Freight Friends: The Chocolate Crisis, Changing Retail Landscape, and Truck Advertising
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Grace Sharkey and Blythe are back with another episode of Freight Friends! This time the duo addresses the evolving retail landscape, including Shein’s supply chain services and Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology halt. They also discuss the Baltimore bridge collapse and the rise of online misinformation, covering a range of timely logistics and supply chain topics.




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Show Transcript

See full episode transcriptTranscript is autogenerated by AI

Blythe Brumleve: 0:05

What you're seeing is a bunch of different computers or a couple different display monitors that are plugged into dozens and dozens of different computers, so it looks as if it is a different IP address, a different person that's interacting with this content. And these exist all over the world, and some of them are for commercial reasons trying to get people to buy your products and things like that, but then also, in some instances, it's also nefarious reasons. Welcome into another episode of Everything is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight. We are proudly presented by SPI Logistics. I'm your host, Blythe Brumleve, and we've got another episode of Freight Friends for you today. Grace Sharkey is back and we got a lot to dive into. So, grace, welcome back from MATS.

Grace Sharkey: 0:58

Well, thank you, yeah, excited to be here. I got my purple light on too, so we can kind of blend in. It is a vibe, yeah, nice little vibe today.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:09

Springtime vibe. It's a good thing, sure. So now okay, oh yeah, for you for sure. Sorry, down in Florida we um, it's, the pollen is, and it is so thick that you could just run your finger down any type of equipment outside and your finger is just coated with pollen. It's kind of miserable, but it's just that time of the year where you get a little used to it. Yeah, I would get used to it very fast.

Grace Sharkey: 1:44

It's better than rain. It's like rain for four days in a row. So I would I would take at least the sun out at this point right now, but hey it's always a bummer.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:52

I don't know how people in the pacific northwest do it with like little to no sun. It's something like 70 days out of the year that they sun and I'm like that I would be miserable, um, but I guess you know with, I don't really know, like a good way to transition to this. But you just got back from MATS. Are you headed to TIA? I?

Grace Sharkey: 2:09

am not doing TIA, no, at least for now. I mean, life could change, right? No, that is next week. I forgot what day it is. So, no, I'm definitely not.

Grace Sharkey: 2:21

I do have some some interesting I think private events actually coming up that I'll be attending Private events yeah, I'm a private event gal now, so I'll keep those under wraps until those come up, working on some cool things with some partners. But, yeah, I got a lot of birthday, family events and stuff in April, so I'm kind of trying to not travel, if anything, this month. But we actually were recording this week for our Freightways small, small carrier and owner operator summit that's coming up. So actually I'm going to be interviewing with Kevin Rutherford, which is kind of cool yeah, I feel full circle, like the radio kind of yeah, um, and Chad Boblett. So I, which I'm like I'm like two very, uh, prominent individuals in that space and, uh, honest, it's like a lot of times I do those interviews and I'm like I have I, not that I'm carrying it, but I I like to bring the energy and those are going to be two individuals that I'm going to not have to worry about energy at all.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:29

Yes, it's definitely one of those situations where, if you know you bring, like a fellow podcaster or a broadcaster on a show, you have to limit the number of questions that you're asking because they know to just go. So as you lob it up, they're going to dunk it down because they know to just go. So as you lob it up, they're going to dunk it down, and that dunk is just going to take, you know, probably considerably longer than a typical guest would answer.

Grace Sharkey: 3:50

But Kevin.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:51

Rutherford, you have to. I don't know if you'll have time, but if you do have time, you should ask him about prepping, like prepping for a disaster, because it's fascinating. I'm a, you know. I'm not as much of a prepper as Kevin is. I'm trying to get my prep game up, Um, but basically like bug out bags. You know having yeah, I mean like survival is yes.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:15

I love talking about that, and when I found out that he did that and we probably spent a good 20 minutes of our hour long conversation not talking about trucking but talking about how to doomsday prep, which is a good conversation- I don't think that'll make the Owner Operator Summit, but maybe it will.

Grace Sharkey: 4:35

We only get like 15 minutes, which is you know like we spend. This is like a two-hour show for us, so 15 minutes goes by so fast. But I think I might chat with him on broker transparency, um, a little bit, uh, because I know he's got some strong opinions on that and I think the two of us together can can hopefully maybe settle that conversation into something more realistic than sometimes it turns into. But uh, yeah, it should be a good one. So I want you to go check that out. I don't know when this is coming out, but at worst case, if this comes out after the event, those videos will all be on our youtube page at friday yes, so I will make sure I try.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:14

I'll try to put an? Um, I'll make a note of it in our show notes, our private show notes. So then that way, when this goes live next thursday, hopefully, um, most of those shows will be live either around that time or very soon afterwards. When does uh?

Grace Sharkey: 5:27

24. Oh, okay, so we got plenty of time, yeah.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:31

All right, cool. So, yeah, you'll have to, uh, check YouTube for that Cause we won't have a link. But you just got back from MATS, you know, speaking of like conference travel. Um, MATS is a conference I've never been to, but it's regarded as what? The largest trucking conference in the country, maybe the world, I'm not exactly sure, but lots of cool big trucks takes place in Louisville in the spring of each year. Obviously, you know, I think you're training people on how to say Louisville correctly which is great historically. Um, which is great, um, so we would start with a a good place, especially as we head into Kentucky Derby season um, less than a month to go, or about a month to go before the uh, uh, longest running sport in American history gets started. Yes, I had to get my little plugs in there.

Grace Sharkey: 6:18

I was waiting for it. There it is.

Blythe Brumleve: 6:19

Yeah, there you go tell us about it. What was, um, what was? Because this is where a lot of truck drivers are at. So you could say like the conversation is probably going to be lively but also probably going to address some top issues concerns what were some of those things that you saw at MATS.

Grace Sharkey: 6:37

Yeah, well, there was, I think, one of the coolest things there, especially for individuals that went and attended it and get to see kind of an action. The FMCSA did have their trailer leasing uh, truck leasing task force there. So, uh, it's the first time that the whole committee's been together at like a live event like that. Um, and it was really interesting, uh, to kind of see that bureaucracy and play. I say that because you know, I used to do, I used to work in politics throughout college and actually in high school as well, and it's like very interesting to kind of see how a lot of those discussions happen behind the scenes and it's how people like what was interesting is they know the problems that happen. The committee was well-formed, a lot of really great individuals to contribute to it. But it's like for me, the bureaucracy like okay, so what's next? Like when are we going to? How is this going to become? Like, how are we actually going to check these leasing programs? Like what's the next step forward? So for all the carriers out there, I'd highly suggest that you reach out to the FMCSA or some of your even local representatives and make sure that you're on them about anything that FMCSA is working on that. You either favor or don't favor, because that's a lot of times what gets that stuff pushed is actually coming forward and doing something about it. Forward and doing something about it. I saw Todd Spencer there as well, who is the president of the Owner Operators Independent Drivers Association, oida, and him and I always have really great chats because they are very much about, okay, ranting on Twitter, ranting on Facebook about something you don't like in this industry is one thing, but actually reaching out to people and getting something done and fixed is is a whole other process. So I believe it's fighting, yes, yeah, fighting for truckerscom. There's any drivers listening out there that want to figure out how you can actually have your voice heard and not just like just blaring out into into youtube or on facebook or twitter social media of some sort. You actually want to reach out to those people. Go to fightingfortruckerscom and they'll help you contact your legislative representative so you can get a lot of this moving and they tell you exactly what they're fighting for and give you an opportunity to see exactly who's a part of these committees and who your representatives are Clearly like. If you don't know who our Department of Transportation Secretary is right, they've got all of those individuals on their site for you too. So I highly suggest that you go yep, yep, there she is uh to the site and and at least get connected with it. So it's good to run into todd uh there as well.

Grace Sharkey: 9:32

Um, on top of that, I mean it was, it's interesting, it's a really first off. It's a. It's a huge conference, like trying to think the private so biggest one that I know I've been to with you, blithe is like manifest probably. I mean this is add a whole extra hall, if not a hall and a half, uh to manifest, and that's how this make this is. I mean it's funny, like to like where we have the what the truck stage slash uh truck parking club. They're in the west wing, which is like so far away from the north wing where they have the serious tables. It's huge, it's massive because you have everything there from like kenworth, right, like the actual, like oems, to those who sell like custom chrome finishes, to companies that sell mattresses for, uh, your cabs, to t-shirt vendors, to tech companies, right. So it's like anything that exists in the driver's like lifestyle is there and I mean even down to like um, uh like recruiting, even for, like the Army and their logistics and things like that, like it's all there. So, yeah, it's one of those events where you almost like want to give yourself a day to like not have anything on schedule in order to walk through and you I don't want to say avoid, but you almost like try to avoid running into anyone, or else you're just going to get like super held up too.

Grace Sharkey: 11:07

So it was, it was a lot of fun and popular problems, yeah Well. But I will say too what's nice. There is like a lot of people don't know who I am as well and so, like this will actually be out tomorrow. So this will this article I'm working on will be out before this airs. But, um, I'm doing an article on like uh, four companies I met at MATS right like companies I didn't know about, or technology I didn't know about until I was there, and that's. There's a lot of that. There's a lot like I almost I I like it a little bit because I can fly a little bit under the radar. There's a few rooms where it's like okay, like uber, freight, siege, robinson rooms, truck stops, like those people, that hall in particular it's. I definitely know a lot of people there but, like the west wing is a lot of very small vendors, I mean parts suppliers, a lot of like companies from china and stuff there too. So it gets really interesting.

Blythe Brumleve: 12:05

That's interesting, especially in front of an American like truck driver audience. Oh yeah, yes, that's very interesting.

Grace Sharkey: 12:11

Because they're selling a lot of the pieces and parts of the vehicle that people are, you know, purchasing or using when something breaks down or they need to fix up the truck.

Blythe Brumleve: 12:23

So how did drivers react to that, that booth or that situation? I guess?

Grace Sharkey: 12:28

I will say those booths in particular aren't the most like come talk to us. They're very like. You know you're at a conference and you've got the people that know how to like work, a room and then the people are like I'm sitting down and you come to me if you want some help. They're very much. You come to me if you want some help. But people are coming up to them. Especially if you are a parts manager for a medium-sized trucking company, you want to know what new technology is out there, what those parts cost Like. So it's it's kind of the same thing for for those out there who are tech, really CTOs or CIOs in a brokerage space, something like that at Manifest the same thing here. This is our opportunity to see all the suppliers in one space.

Blythe Brumleve: 13:21

What about the? So you said the article is dropping tomorrow Any other you know sort of news takeaways that were, I guess, make a big impact, even just you know, a couple weeks after the event?

