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Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

The Covid-19 pandemic unleashed suffering on a global scale not seen in our lifetimes. As if waves of sicknesses and death were not bad enough, businesses everywhere were rocked to the core, resulting in job loss and economic hardship. And it’s not over. But amid the turmoil, some businesses fought hard to emerge from 2020 as strong or even stronger than they were before the pandemic changed everything. Here are their stories, and the lessons we may learn from them.

1 Take Care of Your People: Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers Rallies through a Hard Times

Todd Graves saw the storm coming. Graves, the co-founder and CEO of fast-food chain Raising Caine’s Chicken Fingers, followed the spread of Covid-19 in China before the virus was news in the United States. He read about lockdowns happening to contain the virus. He quickly grasped the potential impact of Covid-19 on his business. …


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Vinyl album sale are hitting historic highs in the United States, casting a spotlight on the importance of album cover art. Album sleeve design plays an essential role in expressing a musician’s vision and sparking curiosity through visual storytelling. In the digital age, album cover art is even more valuable. That’s because digital gives musicians more ways to raise awareness for their work through the visual power of an album cover — on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Tumblr, Twitter, and so on. The memorable covers of 2020 expressed the times we live in. …


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How did you spend your Thanksgiving? Did you check in with your aunt on Zoom or perhaps take a walk around the neighborhood with your immediate family? Although some defied the CDC advisory about family gatherings and traveled to be with loved ones, it looks like many of us stayed home and . . . shopped online. According to Adobe Analytics, Thanksgiving Day spending online rose by nearly 22 percent year over year to $5.1 billion, hitting a new record.


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Netflix has declared checkmate with the release of The Queen’s Gambit miniseries, which premiered October 23. The Queen’s Gambit, which tells the story of a woman’s journey to becoming a chess master, is probably the most talked about production of 2020 as well as critically acclaimed, with a rare 100-percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Netflix has not released viewership numbers yet, but The Queen’s Gambit is certainly going to rank at or near the top when compared to anything else Netflix has created during the company’s great creative run in recent years. But the miniseries is more than a critical success. It’s a cultural touchstone that has quickly forged a deep connection emotionally with its audience. …


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Wonder Woman is changing with the times. When she squares off against Maxwell Lord and the Cheetah in Wonder Woman 1984 (aka WW84) on December 25, she’ll do so in movie theaters and on streaming service HBO Max. That’s right: streaming services have been promoted to first-run status. Or maybe it’s the other way around: movie studios are crawling to the streaming services.

Welcome to the rise of New Hollywood during the pandemic.

Old Hollywood Is in Trouble

Old Hollywood studios are in a terrible bind. Going into 2020, they’d scheduled their usual slate of big-budget blockbusters for global release in theaters around the world. Those titles included tentpole films such as Warner Brothers’s WW84 and MGM’s No Time to Die, the latest James Bond thriller and the last to star the ever-popular Daniel Craig as Bond. Hopes were high for both: WW84 followed 2017’s lucrative Wonder Woman, and James Bond movies are perennial cash cows. …


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A few days ago, I was listening to God’s Favorite Customer, an album released in 2018 by Father John Misty, the stage name adopted by Josh Tillman. I hadn’t listened to the album in a year. I do not know why I put it on my record player now. Maybe I was prompted by a random glance at his resigned face on the album sleeve, backlit with a surreal glow, as if he were reflecting on yet another day full of disturbing news about a pandemic. I placed the album on the turntable and gave it a fresh listen.

As I explored the landscape of his naked angst, I found myself playing repeatedly a song called “The Palace.” The more I listened, the more I realized Father John Misty had written the song for me. For this moment. How did he know two years ago that in 2020 the world would spiral out of control, and some guy from Illinois he’d never met would claim the song as his own? …


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Social media continues to erupt with comments about Eddie Van Halen, who passed away October 6, a victim of cancer. Most of the posts (including a few of my own) consist of very loud audio clips of Van Halen shredding the guitar with his famous finger-tapping technique.

More than a few discuss his lifestyle of debauchery and excess (after all, he was a god who walked the earth, and being a rock god confers carnal privileges that mere mortals can only dream of). …


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As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, you put your life on the line by leaving your house to fill up the gas tank or to re-stock your aspirin supply. When you walk into a store, you might encounter someone who decides to recklessly endanger everyone else by refusing to wear a mask. It’s hard to believe that an act as simple as covering your face in a public space is too difficult for many people to do. But selfishness is apparently as American as apple pie.

Fortunately we still have some bastions of relative safety, such as stores like Target and Starbucks that require customers to wear masks. So far, Target and Starbucks seem to be holding to their policies. Other national chains such as Walmart and Lowes, while technically requiring masks, are willing to relax the rules in order to protect employees from customers who flout the requirements in a threatening way. …


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Can Kanye West help the Gap dig itself out of deep hole?

Many retail analysts are asking this question in the wake of the Gap’s recently announced agreement to carry West’s Yeezy clothing line online and in stores. The agreement has already injected his own crazy brand of cool into a struggling brand. But the Yeezy Gap line won’t even hit Gap brick-and-mortar stores until 2021. As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the future of those stores remains in doubt. …


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Coca-Cola recently announced a technology, contactless pouring, that makes it possible for people to choose and pour a drink from a Coke Freestyle fountain machine without needing to touch the display screen. With contactless pouring, consumers choose flavors and pour drinks by using their mobile devices to scan a QR code on the dispenser display. The news generated a few eye-roll responses on social media, including one doubting Thomas who wondered what all the fuss was about:

About

David Deal

Writer and pop culture lover.

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