ABC News(NEW YORK) -- They are the $14 mittens being sold all over the country by the U.S. Olympic Committee, emblazoned with the patriotic message, “Go USA!” They’re meant to raise money for the American athletes attending the Winter Olympic Games. But on the tag inside those gloves: “Made in China.”
This comes less than two years after ABC's World News and the Made in America team discovered the U.S. teams’ uniforms worn at opening ceremonies, made by Ralph Lauren, were produced in China. The report enraged Congress, prompting the USOC to promise to make all future team uniforms in the United States.
The committee kept that promise: the official 2014 team uniforms were produced in America.
A spokesman for the Olympic Committee said they “wanted to create a fundraising opportunity where almost anyone could support Team USA,” by keeping the price tag low.
The “official” mittens – the ones the athletes will wear at the opening ceremonies – can be purchased for $98 at Ralph Lauren.
So World News’ Made in America team went to a New York City yarn store to see what it might cost to make these same gloves in America. Lion Brand Yarn said they sell an “Olympic Blue” yarn – and it would cost just $6 to make two pairs of mittens.
The Olympic Games will take place from Feb. 7 to Feb. 23 in Sochi, Russia. So far, the fundraising mittens have raised about $500,000.
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Larry Busacca/PW/WireImage for Parkwood Entertainment(MINNEAPOLIS) -- While Beyonce surprised fans with an unexpected new album release last week, retailer Target made its own unexpected announcement when it said it would not sell the album in its stores.
The musician's eponymous Beyonce album was released at midnight on Friday, Dec. 13, exclusively on iTunes, and that move has apparently irked Target.
In a statement, Target explained why it was not carrying the new album:
"At Target we focus on offering our guests a wide assortment of physical CDs, and when a new album is available digitally before it is available physically, it impacts demand and sales projections. While there are many aspects that contribute to our approach and we have appreciated partnering with Beyonce in the past, we are primarily focused on offering CDs that will be available in a physical format at the same time as all other formats."
Can Erbil, an economics professor at Boston College, said Target is "upset and maybe a little jealous" about the market power of iTunes as the initial exclusive distributor of Beyonce's album.
"Companies are competing to capture the consumers with the highest willingness to pay along with the ones who cannot wait even a day, and have to have the album as soon as it is out," he said. "These 'premium customers' are captured by iTunes now."
On Monday, Apple, which owns iTunes, said that the album was the fastest-selling album ever in the iTunes store worldwide, with 828,773 albums sold in its first three days. The album also broke the U.S. first-week album sales record, with 617,213 sold, reaching No. 1 in 104 countries.
"Even if iTunes doesn't charge a markup, it is effectively diminishing Target's customer pool," Erbil said. "The whole saga is a very interesting marketing reality show starring Beyonce, iTunes and Target. Beyonce's move is new, but the motivation behind it seems to be good old microeconomic theory, flexing its market power muscles."
Lauded for its secrecy and clever marketing, Beyonce's fifth solo album, with its 14 new songs and 17 videos, immediately captured the attention of fans. Later this week, brick-and-mortar stores are expected to begin selling the album, with the exception, of course, of Target.
When asked if Target's decision not to stock the album was a bad one, Kenneth Perkins, Morningstar equity analyst, said Target likely made a calculated decision not to sell it, using data from Target's exclusive past partnership with Beyonce.
For Beyonce's last release in 2011, Target sold an exclusive version of 4 that included six additional tracks. That album included such hits as "Run the World (Girls)." To market that album, in a TV ad for Target, Beyonce said, "I put so much into my new album, and only Target gives you all of it."
"Target probably didn't see the return on the investment they had made to try and lock these things up," Perkins said. "It costs money to make these sales."
Musical artists such as Katy Perry and Garth Brooks have made similar exclusive agreements with Walmart in selling "deluxe" or "special" editions of their albums.
Perkins said the goal of musical artists and labels is typically to sell their albums in as many outlets as they can, but with more people shopping online, Amazon and iTunes have a monopoly-like power over other e-commerce sites. But the goal of retailers like Target is to get people into its stores to increase foot traffic and overall revenue.
It's possible that Target will regret its decision if sales continue to skyrocket for Beyonce's album, Perkins said.
"I wouldn't underestimate the buzz around this sort of stuff. It sold well, and if more people are talking about it online, it becomes something more and more people are interested in," Perkins said.
He added that the album is only a few days old, and holiday gifts of the album will likely add more fuel to the flame.
"It will probably get some good holiday buzz around it," he said.
A publicist for Beyonce did not respond to a request for comment.
Yuba Bikes(NEW YORK) -- Need to move a mattress, a refrigerator, or a week's worth of groceries? Just throw them in the basket of your bike -- provided, of course, you've got a newfangled cargo bike, the "SUV" of cycling.
In Europe, cargo bikes are a common sight, having been around for 80 years or more. In the U.S., they're comparatively new and few. "A niche of a niche," cargo bike builder Lane Kagay calls them. Kagay hand-builds about nine of his CETMA-brand cargo bikes a week from a workshop in Venice, Calif.
