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Prince William shopping centers adapt to demographic changes | Headlines


The coronavirus pandemic devastated many brick-and-mortar retailers and forced a rapid shift to online and curbside services.

Commercial business agents, however, see long-lasting resiliency that’s here to stay.

“COVID showed us what was essential and what was non-essential,” said Carmela Patrick of Weber Rector Commercial Realty.

Patrick spoke last week during a panel discussion about the future of shopping centers. The event was held by Prince William County’s Economic Development Department.

Neabsco District Supervisor Victor Angry, who introduced the panel, talked about the need to revitalize shopping centers, ranging from malls to commercial strips.

“We have many shopping centers, shopping malls, that are really outdated,” he said. “What we’re seeing is a lot of these shopping centers with a lot of asphalt parking lots that are not being utilized.”

John Jacobs, CEO and founder of Broadreach SMI, a strategic planning firm, said vacancy rates in shopping centers reached a high of 11.4% nationwide in the first quarter of 2020. He said the country had roughly 115,000 shopping centers in 2020.

Stephanie Cegielski, vice president of research and public relations with the International Council of Shopping Centers, said the success or failure of shopping centers is often driven by the communities around them. Facilities in wealthier areas are typically doing better than those in poorer areas.

Cegielski said as Baby Boomers die and millennials and Gen Z become the dominant consumer base, shopping centers are continuously adapting. “They are perpetually in a state of reinvention.”

Jen Snitselaar, general manager of Potomac Mills, said the Prince William shopping center adapted to the changes of the pandemic by focusing on short-term rentals and curbside pickup.

Snitselaar said short-term rentals have allowed local businesses to thrive among department stores. She gave the example of a woman who made Christian t-shirts and sold them on the weekends from a stand in the mall. Eventually the woman had enough success to quit her full-time job and lease a storefront.

“These pieces of the community that are represented and mixed with our national brands makes a really nice experience for our customers,” she said.

In some struggling malls that are losing anchor stores, Cegielski said non-traditional users are taking over, such as corporations or community colleges. Between 2016 and 2019, Jacobs said Amazon bought 25 malls in the U.S. and converted them to distribution centers.

Patrick said some shopping centers are being used to aid in the fight against the pandemic. She highlighted Prince William’s leasing of space in the Manassas Mall and the former Gander Mountain store in Woodbridge for vaccination clinics.

“The space is empty and the landlord wants to rent it,” she said.

Cegielski said she’s seen former restaurants become urgent-care clinics, signifying an adapting market that’s willing to use existing space rather than start from scratch. “You’ve got what you need instead of knocking that building down or letting it sit vacant.”

Patrick said that although some shopping centers are struggling, the end’s not near. “We are a consumer culture and I don’t think malls are going anywhere.”

Ready to Take the Leap of Business Ownership? Hard Trends Set the Foundation


During the course of one’s professional career, the thought crosses their mind that, “I wish I could just work for myself,” or they take a look at a product, service, or process and state, “there has got to be a better way.

Nearly every day, an individual with that inkling takes the leap into entrepreneurship, hoping to positively disrupt an industry, make a difference in the world, or become the next Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, to be remembered for something they created that did not exist before them.

Entrepreneurship Can Be Low-Risk

Starting a business or inventing something disruptive can be a risky endeavor; however, as I teach frequently in my Anticipatory Leader System, innovation based on certainty is low-risk, whereas innovation based on uncertainty is high-risk. But how does a new entrepreneur differentiate between low- and high-risk endeavors?

They’re actually differentiating between Hard Trends and Soft Trends, where Hard Trends are future certainties that will happen and Soft Trends are future possibilities that are open to influence. With these, an Anticipatory Leader paints a picture for themselves of what will happen in this world, how those certainties will disrupt industries, and what they can do to leverage those disruptions to their advantage. This methodology makes innovation and entrepreneurship in general a far more low-risk endeavor.

Start With Cycles

Using my Hard Trend Methodology to establish a low-risk environment for innovation takes practice, and one of the better ways to practice this is by mastering the concept of cycles. Let’s explore a few cycles we come across in our everyday lives that help with identifying Hard Trends.

First, consider the fact that tomorrow will come. Can you say with complete certainty that the sun will, in fact, rise in the east tomorrow? Barring any major change in the Earth’s rotation, tomorrow’s sunrise is a recurring future certainty; a Hard Trend!

When that inevitable sunrise wakes you up, it is likely that you will be hungry for breakfast. After starting your day with a meal, it is a future certainty that you will, indeed, be hungry for lunch, and then, eventually, hungry for dinner. This cycle then repeats indefinitely; it is a cycle that keeps you nourished and healthy.

How about the biological life cycle of a human being? If a child is born today, they will grow up, and continue to age every day. Aging is a Hard Trend; however, no matter how long one’s life is, not a single living thing on this planet has taken a sip out of a proverbial fountain of youth, where they cease to age, making this a recurring cycle of life.

Leveraging Cycles for Positive Disruption

These likely seem simple when you read them; however, my purpose for writing this is to give you a launchpad to identify more complex cycles that are integral in developing transformative business ideas. While most individuals take cycles for granted, the Anticipatory entrepreneur views these occurrences more exponentially.

Future certainties have future possibilities, or Soft Trends, that are open to influence. Looking at the aforementioned cycles that happen every day, we can quite easily identify the Soft Trends that come in tow. An individual that grows hungry throughout the day is a Hard Trend, but what they’re craving is a Soft Trend open to influence by your specialty food truck parked near their place of employment.

The Hard Trend that every individual born eventually grows up brings with it a multitude of Soft Trends, such as what each generation prefers in the way of clothing, entertainment choices, purchasing patterns, and so forth. And finally, the sun rising every day brings unlimited Soft Trends if you think about it! How many different occurrences in your everyday life are open to influence?

Applying It To Business

After a mastery in the basic understanding of everyday cycles and where Hard Trends and Soft Trends make appearances in our daily lives, identifying these same occurrences in business and industries becomes second nature to an Anticipatory entrepreneur.

Cycles are largely rooted in patterns of behaviors. When we focus on different generations that have buying power, such as Baby Boomers, Millennials, and even Generation Z, we start to discover just how cyclical their spending habits are to their generational predecessors.

