Luxury goods

Now That Amazon Bought Whole Foods, What’s next for Shopping?

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When Amazon bought the upscale grocery chain Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, it immediately set off speculation about the changing nature of shopping. Already the behemoth of online retailers, Amazon will now dramatically expand its physical presence, courtesy the 460 Whole Foods stores worldwide.

Amazon currently has a grocery delivery service called Amazon Fresh, available in about 20 cities in the U.S., but it struggled to make enough headway in becoming America’s grocer. Michael Pachter, managing director at Wedbush Securities, says this purchase will bring Amazon into many more American homes in an unprecedented way. Whole Foods has a reputation for high quality products and one of its stores is a short distance away from most people.

“I think the most important aspect of the purchase is that it gives Amazon 440 refrigerated distribution centers in the U.S. and probably puts their distribution presence within 10 miles of 80% of the population and within 90% of the wealthy population,” he wrote in an email to CNBC.

How does Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, see its future in light of Amazon’s moves? It has been making efforts to grow its online presence, buying the online apparel vendor Bonobos for $310 million and offering free, two-day shipping on millions of items. This in contrast to Amazon requiring a paid annual membership in Prime, which offers a similar shipping service. Walmart…

Amazon Is Buying Whole Foods In A Quest To Beat Walmart With Luxury Inc. announced plans on Friday to buy Whole Foods Market in a move that finally gives the online retail behemoth a serious brick-and-mortar presence.

The $13.7 billion deal supercharges Amazon’s decade-long quest to take on the supermarket business, which accounts for up to $800 billion of U.S. consumer spending. Amazon began experimenting with food delivery in 2007, when it first launched AmazonFresh near its Seattle headquarters.

Now, with Whole Foods’ 431 stores, located in mostly upscale neighborhoods of major cities, the company becomes a top player overnight. The acquisition also enthrones Amazon as the new boss of nearly 91,000 employees in the retail industry it’s helping to erode by popularizing online shopping. And the tech giant’s arsenal of newfangled sensors and software to eliminate cashiers could bode ill for many Whole Foods workers.

“Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and chief executive, said in a statement on Friday. “Whole Foods Market has been satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for nearly four decades ― they’re doing an amazing job and we want that to continue.”

But Whole Foods isn’t just a supermarket. The grocer already serves as a hub for organic eateries, too.

“Whole Foods is not just about natural foods; Whole foods is about a shopping experience,” David J. Livingston, a supermarket research consultant, told HuffPost by phone. “Whole Foods is a quasi-restaurant. You go into Whole Foods, and you have a bar, three to four different restaurant options inside.”

Whole Foods stores feature oyster bars, barbecue spots, cafes, sandwich shops, pizzerias and sushi restaurants, Livingston said. Practically synonymous with gentrification, the grocer is located in dense, urban centers where incomes tend to be higher. There are nine Whole Foods stores in Manhattan alone.

“You don’t differentiate yourself in the food business by selling Hellmann’s mayo, ketchup and soup,” Howard Davidowitz, chairman of the New York-based retail consultant and investment banking firm Davidowitz & Associates Inc., told HuffPost. “You differentiate yourself on your service offerings. Amazon understood that people are always going to go to food stores.”

The entrance to a Whole Foods Market in Manhattan, New York City. By buying Whole Foods, Amazon acquires 431 brick-and-mortar grocery stores in upscale, urban areas.

That gives Amazon a significant leg up on its chief rival, Walmart.

Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer, has long dominated the discount market. Last August, the company bought, the so-called “Amazon killer” founded by one of Bezos’ former executives, in an effort to bolster its lagging online offerings and compete head-to-head with Amazon.

Walmart’s e-commerce sales grew 63 percent year-over-year…

The 5 Best Luxury Pens

Most of us need pens on a daily basis, so why not treat yourself with the finest pen available? A luxury pen is a lavish — yet practical — purchase that can pay off with years of reliable use. Some luxury pens can even last a lifetime.

What Is a Luxury Pen?

A luxury pen is a stylish writing instrument that can add flair to your desk and provide the best writing experience available at your home and office. The most common types of luxury pens include ballpoint, rollerball, and fountain pens. Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift or want to upgrade your personal office supplies and enhance your writing experience, the options below will help you make your mark. (See also: The 5 Best Pens)

Top 5 Luxury Pens

Cross Edge Capless Gel Ink Pen

The Cross Edge Capless Gel Ink Pen writes smoothly, is comfortable to hold, and features front-load refill technology. The capless rollerball pen features a patented click-and-slide mechanism, in which you slide to open and click to close for easy single-handed operation. The timeless style is encased in metallic fusion resin and features a punched-out logo detailing.

This is available in various finishes and ink colors. You can also choose between ink and ballpoint pen refills. Many reviewers said that it writes like a fountain pen with less hassle. It is backed…

Balenciaga Creates a $2145 Version of IKEA’s $1 Tote Bag

image credit: Photo courtesy of Balenciaga

Mixing high-end/low-end style isn’t exactly a new concept in the fashion world, but Balenciaga has taken the aesthetic to new—and slightly ludicrous—heights: As CNN reports, the French luxury brand has designed a blue tote bag that’s drawing comparisons to IKEA’s famously inexpensive and durable 99-cent shopping bag. Their version costs $2145.

It’s unclear whether or not Balenciaga actually drew sartorial inspiration from the popular Swedish furniture retailer, but the resemblance between their “Arena” tote and IKEA’s utilitarian “Frakta” carryall is unmistakable: Both bags are oversized, crinkly, and bright blue, with both…