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Please note that there will be no newsletter published on February 19 due to New Brunswick's Family Day holiday. The next issue will be published on February 26.

February 12-25, 2024

In this issue...

• Loblaw has second public relations crisis in recent weeks. What's next?

• CBC Radio's Under the Influence: The power of audio

• By the numbers X 10 + 1

• Is there really that much value at Value Village?

• Sesame Street's Elmo asked his X (Twitter) followers how they were doing. Turns out... not so great.

• Next Greater Moncton Sunrise Rotary Trivia Night: Monday, February 26

• Valentine's Day is Wednesday, February 14

• Before you go: 7 things you may have missed last week

... and trivia, quotes, community events and more!

Loblaw has second public relations crisis in recent weeks. What's next?

As a financial decision, no one could blame Loblaw for signing a deal with a major health insurance company for exclusive access to its clients, but someone should have had communications-focused foresight to look ahead and see the real risks. After a debacle where Loblaw (which owns Shoppers Drug Mart and has its own in-house pharmacies) saw it retreat from reducing markdowns on aging produce, it found itself caught up in Manulife's inexplicably cruel deal that made certain medications only covered at Loblaw-owned pharmacies.

The result: You were out of luck getting certain medications covered if you found yourself living in a small town with no Shoppers Drug Mart. And believe it or not - there are places with no Shoppers Drug Mart within a reasonable driving distance - or even flight distance.

Article excerpt: "Manulife will cover specialty drugs filled at any pharmacy, the insurance company said Monday, backtracking on its decision to only cover drugs filled at Loblaw-owned pharmacies less than a week after the exclusivity deal was announced.

The company said in a statement posted on its website that it was making the change so quickly because 'feedback is deeply rooted in our company's long-standing history and culture.'

'This decision ensures Canadians have choice, access and flexibility in managing their health,' the website reads in the Q&A portion of its statement.

It added that the change will be made effective 'swiftly' and that further updates will be posted to its website.

Members with specialty drug prescriptions can still receive their medications through Bayshore and Loblaw-owned pharmacies. Home delivery will still be an option."

For an example of lack of access, check out the linked article below. There are no Loblaw-owned pharmacies in the entirety of Labrador - yet you can be sure that Manulife would happily take your premiums if you lived there.

Oyyyy... why don't people think these things through?

Read: Manulife will cover specialty drugs filled at any pharmacy following backlash to Loblaw deal. Related: All of Loblaw-less Labrador cut out as Manulife makes exclusive deal with retail giant.

CBC Radio's Under the Influence: The power of audio

The latest episodes of CBC Radio's Under the Influence with host Terry O'Reilly looked at the power of audio in advertising and promotions.

February 8, 2024 - Putting the Awe in Audio. Synopsis: "This week, we look at the most creative audio ideas from around the world. Including a podcast for runners that only works if you’re actually running, a police recruitment campaign that capitalized on the popularity of true crime, and a very ambitious alternative audio track created to be played over Disney’s Pocahontas movie - that tells the truth behind the fairy tale." Click here to listen to the episode and here for the website post.

Click here for the show's website and here for the show's podcast archive.

By the numbers X 10 + 1

• 1. Just 2 northern white rhinos are left on Earth. A new breakthrough offers hope.

• 2. 6 things teens say they really need for their mental health

• 3. 8 out-there pizza toppings you can only find in Canada

• 4. 10 standout red carpet looks from the 2024 Grammy Awards

• 5. 14 can't-miss carbonara recipes

• 6. 75 hilarious birthday jokes that are guaranteed to get a laugh

• 7. For some bars, the best ice comes from 5,500 miles away

• 8. We've studied over 30,000 couples - here are 6 phrases you’ll hear in the most successful relationships

• 9. Michael Jordan’s collection of 6 championship sneakers sells for record $8 million at Sotheby’s auction

• 10. Threads now reaches more than 130 million monthly users, says Meta, up 30M from Q3

• Bonus: 285-year-old lemon auctioned for $1,780

Is there really that much value at Value Village?

People seem to forget that Value Village is a for-profit company. They may pay organizations for collecting things (which is good), but in the end not everything is a guaranteed bargain - and consumers should know that.

Article excerpt: "While browsing the goods at a Value Village store in Toronto, Evan Boyce spotted something he didn't expect: A used vase for sale with a Value Village price tag of $8.99. Then he realized the original price tag was still on - and to buy it at a Dollarama store would have cost only $3.