For example, I have referenced in the past about how, in the eighties, the debut of the minivan was in large part because Baby Boomers were beginning to have families and did not want to emulate their parents by buying the station wagon of years gone by. Therefore, Dodge recognized this and introduced the minivan – a new type of family transport never before seen.

Now that millennials not only have their own buying power, but are also starting to have their own families, the Hard Trend becomes clear: generations will get married, have children, and need a family vehicle. The Soft Trend is also evident: what they want is open to influence.

Anticipate to Pre-Solve Problems

Automobile manufacturers used these principles of my Anticipatory Organization Model to recognize the Hard Trend that younger generations would grow up and eventually have families of their own, and duly noted the cycle that they, too, would likely reject the notion of driving their families around in a minivan.

Soon, you saw clear evidence of heeding the Soft Trend of what they would prefer to drive, and now we have a plethora of crossover vehicles that embody both the sleekness of a coupe and the convenience of an SUV.

Learning to master understanding cycles coupled with implementing my Hard Trend Methodology brings a level of low-risk certainty to every entrepreneur, whether new to business, or trying to stay ahead of disruptions of any kind. The only real way to “maintain the status quo,” so to speak, is to use anticipation to become a positive disruptor, setting the status quo.

Originally published here.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, questioning authority is killing people


“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.” —Benjamin Franklin

Franklin may have said it first, but the last two words of his maxim were popularized most by Timothy Leary, who Richard Nixon called “the most dangerous man in America.” After Nixon was forced from office, the words “became arguably the most accepted form of ideology among baby boomers,” says Wikipedia – which itself illustrates how authority has been diffused in the last 50 years.

Authority always needs questioning. When baby boomers were growing up, a series of presidents waged a war and misled the public about it, costing more than 58,000 American lives. The last of those presidents, Nixon, abused his office and the Constitution. In the wake of the Watergate scandal, confidence in the news media, which had revealed those perfidies, reached an all-time high.

In those days, the news media were the primary alternate authority that kept official authority in bounds, and that’s the way the writers of the Constitution and its First Amendment envisioned it. The amendment’s main author, James Madison, told Kentucky Lt. Gov. William Barry in 1822, “A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce, or a tragedy, or perhaps both.”

Al Cross: ‘God save us from the Kentucky General Assembly.’ They’re making deadly decisions

“Popular information,” to Madison, meant information that was available to, and easily understandable by, the general public – the electorate. Today, technology has made information more “popular” than Madison could ever have imagined, and it is easier than ever to question authority. But when that leads to undermining public trust in authorities that are essential to the proper functioning of democracy and civil society, we have too much of a good thing.

In the last year, millions of Americans have come to believe that local and state election officials allowed a presidential election to be stolen, and to suspect that public-health officials and medical experts have ulterior motives in trying to get as many people as possible vaccinated for the deadly coronavirus – despite no real evidence to support either belief.

These authorities are not misusing their authority, but Donald Trump and some of his allies who are in the business of spouting opinion would have you at least suspect that they are. They want you to listen instead to them, for their own selfish reasons. They may say, “Do your own research,” but for too many that means following a social-media post into a rabbit hole of misinformation – or even disinformation, which is purposeful misinformation from Russians or whoever.

These voices also disparage news media, some of which have become too partisan and too reliant on opinion in their hunger for audience. But they still have allegiance to fact, and facts are what democracy needs to function well. The news business pays for journalism, which practices a discipline of verification. In a news story, the reporter says how he or she knows something, or attributes it to someone who is quoted or paraphrased. Social media have little discipline and hardly any verification. Whom should you believe?

Joe Gerth: The disinformation spread by deniers when Beshear speaks is as deadly as COVID-19 itself

Sadly, that argument seems lost in a media environment that reflects the bad faith and lack of trust that permeates American society today – and a political system that reflects society.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell knows what the facts are when it comes to the coronavirus and vaccines, and he has used his bully pulpit to promote vaccination, but he has his limits. That showed recently, when I asked him the same question I had posed 13½ months before: “What level of confidence do you have in Dr. Anthony Fauci?” In July 2020, when some were attacking Fauci, McConnell’s reply was one word: “Total.”

Asked the same question Aug. 30, he didn’t answer directly, saying: “”Oh, look. I’ve said, Al, the same thing over and over and over for months. We know the vaccine works; we know this is largely a rising epidemic among the unvaccinated, and without getting into an argument about who’s the best health-care adviser out there, it doesn’t make any difference. We know the vaccine works, we know the people who are not vaccinated are the ones who are in the hospitals.”

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, seems to have become a political lightning rod that McConnell fears to touch. That began in Trump’s presidency. When a president and his allies make a villain of the nation’s most prominent physician, that casts doubt on other health professionals, who should be the key messengers for vaccination. Are they?

A recent poll found that only 20% of Kentucky adults said a health-care provider had contacted them about getting vaccinated for COVID-19. Has the subject become such a lightning rod that these authorities are reluctant to speak with their voices of authority, to save lives? Let’s hope not.

Al Cross, a former Courier Journal political writer, is professor and director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky. He writes this column for the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism. Reach him on Twitter @ruralj.

The high-end retirement homes aimed at wealthy boomers


Stephanie Hoppen never thought she would end up in a home designed for people aged over 60. Happily living in a four-bedroom apartment in Chelsea, south-west London, the former art gallery owner describes herself as “super active” in her mid-seventies. Yet a tour of a new high-end senior living rental scheme, Auriens Chelsea — where prices start at £13,750 a month — changed her mind.

“I wouldn’t move away from Chelsea because my whole life is here, but when I saw that I could rent somewhere and have everything done for me, where I could entertain, there was an amazing sauna, swimming pool, food supplied by Claridge’s, I thought why not?,” she says. “My daughter Kelly [the interior designer] thinks it’s a great idea.”

There is about £40bn in equity tied up in residential property owned by people over 65 in prime central London, according to estate agency Knight Frank. Developers believe more people like Hoppen will be motivated to move out of a large property — freeing up housing stock for families — if they are provided with the right alternatives. London has been lacking high-end schemes for retirees, but this is beginning to change.

Over the past five years, 41,464 new seniors’ housing units [specialist property built for independent seniors, usually defined as aged over 55 or 60] have been built across the UK, while the population aged 75-plus has risen by more than 550,000, according to Knight Frank research. “The baby-boomer generation [those born 1946-64] is hitting retirement age and our limited supply of senior housing will struggle to support them,” says Tom Scaife, head of senior living at Knight Frank.