Metrofiets Cargo Bikes of Portland, Ore., says its annual production is in the low hundreds. Co-founder Phillip Ross said that even at that level, his company qualifies as one of the biggest cargo-bike builders in the U.S.
Though cargo bikes are a niche market, experts say it's a niche that's growing fast, thanks in part to consumers who want to live greener lives and to the sheer novelty of using bikes to transport big, unlikely objects.
Asked for an example of how his buyers use their bikes, Kagay told ABC News: "It's not unusual for a group of owners to get together to move an entire house. It happens fairly often now in the Pacific Northwest. They'll get together in a kind of weekend rally, and, by the time it's done, they'll have moved somebody's entire household belongings -- mattresses, dressers, couches."
Michael McKisson of Tucson, Ariz., told ABC News he has done exactly that. "I've helped friends move. The biggest thing I've moved so far was a bookshelf -- I could barely see over the top of it while riding. We moved an entire apartment. I had a full-sized bed laid across my bike. Half the fun of this is figuring how much you can handle." He calls cargo bikes "the minivan for bikey families."
McKisson, publisher of TucsonVelo, a bicycle news site, said he and his wife have gotten rid of their car altogether. Now, when they need a week's worth of groceries for themselves and their two kids, they peddle down to the store, load up, and bring it home in one trip.
The website for Yuba Bicycles in Petaluma, Calif., shows a cyclist using its Boda Boda cargo bike to transport a full-sized surfboard.
The biggest difference between a conventional bicycle and a cargo bike is weight-carrying capacity. Cargo bikes are built to handle loads of up to 400 pounds. Their frames must be correspondingly strong. About 400 pounds is pretty much the upper limit, Kagay said, because above that threshold "considerations of propelling and stopping" become an issue.
Cargo space can be oriented different ways, depending on the rider's needs: some models carry cargo on a low-slung forward platform, in front of the rider, where, depending on the model, it either sits naked or inside a big container. In other designs, cargo sits behind the rider. While there's a limit to how much weight can be carried, volume is limited only by the width of the street.
Kagay's prices start at $3,100 per bike, delivered. The addition of a big wooden cargo box in front costs another $300. Ross's price for a fully built-out bike, delivered, is $3,795 and up.
Authorities on cargo bikes say there are no restrictions that apply to their use, over and above whatever restrictions a community may have imposed on conventional bikes.
Though the focus of many articles about cargo bikes seems to be the Pacific Northwest, builders say their customers are distributed nationwide. Ross, asked if most of his business is on the West Coast, said, "Not at all. Certainly a lot is, but we have more customers on the East Coast and in the Southwest." He's even started shipping bikes to customers in Europe.
Are big manufacturers taking note of cargo bikes' increasing popularity? Kagay, Ross and McKisson say yes, pointing for example to Trek's entry into the business with a rear-cargo model.
It's not just individuals who are playing around with these bikes. Businesses are, too, are putting them to use: Hopworks, a Portland, Ore., brewery, describes itself as the city's first "eco-brewpub," owing in part to its use of a cargo bike as a mobile bar. The Metrofiets-built bike accommodates, forward of the rider, two full-sized metal beer kegs, and, on top of them, a wooden tabletop equipped with taps.
Trailhead Coffee Roasters of Portland asked Metrofiets to build a bike able to accommodate a generous quantity of roast coffee, an espresso machine, and a serving platform.
What's ahead? "Electric assist is going to be huge for everyone in the industry," predicts Ross, partly to accommodate the waning vigor of Baby Boomers. But Boomers aside, he said, "adding power assist completely changes what you can do with these bikes."
iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- A tablet for less than $40 seems like the kind of deal reserved for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but one company is looking to make it available year round. Datawind, a London-based company, is planning to release three different models of Ubislate tablets starting early next year, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Datawind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli said that the new tablets aren't out to compete with the iPad. "Ubislate is primarily intended for students," he told ABC News Tuesday in an email. "But it's also for anybody that is left off the Web because of affordability."
A recent study from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project estimates that 15 percent of American adults don't use the Internet.
This isn't the company's first attempt at a tablet. Datawind is best known for supplying India's students with its Aakash line of tablets. Tuli added that the company has also expanded outside of India, providing affordable devices to several countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Ubislate 7Ci, the cheapest tablet at $37.99, uses technology that Apple has since abandoned. The tablet's Cortex A8 processor was last seen in Apple's A4 chip, back with the original iPad and iPhone 4. But anyone who's gotten used to the HD displays may be taken aback by the 7Ci's 800x480 display.
Datawind is also offering a higher-end model with a dual core processor in the Ubislate 3G7, available for $129.99. Unlike the 7Ci and 7C+ models, the 3G7 can connect to a 3G network in addition to Wi-Fi. The 3G7 also branches into phablet territory, with its ability to make calls. Though it has an improved 1024x600 display, it may still look blurry compared to devices like the iPad mini and Kindle Fire HDX.
Tuli added that what's currently available will get some improvements before they start shipping to the United States. "There are firmware and some other basic upgrades to the entry-level product," he said. "The higher-end devices for the U.S. are bundled with local data plans and cater to the local networks."