Grace Sharkey: 13:44

It's like how that business must be super difficult. So it's interesting to kind of see how many of those that were there in particular A lot of talks about. Of course, I think legislation that's happening for trucking in particular, overtime pay, is another one, of course, speed limiters is another one. Also, of course, like diving into a little bit more of honestly, even like freight tech, there's a ton of really small marketplaces that I hadn't even like heard of or aren't on my radar. So it's kind of like interesting to see like, yeah, there's like DAT, there's truck stop, but there's a lot of like really small applications that carriers still use as well. On top of that, um, a lot, uh, a lot of recruiters there trying to recruit drivers. That was a big thing I definitely noticed this year around, uh, and I think a lot of the pro talks in particular were just really discussing more of like overcoming adversity, really trying to make sure that the carriers know what they need to focus on in this market, what to expect when the market does turn, and just really stayed alive during these times.

Grace Sharkey: 14:54

But I will say this event gets really cool closer to like Friday, saturday. It starts on a Thursday, friday, saturday, late Friday Saturday you start to get the families that come in and so like to see kind of like these generations of drivers right, like people who their dads have been driving and now they're like coming in, like I was watching this girl Truck Parking Club had this like truck. I mean, it's a pretty big truck like uh, that you could play around with, like with a remote control, and if you could park it, if you like back up, park it, you get like a prize. And there was this girl that was such good marketing they don't don't even get me started. They killed it at this event um, uh, but they, they had this second booth right where you could do this. And there's this girl that was with her dad and she was like she did a great job like trying to back up the truck and everything like that. Really young, maybe like 10, 11 ish, um, but it's just like I was watching her like with her dad. She's like dad, I did it and he's like, yeah, like you're an awesome truck driver one day and it's like that's like what's cool. It's kind of seeing like this whole generation.

Grace Sharkey: 16:03

I think next gen, um, they had actually brought in a whole class of like students on. I think it was friday, um. So it's like there was like a whole group of students that was like got to walk around because it's actually that's cool, it is a free event, so, um, I think that's why you get so many people that do come to it, and it's I mean, plus on top of it, huh, they do have a beauty show too, so I got some. The weather, honestly, the last two years I've went has been like really bad, like just rainy, so I never really got a chance to go outside and like see the trucks. But I had to actually go out and like check out some of the lights on these bad boys like oh, oh man. So you know what's really like a nice tanker truck, all shiny, like there's a red one that was like so red and shiny I was like I want this.

Blythe Brumleve: 16:52

I did see a few of your videos from it, and it was just it's like the nicest looking trucks. I have heard, though, that a lot of them they don't actually use them to, like, ship goods, like it's just pretty much for show. I just like one of the trucks that I saw a ton of people taking a ton of videos from that. They don't even drive it, so they tow it there and then they tow it away.

Blythe Brumleve: 17:14

I saw, you know, of course, some drivers like oh, I'll show, no go, and it's like you know the insurance costs alone for that truck, because you uh Matthew Leffler actually said that for a lot of those trucks that adding all of that extra stuff to it like it makes it look nice, of course, but that's also extra insurance costs that you have to buy to cover those fancy items. And so that's why you know, for, like that truck in particular, it's probably not going to be driven around, it's not going to be hauling anything from like point a to b, um, because the insurance costs are ridiculous, because they have to cover every little new addition that you make to the truck there was, uh, I think, my favorite one.

Grace Sharkey: 17:52

Uh, there's a, uh, a pig hauler. Uh, that was clearly not easy. That clearly not actually moving pigs. It was like green. I had a bunch of green lights inside, so it's like you know the livestock haulers they have like the little holes on the side of it right so they can all breathe, so it's just like green, like flying out, and but they did actually have like a as like a gimmick right, like they brought pigs. There's like little baby pigs that were there.

Blythe Brumleve: 18:18

Oh I know, it was so cool so, hey, okay, I've been told for years that this is a conference that I need to go to. My only problem with it is that it happens in Louisville and I feel almost because that's, you know, my dad's side of the family. They're all from Louisville, so when they my family comes from, like you know, that side of the family comes from like CSX L&R Railroad and that's why they moved down to Jacksonville, because CSX bought L&R Railroad and so my dad's side of the family all moved from Louisville down to Jacksonville. And so to this day in Jacksonville there's been several occasions where I've, in the morning of Kentucky Derby Saturday, I'll be at the grocery store picking up a case of beer or something to drink and you're in your whole getup and you will see other people in the grocery store and they're saying, like Kentucky Derby, like really nice, like church looking Easter Sunday type outfits, and you know exactly what they're buying for too, because it's a lot of Louisville fans, also a lot of Kentucky fans that reside in Jacksonville because of that merger years ago.

Blythe Brumleve: 19:23

But I haven't been back since I was like 16. And I feel like the first time I want to go back, I want to go back with my dad I want to go back with like that side of the family, so I can kind of, I guess, pay tribute to it and then, I guess, couple. In addition to that, my parents throw a huge Derby party every year. This is going to be their last one, and so they've talked about, you know, going up to Louisville in order to watch the Derby for the first time. We've never done that before, we've always just held parties in Jacksonville for it. But we've talked about going up there, and so I'm like, oh, you know, the timing of it is like not really conducive for me, so I don't know that, I'm going to be able to make it up there next year.

Grace Sharkey: 20:10

I feel like I gotta go with my family first, yeah, and then I can have the good excuse to like go up there for work, well, bring them.

Blythe Brumleve: 20:12

At that point. It's like well then it's like back to back too. So it's like it's true, they're almost like too close together, you know, for my family to be able to justify and afford.

Grace Sharkey: 20:20

Like, okay, we're going to a trucking conference, like they're probably not gonna need to like run an rv and just like come and camp oh god, no, I'd kill myself because they have like a whole can't like that's. I think this time I had to come back for a concert on saturday, but next year I want to try to say through saturday to see the beauty show, because at the end of the night on saturday they do like all the lighted trucks, do like a parade and everything oh, that's cool and they all like camp out in their rvs there and, like you know, truckers slamming beers and hanging out, so it's like if I was by myself, I would do that.

Grace Sharkey: 20:52

If I'm with my family, there's no way I'm staying in an rv with my family for multiple days yeah no, no maybe my dad, you know, like my dad, my mom maybe not, so definitely not my, definitely not my brother that's uh, yeah, yeah my brother.

Blythe Brumleve: 21:09

We were very close but you know we're old enough to know when too much time is too much yeah, yeah, yeah, it's me and my sister.

Grace Sharkey: 21:18

We shared a womb together. That was, that was enough. You know, like we did share a bedroom too, but still.

Blythe Brumleve: 21:26

I could never even. No, I couldn't. My fiance and I live together and we each have our own offices and we each have our own bathrooms, and I feel like that is the key to a very happy, successful relationship is that separate bathrooms, separate offices it's you can have your own little space.

Grace Sharkey: 21:46

Once you get married, it's going to turn into separate bedrooms.

Blythe Brumleve: 21:50

Oh, no, no, no, that will definitely. That's where I draw the line.

Blythe Brumleve: 21:54

But in my own office and my own bathroom. It's fantastic we have shared a bathroom and anytime we go on a trip together, we're reminded of why having separate bathrooms is great because you can you know both take a shower at. You know the different times or same time. You know you have options Hotel you don't really have a whole lot of options. True, true, true, true. Are you in freight sales with a book of business looking for a new home? Or perhaps you're a freight agent in need of a better partnership? Looking for a new home? Or perhaps you're a freight agent in need of a better partnership?

Blythe Brumleve: 22:29

These are the kinds of conversations we're exploring in our podcast interview series called the Freight Agent Trenches, sponsored by SPI Logistics. Now, I can tell you all day that SPI is one of the most successful logistics firms in North America, who helps their agents with back office operations such as admin, finance, it and sales. But I would much rather you hear it directly from SPI's freight agents themselves. And what better way to do that than by listening to the experienced freight agents tell their stories behind the how and the why they joined SPI? Hit the freight agent link in our show notes to listen to these conversations or, if you're ready to make the jump, visit spi3plcom. I don't know how to make a good segue to this next topic, because obviously we're going from something fun to something that's a little bit more, a lot more serious. Obviously, the Baltimore Bridge collapse that happened a couple of weeks ago definitely was one of those. I don't want to say like black swan moments. Do you think it's a black swan moment?

Grace Sharkey: 23:31

um, because it is just one it's going to like kind of what we're about to talk about, but I think it's. I think on the surface it feels like a black swan moment. I don't think it's going to have the long-term effects of like maybe COVID. It kind of reminds me of the Red Sea a little bit, where it's like if you are in Europe you're probably feeling the effects of it more than anyone is feeling here physically, right. So I would say for the city of Baltimore it's a black swan moment for sure.

Blythe Brumleve: 24:01

Yeah, that's a great point because obviously they lost an entire bridge. There's been a lot of updates since then. I know that they're starting to clear out. You know salvage crews are now on site. I won't go into all of the details because they're far more. You know smarter people, better experts.

Blythe Brumleve: 24:17

Sal Marcogliano, with what's going on with shipping, is probably the best example here. Go follow him. He's doing almost daily updates on what's going on with that particular ship and the cleanup. So he has lots of experience, lots of really great insight there, and it's John Conrad with G-Captain is another one that's on it. So those two guys go to them for the latest insight on what's going on with that situation because they have a really good handle on just the nuances and managing the political side of things with the military side of things and just trying to get stuff done as soon as possible. And anytime you have those additional barriers it's probably going to affect the timeline of things.

Blythe Brumleve: 25:04

But the reason I bring this story up is because immediately after it happened there was just a slew of conspiracy theories, people thinking that this was done on purpose, that it was a terrorist attack, that someone hacked into the computer, the motherboard on the cargo ship and it's like no, it it really was just an accident, um, and it was one of those situations where, like you watch it you know I don't necessarily call myself an expert in this industry, but I am on the quote unquote inside you are as well Um, we, we know enough about these incidents to know that, though that was actually just somebody fucking up, like it wasn't like a giant orchestrated event like 9-11 or something like that, like it was just a very tragic, serious accident, but you saw all of the conspiracy theories that were forming from it and that was really from like a people psychological thing to watch unfold.

Blythe Brumleve: 26:05

And it was almost one of those moments where I was like I'm just going to get off the internet for today, cause they're they're taking this a little crazy, is it? Did you get that same vibe?

Grace Sharkey: 26:13

A thousand percent and I think it was especially just like some of that stuff I try not to like even sorry sick to give any like support to it because that like helps spread geez. Hold on.