'Three times what it would have cost brand new …It's pretty ridiculous, right? Just kind of feels like a rip off to be honest,' said Boyce, a 30-year-old who works for a renewable energy company.

The examples of questionable pricing at Value Village have been piling up for months. In Courtenay, B.C., one shopper found kids shoes priced at $6.49, while the original tag said $3. A used book at a store in Winnipeg was being sold for double what it would have cost at its previous retailer.

Boyce voiced what many customers have been asking: 'Most of what they have is donated. Why is there the need to mark it up so much?'

Shoppers have also recently called out the pricing practices of Goodwill and Salvation Army, which are non-profit organizations.

Value Village is a for-profit business owned by parent company Savers Value Village. U.S. private equity firm Ares Management is a majority shareholder, and helped take the company public last year.

The business model is pretty simple: All of its inventory comes from secondhand donations, some of which are collected by non-profit partners including Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Kidney Foundation. Value Village pays those partners a flat rate for the goods which the company says amounts to millions of dollars every year."

A lot of things at Value Village are completely overpriced, including items still with $3 Dollarama price tags attached being sold for $8-$9. You would think (!!) that someone at Value Village would see that and figure it out. After all, there's a Dollarama on virtually every corner, it seems. (In my hometown, there's a Dollarama about a 30-second drive from Value Village.)

Read: Consumers look to Value Village for a bargain. Many are finding "ridiculous" markups.

Sesame Street's Elmo asked his X (Twitter) followers how they were doing. Turns out... not so great.

Be careful what you wish for when you ask a question on social media - especially when you ask how people are feeling on a social media network known for its deep toxicity.

On January 29, Sesame Street's beloved Elmo asked everyone how they were doing on X (Twitter), and he was bombarded with a lot of depressing replies, even from celebrities. It's not often that fictional character gets such an outpouring of responses, but Elmo is everyone's best friend, right?

Article excerpt: "How is everybody doing? The answer, it seems, is not great.

When Elmo, the Muppet, innocently asked people how they were on X (formerly Twitter), thousands of users replied, sharing their grief and despair.

The Sesame Street character has now responded, saying he's 'glad he asked' and posting the hashtag #EmotionalWellBeing.

U.S. President Joe Biden agreed, posting: 'Our friend Elmo is right: We have to be there for each other.'

It all began with a casual question, posed by the much-loved children's TV character on Monday morning.

'Elmo is just checking in! How is everybody doing?' he asked on X.

Cue a collective breakdown by the internet.

'Elmo I'm suffering from existential dread over here,' wrote one user.

'Every morning, I cannot wait to go back to sleep. Every Monday, I cannot wait for Friday to come. Every single day and every single week for life,' another wrote."

Sesame Street and Elmo clearly hit a nerve with the question and continued to follow up in subsequent days with messages of comfort.

Photo credit: Elmo's X (Twitter) profile.

Read: Elmo responds to outpouring of angst on social media.

Next Greater Moncton Sunrise Rotary Trivia Night: Monday, February 26

The next Greater Moncton Sunrise Rotary Club Trivia Night will be held at St. Louis Bar & Grill, 1405 Mountain Road, in Moncton on Monday, February 26, beginning at 6:30 p.m. $10 per person (cash only). Click here for the Facebook event listing.

Participants may play as teams or individuals. The winning team gets 50% of the door receipts as their prize.

It is strongly suggested that participants arrive by 5:15-5:30 p.m. for a seat. Trivia begins at 6:30 p.m. sharp and is usually over by 8 p.m. Everyone welcome!

Please note that restaurant reservations are NOT available for this event. First come, first served. Limited seating of approximately 50 guests.

Participants may bring an optional non-perishable food item (box of granola bars, Kraft Dinner, cereal, etc.) for distribution at Krista Richard's Community Sports Program events, of which the Greater Moncton Sunrise Rotary Club is a sponsor. Any donations will be gratefully received and provided to Krista for distribution to her program participants (school-aged children from Moncton-area schools).

Since Rotary Trivia Nights began in 2016, the Greater Moncton Sunrise Rotary Club has donated nearly $20,000 to Atlantic Wellness, Karing Kitchen, Ray of Hope Kitchen, Salvus Clinic, The Humanity Project, BGC Moncton (Moncton Boys & Girls Club), Junior Achievement New Brunswick, Project Linus - Moncton Chapter, and Krista Richard's Community Sports Program, among others. During the last Rotary Trivia Night season (September 2022 to May 2023), more than $6,000 was raised.

