of retail investors for whom memes are a native language,” Biggs added.

Dogecoin fans used the hashtags #DogeDay and #DogeDay420 to post memes, messages and videos on Twitter, Reddit and TikTok, referring to the informal April 20 holiday to celebrate cannabis which is marked by smoke-ins and street parties.

“GIMME THAT DOGECOIN LAMBO!!! #DogeDay” one tweeted, referring to the Lamborghini car popular in crypto culture.

Dogecoin’s rise has come amid a surge in online trading of stocks and crypto by retail investors, stuck at home with extra cash because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has not coincided with a growth in usage of the coin for payments or in commerce.

The same trend has spurred a boom in usage of online trading apps like Robinhood, and also fueled the social-media driven rally in GameStop stock that pitted retail investors against hedge funds earlier this year.

“It’s an extension of the same phenomenon that has led Tesla stock to be valued well beyond fundamentals and more recently to the GME (GameStop) short squeeze,” said Ajit Tripathi, head of institutional business at decentralised finance startup Aave.

Like other cryptocurrencies, Dogecoin’s price is heavily influenced by social media users including Tesla chief Elon Musk, whose tweets on the cryptocurrency in February sent its price soaring over 60 percent.

“If this goes as planned and everybody including Mr. Musk go ahead and just pour money into Doge on April 20th all at once Doge will reach prices that originally were not even conceptual,” a TikTok user said in a video promoting the coin.



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Amazon is opening a beauty salon in London

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Amazon is opening a hair salon in London — its latest odd lurch into new businesses as the pandemic continues to fuel the e-commerce giant’s torrid growth.

The Amazon Salon, unveiled in a Tuesday blog post, will occupy a two-story, 1,500-square-foot space in Spitalfields, a trendy neighborhood in East London that is also home to Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.

Indeed, the new salon, which will be open seven days a week, initially will only cater to Amazon workers. Members of the public will be able to make bookings in “the coming weeks” by calling, emailing or visiting the salon, the company says.

“This will be an experiential venue where we showcase new products and technology,” Amazon said in a blog post on Tuesday, adding that there are no plans to open other salons.

That will include making Amazon’s Fire tablets available at each station, allowing customers to use augmented reality technology to see what they look like as a platinum blonde, brunette or with highlights, the company said.

The salon is located at Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.
The salon is located at Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.
Amazon

The salon will also test new “point-and-learn” technology, where customers can point at a product they are interested in on a display shelf and the relevant information, including brand videos and educational content, will appear on a display screen.

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