Blythe Brumleve: 26:31

Take a drink of water, but it was one of those. You know, I'll try to help out here while you drink some water. But from the outside, you know, I think we talk a lot about trying to find the sources, the nuances of stories and, for this particular example, watching the mob form that are not experts in any realm of logistics, maritime shipping, anything like that, come up with their own conclusions and specifically ignore the experts that were saying, like no guys, this isn't it, you know, it just waits. The patience, I think of waiting, and I think that that there's a multitude of factors that are playing into that where these kinds of conspiracy theories and ideas catch on so quick. Mostly because humans, like as a at a core level, we seek to understand things and in a social media age world, we seek to understand things immediately. So it's the immediacy of social media and wanting to understand why something exactly happened right away, when, frankly, these things just take time. You have to research. You don't expect malice when stupidity or ignorance is probably at play. I don't want to say stupidity because there are a lot of smart people that are working within this industry.

Blythe Brumleve: 27:52

I think that this I don't know the exact causes yet and that's the point of sort of bringing up this entire story is that we're going to be facing a lot of these issues very soon, particularly this year and in the coming years, because not only do we have the effect of social media and algorithms, but we also have the flip side of it, where, you know, we have AI that great creating especially around like content driven AI, where it all you have to do is upload 30 seconds of your voice or video to a platform like HeyGen and that platform will then be able to create videos and audio of you in the future saying whatever they want.

Blythe Brumleve: 28:35

And so we live in a world where we're going to have to start being more responsible, with not overly reacting to news the second it breaks, and I think that we're going to have to also be in a situation where we recognize these things that are happening and trying to be the voice of reason among the people that we care about. So helping our parents and friends and family, who don't necessarily know the nuances of how algorithms work and these types of things, who don't necessarily know the nuances of how algorithms work and these types of things, and helping them to avoid the conspiracy theory mindset I think is the main reason why I wanted to bring this topic up.

Grace Sharkey: 29:12

Yeah, and I think you know we talk about this, like we've talked about conspiracy theories in the past. This one in particular makes me laugh, because the real problem that people should be concerned with is almost the more obvious aspects. Like one, and you did a great job of showcasing, like when this happened in Jacksonville, right, and you brought up the images of the dolphins, right, those like concrete barriers that they put around, like what people should be concerned with instead of like like this conspiracy theory of like who is attacking is is just poor infrastructure around some of these ports and some of the big, like realizing like, oh, wow, like all it takes is is simply this, this really random series of events, to take down a big piece of supply chain, and I mean it is gonna, like we're talking about is it gonna be a big deal? It's gonna be a big deal, I think, to the military. That's a little out of where they're, uh, those big uh tanks and stuff come into. It's gonna be a big. Yeah, exactly, and there's like there's certain items that we're gonna have a problem with, I think, and I mean it'll get rerouted to appropriate places.

Grace Sharkey: 30:26

Norfolk is down the street, but Norfolk actually is, like not the best place to send trucks either. If you've ever driven to Norfolk beach, there's only certain ways in and out. So it reminds me a little bit of like kind of like the Florida market, right, like you're going to be paying extra for that roundabout, but it's like what. It's just funny to me that people like immediately go to these like crazy theories instead of being like you know how, how are we looking into these bridges? I'm like how often are we questioning the infrastructure that we have set up? Like why haven't we considered putting dolphins into, uh, this exact port? Can we or can't we like having instead, like an intelligent conversation about what actually happened, which was an infrastructure failure? Right, in a way, it was. Also maintenance.

Blythe Brumleve: 31:17

To you know what, what john Conrad was explaining? Because he hopped on a space, you know, a couple days after it had had happened. Or I had hopped on a space to listen to John Conrad. Sal was also on it and a couple other folks who are experts in this arena, and they said it was also.

Blythe Brumleve: 31:37

There's two issues. So it could be a maintenance issue where you know you're just you're checking things off, maybe you're busy at the time, or you get distracted at the time and you okay something that you shouldn't have paid, but you've okayed it a thousand times before and nothing ever happened. And this time, you know it's something tragic happened. Then there's also, um, what, uh, john conrad was talking about is the lack of tugboats in that particular port, in that particular situation. That if they still had tugboats in that particular port in that particular situation, that if they still had tugboats assigned to the ship, then it wouldn't have, it could have prevented that thing from happening. And so what Conrad was suggesting is that it should be mandated now for every port in the country to have tugboats that escort you from your call all the way out to sea, escort them out there and get them away from the infrastructure, just to protect it, because it's a very simple, very easy to implement strategy that could be implemented tomorrow, today, as long as the government acts based on certain information and, I guess, certain protocols that they put in place.

Blythe Brumleve: 32:46

But John Conrad was saying that that's a very easy fix to avoid this happening again, and this isn't something that will probably happen a lot. But, to your point, the crumbling infrastructure that we have across this country. John Oliver did a study or did a report on this a couple of years ago, where he was, I think the numbers were that Alabama has the most dams and structures and bridges in the entire country because of the way their waterways are set up. But they have two people in the entire state that are responsible for invest or just checking up on those the infrastructure, the bridges, the dams and things like that, checking them to make sure that they're up to code, that they're up to par and they're not going to, you know, be the cause of a traumatic accident.

Grace Sharkey: 33:37

And so when you have situations like that, it's like a ticking time bomb that's just waiting to explode and you, you know the right case, circumstances that are happening or could happen yeah, and to throw a hot opinion out there, it's how many people that tweeted or retweeted about, um, the conspiracy theories or or all that jazz right, are going to retweet that information like none. So you know, that's like I only take twitter so seriously at some level, and I think a lot of people are the same, because it's like, okay, cool, like you, you guys will retweet the conspiracy theories all day long, but you're not going to retweet this conversation, uh, or or sal's discussion on the?

Blythe Brumleve: 34:21

you know I mean, and so that's what, and that's where I think you know helping to educate our loved ones to be more nuanced. It feels like a losing battle at time, but I just I want to show this photo because this is kind of what we're up against. You know, we've talked to, or I've talked before at length about when certain news hits our news stations, it trickles down into social media, or a lot of times it hits social media first. But these foreign actors or foreign groups that are responsible for chumming up outrage or drumming it up, outrage based on whatever topic of the day is.

Blythe Brumleve: 35:06

These are real people powered by AI, powered by different technological tools bot armies you probably heard that phrase, and so they get and from. This was a report that came down from um frontline. I think vice also did a you know a documentary on this where they visited these bot farms in Vietnam and the Ukraine, where they're given a list of. This is a human employee You're showing up for work, you sit down at your desk, you are given a list of topics that are making Americans the most mad today, and your job is to go into those posts in different Facebook groups and in different online communities and to promote that topic and then have other bots accounts reply to that content with a dissenting view, so the polar opposite view, and then it gets people going in the comments. But these are all by design and so they're feeding the algorithms, because the more comments means the more people that are going to see it, and if you can have people arguing in the comments, then that's going to make that post go insanely more viral. So this is a perfect example of how something like an infrastructure issue, a infrastructure issue, a maintenance issue we could have tugboats protecting our bridges issue. You package that all up and you can have sort of gasoline on the fire of these different like bot farms and click farms.

Blythe Brumleve: 36:40

And take a look at this photo. It is one of the bot farms that's in Vietnam. Look at this setup. It's absolutely insane that this goes on. Let me share this tab instead because it's a little bit more eye-popping.

Blythe Brumleve: 37:00

So if you're listening to the show, what you're seeing is a bunch of different computers or a couple different display monitors that are plugged into dozens and dozens of different computers. So it looks as if it is a different IP address, a different person that's interacting with this content, and these exist all over the world and particularly in Eastern European countries, also East Asia countries, where these different setups exist, and some of them are for commercial reasons trying to get people to buy your products and things like that, but then also, in some instances, it's also nefarious reasons. Um, our good friend, uh, I don't even know if I should mention this in the the context of this conversation, but um, our, our good friend, uh, megan markle, is rumored to have hired one of these bot farms I'm sure she has and in order to create the dissenting opinions that go against katherine, that go against the royal family that are like pro mega.

Blythe Brumleve: 38:04

It's celebrities also use and hire things like that, like different bot farms, in order to try to sway opinion in their way. I'm sure you know somebody like a JLo would really love to have a bot farm on her side right now because she's going through it right now. If you've spent any time on TikTok, you know for sure. I know you haven't.

Grace Sharkey: 38:28

Are you talking about her New York stances? The?

Blythe Brumleve: 38:29

Bronx is done with her. The Bronx, we are done.

Grace Sharkey: 38:32

No, I'm on the side. I'm actually done with it too.

Blythe Brumleve: 38:35

I've been on this side and you know how good it feels to finally see the day of reckoning for that woman.

Grace Sharkey: 38:41

Like I saw, another episode of Grace is like just shitting on women.

Blythe Brumleve: 38:55

Women stand for women. I don't care if you're a man or a woman, like you're going to get called out on this bullshit. And you know a video I saw. I've never liked JLo just because what she did to Ashanti, what she did to you know, christina Milian, I've always thought you know bad vibes, bad juju, coming from her. And then you see all this news starts coming out. She got a little, you know, obviously she's in the court documents with P Diddy and so that's a whole other side of the drama. But then she bombs with this movie that she won the greatest love story never told or whatever. And then I see a video of like her. You know all of these people now are coming out and you know that's neither here nor there. But she spit her gum out in her assistant's hand. That was one thing that I did want to mention that was like she's not.

Blythe Brumleve: 39:37

She's that kind of person like she's not going to take her gum and put it in the trash herself. She's going to spit her gum in her assistant's hand and make her assistant throw it away. This is what this type of woman is, anyways I do want to try her.

Grace Sharkey: 39:50

I will say I like really do want to try her sangria or whatever she's got going on, because it looks she doesn't even drink alcohol?

Blythe Brumleve: 39:56

how does she know it's good what she's a fraud?

Grace Sharkey: 40:02

oh my god, I didn't even know. No, it really. I was just watching one last night where it was like her interview, where she's like, uh, what's the your go-to, like bronx food, and she's like, well, bacon, ham and a big or a ham and cheese soda and then an orange drink. If you know, you know and then it was like nobody was like what's an orange drink? They're like I don't know and I'm clearly it's a bacon, egg and cheese, ham and cheese. Not even egg on there, it's just a grilled cheesy psychopath.

Blythe Brumleve: 40:30

Yeah ham and cheese. Anyways, teach your friends, teach your family. They're like oh wow, look at these two just going after it should.

Grace Sharkey: 40:43

We should have like, uh, we should have. There's like a podcast, do they're like? Oh wow, look at these two just going after it should we should have like uh, we should have there's like a podcast. Do they make like little like soundbite things? You know, you should have a summit where it's like here they go again shitting on women, like hey I. We hold women accountable yes, we're holding women accountable, okay.