The Greater Moncton Sunrise Rotary Club gratefully acknowledges the kind and generous sponsorship of its restaurant partner, St. Louis Bar & Grill.

See you on January 22!

Valentine's Day is Wednesday, February 14

Valentine's Day is nearly here - and that means two things: 1) Spring is right around corner!; 2) And 50% marked down Valentine's Day chocolates are right around the corner, too!

Here are some links to help you get ready:

Vogue: 10 comfortable (and chic!) Valentine’s Day outfit ideas

14 Valentine's Day cookies you can totally make with your kids

21 best last-minute Valentine's Day gift ideas for him under $25, $50, $100 and beyond

30 heart-shaped foods to share with your sweetheart

Canada: How the high cost of living is impacting Valentine's Day

Pizza Hut will deliver "Goodbye Pies" with a break-up message for Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide 2024: Best travel gifts for book lovers

The best Valentine’s Day gifts from Amazon for everyone on your list

For Valentine's Day, learn your mind-body's love language

Food Network Canada: Valentine's Day

Before you go: 7 things you may have missed last week

• 1.Country music star Toby Keith dead at 62 (see photo)

• 2. Complete list of 2024 Grammy winners

• 3. Here are all the 2024 Juno nominees

• 4. Weird ancient tree from before dinosaurs found in New Brunswick quarry

• 5. Hockey legend Lanny McDonald suffers cardiac event returning from NHL all-star game

• 6. Rocky actor, former linebacker Carl Weathers dead at 76

• 7. Workers who cut crushed quartz countertops say they are falling ill

Photo credit: Actor Stock photos by Vecteezy

Trivia: Did you know?

Even cartoon characters have maiden names!

Before she married the love of her life - Fred Flintstone - Wilma Flintstone went by her maiden name: Wilma Slaghoople.

And now you know!

Quotes of note

• 1. "You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection."

- Buddha 563-483 B.C. (see photo)

• 2. “I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, ‘Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.'"

- Lewis Carroll

• 3. "One kind word can warm three winter months."

- Japanese Proverb

• 4. "I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape—the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show."

- Andrew Wyeth

• 5. "If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."

- Anne Bradstreet

• 6. "There's just something beautiful about walking in snow that nobody else has walked on. It makes you believe you're special."

- Carol Rifka Brunt

• 7. "Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them - that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like."

- Lao Tzu

• 8. "If you resolve to give up smoking, drinking and loving, you don't actually live longer; it just seems longer."

- Clement Freud

• 9. "Joe Frazier is so ugly that when he cries, the tears turn around and go down the back of his head."

- Boxing legend Muhammad Ali commenting on his rival

• 10. “You spend 90% of your adult life hoping for a long rest and the last 10% trying to convince the Lord that you’re actually not that tired."

- Robert Brault

Enjoy the outdoors this winter with the Greater Moncton Walking Group

The Greater Moncton Walking Group is walking in Centennial Park in February with meetup in the parking lot on St. George Boulevard. In March, the Walking Group moves to the Northwest Trail with meetup in the parking lot of the YMCA North End at 70 Twin Oaks Drive, Moncton.

The group meets for walks every Tuesday and Thursday at 8:30 a.m. New participants are always welcome! For more information, please contact Wayne Harrigan at 506-386-2187 or via email.

Acadian mugs with family names - dozens of options!

New from Acadistuff: Acadian flag mugs with family names. Dozens of options available! Shipping to Canada and the U.S. is included in all prices. Taxes extra.

• 11-oz. mug: Click here

• 15-oz. mug: Click here

Don't see your family name there? Contact me via email to have it added.

These mugs have been shipped all over North America!

There are many more Acadian-branded items available, as well, including hats, aprons, pillows and even blankets! Click here for the entire Acadistuff catalog.

About this newsletter

Brian Cormier's Weekly Update is distributed weekly from September to June via email to more than 500 subscribers in addition to many others who access it online. If you're reading this newsletter online and want to subscribe, please email me, fill out the subscription form on my website, or subscribe via the "Join Our Email List" button at the top of the newsletter (if you're viewing this in a browser.) This newsletter is not published in July and August and on holidays.

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