Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Working like a dog: Study confirms benefits of bringing pets to work



"Every morning he's standing by the front door, waiting to go to work," says Harvey's owner, Sara Vestal, restoration manager. "He's been coming with me since he was 6 weeks old, and he truly thinks this is his job. If he sees me taking something out of a box, he grabs a box too and is by my side trying to help."

Pets in this workplace may sound a bit farfetched, considering the company is known as the world's largest retailer of old and new china, crystal, silver and collectibles. But among Replacements' inventory of 13 million fragile items, you'll find a pit bull in this china shop, along with a beagle, several miniature dachshunds and dozens of other canines every day. And look out for the cats, and yes, a fish. An opossum has even graced the company's retail store with her visit.

Replacements implemented its pet-friendly policy more than 17 years ago, after Founder and CEO Bob Page received a dog for his birthday and couldn't bear to leave him home alone. Once Page started bringing his dog, he realized his employees might enjoy having their pets as well, and opened the company to animal friends. In fact, the company's front doors read, "All Well-Behaved Pets Welcome." Replacements is one of the top tourist destinations for central North Carolina, encouraging customers to bring pets to shop, while its monthly employee pet feature is popular on the company's website.

At a company known worldwide for its diversity and progressive workplace policies, many employees, including Vestal, believe this is one of the best benefits.

"Having Harvey here is a comfort; it relaxes me. If I have to stay late, I don't have to worry about getting home to let him out or what he's gotten into during the day. If I'm having a bad day, doesn't matter, he's in my corner. And taking him out for a walk on my break really allows me to catch a breath I generally wouldn't allow myself, giving me the chance to refocus."
Scientific support
Working%20like%20a%20dog A recently released scientific study reinforces Vestal's perceptions. Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University spent a week at Replacements delving deeper into the impact of dogs at work. The VCU team surveyed and monitored stress levels among three test groups: those who brought their dogs to work every day, dog owners who left their pets at home, and those who do not own any pets. Their work marks the first quantitative study conducted in the workplace on the psychological and physiological impact of pets.

"What surprised us most is the fact stress actually decreased throughout the day among those participants who brought their dogs to work, while stress levels significantly increased for those who left their dogs at home or don't own pets," says principal researcher Randolph T. Barker, Ph.D., professor of management at VCU's School of Business. "We also found it very interesting that about half of those who bring their dogs to work said their productivity increased with their dog present. Additional findings indicate having pets in the workplace also increases cooperation among coworkers."

Barker also notes employees as a whole had higher job satisfaction than industry norms. He believes establishing pet-friendly policies could be a great benefit that doesn't hamper a company's bottom line.

"I think leadership in many organizations may be hesitant to allow animals in the workplace, but our study indicates pet presence may serve as a low-cost, wellness intervention readily available to many companies and may enhance organizational satisfaction and perceptions of support."

Getting started
Replacements' formal pet policy requires all animals must be current on vaccinations, polite to people and other pets, and stay on a leash near their owners unless contained in an office or cubicle space. Owners are also required to clean up after any "accidents."
"Companies interested in starting pet-friendly practices might want to start small," suggests Public Relations Manager Lisa Conklin. "Consider having a pilot day to gauge how pet presence works for your organization. You might try it for a half-day, on a slow day or even a Friday to determine the best fit for your employees and your business."

Conklin adds pet owners must be sensitive to the fact some people have allergies or may be fearful of animals. Likewise, other employees should not be permitted to aggravate or intimidate pets.
"We've seen many instances where employees actually got to know each other better through their pets. I do think it means a great deal to us here - it's hard not to smile when you're greeted by a wagging tail and friendly face!"
IMAGE CAPTIONS:
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Caption 1: Harvey comes to work every day at Replacements, Ltd.
Caption 2: Callie rests while Amy Fisher works.



