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$5M Basket Proves a Hard Sell



(BLOOMBERG)—“You might see it three or four miles off before you come around the bend, and then you say, ‘That is a basket. That is unquestionably a basket,’ ” said Tom Rochon.

It is a basket, or rather, a seven-storey office building shaped like one — a massive facsimile of the signature picnic basket made by the company once headquartered there. Some 64 kilometres outside Columbus, Ohio, the basket building, as it’s locally known, is one of the area’s grandest attractions, inviting quirky selfie-seekers, architecture nerds, and, of course, basket enthusiasts.

Despite its celebrity, its owner has had trouble off-loading the gargantuan basket, due to its size, location, and — well, you’ve seen it, right?

When the property — slightly larger than another Ohio landmark, Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — was listed 18 months ago, the asking price was $7.5 million (U.S.). Now it’s on the market for $5 million, or about $28 a square foot, about half of what traditionally shaped office buildings in the area usually sell for, according to Columbus real estate adviser Bradford L. Kitchen, president of the real estate advisory firm Alterra.

The basket building’s listing agent, Michael Guagenti of Cushman & Wakefield, said commercial property in the area typically ranges from $50 to $80 a square foot.

The basket was built for about $32 million and finished in 1997, according to Guagenti, as a home for the Longaberger Company. Known for its kitschy baskets, both decorative and functional, Longaberger has been around since the 1970s, and once boasted sales of $1 billion, largely the result of direct-sales agents who hawked baskets at Tupperware-esque parties.

But its sales reportedly fell to $100 million in 2012. As Longaberger moved workers from the basket building to a nearby factory, its Dallas-based holding company, JRJR Networks, for which Rochon works, decided to sell to “consolidate and streamline our operations,” CEO Chris Brooks said in a June earnings statement.

Guagenti admitted it’s the most unusual property he’s tried to sell. “It’s a very challenging building,” he said. “We have had a couple [offers] but nothing that materialized.” Thus far, only developers have shown interest, though Guagenti declined to specify the number or size of the bids.

At 180,000 square feet, the basket is one of the largest buildings for miles around. Guagenti has reached out to local businesses in an effort to convince them to move, playing up the basket’s discounted price, but the space is too large for most. “Just no one is big enough to take that kind of basket on.”

And it’s not without other flaws. Paint has trouble adhering to its massive handles, which are heated to prevent snow buildup, and as a result they look chipped, said Rochon. The entire basket could use a paint job, Guagenti agreed, though he said the interior is pristine and modern. “There’s nothing baskety inside,” he said. “Nothing makes you feel like it’s in a basket. You feel like you’re in a nice, highrise office building.”

But while paint can be reapplied, the building can’t be moved.

“It’s like they say: location, location, location. It has two things against it: It’s a far location, and it’s a unique building. The location is probably what’s worse,” said New York-based real estate broker and author Brendon DeSimone.

Local real estate adviser Kitchen agreed: “It takes a special buyer that is willing to go to that location. It’s a little bit too remote, as it’s just outside Columbus. It’s pretty far out for a Columbus company to think of moving there.” If the building were closer to town, Guagenti thinks he would have sold it by now.

That has meant rethinking how the building could be used. To lure a buyer, Guagenti has explored marketing it as ripe for being repurposed as an educational facility, nursing home, or call centre — though he also thinks it would do just fine remaining an office building.

Experts agree it might fare best as a hotel or convention centre, using the building’s esthetic to attract tourists. Although the area has a population of only about 47,000, Rochon said tour groups do occasionally make pit stops at the basket.

As for the fundamental basket-ness of it, it’s not clear how much can be done. Refacing the building isn’t much of an option, Guagenti said, because much like a basket, it’s narrower on the bottom and wider on top, which would look strange even without the woven exterior.

“But you could take the handles off,” he reasoned. “I’m sure a good architect could come up with some paint scheme to make it look not like a basket.”

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Beauty Week is back at Hudson’s Bay in Toronto and it’s time to get glam



Beauty enthusiasts rejoice! Beauty Week at Hudson’s Bay is back in Toronto for another year. It’s time to stock up on all of your fall essentials and, maybe discover some new ones. 

From Friday, August 18 to Sunday, August 27, you can expect a truly elevated beauty experience in-store with incredible special offers, limited-time gifts, and exciting activations. 

If you’re a diehard beauty lover, you’ll already know that Hudson’s Bay is the place to shop thanks to its extensive range of over 195 skin and makeup brands from both luxury labels and masstige brands — including Tata Harper, Estée Lauder, YSL, Nars Cosmetics, Bobbi Brown, and so much more.

Throughout The Bay’s Beauty Week, visitors can take in some at-counter activations and interactive expert-led tutorials, where there will be chances to get makeup touch-ups from top-tier brands, try a spritz of the most alluring fragrances, and sample tons of new products.

This year’s Beauty Week highlight is the ‘Best in Beauty’ tote, a meticulously-curated selection of 30 deluxe samples from an array of top-tier brands like Dr. Barbara Sturm and Shiseido spanning skincare, fragrance, and makeup — all in a super sleek bag.

The tote, which is valued at over $300, is retailing for just $39 and is a fantastic way to explore new products (without breaking the bank). However, there is a limited quantity, so if you want to get your hands on one, you’ll need to be fast.

Wondering exactly what Beauty Week’s free gifts with purchases entail? If you spend over $95 at Lancôme, you will receive a six-piece set valued at $130. Or, you can get an Estée Lauder gift valued at $170 with purchases over $80. (And that’s just to name a few.)