The surroundings and exterior of Auriens Chelsea
The surroundings and exterior of Auriens Chelsea

The number of senior living housing units across the UK stands at about 750,000 across 25,000 schemes, with 9 per cent of that in London. The company forecasts the UK-wide figure to grow to 820,000 by 2025, helped by increasing institutional investment and partnerships between operators and builders to unlock development sites.


Equity tied up in residential property by people over 65 in prime central London

“Investors have begun to consider the [senior living] sector to be an asset class in its own right for its scope to produce a long-term, regular income,” says Scaife.

Important deals include AXA acquiring Retirement Villages Group Ltd, a developer/manager with 14 sites in southern England; Goldman Sachs backing operator Riverstone Living to develop five to 10 London schemes; and Audley Group’s joint venture with Schroders and Octopus to deliver 2,000 units nationwide. This summer, Legal & General (L&G) entered a 15-year joint venture with the NatWest Group Pension Fund to invest £500m of equity into later-living schemes that will be developed by the operator Inspired Villages.

Column chart of Percentage of households in a given wealth band by age of head of household  showing A high proportion of baby boomers have total household wealth of £1m or more

But will the pandemic affect people’s willingness to downsize? Last month, a survey by L&G Financial Advice found that fewer than one in four households headed by someone aged over 55 — roughly 2.9m homes — planned to downsize in the near future, down from 3.1m in 2018.

At the same time, the pandemic has led to loneliness and a reassessment of living arrangements. “For some, being isolated and without any practical support, the family home has become a prison,” says Nick Sanderson, chief executive of Audley Group, which this year agreed a deal with Homes England, the government’s housing agency, for a £4.5bn loan to accelerate the construction of 255 mid-market retirement homes.

Audley’s first London scheme — Nightingale Place in Clapham, south-west London — is one of a new breed of aspirational schemes more akin to a private members’ club than the traditional image of a retirement home. The amount of space devoted to high-spec amenities such as gyms, wellness facilities and restaurants sets them apart, as do sophisticated rosters of services, including discreet in-flat healthcare.

William and Jee Wong, who downsized from a four-bedroom townhouse in Clapham for a one-bedroom flat at Nightingale Place
William and Jee Wong, who downsized from a four-bedroom townhouse in Clapham for a one-bedroom flat at Nightingale Place © Lucy Ranson

“Today a 77-year-old [the average age of retirement home entry] is very different to one 25 years ago: healthier, university educated, globally travelled, part of the tech revolution; they demand much more,” says Sanderson.

At Nightingale Place, 40 per cent of the flats, priced from £675,000, have sold. The typical buyer sells a £1.5m-£1.7m home to move there. This equity release will pay the upkeep costs for William and Jee Wong, who swapped their four-bedroom townhouse nearby for a one-bedroom flat at Nightingale.

“I was sceptical about paying over £1,000 a month in service charges but I now realise this is money well spent,” says the 92-year-old former engineer. “We feel superbly looked after — with on-site hydrotherapy, free physiotherapy, film and opera performances every week.” Staying close to one of their three children was another factor. “We can entertain the whole family here [in the on-site restaurant] but don’t have to put up with all the relatives from Singapore!”

He’s one of the oldest residents, but Leonie Paskin, 66, has made the move earlier. This month she moved into a two-bedroom apartment at the Landsby, in Stanmore, north London, after selling her large house in nearby Northwood.

Nightingale Place in Clapham, Developer Audley Group aims to build 255 mid-market retirement homes with the help of a government loan
Nightingale Place in Clapham. Developer Audley Group aims to build 255 mid-market retirement homes with the help of a government loan © Julian Franklin

“I am anxious to avoid ending up in a care home like my father,” says the former clinical director at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital. “Because of the lockdowns, residents got to know each other quickly. A friend who’s 96 goes to the gym every day but I spend more time in the bar/restaurant. I love the hotel-style feel and can’t imagine being lonely.”

Gavin Stein, chief executive of Elysian, the Landsby’s owner and operator, says it adopted its approach from the US, where later-living schemes are part of the hospitality sector. The UK later-living sector lags behind international comparisons, with 0.6 per cent of over-65s residing in later-living communities, compared with 5-6 per cent in the US, New Zealand and Australia.

“The sector needs to be more customer-led and keep evolving to offer what buyers really want,” he says. At Elysian’s level of the market, Stein believes this means purchasing a home (rather than renting one) in a well-staffed complex with a restaurant, cocktail bar, rooftop gym and a library curated by bookseller Foyles. Prices start from £480,000 for a one-bedroom flat, increasing to £1.55m for a two-bedroom penthouse. The service charge is £250 per month.

The Landsby, in Stanmore, north London
The Landsby, in Stanmore, north London © Tom St Aubyn

Elysian has another site in Hampstead, north London, completing in 2024. Also in Hampstead, the developer Lifestory is launching Fitzjohn, a scheme of 29 apartments for retirees, with prices starting at £2m.

Aside from the purchase cost and the monthly fees, many operators charge an additional “deferred fee” (typically a percentage of the original or resale price, determined by the length of stay) when the property is sold after the resident dies or moves away — a structure that is widely used in Australia and New Zealand.

At Riverstone Fulham — an over-65s scheme of 162 flats in south-west London — the deferred fee is 4 per cent of the purchase price for every year of occupation, capped at 28 per cent (seven years is the average retirement home stay worldwide). Prices start from £860,000 for a one-bedroom flat, and the monthly service charge is £1,335 per apartment.

“We are very transparent about all the charges that they might incur over the average seven-year stay,” says Carsten Swift, sales director at Riverstone. He says it may be possible to recoup some costs through capital appreciation. “If the apartment is sold seven to 10 years later, at say £1.1m, then the 28 per cent [£240,800] is covered, and the deferred fee is free of inheritance tax [40 per cent on estates worth more than £325,000].”

The gardens at Riverstone Fulham, an over-65s scheme of 162 flats
The gardens at Riverstone Fulham, an over-65s scheme of 162 flats

London’s first luxury scheme of this type, Battersea Place, opened five years ago. After living in Sloane Square, widower Robert Norbury decided to buy a flat there in December, primarily for peace of mind. “Living by myself, I realised that if I had a stroke, nobody would find me,” says the 83-year-old former financial consultant.