Blythe Brumleve: 41:06

All that to say. Hold your family accountable too, hold your friends accountable as well, and if they start sharing conspiracy theory, nonsense like help them understand.

Grace Sharkey: 41:16

I do want to say, though, on the whole family thing, it's not really like an opposite view, but what's interesting is, there was, I think, even like Craig retweeted someone saying this as well. Um, it showcases to, to you how, when situations like this happen, how many people don't really understand infrastructure, or even like waterways. Like I was having dinner with my parents, actually, like I think a day or two after this happened, and my mom was like why did I have to shut down the whole port, like just go a different route in there. And I'm like there is no other route in there. Like, and she's like, well, like just the bridge is gone. It's like, well, they have to rebuild the bridge.

Grace Sharkey: 42:00

So it's like I was thinking these container ships are like huge, like you can't just rebuild a bridge and also continue letting traffic through. And that's where it's like I really, as a logistics person, right like you know that drivers hate going into florida because there's only one way in, one way out. Or you like know these like weird um areas the united states that are like difficult to get into. Like you know these like little details that people don't really under. Or, right like drivers can't really park in new york city, so that's why they don't like going to new york to begin with.

Blythe Brumleve: 42:35

So say, roads in colorado they can't drive through because they're too steep, and things like that you know like people don't get those things, and and so that's where it's like for me.

Grace Sharkey: 42:46

I think that also the american population got educated on like, like I said, the infrastructure problems that we might have that if, if this goes down, like there's yeah, there is no other pathway in there, so we're about to have east coast, uh, longshoremen, um, uh, contracts up this. I think by may they technically have to start really talking about it. And then I think september or october is where like strikes will happen if it's not done. But like, how do you have a contract discussion with a group of longshoremen who can't work at that point? Oh, it's not right there, welcome to my life.

Grace Sharkey: 43:25

Well, uh, but you know, I mean it's like, so it's kind of interesting, like I was explaining to my mom, like I'm I'm worried about the employees, like the most people's jobs, where are they gonna? And then now you have to consider, like you can't just say, well, go get a new job, because, well, they are, they gonna need to like go over the bridge, like what's their commute to like this new job that you feel like they should go get. And I just think it's interesting, not even, of course, the conspiracy theory aspect of it, but just educating the American people Like a practical level, yeah, okay, yeah, where else should they drive to?

Blythe Brumleve: 44:03

Like, if you were in that situation, where else would you go? How else would you try to get to work if you worked at the port? So I think it's trying to help people understand the thought process that goes into, because it's what did I hear the other day it's easy to have ideas because you're never punished for bad ideas, and so I think that that's what happens a lot on social media is that you know, we spout off ideas and it all seems fine and easy to implement until you're actually in it and it's like OK, what would you do? How would you handle this situation? And it's very it's a situation that requires a lot of experts, requires a lot of nuance. A lot of experts requires a lot of nuance, and in situations like that, I think people are just used to the local news giving their angle of it and they spend 30 seconds or maybe a few minutes talking about a very complex issue where they really only have the time to be very surface level, and they probably don't have the time to go and talk to experts because they're, I mean, even local news. Local reporters are not paying a whole lot and they're responsible for doing their entire job.

Blythe Brumleve: 45:11

So a lot of this news just is expected to be disseminated by the public, and a lot of the public have no idea how algorithms work, have no idea how fast news spreads.

Blythe Brumleve: 45:22

My brother the other day said something to the you know we were talking about content moderation and he was like why don't they just get rid of all the hateful people on on Twitter? And I was like, okay, do you have any idea how content moderation works? Like how would you, how would you get rid of all of the hateful people on Twitter from a systematic point? If you were to tell someone to do it, how would you do it?

Grace Sharkey: 45:44

And I think that just a lot of people don't understand the complexities of modern media In a society that has free speech like on top of it, right. I always love when, like a democratic problem solution is socialism.

Blythe Brumleve: 46:00

I'm like what it's like you realize, like whatever law that you implement now, like the next guy, which probably might be Trump, is going to have access to that same law. I hope you care about it now just as much as you will if he does it, it's like.

Grace Sharkey: 46:16

It's like when people are, I'm the same way. I'll say this People are like you know what do you call it? What's Putin? Like, oh God, what's not socialism, but Communism, yeah, communism. Like it works in theory. It's like, yeah, yeah, like if Jesus was like the leader, like someone who can't sin, or like do if this perfect person that doesn't exist.

Blythe Brumleve: 46:43

I know it's very. Who's that person? It's very, it's that person. It's very much like I would love to sit around and make art all day. Somebody still has to drive the trucks, somebody still has to dig the ditches and somebody still has to slaughter the animals, like it's a lot of things that need to be done and that you are forced to do under communism, so you don't really have a choice.

Grace Sharkey: 47:06

Still needs to get done. What if we just forced everyone to do that? I'm like, yeah, that sounds great.

Blythe Brumleve: 47:12

Interesting approach. So just to sort of round this one out, we're going to be faced with a lot of this over the next year and coming years because of just the influx of AI how you're able to manipulate content. Keep your head on a swivel. Don't believe anything that you see immediately. If something makes you angry, that's probably by design. Get in the habit of checking yourself and making yourself snap out of it when you find yourself in these news cycles and it's making you really upset. Also, if you hear just like a crazy quote, just take an extra step and go and see what was asked or what was said before the quote that you heard and after the quote you heard. There's probably where you're going to find the nuance in there. And then one last tip I'll give is to make sure that you, if you struggle with you, know the.

Blythe Brumleve: 48:09

I think it's just the mindset of people think that they're smarter than a supercomputer. You have a supercomputer in your pocket, in the palm of your hand, powered by a super powered algorithm. Um, on various social media feeds. Uh, you are not smarter than those things. You will never be smarter than those things. So recognize that. Try to put time limits on yourself. Opal. The app helps me a lot. It blocks all of the distracting apps from my phone from 9 to 5.30 so I can actually get some work done, and then it also turns back on again at 1030 at night and it doesn't allow me to check social media. You know I could you know in the app and go and check it if it's like an emergency. But that has really helped. Sort of the mindless scrolling, because you never realize how often you pick up your phone and go to an app and you have no reason why you're doing it, it's just out of habit. So that that's one big recommendation I would give is to install that app and use it.

Grace Sharkey: 49:08

Yeah, that's awesome. Good for you. That's my prime time, well.

Blythe Brumleve: 49:14

I just I get those great reports.

Grace Sharkey: 49:16

That's when my stories start going.

Blythe Brumleve: 49:21

Which I will. So what happens in the Opal app? If you want to, they call it sessions, and so you have a daytime session and a nighttime session and the daytime session.

Blythe Brumleve: 49:31

If you want to end it or snooze it for like 15 minutes so you can go and check something, uh, you have to wait 30 seconds, and it gets increasingly longer the more you try to do it throughout the day so at first it's 30 seconds and then, if you try to check it again, it's like 45 seconds and then it just keeps increasing until that time limit is up and it just forces you to think about why am I going to check this app right now?

Blythe Brumleve: 49:58

Is there an intent behind it, or is it just like the mindless scrolling? But versus the nighttime, the nighttime it'll let me leave after like 10 seconds. So I think it kind of knows, like you know, when to, and you can adjust all of those settings as well. Like you can choose which apps to block and which ones not to. So I don't include like LinkedIn, and that because I'm not going to get sucked into LinkedIn for too long. Like TikTok and Twitter, I will get sucked in for a while. Like TikTok and Twitter, I will get sucked in for a while For too long.

Grace Sharkey: 50:27

That's the answer you got. Not even have it on your phone, I'm just saying you don't have it on? No, not TikTok.

Grace Sharkey: 50:36

Oh, girl yeah, but she got all the other ones. I will say, though, I had a conversation with my niece, who's just turning 12 here in a couple weeks, and she like was flabbergasted. I didn't have tiktok, and but the same thing it's like she's like they just like get addicted to it. It's like non-stop. My sister's kind of that way too. It's like kind of frightening to watch. So, yeah, she's like did you increase? Did you hear that they're gonna cancel tiktok? And I was like, if only in my perfect world.

Blythe Brumleve: 51:14

I do have to kind of throw it out there that, um, I know that we'll save a TikTok for a TikTok debate for another show, cause there there's definitely a lot of speaking of, like the political maneuvering and things like that Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg are absolutely behind this movement, um, cause they've been selling us off to the highest bidder, or maybe even the lowest bidder, for a decade.

Grace Sharkey: 51:29

I love it he had some email Zuckerberg.

Blythe Brumleve: 51:34

Only American companies can tell us yeah?

Grace Sharkey: 51:37

literally. I think I said that like this Easter weekend and we're talking about it like TikTok and everything, and I said Zuckerberg is the only person that can have my data. He's the only guy I trust, everything. I said zuckerberg is the only person that can have my data. He's the only guy I trust. I mean, didn't you see the movie justin timberlake? He knew justin timberlake?

Blythe Brumleve: 51:50

we don't mention. He's canceled. We don't mention justin timberlake on this show he met him. He wasn't a good guy, right oh, we should probably talk about britney on on a future show, because uh well, that could get turned into a debate, because there's mental health issues there. I think it's a lot and it's at the hands of the people closest to her. I don't know if you had a chance to listen to her by the way quick.

Grace Sharkey: 52:17

If anyone hasn't seen quiet on set yet, wait for your nickelodeon dreams to be just destroyed. And I, I actually want to personally apologize for being a part of the anti-Drake. Remember when he became a bad boy? Yeah, I was on that team of like what a bad boy. We don't like Drake anymore. And now I feel awful about it and I take it all back.

Blythe Brumleve: 52:41

So I was watching it. Like who was I? Oh, amanda Bynes too. Like I just thought, oh my god, this girl is absolutely insane. I kind of just thought it was like, oh, you know, the childhood stardom, that's the root of this issue. And it's like no, they're actually like pedophiles that were working on set and putting her in the worst position and nobody was looking out for her not speaking of britney, like nobody was looking out for Amanda. Like no, not her parents, not her family, no one. So that's just, it's a awful situation but it is interesting to watch. We need like a pop culture episode because there's a lot going on and just the world of, like traditional celebrity and how.

Grace Sharkey: 53:25

That's just kind of crumbling and you know I was watching that like jaw open the whole time like well, p diddy, uh, j-lo, you know, you have a there's a lot of different factors like at play of like these big time celebrities that you see around and the stuff they got in their closets.

