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Chicago Has a New Toy Store for Children With Autism

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Spectrum Toy Store isn’t your typical one-stop shop for kids' trinkets. As ABC7 Chicago reports, the brand-new nonprofit business in Chicago’s Roscoe Village neighborhood caters to kids on the autism spectrum. Its toys and products are specially designed for customers with developmental disabilities, and families can try out the toys before they buy them to make sure they're a good fit.

Jamilah Rahim, a behavioral therapist, opened Spectrum Toy Store after she noticed that many of the families she worked with were buying their toys online because no local stores carried them. On top of that, there was no guarantee that their kids would even like the products once they arrived.

“Every child with a disability is different and their needs are different,” Rahim told The Mighty. “Being able to come feel and see the product before purchasing it gives the comfort of knowing you have purchased the right product for your child.”

In addition to selling toys, Spectrum—which has a partnership with nonprofit organization Children’s Advanced Recreation and Education—offers programs for customers with disabilities, ages 3 to 13.

We do different activity groups,” Rahim told ABC7 Chicago. “We focus on different core areas like communication skills, life skills, cognitive skills, gross and fine motor skills and sensory play. All of the classes are play based; since we are a toy store we try to gear everything around play so we do different activities with different toys to help support the skill deficit that children may have.”

Spectrum Toy Store is the first store of its kind in Illinois, and one of several to open across the U.S. Families that live outside Chicago can purchase Spectrum’s toys online.

[h/t ABC7 Chicago]

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Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Sam's Club Brings $.99 Polish Hot Dogs to All Stores After They're Cut From Costco's Food Courts
Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In early July, Costco angered many customers with the announcement that its beloved Polish hot dog was being removed from the food court menu. If you're someone who believes cheap meat tastes best when eaten in a bulk retail warehouse, Sam's Club has good news: The competing big box chain has responded to Costco's news by promising to roll out Polish hot dogs in all its stores later this month, Business Insider reports.

The Polish hot dog has long been a staple at Costco. Like Costco's classic hot dog, the Polish dog was part of the food court's famously affordable $1.50 hot dog and a soda package. The company says the item is being cut in favor of healthier offerings, like açai bowls, organic burgers, and plant-based protein salads.

The standard hot dog and the special deal will continue to be available in stores, but customers who prefer the meatier Polish dog aren't satisfied. Fans immediately took their gripes to the internet—there's even a petition on Change.org to "Bring Back the Polish Dog!" with more than 6500 signatures.

Now Sam's Clubs are looking to draw in some of those spurned customers. Its version of the Polish dog will be sold for just $.99 at all stores starting Monday, July 23. Until now, the chain's Polish hot dogs had only been available in about 200 Sam's Club cafés.

It's hard to imagine the Costco food court will lose too many of its loyal followers from the menu change. Polish hot dogs may be getting axed, but the popular rotisserie chicken and robot-prepared pizza will remain.

[h/t Business Insider]

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Two of the Last Blockbuster Stores Are Closing
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The fact that Blockbuster still has three stores in the U.S. may come as a surprise, but the video rental chain's days are numbered. The brand's two branches in Alaska will be closing up shop next week, leaving only one last holdout in Bend, Oregon, according to Engadget.

"If you'd asked me 14 years ago, there's no way I'd thought we'd be the last one," Sandi Harding, General Manager of the Oregon store, tells Engadget. "It just seems a little crazy.”

Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in 2010 but continued to license its logo to franchisees. In 2013, there were 13 remaining Blockbuster stores, and by 2016 there were nine. Many of these branches were located in Alaska, where internet is costly and many areas lack a broadband connection, making streaming difficult.

This alone wasn't enough to keep Blockbuster's Fairbanks and DeBarr Road locations in business, though. The stores will close July 16, but they'll reopen the following day for an inventory sale that will last until the end of August.

John Oliver, host of Last Week Tonight, became an unlikely champion of the DeBarr Road outlet last April when he bought the jockstrap worn by Russell Crowe in Cinderella Man for $7000 and donated it to the store in hopes of generating interest and foot traffic. It worked for a little while, but the effect was temporary and business dropped off once again. Indeed, the age of Netflix marks the end of an era.

[h/t Engadget]

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