Some argue that, for this age group, renting makes more sense than buying. “By selling a property, the owner can free up the cash to be able to pay the rental fees on a home, and to start making gifts to their family, before the inheritance tax (IHT) clock starts ticking down,” says Mark Collins of Handelsbanken Wealth Management, referring to the fact that gifts made seven years before death are free from IHT.

“A rental tenant may also have greater funds to pay for a transfer to a care home (if needed),” he adds. “Finally, if you own your property you are beholden to the operator to sell it — to a much smaller market [than the open market] — so it’s not necessarily a great asset to hold. It may be an added hassle for your executors to deal with, as well as being subject to IHT.”

The courtyard at Fitzjohn in Hampstead, which has 29 apartments for retirees, with prices starting at £2m
The courtyard at Fitzjohn in Hampstead, which has 29 apartments for retirees, with prices starting at £2m

Auriens Chelsea, which opened this month, is presently the capital’s only high-end senior living scheme offering rentals. The developer originally wanted to sell the properties from £3m to £10.5m but, with reservations slow and London’s prime property market depressed, it changed to a rental model at the start of 2018.

David Meagher, Auriens’ chief executive, says many of his prospective tenants are not interested in buying a retirement home. “They don’t want their cash tied up, and [want] to have the flexibility to leave with three months’ notice, or to downsize for inheritance tax reasons,” he says. Serving the 56 flats (three are occupied so far) will be 60 staff including some trained at five-star hotels.

Auriens is planning a similar scheme next to Lord’s Cricket Ground in St John’s Wood, to open in 2022. Like Stephanie Hoppen, well-heeled locals might be persuaded that not all retirement schemes are what they expect.

Buying guide

  • There are almost 1.1m people aged 65+ in Greater London, set to increase by 30 per cent in the next 10 years to 1.4m. The capital has 65,000 senior housing units, of which 79 per cent are affordable housing.

What you can buy for . . .

£480,000 A one-bedroom apartment at the Landsby in Stanmore, north London.
£1.115m A one-bedroom apartment at Riverstone Kensington, west London.
£2m A one-bedroom apartment at Fitzjohn, in Hampstead, north London.

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Three Key Pillars Guiding the Success of Small Brands


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You’re reading Entrepreneur United States, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Over the last decade, we’ve seen drastic changes in consumers’ eating behaviors, but nothing in history has fast-tracked consumer trends like the events of the past year. Consumers shifted from grabbing comfort food to demanding healthier options, clean ingredients, premium quality, and new flavors. In turn, we have seen consumer tastes move from big name brands to new better-for-you ones.  At our clean-label brand, an unprecedented 30% of our growth over the last year has come from new consumers. 


According to McKinsey’s 2020 report, over 60% of growth over the last decade in the $800 billion food and beverage industry has come from small brands. This is a profound change from a decade ago when large consumer packaged goods (CPGs) controlled and dominated shelf space and sales. The driving force? A younger generation that a decade ago wasn’t a priority for major corporations.

Today, Millennials have the most buying power of any generation and discerning demands that are markedly different from Baby Boomers. Unlike their parents, Millennials are making conscious brand choices based on values rather than cost. Ford’s 2020 Trends Report even revealed that 42% of U.S. consumers had boycotted a brand because of the brand’s values.

When that level of awareness and dedication occurs, big brands can’t be solely focused on the bottom line. Instead, they need to concentrate on three key pillars: transparency, authenticity, and nimble, disruptive innovation.

What Am I Eating? Millennials and Modern Consumers Want Transparency 

Millennial consumers are attentive and well informed. They are aware of (and concerned about) the effect that ingredients have on their bodies. If they feel misled on nutritional facts, this influential group has no problem splashing it across the internet. 

This shift may soon impact federal law. Incredibly, food labeling requirements in the United States have not been changed since 1990, and some rules date back to 1938. Lawmakers are seeking to change this with the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2021, which was recently introduced to the House and Senate to make food packaging less opaque and more consumer-friendly. Lawmakers recognize that consumers are confused and have a right to make “more informed purchasing decisions.”

Over a decade ago, we at Saffron Road made it our mission to uplift food standards in the meals sector to an unmatched level of authenticity. We sought transparency by being the country’s first non-GMO Project Verified and humanely-raised frozen entrée, which modern consumers have fully embraced, validating our original mission of ethical consumerism.

Simply put, major CPGs need to incorporate transparency into their labeling, marketing, and messaging before it’s too late. It’s not enough to say a product is healthy or “natural.” Explaining precisely what’s in the product removes the guesswork, increases trust, and may soon be legally required.

Strive for Cultural Integrity and Authenticity in Global Cuisines 

The Millennials forcing the change are adventurous, will travel for food (culinary tourism is expected to have a market value of nearly $1.8 trillion by 2027), and are seeking culturally authentic experiences. That’s on top of the fact that America is a very ethnically diverse nation with an estimated 40% of the population identifying as non-white.

A recent August 2021 IRI report cited that today’s modern consumers are not only adventurous in their meal choices, seeking out Non-European ethnic foods, but that they are also younger and more diverse than previous generations of consumers. Now realize that 90% of the largest brands in IRI data base were started between 1850-1970.  During that whole period whites comprised more than 85% of the population — closer to 90% for most of it.  And based on the 2020 USA Census just out, today white are at 58% down from 64% a decade ago. So, it’s not surprising that consumers demand ethnic  authenticity down to the ingredients in the foods they eat at home.

Ethnically “inspired” foods won’t cut it anymore; they must be traditionally authentic and have cultural integrity These delineations will become more critical as time goes on. Sure, you can put out a pretty package and talk about how it’s a great Indian entree. But if the actual recipe and ingredients aren’t indigenous to that region, the branding will appear deceptive—and may even border on cultural appropriation. Millennials want to know that their purchases are supporting the local economies from which the brand is derived. It’s vital to be keenly regionally specific and genuinely ethnic with a flare of epicurean culinary excellence. If it’s an Indian dish with rice, make sure the rice is Basmati sourced from India. If there’s a Mexican product, use cheese from Oaxaca, not Wisconsin.

More prominent companies have traditionally leaned on the marketing message instead of understanding what foods come from those various regions. However, the thought that cheaper ingredients could drive more profits will not pan out for much longer. Recent consumer insights from IRI have demonstrated that modern consumers are willing to pay more for authenticity, particularly when it comes to regional specificity in ethnic products. 