Blythe Brumleve: 53:44

So it's I don't know if I want to know anymore, but a part of me is like we probably should know. Brokering success demands a battle-ready strategy. Tye TMS equips freight brokers with the ultimate battle station for conquering a tough market. With Tye, brokers gain access to a comprehensive platform where rate intelligence and quote history converge on a single screen. It's not just a page, it's a strategic command center designed to help brokers win. Tie equips your team with all of the data they need to negotiate with confidence and allows them to communicate directly with carriers and customers from a simple control base. Revolutionize the way your brokers perform by giving them a competitive advantage with TIE TMS. For more info, go to tai-softwarecom backslash battle stations, and we also have a link for you in the show notes to sign up for a demo. But I guess, speaking of closets, let's talk about the changing retail landscape.

Grace Sharkey: 54:42

Perfect transition. That's so good. We did it. Yay, yes, yes. Speaking of closets Okay, next story.

Blythe Brumleve: 54:58

We've got a hell of a post by Britton Ladd. Do you follow him on LinkedIn? Yes, yes.

Grace Sharkey: 55:04

He is. I didn't realize he posts about this though.

Blythe Brumleve: 55:07

Uh well, this is a. So I wanted to start with um. I want to start it from the lens of the changing retail landscape, because we have, obviously, the things about Shein that we're going to get to in just a hot second. There's another one um with Amazon. Uh, go, halting the just walk out concept. You know that concept where, like, you scan your phone before you walk into the store, you put everything in your basket and then you can just walk out. You don't have to talk to a cashier, you can be as antisocial as your little heart desires, but they are canceling all of that, and they canceled it very abruptly.

Blythe Brumleve: 55:40

And Brit and Lad had kind of a I don't want to say a scathing post, but a very like oh. He's getting a little spicy on here talking about the reasons why Amazon is halting this program, and he called it what did he say? Gimmicks disguised as innovation, because essentially it wasn't the technology. That was being promised was that, you know, it's AI scanning your cart and it's scanning your basket, and that is um, that that's how they're coming up with your bill. Uh no, it's just like a thousand contractors in India watching you on video and then choosing. You know which items you bought and then eventually charging you for it. So that, to me, just kind of blew my mind that I mean it doesn't. I guess it shouldn't like blow your mind that Amazon would do some shady things, um, but he had a really good post about it. I'll have it in the show notes.

Blythe Brumleve: 56:31

Um, what else did he say? He said, um, yeah, well, that was just the thing that just stood out to me the most gimmicks disguised as innovation, um. So we had that post by Britain lab. Again, I'll link to it in the show notes. But basically, that kind of technology isn't really where it's at. According to his post, he says that really it, but actually real technology that is doing this. It's not all the way there yet from what he says, um, but it is. Uh, it's coming soon. I guess we'll see.

Blythe Brumleve: 57:13

It was a lot of like fake promises by Amazon, um, but I don't. I think that that concept as a whole is just not going to be pursued by them. Then, uh, next, as far as, like, changing retail landscape, we have your story in the stockout of Shein going direct to consumer, which is a very interesting play, because we have what's going on with retail companies, but also what's going on with online companies as well? Just retail as a whole, I think is just fascinating area to watch right now, especially after COVID. Think is just fascinating area to watch right now, especially after COVID the dramatic rise in e-commerce shopping. So all of that setting the stage. Grace, tell us what's going on with Shein direct to consumer.

Grace Sharkey: 57:54

Yeah. So Shein is an interesting company. We'll get into the kind of ethics behind it here in a second, but it came out during. So there's talks of them going IPO, which obviously me and Mike were talking about. On the stock out would be kind of cool, because if you are a public company, there's reporting you have to do so actually more transparency into your those ethical moments and into your operation. So I kind of am hoping that they go public because I think we'll learn more about the company that way as well.

Grace Sharkey: 58:27

So, that being said, they came out that they're going to start offering basically other, allowing other companies to use their supply chain infrastructure, so kind of like supply chain as a service situation and what people could do. It kind of reminds me I'm gonna make a really weird comparison, but it kind of reminds me of, uh, american eagle purchasing quiet logistics. Right, it's like well instead of uh, instead of us, like being paying quiet. Why don't we own quiet and we can get a better capture of how our supply chain works, but but also how others work and, of course, with that right, you're going to be able to kind of take advantage of pricing and, I'd say, volume and things like that a little bit more too. Another great example of it is Home Depot right, home Depot? Actually, for the flatbed freight that they move, they offer flatbed carriers loads as well. So they're like making money off of their own supply chain in a way, to kind of how to look at it. I think it's it's really smart for those who do have a really great supply chain. So she is offering that and is going to be offering that to other retailers e-commerce platforms mostly, I think, retail clothing, et cetera. So that, for instance, if you and I wanted to create a t-shirt, right or something along those lines, we could technically have Shein and one of their third-party manufacturers create that, make that for us, come up with the designs, use their Shein's infrastructure to ship that out and, of course, sell it on the platform, etc. Which is smart. But again, you have to think about what you're becoming a part of at the same time, I mean. But it is incredible. They have over 5,400 different third party manufacturers in China. Today. They have over 30 billion dollars in revenue. Now I have heard that that's starting to fall off a little bit, which I think is why the IPO is kind of taking outside of the questions of their ethics, taking some time, but it's interesting.

Grace Sharkey: 1:00:39

We go in the article and in our newsletter too we dive into kind of the concerns, the things, questions you might want to ask, right like there's talks about them sometimes stealing intellectual property. So if I am giving them designs or I am using them, are they also have the ability to steal those designs from me and see those companies? But they do have an incredible supply chain and I and it's because of this small batch model that they use compared to others and it's hard to explain. So I did find a really great video by Wall Street Journal that dives into exactly why they are growing that, the way that they are growing that, the way to sustain fast fashion.

Grace Sharkey: 1:01:20

I think that's really the question we're asking today is retailers are realizing fast fashion is a thing, it's a trend.

Grace Sharkey: 1:01:26

So how do we actually build a supply chain around a trend that is so reactive? Right like you have to be able to spot a hot fashion trend, be able to manufacture that instantly. But also like, how do you have the inventory for that? Like, how do you actually watch, engage, what's popular and what's not? I don't know if you have that video up, I do. Perfect. Let's show that first segment where they go into the small batch model, because I think it's pretty interesting, especially for fast fashion in general. Thank you, yeah, and so that, right there, that's what you would be potentially investing into if you were to take this new solution from sheen as well, which it's. It's impossible to watch that and to understand retail and say, oh, I'm not interested in it. I mean, h&m and the people they just listed off I'm sure are questioning whether or not this is something they want to be a part of, because it is a way to save costs and to push back a little bit possibly waste as well, depending on your customers.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:03:54

And that's, I guess, sort of the dilemma of fast fashion or that it's been talked about, is that it's such a wasteful thing. But if I'm understanding this move correctly, this hopes to reduce that being a wasteful thing. But if I'm understanding this move correctly, this hopes to reduce that being a wasteful thing where, say, like Forever 21, for example, which has retail locations they did have massive retail locations all over the country I think that they've downsized quite a bit and maybe don't have the longevity to survive, you know, for you know the next decade, like they have the past decade, and so there's a lot of waste in that regard, because they have to order all of the inventory and then hope that it ships and hopes that you know, somebody is going to buy it, Whereas this model, you're only shipping it, you're printing it or making it in smaller quantities and really only printing it if the demand is shown online that it's there, right.

Grace Sharkey: 1:04:50

Yeah, almost the waste aspect of it comes from almost more of us as the consumer. The aspect that actually this model exists because it's pushing the consumer to say, okay, maybe I can't, and because it's so cheap as well which we'll get into why it's so cheap in a second. But because it's so cheap I feel like I can. Instead of spending maybe $50 on a really good garment piece at Macy's, I'll buy 10 items for $5 on Shein, knowing that, like, it's gonna get destroyed after a little bit. Right, like there's you go into as a consumer, understanding it's cheap for a reason, uh, but of course it's polyester and a lot of these things are are bad for the environment that you're using too.

Grace Sharkey: 1:05:37

So it's, it's almost like it's. It's like when people ask, like, how do we fix, like the driver, uh, driver rates? It's like I don't know, like start spending more money on stuff that they can, you know, move around. Like it's. It's us, almost it's the problem. It's the consumerism of it. All right that that this even exists, that we can purchase these things as fast as we do, uh, and and be wasteful in our own mindset as well. So it's like I think it's it's not as much as they're being wasteful as much as it's allowing us to be wasteful as consumers.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:06:12

And I mean if the business exists. The business would not exist if demand was not there. Exactly, I think it's it's, you know, educating the public, but also it just it feels like something new is coming into my life every day, or some kind of news that comes into my life every day that makes me question every decision that I make and I feel like everything's trying to kill me. And at some point I saw a video relative to this, uh, the other day that because our clothes, especially like workout clothes, are made from so much polyester that workout clothes in particular, because they're so tight on your body and they're in, like you know, certain areas where you are sweating and that stuff has nowhere to go, so you're it's just mixing with the plastic in the polyester material and then just seeping into your skin and it's like great, yeah, another way for me to die.

Grace Sharkey: 1:07:15

Yeah, exactly, and you could probably buy maybe better workout clothes that maybe push again. I don't know, polyester is for that, but yeah, uh, you could try a different type of cotton or a different fabric what are you gonna do?

Blythe Brumleve: 1:07:29

like work out in wool, like yeah?

Grace Sharkey: 1:07:32

like you could do, maybe cotton, but also you have to understand, with cotton, right, it's like you're not gonna be able to purchase it and have it delivered, and and the styles might not change as quickly as you see. On Shein, and I think there's other I mean there's definitely other brands that I think are like this too and that use Shein, at least some type of model like it, and that's why I think they're, of course, selling it, because it makes sense, it works, they've proven it works, and why not offer it to competitors and make some money off of it?

Blythe Brumleve: 1:08:08

So how do you think that this compares to?

Blythe Brumleve: 1:08:10

Like the Timu model, like do you think that they're using a lot of the same manufacturers, like uh, and we can just, essentially, instead of going through Amazon and paying an upcharge for Amazon and getting two day shipping, I have found that I've become very comfortable with if I need certain items, I'm just going to go to Tmoo because I'm going to get the same exact product that Amazon sales sells for much cheaper, and I'll just get it a week later and if it sucks, it's fine, because I'll just you know, I'm, I'm, you know, to your point I'm contributing to this type of like, fast fashion or just cheap products and not getting quality.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:08:44

So I think it's it's probably about finding, like, the balance. Maybe, like you know some things, I don't necessarily need to buy the highest end model that's going to last, you know, 60 years. Sometimes I just want, like I just bought, like one of those empanada cutters, or like you put the dough in it and you put the you know your stuff inside and you all you have to do is just close the case and your empanadas done.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:09:06

You don't have to. You know, not that empanadas take a long time to make or anything, but um, I bought that off timu and I was like, wow, this is definitely like, um, a moment of self-reflection. Well, did.