Simple home updates to make your neighbors green with envy



Making a good first impression
Your home can't look great if you can't see it, so updating outdoor lighting is a great first step to achieving the best-looking house on the block. Chances are your exterior porch lights or street lamp may be rusty or faded. Luckily, you can bring new life to your lighting with a single can of spray paint. New Krylon Dual Paint and Primer is a one-step solution to easily transform any light fixture. The unique formula primes the surface for adhesion, durability and coverage, while delivering a high-quality finish. Best of all, Dual is now available in specialty finishes, such as hammered and metallic, that are perfect for adding an extra dose of style.
Still looking for more illumination? Adding decorative lanterns to walkways or porches is an easy and inexpensive way to add charm and light. You can often find these pieces at yard sales, thrift stores or dollar stores and then simply paint them in a matching hammered or metallic finish for a bright and stylish look.
Quick color
The front door is a focal point of your home - especially with the added lighting you've updated - so be sure that your doors and shutters are a vivid shade. If yours have been dulled by years of sun and weather, it's time to update with paint. For metal doors and shutters, you can use a variety of spray or bucket paints in your favorite hue. However, for plastic shutters, Krylon Fusion for Plastic is the ideal choice since it bonds to plastic without the need for priming or sanding.
Simple%20home%20updates A tidy and neat yard
No matter what the size of your front yard, a well manicured lawn is important to boosting your curb appeal. Simple one-weekend tasks like edging, trimming bushes and removing unsightly weeds can make a huge difference without a lot of work or cost. To keep your efforts looking great, spray weed killer to maintain a polished look for the rest of the season. After the initial grooming, add new mulch and flowers in beds or in brightly painted pots for an extra pop of color and style.
Fill in the blanks
The final task to a great looking home that will have your neighbors lusting, is to repair or replace any elements that have deteriorated over time. Walk around the perimeter of your home to check for cracks in bricks or concrete, stains on the driveway or sidewalks, and loose shutters or downspouts. Sprucing up these basics will not only make a big difference to the exterior appearance, but protect your home from damages in the future.
Now, with all the home decorating and hard work complete, your neighbors will be green with envy when looking at your beautiful home and will be trying to keep up with you.
For more information on Krylon products or projects, visit www.krylon.com.
IMAGE CAPTIONS:
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Caption 1: Outdoor lighting is a great first step to achieving the best-looking house on the block.
Caption 2: Are your outdoor lights rusty or faded? Bring new life to your lighting with a single can of spray paint.



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Big design ideas for small kitchen spaces



Bigger isn't always better in the real estate world, and what's more, it's not always possible. With more home owners downsizing from McMansions to smaller, more manageable houses, and a growing number of people opting to rent rather than buy, many families are looking for new ways to decorate, design and work with smaller spaces.

Kitchens sell homes, but this most-used room in the house hasn't escaped the "less is more" trend, either. Interior designers, decorators and home product makers are responding to the growing demand for practical, beautiful options that make sense in smaller kitchens.

If you're looking to make a big impact in a small kitchen, here are a few ideas to get you started:

Work the walls - You may love your cozy kitchen, but that doesn't mean you want to make it look or feel any smaller than it already is. Lighter wall colors can help a little kitchen feel more open and airy. One winning decorating technique for small kitchens is to paint the majority of the wall space in a light neutral tone, like a pale cream or taupe and then add a pop of brighter or darker color to one accent wall or area. You can edge up the excitement of this technique by using a mural for kitchens on the accent wall, rather than just a different paint color. Have an oddly shaped niche in your kitchen? You can turn that problematic space into a design statement with custom, repositionable wallpaper that can be custom-sized and custom-colored to fit your specifications. This unique product can be adhered and re-adhered hundreds of times so you can take it with you to your next house if you choose.

Big%20design%20ideas%20for%20small%20kitchen%20spaces Smart-size your appliances - Sure that 30-cubic-foot stainless steel refrigerator is beautiful in the showroom, but how much will you love it when you can't fully open the door in your small kitchen? Refrigerators come in several sizes, so you should be able to find one that will fit your space. The same is true for stoves, microwaves and dishwashers. Choosing appliances that make size-sense for the space you have not only improves the livability of your petite kitchen, it can improve your efficiency as well.

Get creative with storage - One of the biggest challenges of a small kitchen is finding space for everything from pots and pans to flatware, dishes and foodstuffs. Small spaces call for storage creativity. Whether you hang some pots and pans overhead, replace traditional cabinet shelves with pullout drawers or use special racks to store plates vertically, you can find plenty of creative small-kitchen storage solutions.

Liven things up with light - Often, a small kitchen will have just one window - or no window at all. Yet light is an important way to make a tight space feel more expansive and inviting. Task lighting is essential for work areas in small spaces. Pendant lights can create ambiance and provide practical illumination without sacrificing any wall space. And if you crave natural light for your windowless kitchen, consider installing a skylight. Tubular skylights can bring sunlight into your ground-floor kitchen even if there's a second floor above it.

Small kitchens are here to stay, whether as part of the trend toward smaller, more efficient homes or the reality of rental unit life. With some decorating creativity and practical design tactics, you can ensure your small kitchen yields large benefits - both in terms of enjoyment and resale value.



Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Back-to-school resolutions



(BPT) - With kids across the country heading back to school, a common question at family dinner tables will be: "What did you learn today?"



Kids will be learning reading, writing and arithmetic as they head back to school, but what about lessons involving money? For most people, our relationship with money is based on our childhood experiences, and many children look to their parents for these important lessons. Yet, according to a recent Capital One survey of parents and teens, less than half of teens have worked with their parents to develop a budget for spending and saving their money.



As students prepare for a new school year, it's a great time to start fresh with new resolutions around spending and saving. Talk to your kids about wants vs. needs, saving, budgeting, using credit wisely and other money management habits that can last a lifetime.



Here are a few ways to get started:



* Crunch numbers together and establish a budget. As your teen starts earning an income through a job or an allowance, ask him or her to pitch in and contribute toward purchases he or she might otherwise take for granted. Create a budget together totaling your teen's contributions and what you can afford to contribute, and then stick to it when you head out to the stores.