Become A Nimble and Disruptive Innovator

To gain market share in the food and beverage industry, every big or small company needs to meet consumer interests quickly. It is vital to be agile, adapt swiftly to change, and bring disruptive innovation to the marketplace.  

Smaller brands have the upper hand in their ability to pivot quickly based on new data, anticipated trends, and their ability to engage with the modern consumer. The margins for innovative products may initially be lower, but the investment may lead to more market share, higher repeat purchases, deeper brand loyalty, and sustained growth. Focusing on the dynamic needs and discerning demands of these modern consumers and then innovating awesome products that directly address those needs is a winning strategy.

Although implementing any of these three key pillars is a move in the right direction, they’re designed to work together and synergistically build upon each other. For example, brands can’t simply create new products to suit a trend if they aren’t also made authentically and with full transparency to the consumer. Sooner (not later), the consumer will catch on. 

Of course, this all requires a passionate team focused on BFY products with stellar culinary excellence. These pillars are proven to increase market share, and consumers are willing to pay more for it. Boston Consulting Group and IRI put out a study calling this phenomenon the “Premium Opportunity.

Modern consumers, even lower-income households, are paying up a more significant percentage for premium brands. They are willing to spend more disposable income on premium, healthier products that live up to their values. It’s a win-win when CPG brands mindfully commit to making healthier, cleaner, and traditionally authentic products. Today’s demanding modern consumers will then feel a greater affinity towards such authentic brands, which can lead to gains in sales, brand loyalty, and more profitability on the shelf. 

Baby Boomers impacting state workforce numbers


IWD county unemployment numbers.

The unemployment rate for August held steady at 4.1% and a spokesperson for Iowa Workforce Development says they anticipate the rate falling in the next couple of months.

IWD Deputy Director Ryan West says things usually pick up in October and November as companies try to get things done before winter. “Iowa’s tied for 17th with Indiana as far as the unemployment rate — but we are seeing a lot of good things. The rate staying the same is obviously better than it going up, and we are excited where we are going to be in the next few months,” West says.

The number of people entering the workforce again had been steadily increasing — but made a slight drop in August. West says that can be attributed to one group in particular. “We had 1,300 people who left the workforce this last month. A large group of those folks appeared to be male — and a lot of them look to have retired over the age of 65,” according to West.

He says a lot of them are Baby Boomers who have retired — and there are still questions about why they’ve left the workforce now.
“We weren’t really sure if a lot of them decided to retire, perhaps could have retired pre-COVID, but after COVID hit decided to say “You know what, I’m done for now,” West says. “Again, we still need a few more months to see where that ends up.”

He says there is a chance some of them may reconsider. “That Baby Boomer group makes up such a big part of the workforce, a lot of experience. Hopefully, we can attract some of those individuals back into the workforce at some point,” West says. The labor force participation rate declined by a tenth of a percent to 66.8% in August.

Parts of the country are desperate for more people


ON THE FACE of it there is little to separate the two towns. Cloppenburg, near the Dutch border, and Hoyerswerda, 40km from Poland, each has a population of 30,000-40,000. Both, say local officials, offer respite from the strains of urban life: cheap housing and plenty of kindergarten places, the shortage of which is a huge source of stress for metropolitan parents. Neither is near a big city; both offer visitors a friendly, somewhat sedate, face.

But the similarities end there. With one of Germany’s highest birth rates, Cloppenburg is growing at a steady clip, whereas Hoyerswerda has moved in the opposite direction. “This is a family-friendly region,” beams Johann Wimberg, Cloppenburg’s district administrator. “You can build a home here.” Hoyerswerda, a former coal-mining hub, lost half its population after reunification in 1990, largely to westward emigration. The district of Cloppenburg has grown by nearly 50%. Hoyerswerda’s “new” town (built during the communist era) is pockmarked by vacant plots on which GDR housing blocks once stood. Industrial parks on the outskirts of the town are half-empty.

Until a small, covid-induced decline last year, the German population rose steadily over the 2010s, reaching a record 83.2m in 2019. This was the result of high net immigration, running at an annual average of 400,000, mainly from southern and eastern Europe. Even the birth rate, long one of the lowest in the world, ticked up. But now a crunch looms. The birth rate peaked in 1964, and the baby-boomers are preparing to retire. In 200 there were 26.5 over-60s for every 100 aged between 20 and 65. By 2025 this ratio will have shot up to 41.4. Immigration and labour-force participation rates aside, the working-age population will shrink by over 4m in the coming decade. Within the OECD club of mostly rich countries, only Italy and Japan have older populations.

Some parts of the country will do worse than others. Germany is no stranger to the town-and-country divide, but in some regions its economic structure mitigates against rural decline. Cloppenburg, like many small places, benefits from the success of “hidden champions”: the profusion of SMEs, often based in the middle of nowhere, that keep well-educated locals close to home. These Mittelstand firms, which often operate in specific niches, are a peculiar feature of the industrial landscape. The area round Cloppenburg also offers less salubrious work in the form of meat-processing plants, which attract transient eastern European workers.

Hoyerswerda has no such luck. This correspondent’s visit coincided with one from the Dresden branch of the Helmholtz Centre, which was considering where in the Lausitz region to locate a new research centre. Torsten Ruban-Zeh, the mayor and irrepressible cheerleader for his city, presented his vision of a vibrant, future-minded place ripe with opportunities for medical research and tourism. He noted that Hoyerswerda could not hope to hold on to the 200 or so students who leave its high-end Gymnasium for university each year, but needed prospects for the next tier of school-leavers, largely in technical work. The experts were not convinced; Hoyerswerda dropped out of the reckoning.

Parts of formerly communist East Germany face almost insurmountable demographic hurdles. Although people are no longer leaving for the west, so many of them did so after reunification (a net 1.74m by 2006), especially the educated young, that the demographic damage is now baked in. All five eastern states are older than all 11 western ones. If some “lighthouse” cities like Leipzig or Jena, on which state governments have showered attention, are muddling through, or better, it is a bleaker picture for smaller towns and the countryside.