Grace Sharkey: 1:09:18

I really need this, but I'm sure you probably could have bought something like it, uh, on other sites where it's produced, maybe in mexico or in other locations but you're, it might take a little bit longer to ship. It's definitely going to take more to to make the product. I think what's interesting about all of this is like it kind of goes back to a little bit of what we're discussing earlier is like the the arrogance of the American consumer. Right To say let's rely less on China, but also see companies like Timu and Xi'an just explode. Like there are reasons they're exploding.

Grace Sharkey: 1:09:58

And you were at this chat, god, I need to do an interview with her as well. The wonderful woman from the Customs Border Protection, right, she was talking about a situation like this. So, for instance, we talked about they have 5,400 third-party manufacturers. I'm going to assume most of those are in Asia of some sort. I would love to visit all of those 5,500 and see how many are ethically like working, like working the same labor laws that we expect here in the United States. None of them are like, let's just be honest, they aren't. But like we'll still buy it, you know. So it's like.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:10:32

Again, it's it's kind of choosing where you want to turn a blind eye to, exactly where we make those choices each day. I'm not, you know, telling you what to do or you know what not to do, but this company is existing and they're making lots and lots of money. But they're existing for a reason because the demand is there. Otherwise they wouldn't be doing as well as they are. But there are some sort of moral and ethical questions around it. I'm going to share this tweet that comes from Kyla Scanton. Yeah, love her. Scanlon. Is that how you say it? Scanlon, that looks like how you say her last name.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:11:11

But she says on Shein their clothes are 65 percent polyester. That's double what Zara and H&M have. Laundering polyester is responsible for about 35 percent of the microplastics in the ocean. Shein ships between two to three billion items a year. Their emissions grew by 52% last year. They've 10x their lobbying spend in the last year. 13,000 influencers are posting hauls 1.3 million products a year. Zara releases around 35,000. Zero dollars in tariffs on 30 billion in revenue. We should that. I don't know why that sticks out to me the most. That feels like a lot of revenue. We have a lot of money issues in this country. I found a solution right there.

Grace Sharkey: 1:11:56

Well, we should probably. If you want to show the clip of the tax loophole, I think that's interesting too is people understand how they're shipped. And again, I think that's interesting too is people don't understand how they're shipped. And again, this would be great for, I think, a lot of companies who want to use their supply chain, like how much money they are avoiding and paying in tariffs or in taxes because of how they're shipping to us at the end of the day and it's funny because it goes back to a lot of these right do take a little bit longer to ship, right, like most people aren't going to look at Shein or a Timu to deliver in one or two days. But this is why you're not going to, this is why you're not going to see that because there's a cost to that right it, to how cheap it is so the the same video, right, yep same video.

Grace Sharkey: 1:12:48

I think it's uh, closer to the six minute mark. Oh, six minute mark, yep, a little bit closer to the end of it. Um, and yeah, it'll kind of explain that, uh, the interesting loophole that they've got going on. That let's see. This is, of course, an issue, yeah, and it doesn't, because it's not public. So, thank you is that? Did you want me to play more of that clip? That's yep, just so people kind of understand, because I don't think people get like there's a reason why they don't have a lot of times.

Grace Sharkey: 1:14:22

What happens is the fulfillment centers will be here in the united states. So a lot of the of your favorite brands might produce clothing in vietnam and then it comes over here as uh like 40 t-shirts or whatever at a time and they you know price, they pay taxes on those appropriately, and then from the fulfillment centers it goes directly to consumers, whereas in Xi'an and Timu they're shipping it directly to the consumer from China, and because it's at $4 or whatever you paid for, right, that's what allows them to skip over those taxes. So again, that's something you're dealing with, struggling to figure out. How do you deliver that service to your customers and not have a fulfillment center here in the United States. Well, this is again on TikTok, so you haven't seen this.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:15:14

But a bunch of different retailers higher end retailers are getting called out because they're buying products from Shein and then increasing the price and forgetting to take the Shein tags off of their merch. This one woman's video went viral because I think the shop was Jaded London and she had spent $80 on this outfit and she's like I got so many it was a birthday outfit, I got so many compliments and she goes to take it off and put it in the wash. But she looked at the side tag. It wasn't even the tag in the. You know, the back of like the shirt that you're wearing was like the side tag. They had forgotten to take that tag, that Shein tag, off. And so she goes to Shein's site and looks it up and it's like an $8 outfit where she's paying $80 for this same getup and it's a lot of.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:16:14

There's actually another local retailer that started out like five, maybe 10 years ago. They had a lot of like local influencer buzz and they got caught doing the same thing, and this is a store that became successful and then started franchising out into different cities in the South and now they're getting raked through the coals for doing exactly the same thing. And so I think people are waking up to the fact that a lot of local boutiques are purchasing items from Shein and just upping the price. But now you have a situation where you can just buy direct. You can skip the middleman of Amazon. There's obviously a lot of ethical questions in that regard, but Shein Timu there's a lot of the same products. A lot of the same photos that you see on Amazon are on these other sites and they're charging you more on Amazon versus these other sites. So I don't know what like the right or wrong answer is.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:17:13

We have covered, you know, shein before. Back when, like the, the, they Shein like flew in all those influencers to like their factory in China and then told them that they couldn't really talk about any of the legal issues around using slave labor and things like that, obviously the Uyghurs playing a role in this or not really playing a role, being forced to play a role in this. So we went through a couple of notes and I guess, to sort of round out this story, tips from that episode we talked about. The average person buys a new piece of clothing every five days, which is kind of insane. So we're buying more and destroying more than we ever have in human history. Another takeaway was fibers like cotton and wool have the longest shelf life. Polyester does not. A company like Sheep Inc will send you a button with your wool clothing owner or what was that? The clothing owner? So you or that's uh, what was that? The sheep?

Blythe Brumleve: 1:18:08

farm you could pick a sheep and find out where your wool material was made from. So they'll, like make you a coat out of the wool that comes from a sheep that you pick. So, obviously, stuff like that is going to cost you more, um, but it's going to last longer and it's you know it it's better for the environment, you know. So, I guess, if you know if your conscious is affecting you by buying something off Shein, then I guess go sponsor a sheep. It'll make you feel a little bit better. And then what I do love to see is it's happening more and more.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:18:40

I don't know how often, like, people actually go and verify that that these, these are accurate, but I think it goes a long way if you mention your supply chain on your website, um, so being able to list where you got those goods and where you purchase them, I think is going to become increasingly important. If you bundle this all sort of with the, I guess, the ethics of the discussion that that we're talking about. And then there is a website called good on you, eco, that you can find out if that company that you're buying your clothes from is actually, you know, a good representative for, like you know, sustainability and things like that, which is important to a lot of people. So if you want to be a more eco conscious shopper obviously you're probably not going to have, you know, a Shein or a Timu app on your phone but if you want to take the you know the, I guess more sustainability route, you can go to that website. Goodonyouco, no, no, it's just goodonyouco, no com or anything like that. Love it. Are you an eco concert shopper?

Grace Sharkey: 1:19:38

No I'm. I will say I definitely use Amazon more and more frequently. I've avoided Shein so far. There have been times where I've put stuff in my car and I'm just like, no, I'm good, I don't need this stuff. But if anything, I've been pretty happy with Amazon a little bit more recently on their fashion, especially for plus size. Yeah for sure, Um, but yeah, no, I'm. Um, I think, being a plus size girl, you want to try clothes on and anything that's coming from, honestly, China. I'm going to just assume it's going to just be too small to begin with.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:20:19

So the Asian sizes. And then also, that's one of the things that I you know, I the way I justify it. When I buy something from Timu, it's like, well, if it's crap, then it's not going to. You know, I paid $2 for it, so I don't really care and I'll just probably just donate it or, you know, toss it in the garbage, which is another aspect of just you know, I guess, things that you want to be a little bit more conscious about.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:20:40

I did hear this story recently where this woman was doing like a detox for God. What is it? What is it? Christian holiday Lent, lent or Catholic holiday Lent? So she gave up social media and she found that when she gave up social media, her e-commerce shopping went down dramatically, oh for sure. And I thought that that was really interesting, because I just kind of forget how often I'm scrolling on social media and I see an ad. I'm like, oh, that looks great, let me click on it, add to cart, and then I just go back to doing what I'm doing and then, you know, later on I will just hit order on all of that. Yes, but social media also has a dramatic effect on all of this as well.

Grace Sharkey: 1:21:27

If you want to get into my shopping habits like I I'm more of like spend money on like bullshit, like this, you know, like things where I'm like I gotta have this, yeah this, like this too. I got this one too, with a little shark.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:21:38

No, I mean it's very funny, it's very on brand it is very.

Grace Sharkey: 1:21:42

I just buy bullshit. Uh, that's my problem. It's not even clothes, because you know honestly, like I get too much free shit through, like work and conferences. I'm like I don't need any more clothes. Uh, no, I just like to spend it on complete nonsense. So, like anything, all the stuff you see back here like yeah, all just just bullshit. You know, it's just about balance. It's so cute. There's uh, have you ever heard of?

Blythe Brumleve: 1:22:10

the concept of, um, uh, like cute culture in like, uh, well, japan, uh, so you, you lived in japan for what a couple years.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:22:19

You're like, you know, japanese, like, so the cute culture. For folks who don't know, um, I haven't been to Japan, I only discovered this in the Japan Pavilion at Epcot. They have a whole little exhibit there that talks about after the two bombs nuclear bombs were dropped, obviously there was a long period of, you know, just trying to mentally recover, obviously, structurally, infrastructure recover, infrastructure recover. But the way that a lot of the Japanese that's where the cute culture sort of originated from is because they were looking for little moments in their life to be happy, and so that's, you know, that's where, like a lot of like Sanrio was sort of born out of, and, you know, like soap dishes, you know, are different characters really cute dish towels, you know, or different characters, really cute dish towels, not like all of the those little items throughout your house trying to make those little moments cuter in order to make you feel better. Um, so I, I think that that's also an interesting thing at play as as well. Just to, I guess, a sort of footnote on that as we enter.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:23:23

Hawaii, no, kauawaii, that's, uh, that's how you say cute japanese oh, nice little japanese lesson my brother is going to japan in a couple weeks, his first uh trip out of the country, so I'm super pumped for him.

Grace Sharkey: 1:23:36

Um, he's also going to, uh, disney sea, the disney park over there, and I'm like you have to bring back some stuff yeah, kawaiauai, we're going to show Kauai stuff, kauai Okay.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:23:46

Yeah, yeah.

Grace Sharkey: 1:23:47

All right.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:23:48

Next one Favorite freight biz side hustle. This is becoming one of my more favorite segments that that we do on the show. Do you want to go first? You want me to go first?