If you’re a Hudson’s Bay Rewards member, you’ll also get $20 in Hudson’s Bay rewards when you spend over $100 on beauty.

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The Canadian Armed Forces are hiring for several non-combat military jobs



The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have several non-combat jobs, some of which do not require a college degree or past work experience.

Life in the forces has several benefits, such as paid education plans (college, university and graduate-level programs), 20 paid vacation days, health and dental coverage for you and your family, maternity and paternal leave, and pension plans. You can learn more about the benefits in detail here.

And to make it easier to gauge if you qualify, the listings also include related civilian jobs to see if it’s your ideal role.

Financial services administrator

Related civilian jobs: Financial records entry clerk, financial manager, accounting technician, bookkeeper, budget officer, cashier clerk, business planner technician, and verification manager.

Description: You’ll help budget resources for all military activities besides providing financial assistance.

Education: You need to have completed Grade 10.

Duties: As a financial services administrator, you’ll be responsible for bookkeeping and managing budgets. You’ll also provide support in accounts payable and accounts receivable.

Work environment: Those in this role work at CAF bases, on ships or overseas. You might also be expected to help special operation units, recruiting offices, schools, and medical organizations.

Postal clerk

Related civilian jobs: Mail clerk, mail sorter.

Description: You’ll provide postal services to members and their families at bases and establishments.

Education: Grade 10. No previous work experience or related career skills are required.

Duties: As the postal clerk, you’ll handle mail duties.

Work environment: Besides a postal office, you may work on a ship or a mobile postal van. You might be expected to serve with Royal Canadian Navy, the Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force in Canada and abroad.

Dental technician

Related civilian jobs: Dental assistant, dental hygienist.

Description: You’ll be helping dental officers provide dental services to CAF members, their families, and dependents.

Education: Level II dental assisting diploma from an accredited college or a National Dental Assisting Examining Board (NDAEB) certificate.

Duties: Those in this role will be responsible for various responsibilities, including disinfection and sterilization of dental equipment, applying rubber dams, placing cavity liners, and controlling bleeding. In addition, you’ll assist in laboratory procedures like creating casts, custom trays, and mouthguards.

Work environment: This role will require you to work in a military dental clinic, a Mobile Dental Clinic, an Air Transportable Dental System, or onboard a ship. You might be expected to work on a base in Canada or other operations in other parts of the world.

Human resources administrator

Related civilian jobs: Records administrator, data entry supervisor, receptionist, office manager, executive assistant, payroll clerk, and information management technician.

Description: Provide administrative and general human resources support.

Education: Grade 10. No previous work experience or related career skills are required.

Duties: In addition to human resources administration and services, you’ll be handling pay and allowances, managing automated pay systems, and maintaining personnel records.

Work environment: HR administrators work at all CAF bases in Canada. They also work on ships and overseas to support the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, or Royal Canadian Air Force operations.

Medical assistant

Related civilian jobs: Emergency medical responder, ambulance and first aid attendant, registered nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse, and hospital orderly.

Description: Successful candidates will help treat the sick and injured in CAF units. You’ll be assisting and supporting nursing and medical officers.

Education: Minimum of Grade 11 biology, Grade 10 physics or chemistry, and Grade 10 math.

Duties: You’ll provide initial care and essential life support treatments in trauma cases. You’ll help with health assessments (hearing and vision tests, perform basic lab procedures, etc.) and initiate and manage medical records and reports. You’ll also be expected to provide support and first aid during training exercises.

Work environment: Medical assistants may serve with the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force or the Canadian Army as part of the Canadian Forces Health Services Group. Those in this role are exposed to the same risks as the forces they support.

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Porter’s new loyalty program promises to match Air Canada’s Aeroplan status



Porter Airlines is once again stirring the pot among Canadian airline rivals, now going after Air Canada’s Aeroplan members by offering to match their loyalty status to an equivalent of their own.

The beloved airline, which recently ranked as having the best cabin service in North America, challenged the competition for the second time this year, after previously deploying a similar tactic against WestJet in the spring. 

Earlier in April, Porter presented customers with a limited-time offer to match the loyalty status of WestJet’s patrons with VIPorter levels.

Now, they’re offering Aeroplan members to seamlessly transition to an equivalent VIPorter Avid Traveller status based on their existing membership tier.

Members can then take advantage of an array of travel perks that come with flying Porter, including seat selection, baggage, and flight changes.

For those currently holding an Aeroplan membership, there are two ways to acquire the Avid Traveller status for the rest of 2023:

Status-Based Match:
  • Aeroplan 25K members = VIPorter Venture
  • Aeroplan 35K members = VIPorter Ascent
  • Aeroplan 50K, 75K, and Super Elite = VIPorter First
Flight Segments-Based Match:
  • 5 flight segments = VIPorter Passport
  • 8 segments = VIPorter Venture
  • 17 segments = VIPorter Ascent
  • 28 or more segments = VIPorter First

Members will have to first submit their applications on Porter’s website. Registration will remain open until September 6, 2023.

In order to maintain their membership level through 2024, customers will have until the end of 2023 to reach the following reduced qualifying spend (QS) targets:

  • Passport = $500 in QS
  • Venture = $750 in QS
  • Ascent = $1500 in QS
  • First = $2500 in QS

Over the past year, Porter has launched an aggressive expansion strategy, including everything from introducing longer flights on newly-purchased jet planes flying out of Toronto Pearson, free WiFi, and a new all-inclusive economy experience.

With Canadians losing both Swoop and Sunwing as WestJet incorporates both into their mainline business, Porter’s direct competition is welcome to keep prices competitive.

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