Yet few regions are immune. By 2035 only 31 of Germany’s 401 Kreise (districts) will have a working-age population comparable to today’s, according to projections from the Berlin Institute for Population and Development. (The east will suffer disproportionately: 23 of its regions will lose one-fifth of their people.) The public sector is highly vulnerable: almost a third of government employees are due to retire in the next decade, according to Gerhard Hammerschmid at the Hertie School in Berlin.

Help from abroad

Immigration can help only so much. It has already slowed inside the EU, as eastern countries have their own demographic woes. In 2020 Germany modestly relaxed entry requirements for skilled workers from outside the EU. But as Johannes Vogel, a Free Democratic Party (FDP) MP, notes: “Every expert knows it won’t be enough.” The Federal Employment Agency reckons the country needs 400,000 immigrants a year to plug its skilled-labour gap.

The public-pension scheme is also threatened. Since 2007 the number of recipients has risen by more than 1m to above 21m, over a quarter of the population. The system sucks around €100bn a year from the federal budget, over 30% of total spending. A strong labour market and earlier incremental reforms, including a slow rise in the retirement age to 67 by 2031, have somewhat eased the situation. Uncertainty over growth and immigration make long-term predictions hazy. But the coming crunch is as clear as day.

What to do? The IMF calls for indexing the retirement age to life expectancy, as Denmark does. More likely are smaller tweaks, including increases in the contribution rate from today’s 18.6% of gross wages. Payments may have to fall, too: last year a pension committee suggested the ratio of average pensions to income would probably have to drop from 48% to 44% after 2025. Jens Weidmann, head of the Bundesbank, adds: “It doesn’t seem very convincing to rule out changes to the retirement age while life expectancy continues to increase.” Failure to reform will only increase the burden on the federal budget, exposing the system to recessionary risks, notes Christian Dudel at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock.

Yet change will not be simple. Pension reforms do not, as a rule, inspire France-style mass protests. But an ageing electorate will not roll over easily, and in consensus-oriented Germany the government will need to prepare the ground carefully. In June politicians howled when advisers to the economy ministry warned that the state pension system could face serious financing problems as early as 2025. “My hope is that we start reform before it becomes a political battle in which many participants will be wounded,” says Steffen Kampeter, general manager of the BDA employers’ association. Four in five Germans think their state pensions will not be enough to live on in old age. It will fall to the next government to ease their fears.

Full contents of this special report
Germany: After Merkel
The public sector: The urgent need for greater public investment
The car industry: A troubled road lies ahead
The demographic challenge: Parts of the country are desperate for more people*
The European dilemma: The European Union will badly miss Angela Merkel
Merkelkinder: The young’s attitudes
Foreign and security policy: The world needs a more active Germany
The future: Germany needs a reforming government

This article appeared in the Special report section of the print edition under the headline “Desperately seeking people”

Israel’s first senior co-housing initiative


The Festival of Sukkot focuses on living in the temporary, life on the go; makeshift walls, flimsy roof, no address; a 40-year sojourn for several generations of Israelites in the desert, every step a statement of hope or despair on the way to the Promised Land.

For eight years now, Co-Housing Israel (CHI), an NGO registered by the Registrar of Cooperatives in the Trade Ministry, has wondered and wandered – from Haifa to Jerusalem, from Pardess Hanna to Kfar Saba to Tel Aviv – simultaneously growing the membership, creating community and searching the hills and dales for an affordable site on which to build Israel’s first permanent affordable, senior, co-housing project.

Co-housing means private homes or apartments clustered around a public space. It’s downsizing around shared amenities: a salon big enough for group meals, kitchen, activity room, laundry room and garden. It promises a healthier, more active and sustainable life in the retirement years, staving off the loneliness that comes with aging.

Our journey begins

Eight years ago, as four American-Israeli couples watched their own parents age without a plan, they started looking for an affordable cooperative housing model for themselves and friends who want to grow old together.

They discovered the Senior Co-Housing Handbook by architect Charles Durrett, who is credited with popularizing the 1970s Scandinavian co-housing model in the US. In the last three decades, the number of these private homes with shared public space communities has grown in Europe and North America. According to CoHousing.Org, there are some 290 intentional communities in the US, many of them started by baby boomers who are now 55 and older.

Many of us in CHI also belong to the generation of baby boomers. We are social and community workers, health policy experts, urban planners, yoga teachers, economists, psychologists, professors, teachers, writers and more; we live in the north, west and east of the country. We also employ an urban architect who has been critical in helping us understand land use regulations and identifying development opportunities.

I was invited by longtime friends to join CHI during its “second wave” of recruitment. It made perfect sense to me and I wanted to grow old with these folks, many of whom I have known since my first years in Jerusalem. I signed the membership agreement, took a deep breath and paid the dues. I joined the site search and design committee in Jerusalem.

I have also done two stints on the Board as well as regularly cohosting Zoom parlor meetings. Once a month, we hold these open orientation meetings where people from all over Israel and many from abroad planning to make aliyah or return to Israel, hear a brief summary of the history and current status of Co-Housing in Israel. We then open up the discussion to their questions and concerns like “Is it a problem that I don’t speak Hebrew/English well? Is there anyone in the group without an American accent in Hebrew? I still have a son/daughter at home. Can they live with me in co-housing?”

Looking for a location

Our site search has taken some bizarre turns and twists. We have checked out abandoned buildings in the Jerusalem corridor; in Abu Ghosh (Where the heck are we? Isn’t this a construction site?) to a cooperative renting housing project for students in Haifa (One of the young but sage developers tells us “If you ever want it to happen, find private funding. Rely on the government and you won’t get anywhere.”), to derelict hotels crying out for repurposing and TLC, to fancy retirement homes willing to give us a whole wing and even let us grow marijuana if we want.

Our site search took us to the offices of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem’s Old City where we sipped Greek coffee and discussed real estate under the watchful eyes of Byzantine icons on the walls and ceilings.

We’ve become savvy in navigating municipal GIS (geographic information system) maps, checking land ownership and property deeds.

Our unique chicken and egg dilemma: community building and finding a building at the same time. Typically, an economically workable co-housing project needs 20-30 “units.” Potential members (units) often expect the keys to their apartments tomorrow. Contractors need three to five years to complete a project and won’t talk to us unless we can promise those 20-30 units. So what indeed comes first?

Despite our best efforts, financing, affordable land and partners have not been found. As one member likes to say “we have not yet found the ‘secret sauce’ enabling CHI to increase membership parallel with finding an affordable, timely and permanent co-housing solution that will attract new people.”