Grace Sharkey: 1:23:58

I'll go first. I got a weird one. It's technically it's, it's a, it's a freight history lesson slash hustle in regards to marketing, I think, in this industry. So we've done a couple of these before, like talked about some of these issues in the past and, uh, what I want to bring up today is, uh, one of the biggest losses of american supply chains of all time, and that's good old Hershey. So I love that you got this because, yeah, oh, yeah well, so we'll go through the video here in a second, but to give a little bit of history, basically, back in 1996, hershey decided our systems are crap, we need to update them.

Grace Sharkey: 1:24:44

You know, of course, online shopping was becoming a thing a little bit more right, like Bezos had just started to come out, all that jazz. So in 1996, they said we need a new ERP, that's Enterprise Resource Planning System, if you don't know what that is, a TMS and a CRM, and so, going into it, they wanted a 30-month turnaround in particular it. They wanted a 30-month turnaround in particular, and it actually, with that 30-month turnaround, was going to come out about 1999, right before the Halloween, christmas season. And so, long story short, they planned it terribly, even the people that they worked with in order to build these new systems and integrate these new systems into their supply chain told them like you're going to need at least 48 months, and they're like no Hershey's figure it out, we need this now.

Grace Sharkey: 1:25:34

So, long story short, halloween a time to implement this and integrate this into their systems came around. It just collapsed within itself. None of it was working appropriately and they ended up losing about $100 million in orders because of system integration problems, which led to about 8% drop in their stock and over 19% drop in their quarterly earnings from that Q3 in particular, from that Q3 in particular, and, in fact, mostly the Hershey Kisses orders and Jolly Ranchers as well. And I think it's interesting because we talk about technology these days, right, and a lot of the issues that go along with it, and I want to applaud a certain company If you go to, so bring up this video. This will kind of not only we talked about, right, like fun ways to make content in this industry, and there's a lot of you out there that are consultants and I don't know why we don't see more of these type of videos, but not only are they going to-.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:26:35

Go ahead. I was going to say have you ever talked with this guy from Third Stage Consulting?

Grace Sharkey: 1:26:40

No, no, I found this online.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:26:43

Really, that's interesting. I've been on his show twice no way. To talk about supply chain like just you know global issues, things like that, yeah, bye.

Grace Sharkey: 1:26:52

Meme. So he's going to go over, of course, what happened, but then he's going to teach you about how to avoid this problem happening today. So, yeah, go ahead and run it. It's smart marketing, okay, okay, thank you. Yeah, you can pause it here if you want.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:29:12

I think that, eric, yeah eric kimberling I I think it's his last name but a third stage consulting group, um, but he has. He has a pretty big presence on on a lot of different social media channels but he he talks about, you know, sort of the boring parts of business, but how much those boring parts like change management and ERP really has a dramatic effect on your bottom line and just like employee morale.

Grace Sharkey: 1:29:37

Well, I think so many times you hear just things failing in the tech side of things. But for me, that's the first question I can ask is these questions well, did you just go into it being like we have this problem that this tech company said they can solve and they didn't solve it? It's like, no, you have to be a part of that conversation. You have to be part of that planning. You can't just be like fix it for us and and not be reasonable and have a a smart discussion with both sides contributing. So that's a little freight lesson for you. On top of that, for all consultancy agencies out there do more content like this guy. Like I was watching this, I was like, yes, let's go, sir. Like and small world right, it sounds like you already knew about him. So shout out to Eric. Shout out to Eric, way to go. You're leading the cause and I love that Awesome.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:30:27

Well, moving on into mine, because I know that we only I say this each show we only have a few more minutes left, but we still have so much to talk about. So I'm going to show mine, because back in my executive assistant days I was tasked with we were an asset-based 3PL and so they were constantly trying to find you know, typical like one person marketing team. You tell them to like figure out everything. So I one day I was tasked by from one of the executives to figure out a monetization plan for the side of our trucks, to sell ad space on these trucks in order to generate additional revenue stream for the company. So I met with a marketing agency that was going to be able to handle the graphic design for the ads and the campaign management. I went and found a local truck wrap detailer that will be able to actually put the decals and put the. It's essentially like a giant sticker that you're putting on the side of the truck Um, so I was tasked with the research of that project.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:31:30

Well, short, long story short. Uh, we ran out of money, so we didn't really uh think it all the way through of, like, who's actually going to pay for these advertisements? Um, where are we going to get these advertisers Like, are we going to have any kind of rules on you know what they're allowed to advertise and what they're not? Um, so that, uh, that that was a fatal flaw in the plan. I was it can't blame me. I was like 27 at the time and I had no other person to like rely on Um. But basically the executive team was like okay, we can't do this program anymore. We got to squash it because we're running out of money. Can't do this program anymore. We got to squash it because we're running out of money, which is probably a good decision at the time, because we eventually did run out of money.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:32:07

I was going to say I know that story, but that was one of the projects that I was given to earlier that year. Never came to fruition, but there is a company that is trying to solve this. This company is called Boxee and they basically are a software company or a fleet management software company that is trying to solve the problem of box trucks and giving them a revenue source and a creative advertising um, so I'm going to play this demo video from them. Why hold on?

Grace Sharkey: 1:32:43

there we go, video from them. Why hold on? There we go. There's a company I know that does this too, and I'm wondering if this is them.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:32:49

Well, they, they did just get bought out, but from what I understand, from what I was reading last night, like they still can kind of operate on their own, um, as an independent entity, uh, but a company called all over media, uh, which is responsible for like gas station ads, um, like on the actual like gas station, like where you get your gas from, like all those advertisements. They're responsible for that. They do like in-store, you know, placements just all over media. But this is the video from the Thank you All right.

Grace Sharkey: 1:33:18

So okay, thank you, it's smart isn't that crazy no, it is really smart too, because I think a lot of times people don't um, you talked about, like, where they would be driving and things like that. There's a, there's a company like it that I did talk to on the radio show, and because you don't consider, like, clearly, if you're delivering constantly at Walmart, like you probably don't want a Kroger ad on the side of your truck, right? So it's like they consider a lot of that kind of stuff that, like you said, like you might not really think about just on the surface, right?

Blythe Brumleve: 1:35:24

Well, there's also the added caveat, because I you know the story I just gave. When I, you know, was an executive assistant, I was tasked with this role. I asked, before I knew about this company. I asked Matthew Leffler his second time we brought him up in the show. I asked him months ago about that project and if it would still be.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:35:44

You know why you know, more trucking companies aren't doing that and monetizing their fleets in that, in that way.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:35:49

And he said well, it's a legal liability.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:35:52

Basically, you have these ambulance law chaser firms all around the country that are just looking to target trucking companies in order to get some, you know, a large settlement from accidents, some rightfully so. A lot of it is very predatory. That's why I call them ambulance chasers. But he said that if you have an advertisement on the side of your show or the side of your truck, then that is an additional, like I guess, liability issue for those fleets and so they're just, you know, advised to just not do it. And what's interesting and I think that the way that boxy gets around this is that these aren't real delivery trucks, or they are real trucks but they're not like out there making deliveries, like their job is just to drive around in highly congested areas, and so they recruit drivers on on their site, like they have a tab for drivers to reach out if they're interested, and they got locations or you know routes all over the country and I just thought that that was a really from a marketing perspective, I think that that is brilliant.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:36:51

I think that's how you get around a lot of these liability issues but, still get a lot of the same like bang for your buck, because they said it promotes on their website and social media that truck advertising generates 2.5 times more attention than a static billboard and that comes from perception research. Now, obviously you know they're they're going to list that stat on their site and they're going to list it in those areas because it's, you know, a proponent of the service that they're offering. But but what does? What does your cat feel like is the right move to take?

Grace Sharkey: 1:37:26

Oh, she is annoyed by me because I'm sure her food dish is empty. She just wants me to go downstairs and fill it right now, don't you, sweet baby girl? You're being so good. She's starting to be bad. See, she's starting to be bad. She's starting to be bad.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:37:42

That's the thing with cats you can't love them too much. No, no.

Grace Sharkey: 1:37:45

Jessica Jones is her name for a reason. She's a monster. No, I think it's really cool, I mean especially considering, you know, advertising and different trends today Like that's. I think, an interesting route as well. Not surprised they got picked up or acquired. That makes sense too. Yeah, route as well. Not surprised they got picked up or acquired.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:38:05

That makes sense too. I think the monitoring of the route is super interesting to me because we have so many drivers and shippers that are fighting for this kind of technology and consistently advertising trucks, but not necessarily on the high value shipments which, I guess, depending on what you're advertising, maybe you could consider it a high value shipment. But yeah, I thought that that was. That's a cool little nugget. Now onto our final segment, source to Porch. You want to go first or you want me to go first?

Grace Sharkey: 1:38:34

Oh, I didn't even bring one for this one. I said each pick one. I took that as pick one.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:38:43

Oh, I mean, you're always welcome to have your own source to porch story. I have a good story, so you know, all right hold on. I'm gonna need to take a drink for this.

Grace Sharkey: 1:38:54

I guess my source to porch was uh uh Hershey's failure to to get the Hershey's to your porch.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:39:02

Well, I'm I'm glad that you brought that up, because my story is on the chocolate crisis. I don't know if you have been watching this, but it is really fascinating and I did a deep dive on it last night and this morning, so I'm gonna have you ever seen how chocolate is made, like where it comes from?

Grace Sharkey: 1:39:22

Yes, yes.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:39:23

Okay, it's-.

