After Covid-19, big retailers now own 90% of the online pet food market. Can a new organization help small pet shops hang on?

An illustration of a pack of dogs surrounding and growling at two dogs. One dog is a doberman wearing a collar with the Chewy logo, the other dog is a bulldog wearing a collar with the Amazon logo. The two dogs are sitting on top of a mountain of dog treats.
An illustration of a pack of dogs surrounding and growling at two dogs. One dog is a doberman wearing a collar with the Chewy logo, the other dog is a bulldog wearing a collar with the Amazon logo. The two dogs are sitting on top of a mountain of dog treats.
Illustration: AJ Dungo for Marker

As the cold darkness of winter set in and the calendar flipped to a second year of Covid life, Kaite Giordano, a fourth-grade teacher in New York City and the mother of seven-year-old James, made a major decision. To break free from the doldrums, their Brooklyn household needed to expand.

And so James got a new bestie: Chewie, a Cavapoo named after everyone’s favorite Wookie—not the online pet supply juggernaut. Although Giordano had never owned a dog before and wasn’t really a pet person, she thought a four-legged friend was just what the family needed. “The loneliness and isolation of…


This originally ran at The Classical in 2013. I dusted it off, updated it a bit, and present it here because I think it captures Mom, Dad and my childhood in their own unique ways. Thinking a lot on those days gone by.

R.I.P. to all three.

Down five runs to the Yankees, the Chico’s Bail Bonds Bears have loaded the bases with the anti-murderer’s row of Miguel, Ahmad, and Ogilvie. Up to the plate steps the center fielder, number three, the best athlete and baddest mother in the area, Kelly Leak. Opposing manager Roy Turner decides to go all…


I don’t do much personal essaying anymore, but inspired by the great “Last Normal Day” series at Luke O’Neil’s Welcome to Hell World substack (and because I couldn’t get my shit together in time to send it to him before it went on hiatus), I wrote about a decadent French dinner in Manhattan shared with my Dad, his wife Terry, and our Brooklyn Three on Tuesday March 10.

Hope you enjoy it. R.I.P. Frank’s. Gonna miss you, old friend.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Fuck off forever, 2020.

_________________________________________________

Dad was always ahead of his time — Mayo Clinic, 2017

On the last normal day, someone in our small dinner party —…


After another week of pandemic and economic whiplash — these books can help you get comfortable with unpredictability

A businessman reading on his digital tablet while standing near a window, next to his filled bookshelves.
A businessman reading on his digital tablet while standing near a window, next to his filled bookshelves.
Photo: Thomas Barwick/DigitalVision/Getty Images

In the current climate of uncertainty, mainlining Twitter while trying to forecast impossible economic (and health) scenarios is not going to lift you from the morass of anxiety. Nor is it particularly useful. In fact, it’s a constant reinforcement of “negativity bias,” the hardwiring of our brains to seek out information that scares us. Bibliotherapy, however, uses reading to facilitate psychological healing, a growing field of research that actually dates back more than a century.

Whether you’re contemplating how to save your startup, raise money during a financial crisis, or what your “Covid-19 war room” should look like, this collection…


Illustrations: Eduardo Palma

Inside the surreal and lucrative two-sided marketplace of mediocre famous people

“Who’s the most famous person on the planet?” asks Steven Galanis. “Someone we would want to book?”

It’s a bitterly cold January evening in Chicago, and we’re huddled at a whiteboard inside the nearly empty headquarters of Galanis’ company, Cameo, a fast-growing startup that peddles personalized celebrity videos.

“Uh, Leonardo DiCaprio?” I throw out.

Sure, says Galanis — a beefy, broad-shouldered, thick-bearded, energetic sports junkie who grew up in the suburban Greek neighborhood of Glenview. By conventional celebrity wisdom, Leo is up there with LeBron, The Rock, Ronaldo, and others who have one-name global recognition — and of course, he’d…


An aging population, a trade war, and now a pandemic have left the Chinese working class reeling

A woman worker assembles earphones for export in a factory in Suining in southwest China’s Sichuan province on Dec. 17, 2019.
A woman worker assembles earphones for export in a factory in Suining in southwest China’s Sichuan province on Dec. 17, 2019.
Photo: Feature China/Barcroft Media/Getty Images

On March 2, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released a report entitled “Coronavirus: The World Economy at Risk.” The report is heavily focused on China and how the country’s projected slow growth of under 5%, due to stagnating industrial production and consumer demand — and the outbreak of the new coronavirus — will have a ripple effect on the rest of the world. Thanks to these factors and the ongoing tariff war, U.S. …


Black customers and business owners have long loved the franchise, but does it love them back?

Photo: Mohd Samsul Mohd Said/Getty Images

In 1979, McDonald’s ran a print ad aimed squarely at the African American marketplace. The headline read “Do Your Dinnertimin’ at McDonald’s” and let black customers know “you don’t have to get dressed up” and “there’s no tipping.” The ad resurfaced a few years ago and took a proper fisking in the Atlantic and NPR’s Code Switch for its then-stereotypical, now-racist portrayal of black vernacular, attire, and eating and spending habits. It’s as the internet kids say, “problematic” at best when seen through 21st-century eyes.

Georgetown Professor of History and African American studies Marcia Chatelain agrees that modern analysis of…


A new book by a pair of academics explains how banks undermined post-WWII regulatory safeguards to sabotage the functioning of the free market

Photo: picture alliance/Getty Images

In January 1933, Ferdinand Pecora, a “soft-spoken son of Italian immigrants,” assembled a committee to investigate what in the hell led to the 1929 stock market crash. There were, of course, many fathers of the Great Depression, but a 2011 Smithsonian article lays out one of the basic underpinnings of the longest and deepest financial calamity in American history:

“The ‘Pecora commission’ [made] front-page news when he called Charles Mitchell, the head of the largest bank in America, National City Bank (now Citibank), as his first witness. ‘Sunshine Charley’ strode into the hearings with a good deal of contempt for…


The Nobel-winning economist and New York Times opinion columnist talks to Marker about tax cuts, trade wars, his new book, and more

Image: William_Potter/Getty Images

In 2011, the Department of Defense released “CONPLAN 8888–11,” a lengthy detailed 31-page plan for battling the impending zombie apocalypse that was “not actually designed as a joke.” An article at History.com explained it was a training exercise with three goals in mind. “First, create and uphold a defensive plan to protect humankind from mind-munching predators. Second, establish procedures to eradicate any threat of zombies. Third, restore law and order to a war-ridden economy.”

If the walking dead ever do have their day, it’s going to take big brains to get the American economy up and running again. Fortunately, Paul…


The Big Apple Circus is in its 42nd season at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park, its home since 1981. Photographs: Andrew White

In 2016, New York City’s biggest circus went bankrupt. Here’s how the new owners are bringing it back.

As the lights flashed and the music pulsated, I took a swig of Irish whiskey from my plastic balloon-animal dog tumbler and said to my wife, “There is nooooooooo way Doogie Howser is going to take a run at the Wheel of Death.”

I was wrong. Neil Patrick Harris himself banged out a couple spins before daredevil Jayson Dominguez got inside and performed breathtaking feats like rope-jumping on top of the ever-spinning-while-also-rotating human hamster cage above a packed tent of wide-eyed audience members.

It’s just another day at the Big Apple Circus, now in its 42nd season at Lincoln Center’s…

Patrick J. Sauer

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