Over the years, our site search team has met with municipal and national authorities. Officials have been enthusiastic about alternative housing for seniors but have not committed resources to help facilitate a pilot project. They wish us success and tell us to close the door on our way out.

We persevere, trekking through our own desert but the oasis is often a mirage.

CHI times they are a-changin’

CHI is often invited to speak at academic and economic conferences on healthy aging, on senior housing options and other issues facing the elderly population. Both the Hebrew and English-language media are devoting more time to the subject of cooperative and co-housing ventures for senior citizens.

Earlier this year, CHI was awarded the $10,000 first-place Glickman Prize for work on developing affordable housing solutions for healthy aging in Israel. The Aging Ecosystems Drivers conference, which had some 300 participants on Zoom, was organized by Aging IL and jointly sponsored by the Joint/Eshel (of the American Joint Distribution Committee), Kaveret (literally beehive, a fund manager), Kranot Habituah Leumi (National Insurance pension funds), and Ashoka, a nonprofit for social entrepreneurship.

This retired voice of Israel Radio became the face and voice of CHI, delivering a 3-minute Zoom pitch in Hebrew to an audience of judges and hundreds of viewers that opened with these words “… Alo, shmi Idel v’ani ahad m’millyon. (Hello, my name is Idele and I am one of a million.)”

And we won.

 SUNSET YOGA on the lawn. (credit: IDELE ROSS) SUNSET YOGA on the lawn. (credit: IDELE ROSS)

CHI living the dream

Almost two years ago, Shikun U’Binui, the veteran infrastructure and real estate company, and Dira L’Haskir (literally, Flat for Rent, with a nod to the classic Hebrew children’s story by Levin Kipnis) began promoting long-term rentals in North Talpiot, a popular Jerusalem neighborhood. The light went on. It met many of our criteria and was affordable for most of us.

I was one of the five units who decided to take the leap of faith and establish a kind of beachhead – a 21st-century tower and stockade – in Halomot Arnona. I own a flat with a lovely balcony, great neighbors, 42 steps and no neighbors. I knew that one wrong step or distraction and oops, I become a burden to my neighbors and family. I need a stair-free solution as I age.

Within the 330-unit Halomot Arnona complex, we co-housing folks live in three adjoining buildings. The rent is stabilized for five years and then renewed with a COL adjustment for another five years. After that, who knows?

Halomot Arnona CHI members share pot luck and holiday meals, often including the larger Jerusalem CHI community; there’s yoga at sunset once a week. I live among people with whom I’ve built a community; there in times of joy and in times of need, especially when the grandkids visit and you don’t have enough toys.

When we moved into the apartments, our daily contacts focused on construction issues: backed-up plumbing, electricity outages, pipes that burst in the middle of Shabbat lunch and why doesn’t the maintenance company answer the emergency line?

Now, we co-housers can go days without seeing one another. We stay in touch through a HA WhatsApp group and a second group for the larger Jerusalem co-housing gang.

Even during this pandemic, we continue to build and strengthen our community; sharing meals outside, playing music and other social activities with the larger Jerusalem group. Prospective new members are invited to events and outdoor events.

A chance sighting from a porch or garden often leads to the impromptu glass of wine or a neighborly catch-up coffee. When we travel, we rely on one another to gather our mail and water our plants. If we are working outside our homes, then we leave the key for the house cleaner or technician with someone who will be around. When our guests are more observant, we may borrow a skillet or pot from a member with a more kosher kitchen. When the oven shorts out during the baking of chocolate cookies, we know we can rely on one another to get the cookies done.

We rallied around one of our couples when M broke his leg. We shopped and made meals for them, and gave them the support they needed during his hospital stay. The Jerusalem Municipality’s Greater Baka neighborhood council recently granted us access to a community room right under my apartment. We have organized a mid-week “Games Time.” (Some serious Scrabble players here.) There’s a biweekly “Neighbors Play Music” that is also drawing some of our Sabra neighbors.

It is the beginning of our commitment to activities that have a social and environmental impact. Our future plans include a community garden and after-school tutoring for children in the new school year.

We are hopeful the CHI Halomot Arnona group will grow as apartments become available. This is an interim solution, giving CHI a place to call home until a planned, permanent dwelling place is created.

CHI West, our Kfar Saba group, has introduced the co-housing concept to the Kfar Saba Development Corporation, the municipality and to local seniors. The forward-thinking Development Corporation is working with CHI to develop an economic model that will prove the feasibility of a pilot project for cooperative, affordable senior housing.

 KFAR SABA’s co-housing group. (credit: Courtesy) KFAR SABA’s co-housing group. (credit: Courtesy)

Pioneers for a third age

During the eight years, CHI has experienced attrition. We’ve seen members leave the group for family or financial reasons. Some became discouraged when they understood that it will take many years until CHI has a permanent address.

However, CHI through its online parlor meetings and buddy outreach has also welcomed new members, including native Hebrew-speakers who want the challenge of creating a new housing model for active, healthy aging in an intentional community of kindred spirits.

Those who are joining us understand that changing the landscape for affordable senior co-housing is as one member likes to say “… not a spectator sport. You have to be ready to get down on the field and get dirty.”

It’s endless meetings, communications with the government and other agencies and offices. It’s organizing Zoom sessions, welcoming potential newcomers, being interviewed. Writing articles. The list goes on.

CHI’s membership has mostly come from person-to-person contact, new friendships through meetings and activities from which the shared vision statement was authored and signed by us all.

We were worried how COVID-19 would impact CHI’s momentum and community that are the connective tissue of co-housing. What we discovered was that by meeting on Zoom we could actually expand our geographic reach and we now have several members from towns and villages in the North. Another advantage was that participating in meetings with government ministries and municipal authorities was easier to organize online. No one has to look for a parking spot.

There are now around 30 activists in national CHI who live all over the country. New groups have formed in Haifa, Pardess Hanna, in Mevaseret Zion and in Safed.

There are more than 1,000 people following CHI on Facebook. Some 35 newly interested people attended the monthly Hebrew-English Zoom meeting in the first week of August.

A very unscientific but revealing survey done among the 35 participants found that most of the people who were 55+ have moved on an average of six times in the last 20 years. Where do they see themselves in five years? In a co-housing community, surrounded by trees.