Grace Sharkey: 1:39:25

If you go back like two or three episodes of the stock out. We touch on this a little bit because, yeah, it's, the prices are insane right now.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:39:33

Yes, the the most out of it's chocolate prices are cacao prices are are cacao trees, so I guess the cocoa that comes from them is trading higher right now than copper and there's a lot of backstory with it. So if you've never seen where chocolate comes from, I'm going to be playing a video. Sorry for the folks who are listening to the podcast version. I'm going to play this video as I talk over it. I'm just giving some context into. Of course, I can't talk about you know, a source to poor story without talking about some kind of like historical backstory to it. So and then talk over it, hopefully there's no volume. Okay, good, okay. So it's showing like where chocolate comes from. But basically a little bit of the backstory is that it's a crop native to Central and South America. Like many things, it was very difficult to harvest, so it became a drink for the rich. It also became a form of currency and that's going to be important here in a second. So the pods are essentially grown on the offshoots of branches of a cacao tree. They look like giant gourds. In case you've never seen them, it looks very alien-like the cacao trees, so they look like a gourd. It's kind of like a pumpkin. So they have the very hard shell outside and then you break it open and inside is the pulp and the seeds. So inside it's the white pulp that surrounds the bean itself, which is removed, fermented and dried in the sun for a few days, where the outer crust kind of flakes off and you're left with the actual bean.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:41:10

This bean, from a historical perspective, was super easy to transport, especially compared to other commodities. So it was an ideal crop during colonization, when Spain would first start taking the beans back home and sharing it with other wealthy people within Spain. But because it was also seen as currency, it was used by a lot of groups throughout Central and South America, and so Spain, all of their fleets. They would just go up and down the coast trying to meet new tribes, trying to meet new groups, new people throughout Mesoamerica, and when they were doing that, they were using the beans as sort of a way to kind of break bread with them and buy things from them, because they were using it as a form of currency. This was also during the time that they're scouting for natural resources and they're trying to find out more gold and silver and just trying to use the cocoa bean as a way to get them to do that or to get them to trade with them or to just, I guess, steal it from them.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:42:18

This was also during the slave trade era, where Spain was, obviously, you know, other countries, obviously the English, france, the US, of course but they were, you know, shipping these beans or the plants itself, to African countries, specifically Western African African countries like Ghana, the Ivory Coast, and they were forcing them to grow this crop because with the cacao trees it's very, very sensitive plant. It takes four to five years in order for that plant to start fruiting. Where you get these gourds like what you're seeing here, and it takes that long, they're also really susceptible to pests and so it makes it really challenging to grow and it's also like you have to be like within 20 degrees of, like the equator. That's the optimal places where it's going to grow really well. So, fast forward to present day, this crop has a global demand with total sales around 116 billion. That's doubled since 2009. And this $116 billion number is expected to still grow about 3.4% year over year, mostly fueled by the growth of dark chocolate, especially among healthy folks that want to eat chocolate, but they want to do it in a healthier way. Most of the big companies like Cadbury, hershey, nestle they use what's called a bean to bar model, while others use a buy the bar and mix it into their own proprietary blends. So they're just buying like a Hershey bar or they're buying like a Nestle bar and then they just blend that into their own proprietary blends and then sell that.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:44:00

West Africa, the Ivory Coast, ghana in particular, is responsible for around 73% of the total chocolate sales, but they outsource the processing. Apparently, where a lot of the money is made is in the processing. Of course, you have a situation where 73% of the market comes out of Western African countries countries, and so when one thing affects them, it affects a lot of the just global market of having, you know, just having this commodity that you're going to be able to buy. So what happened in last year is that Ghana and the Ivory Coast experienced an El Nino effect where they had a lot of rain, and that rain caused a lot of the trees to just not be suitable for fruiting conditions. There's also a pest that is, when you have a lot of rains it's more susceptible to get that pest, and when you have that pest, the entire farm is just ruined. You have to uproot the trees and then burn the fields and then start over, and again it takes four to five years for those crops to become fruiting again.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:45:06

So what's happening is a lot of illegal gold miners are now coming into those farmlands and saying, hey, we'll give you regular money to let us dig on your property, and then, if you let us dig on your property, then you're going to get regular income. You don't have to worry about being a farmer anymore, because farmers are making the least out of everyone. A lot of child labor is also involved in farming cocoa and so, keeping those I guess extenuating circumstances in mind, these people, they're already not making a lot of money by farming this commodity. And then you have some other nefarious actors that are coming in and taking advantage of the other natural resources that they have on their land by taking gold, and that's just an easy fix for them and it's a guaranteed source of revenue. So it's really like a particular situation that they have found themselves in, where these farmers, they're only getting out of that what 116 billion? They currently only get about 20 to 30% of that total market.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:46:16

And then it's just all of these extenuating circumstances where now we have entered into the chocolate crisis because of those different weather patterns, because of all the sort of geopolitical issues that are going on. So we have this astronomical increase in pricing for chocolate and I mean, if you're looking at the screen like it hit $10,000, which you know. I was listening to Odd Lots podcast and they said typically commodities trade around the $5,000 mark. A record was actually set in 1977 for chocolate prices that hit the $5,000 mark, but now we are double. So now it's finally at the $10,000 mark.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:46:55

And just to keep things kind of in perspective, this is a lot of the farmers aren't incentivized to grow. They also Ghana, ivory Coast. They want to take more control of the processing of it because that's where they make more money. And so a lot of these bigger conglomerates like the Hershey's of the world, nestle's, cadbury, a lot of these big conglomerates are buying up the chocolate reserves but then also under-investing in the farms themselves. Reserves but then also under investing in the farms themselves.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:47:26

And so it's like all this perfect storm of bad events that are coming through that are causing cocoa prices to surge more than 250% over the last year, surging to 10,000 per metric ton. That's $10,000 per metric ton, nearly double the record high set 46 years ago. It's more money right now for chocolate than it is copper. So it's really that's my source to porch story where you know, this year we're going to be facing with shrinkflation and then also the higher prices for some of your favorite chocolate goods. Apparently there's also like just this insane market of people who buy like super high end chocolate where it's like the tiniest piece this is a lot's episode costs like $35 because it has to go through so much different processing and shipping.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:48:17

But the actual growers, the actual farmers of that product, don't really see a lot of the benefits for that. Like I said, they're, they're making around 20 to 30% of that $116 billion number and a lot of that funnels through the government, um. So the government, you know some of these countries don't exactly I mean I not to say that the U? S does either Um, but some of these countries don't exactly operate on the up and up and so they make their own personal side deals with the bigger conglomerates, like the bigger chocolate companies, and so they get their kickbacks.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:48:50

And then the farmers who are actually doing the majority of the work, suffer the ramifications of that and then, when the market price is dramatically increased like this, they're not seeing those profits because it's a controlled market for countries like Ghana and Ivory Coast, where it works well when the price is low because farmers get a certain amount of money. But when the price goes sky high, like it is now, they're not getting any extra money and you have a situation where you have these big companies that are hoarding the cocoa beans for their own benefit. So, yeah, that is the chocolate crisis that's going on. So if you see cheap chocolate out there, I guess beware, but then also just know that it's probably not the best. I heard that Cadbury changed their chocolate source from Ghana to somebody else and just the Cadbury chocolate fans just had an uprising, like went to social media, like complained about it and got Cadbury to change back to Ghana as their chocolate supplier.

Grace Sharkey: 1:49:52

Yeah, it's a big issue. We talked about it, like you said, a couple of weeks ago in the stock out and it's not going anywhere anytime soon. So, like you said, watch for the shrink inflation or prices are just going to stay high on that for a period of time. So it's yeah, I mean that's what the struggle is when it's a food source right that you technically can't get year round but unfortunately want year round. So expect candy and Halloween times right To not not be that great.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:50:21

Well, apparently it came to fruition because Easter holiday, there's a lot of stuff being consumed and there are. One more quick note that I did want to give is because a third of where we have a third lower production for this year versus last year, so that's where a lot of like the extra costs and shrink inflation is going to come into, come into play. But then, very interestingly, there is in London so I guess, sort of reverse colonialism the British chocolate greenhouse is trying to save the world's cocoa. Basically they have a greenhouse that keeps the optimal temperatures and they have, you know, resistant to certain pests, but it's a whole. They're trying to, I guess, sort of pin themselves as the International Cocoa Quarantine Center and so it simulates tropical conditions where they're, you know.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:51:14

Basically, a very difficult plant is made easy to maintain and then they sell these seedlings or they sell these cuttings to farmers all over the world. But then the catch is kind of well, you got to buy the pesticides and the fertilizers in order to help take care of those cuttings that you're buying, and then you're still waiting about four to five years for those crops to come to fruition. So it's kind of like a roundabout supply chain way of saying stock up on your chocolate because it's just going to get more expensive supply chain way of saying stock up on your chocolate because it's just going to get more expensive.

Grace Sharkey: 1:51:49

Yeah, thank God, I'm more of a fruity person, more of a pie, than a brownie person. Yeah, watch it and, like I said, don't expect those prices to come down anytime soon when it comes to what you're buying at the grocery store. That's for sure.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:51:59

All right. Well, we were supposed to stop about 20 minutes ago. Both of us, you know, have other things that we have to do. I know I'm like emails.

Grace Sharkey: 1:52:06

I'm like yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:52:09

So we're going to cut it at this moment. Great show Again, Grace, what are you working on? Where can folks follow your work? All that good stuff.

Grace Sharkey: 1:52:18

So, if you again, I'll have an article out by the time this comes out on some of the people I met at MATS. So go check that out, Some cool companies there. But of course, go to LinkedIn, Twitter, Check out the link tree, which I actually need to update today too, so I'll work on that. And go check out the stock out too. On that. Go to freightwavescom, Click on newsletters at the top of the page, join the stock out and you'll also get a discount code in your newsletter for our June event from June 4th to the 5th in Atlanta.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:52:52

We're actually planning on out.

Grace Sharkey: 1:52:54

Yeah, future supply chain. I'll be there a day early too, for a private event as well, all these private things. So, yeah, excited for that and excited for for another episode, uh, with you, of course. So yeah, it's gonna be a fun one awesome.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:53:09

Well, thank you for your time. Another great episode and, uh, we'll get going to our other duties for for today, but hopefully everybody enjoyed the the wide range of topics that we cover on this show more j-lo content from us.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:53:23

I just set me up. I'll knock it down. I love it. All right, megan Markle, I got the smoke for both of y'all.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:53:35

I hope you enjoyed this episode of Everything is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight, telling the stories behind how your favorite stuff and people get from point A to B. Subscribe to the show, sign up for our newsletter and follow our socials over at everythingislogisticscom. And in addition to the podcast, I also wanted to let y'all know about another company I operate, and that's Digital Dispatch, where we help you build a better website. Now, a lot of the times, we hand this task of building a new website or refreshing a current one off to a co-worker's child, a neighbor down the street or a stranger around the world, where you probably spend more time explaining the freight industry than it takes to actually build the dang website since 2009,. But we're also early adopters of AI, automation and other website tactics that help your company to be a central place to pull in all of your social media posts, recruit new employees and give potential customers a glimpse into how you operate your business.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:54:36

Our new website builds start as low as $1,500, along with ongoing website management, maintenance and updates starting at $90 a month, plus some bonus freight, marketing and sales content similar to what you hear on the podcast. You can watch a quick explainer video over on digitaldispatchio. Just check out the pricing page once you arrive and you can see how we can build your digital ecosystem on a strong foundation. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this episode. I'll see you all real soon and go Jags.

About the Author

Blythe Brumleve
Blythe Brumleve
Creative entrepreneur in freight. Founder of Digital Dispatch and host of Everything is Logistics. Co-Founder at Jax Podcasters Unite. Board member of Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. Freightwaves on-air personality. Annoying Jaguars fan. test

To read more about Blythe, check out her full bio here.