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Jennie Garth joins Alcon on promoting Eye Saw Good campaign

BY Michael Johnsen

FORT WORTH, Texas — Actress Jennie Garth, known for her role on "Beverly Hills 90210," on Monday partnered with Alcon to launch the Eye Saw Good campaign, an initiative that highlights the important role that good eye health and clear vision play in a person’s life. The campaign has been set up to inspire people to help provide good eye health and vision correction for children in need across the United States. The campaign is simple: see good, share good and make good happen.

For every picture of someone doing an act of kindness that’s posted on Twitter with the hashtag #EyeSawGood, Alcon will donate $1, up to $50,000, to fund more than 1,000 eye exams and eyeglasses for children in need through the Kids Vision for Life program.

“We believe that every person should have access to quality vision care regardless of their economic circumstances,” stated Robert Warner, area president United States and Canada, Alcon. “The Eye Saw Good campaign allows others to join us in helping to provide access to healthy vision for children in underserved communities across the United States.”

At a recent visit with children who benefited from eye exams and eyeglasses provided by Kids Vision for Life, Garth witnessed the difference vision correction can make in the life of a child. “I met one young girl who was held back because she couldn’t read — no one realized her vision was the problem,” she said. “Hearing stories like this convinces me that the need to raise awareness of healthy vision, especially for children in need, is an important cause.”

“Children who can’t see well are more likely to disengage from learning and have trouble interacting with the world around them,” stated Stephen Shawler, with Kids Vision for Life. “One-in-4 school-aged children has a vision problem and of those, two-thirds are not receiving proper care. Initiatives like the Eye Saw Good campaign are invaluable in helping to raise awareness about these issues.”

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Family Dollar shows its commitment to building its HBA business with new merchandising exec

BY Michael Johnsen

Family Dollar Stores on Wednesday named Jason Reiser to the position of SVP merchandising, where he will have executive responsibility for the company’s health, beauty, personal care and household teams. Reiser comes to Family Dollar from Sam’s Club, where he spent more than 17 years in a variety of roles, most recently serving as VP merchandising, health and family care. 

Jason Reiser is one of the brightest young merchandising executives in this industry and has proven a knack for making health and wellness relevant and exciting to shoppers in alternative channels — Reiser was instrumental in developing and implementing Sam’s Club’s three-pillar strategy around awareness, prevention and solutions. Expect Reiser to bring some innovation in the way health and wellness is sold in a dollar store environment.

While mainstream health and wellness may be new to the dollar store channel, Reiser isn’t new to making health and wellness succeed beyond the drug store and mass retail outlets. Sam’s Club steadily established itself as a health-and-wellness destination through communication vehicles such as regular in-store health screenings and a focus on social media engagement, for example.

That’s not to say what worked at Sam’s Club will work at Family Dollar. But it is to say Family Dollar just picked up an executive experienced in building health and wellness in an atypical outlet known for limited assortments. The dollar channel may need a similar reputation overhaul as the channel is chock full of no-name brands and never prestige items, when it comes to health and beauty. While a treasure hunt mentality may work well with general merchandise, when consumers have a cold or headache, they’re shopping with a purpose and destination in mind. 

Channel shopping behaviors aren’t changed overnight, however, and it’s the long play that Family Dollar is interested in when it comes to health and beauty. "We are pleased with the early returns from our investments to broaden our food, health, beauty and tobacco assortment," Mike Bloom, Family Dollar president and CEO told analysts last week, which was first initiated about a year ago. "As we anniversary these additions, our momentum will naturally slow. But I will tell you that I believe we are still in the early stages, and we have the opportunity to drive further customer awareness and sales," he said. 

Family Dollar chose well in selecting the executive tasked with driving that "customer awareness and sales" across HBA.

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Wegmans shows why employee satisfaction counts

BY Alaric DeArment

Supermarket chain Wegmans took the time last week to issue a clarification following local news reports: It would not be ending healthcare benefits for its part-time employees. A story in the Buffalo News had a headline, "Wegmans cuts health benefits for part-time workers," that had been misconstrued.

It’s no secret why Wegmans — which operates 81 stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts — is included in Fortune magazine’s list of the "100 Best Companies to Work For."

Just last month, the chain said it would spend $4.8 million give college tuition assistance to 1,880 employees. It’s not the only company to stand up and invest in its employees. Club retailer Costco Wholesale turned heads in March when it expressed support for a bill in Congress that would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10, with president and CEO Craig Jelinek saying in a statement on behalf of the nonprofit group Business for a Minimum Wage that the company already paid a starting hourly wage of $11.50.

It turns out there also is science to back these kinds of policies up. According to a 2011 survey conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Psychological Association, many workers in the United States reported feeling stressed out and undervalued, with 49% saying that low salary had a significant effect on their stress level at work and 36% experiencing work stress regularly. Much of this was attributed to the economic recession, which by then had already ended, but whose effects had continued to linger.

Not surprisingly, the study found a link between happy workers and productive workers. Those companies that created healthy workplaces had average turnover rates of 11%, compared with the national average of 38% estimated by the Department of Labor. Employees of these companies also reported significantly lower stress and higher satisfaction.

Policies that keep employees happy and turnover low aren’t exactly hurting companies like Wegmans and Costco, either. Wegmans is renowned for the loyalty of its customers, while Costco just reported higher-than-expected sales in for the month of June.

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