Our journey to build Israel’s first co-housing project has been as our chairperson says, “… a roller-coaster ride of incredible highs and discouraging lows.”

We are pioneers.

The Israelites wandered the vast desert, living in temporary dwellings for 40 years until they reached the Promised Land. We, the members and supporters of Co-Housing Israel, are confident it won’t take us that long.

For more information visit our website www.cohousing.org.il or Co-Housing Israel on Facebook. With thanks to CHI chair Judy Labensohn and Kfar Saba project coordinator Batya Malichi for their help in writing this article because it takes a CHI village.

Idele Ross had a 35-year career as a broadcast journalist with Israel Radio’s English language service. She also worked with foreign correspondents as a media coordinator and writer for the NGO MediaCentral. Today, she devotes most of her time to co-housing work, family, community and promoting a local Motown cover band.

JACKSON: Stop stereotyping baby boomers | Opinion


All baby boomers are not alike. I am part of the generation of people born from 1946 to 1964. Since I had absolutely no control of my meeting that qualification, there is no claim of pride. However, I am honored to be a part of that demographic. And I do take notice anytime I read the term old fart.

While there may be many characteristics boomers have in common, we all do not think, act or dress alike. A recent nonscientific poll suggesting that all boomers believe 40 things are still cool caught my attention. For starters, I don’t know too many fellow boomers who think that many things are cool. We may still find some things preferable, convenient, habitual, practical or necessary, but not cool. People are cool. Things not so much.

Just to name a few, John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Lucille Ball, Audie Murphy, Jesse Owens and Roberto Clemente will always be cool. But none of the 40 things on this “all cool” list would be considered cool.

Indoor malls, China plates, 24-hour news networks, patterned wallpaper, shag carpets, fuzzy toilet seats, bar soap, linoleum flooring, rudeness to retail workers, were never cool. Depending on the geographical region, indoor malls may still be preferable especially during inclement weather. Malls make excellent cooling and warming centers. We grew up with patterned wallpaper, linoleum, and shag carpet or it may have been standard in our first adult residences, but they were never cool.

Cursive writing, unpaid internships, writing checks, landlines, encyclopedias, phone books, vinyl audio records, non-skinny jeans, ironing, meatloaf, cop dramas, gender-specific designations, were staples of our generation. While many boomers may be reluctant to part with the nostalgia, these aren’t cool, either.

Landlines may still serve a purpose. They provide a service that cell phones can’t. Landlines have a busy signal that does not reveal to the caller that their call may be ignored. Cursive, while no longer necessary, it merely separates us and gives up a sense of superiority over later generations. Meatloaf, writing checks, cop dramas, traditional cut jeans, gender designations are not considered cool, but we may hold onto them because we still find much value and/or pleasure.

Too many throw pillows, Avon, Mrs. Dash seasoning, high-waisted jeans, home shopping channels, were all period pieces and possibly thrown in the list for the sake of friendly argument. All boomers never thought these were cool even when they were in style.

Crocs may have made a resurgence with today’s generation, but were they ever a part of a boomer’s must-haves? Patterned vests? Nothing wrong with a fashion piece to accentuate a distinguished man’s look. Cool, no. Comparably, denim just works. It’s practical, functional and never goes out of style. You can respectfully wear it almost anywhere.

Other items considered no longer cool to any post-boomer generation are visors and transitional lenses. Again, practical uses for many. They were never meant to be cool. Fossil fuels were listed as cool items. There are many other means we are dirtying up the environment. Why point out something we grew up with and still works just fine and nothing better or more economical has been found?

There were a few things on the list that could be considered cool. Rejecting the overly political correctness era and finding value in unpaid internships. Boomers were produced band followed the greatest generation. Speaking one’s mind is a part of our DNA. Decisive, blunt speech is not necessarily meant to offend and need not always be considered rude. And every effort need not be rewarded monetarily, especially if a long-term skill can be derived from an opportunity. This “teach, train and pay me” attitude of today’s generation is what is not cool.

Again, the list was to raise the blood pressure of boomers. It did for a second. Hopefully, in the future, the pollsters may include some things that are actually still cool to boomers. Like the ability to drive a vehicle with an automatic transition. If you can eat a hamburger, smoke a cigarette, put on makeup or read a newspaper and shift gears while parallel parking, now that’s cool.

Baby boomers driving this year’s apparel rebound: NPD


Dive Brief:

  • This year’s apparel rebound owes a lot to the boomer generation — people ages 57 to 75 —who are spending more on apparel than any other age group, according to research from the NPD Group’s Consumer Tracking Service.

  • Between January and July, boomers increased their spending on new clothes by 28% compared to pre-pandemic 2019 — five times more than millennials, and twice as much as Gen Z, according to the report.

  • They’ve headed back to stores, but their newfound comfort shopping online for clothes will likely last, according to NPD Director of Market Insights Kristen Classi-Zummo. “For the past year, $1 out of every $5 spent on apparel online came from a Boomer’s wallet, and their online apparel spending grew faster than any other generation,” she wrote.

Dive Insight:

Millennials and, more recently, Gen Z have preoccupied marketers in recent years, and old-fashioned retailers like department stores take pains to assure their investors that they’re working hard to reach America’s youth.

But they ignore baby boomers at their peril, considering that generation has accumulated vast wealth and continues to wield massive spending power, outdoing millennials well into their sixties. Three years ago, consumers over 50 accounted for more than half of all U.S. spending and outpaced all other generations in spending growth, according to research from Visa Business and Economic Insights.

There are just more boomers around, plus they’re hanging on to their spending power by retiring later — two reasons the Visa researchers in 2018 concluded that boomers would remain a powerful consumer cohort for five to 10 more years. 

Moreover, at a time when apparel retailers are struggling to sell much beyond athleisure, joggers and knits, many baby boomers dress to express themselves. The top-growing categories stoked by boomer spending over the past 12 months include comfort, sportswear, sleepwear and basics, a sign that these consumers are refreshing their entire wardrobes, according to NPD.

“Brands and retailers love to focus on Millennials and Gen Z vying for their share of wallet, but Boomers should not be overlooked,” ClassiZummo said in the emailed report. “Fashion is something that defined this generation, representing their beliefs, ideas, hopes, and dreams. Maybe this is part of the reason why Boomers like my dad hold tightly to their fashionable roots and, amidst a challenging time in our history, maintain a steadfast focus on fashion.”