* Only shop for what's needed. Sit down together to make a list of what essentials your teen already has, what is needed and how much is budgeted for this shopping trip. This comes in handy for back-to-school shopping as well as the holiday shopping season.



* Do your homework. This is a good way to show your teen that homework extends beyond the classroom and well into adult life. Researching the items on the shopping list before leaving the house allows your teen to comparison shop, looking at prices and the quality of the items. For teens on-the-go, there are also a great deal of apps available that can easily compare pricing of items. And not surprisingly, you might discover your teen has different priorities than you when it comes to deciding which items to purchase. Only 22 percent of teens surveyed considered the price of an item to be the top priority, whereas 46 percent said style and appearance were more important. Run a calculation of how much money could be saved between the lower-priced items and the items on the "want list."



* Set financial goals. Remind your teen to look beyond high school and discuss what items he or she would like to own in the future. It might be an electronic product, a car, paying for a future vacation, or helping to pay for college. The survey found that 83 percent of teens plan to attend college after high school, but 51 percent of those teens were not saving money to help pay for it. Help your teen set up a plan for how they will spend and save the money they earn or receive as gifts.



* Lead by example. Encourage good financial behavior by teaching your teen how to write checks, the use of credit cards and their associated fees and the importance of paying bills on time. Have them around the next time you pay your monthly bills, so they can see how much is spent on utilities, auto insurance and even food. This gives them a good picture for their future and how they might need to make financial decisions to cover essential expenses.



* Introduce investing basics. Open a custodial account and help your kids pick the stocks they like most. Contribute a portion of their allowance or agree to match your teen's contributions, and watch the account grow together. Set monthly meetings to review investments, make changes and pick new stocks to purchase. Beginning the stock discussion early will empower your teen with the comfort and knowledge they'll need when they are an adult.



By taking time to discuss spending, saving, budgeting and investing, you can help your teens save money now and point them in the right direction for a successful financial future.



To find additional financial tips as well as information on Capital One's financial educational programs for teens and adults, visit www.capitalone.com/financialeducation or @TeachingMoney on Twitter.



Increase garage sale profits with some marketing basics



As the weather warms up, garage sales begin appearing all over the U.S. Garage sales are a great way to clean out clutter while making some extra dollars for home improvements, bills, vacations or even "retail therapy."



Marcela Iannini, department chair of Advertising and Design & Media Management at Miami International University of Art & Design, says, "Garage sales are great opportunity to employ basic marketing principles in a fun way; a little innovation and creativity go a long way to maximize sales."



"It's important to start with the basics of marketing - the four P's - price, product, promotion and place. In garage sales it works best to think of the product as the garage sale itself and the items to be sold as product lines or brands of that product," adds Cheryl Pilchik, Advertising faculty at The Art Institute of Philadelphia.
Dr. Larry Stultz, department chair of Advertising and Web Design & Interactive Media at The Art Institute of Atlanta-Decatur, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta, agrees. "It is imperative to use the same thinking retailers use to maximize the visibility and sales opportunities for a garage sale."

Below are some helpful suggestions from Iannini, Pilchik and Stultz on making the best of your garage sale:

* Product and price: Product mix is important in retailing. You can either focus on one type of product (kids' toys or garden tools, for instance) or a broad mix of products. Study sales in your neighborhood to see what works best. Check out the prices, too. You should consider not only the original cost, but also what others charge at sales like yours. Rather than use a lot of time individually pricing each item, consider grouping like items together on large tables, posting the same price for all items on that table - like retailers do.

* Place (scheduling/location): Think about a high-traffic area - retailers pay a premium for high-traffic locations. Perhaps you can team up with several neighbors and choose the house that has the most street visibility. Knowing your target market is paramount in timing your sale. Consider scheduling with other activities in your neighborhood - art shows or community events will help draw additional traffic.

* Promotion (advertising/marketing): A successful garage sale requires careful planning and promotion using proven advertising strategies to make your sale stand out. One successful strategy is choosing a theme related to the items to be sold and carrying out the theme in all aspects of the sale. For example, if most of the items to be sold are from the 1980s, you'd play 80s music, have everyone working at the sale dress in 80s style and use 80s elements in your flyers.

Whatever your theme, consider the following to promote your sale:
1. Neighborhood signs and flyers, placed on local business, PTA and school/church bulletin boards - and where permitted, on street corners or in yards.
2. Local newspaper listings and online listings like craigslist.org.
3. A social networking fan page with an event for the garage sale inviting friends and family.
4. Your own Facebook and Twitter pages to inform your "friends" and "followers" about your event.
5. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest on the day of the sale to distribute special offers, share photos of items for sale or offer incentives for referring fans or customers.

Give your garage sale a facelift to keep it fresh and appealing. Borrowing effective strategies and tactics used in the merchandising and advertising industries to engage the customer and communicate with them on their terms will help to ensure your success.

To learn more about The Art Institutes schools, visit www.artinstitutes.edu.