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Why A Small Shop Is Better Than a Chain Store

A couple of weeks ago, I visited a small, independently owned pharmacy. I know that’s quickly becoming a rarity, but I’m glad I did. I’ve been to the chain store pharmacies, and I have to tell you that I often leave feeling like less of a person than a dollar sign. In other words, my experience with the large chain pharmacies and other types of retail stores are that they’re usually impersonal and there’s room for improvement for the level of customer service.

What’s Better Small Shops?

When I go to the large pharmacies that are associated with a nation-wide store, there’s usually one–maybe two–people working in the pharmacy. So, inevitably, I’m waiting on a line to drop off my prescription. Once I get to the counter, no matter what the medicine, I’m told that I have to return in at least an hour, at which point something that should take a few minutes (and used to), becomes a multi-hour exercise. I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I’ve picked up a prescription, the medicine is for someone who is not feeling well and the sooner they get the medication, the quicker they will feel better. I don’t think that big pharmacies understand how vital quick-turnaround is to people.

When you return to one of the large pharmacies to pick up your prescription, you’re back online waiting to get to the single person who’s working the counter. And, even if you’ve arrived past the hour, you may be asked to wait some more, so hopefully, there will be a seat available for you.

However, when you go to an independent pharmacy, the experience is different and better. When I picked up my prescription recently, I waited FIVE minutes. About five or six professionals were working in the pharmacy, who were personable and made it a point to get to know me as a person and not a dollar bill. The person who waited on me also asked me if I preferred to have my prescription delivered, which is not typically a service available at the large stores in my area.

The Best Reasons to Patronize Small Business Owners

My experience with the pharmacy is but one example of why I prefer to patronize and do business with small shops and you should as well. One of the best reasons to go to mom and pop shops is because they provide people jobs. As I mentioned earlier, the larger chains don’t care if you wait in line for twenty minutes or more because their priority is not you, but their bottom line. However, because small stores understand that they have to differentiate themselves, they hire workers to provide excellent customer service. The Small Business Administration has reported that small businesses add more net jobs than do large companies.

There are other reasons to do business with small stores and shops.

  • Small businesses are not bureaucratic. Typically, if you’re doing business with an entrepreneur who owns a small shop, you’re dealing with the decision-maker. The larger the company, the higher the chances that your experience will be done to benefit the corporation–and not you, which includes bureaucracy. In other words, good luck finding a manager to speak to you if there’s a problem. But, with a small business, if you need special assistance or are not satisfied with a product or service, you’ll be able to speak with the decision-maker who can quickly make sure you’re happy.
  • Keeping it in the community. When you do business with a small store, more of the money you pay for products or services remain in your community. For instance, a study done for Chicago found that for every $100 spent at a small business in that city, $68 remained whereas when customers patronized chain stores, only $43 stayed in the community. Larger companies have to pay immense amounts of overhead, which means more of the revenue made is going to the corporate office.
  • Looking for Broader and Unique Products. If you want to purchase more products that are not the usual, if you patronize a small business, the chances are higher you will get to see a broader array of product offerings. As an example, before record players and records came back in style, small shops were selling them. These businesses were even selling record players when everyone was predicting the death of the vinyl record. It was after some time that the big box stores got in on the act and realized that people wanted to listen to recordings.
  • Personalized customer service. As was mentioned earlier, when you do business with a small shop, you’re a person and not a number. That means that when you keep going back to the store, the more you build a relationship with the people who work at the shop, the higher the chances are that you’re going to get service that is personalized to you. For instance, let’s say you take the time to chat with the pharmacist who takes the time to get to know you. If he or she knows who you are and your medical needs, don’t get surprised when someday that pharmacist makes a recommendation for a better medicine you should address with your physician. In other words, you’re doing business with real people who want to get to know you and service your specific needs.

Next time you’re thinking about going into one of the national chains, take a few minutes to stop into one of the smaller shops in your neighborhood. I bet you’ll discover better service, more diverse products and you’ll be making a positive contribution to a small business owner who’s hiring more people than the large chain store.


How To Close Your Business

We often talk about in business starting or creating a company, but there’s another side to that coin. It’s not something entrepreneurs often think about, but many times there comes the point where you want to close your business. Perhaps you had a revenue amount that you wanted to achieve before you cashed out and started on another project of interest, or maybe you’ve been doing it for years, and it’s time to get the business off your hands since no one in your family is interested in taking it over.

Whatever the reason for closing your business, there are a few things you have to make sure you keep in mind as you proceed in unwinding the company.

  • Co-Owners: If you have any partnership and you’re looking to move out of the day to day, it goes without saying that you have to speak to any co-owners. Use the articles of organization and make sure you create a written agreement that will dissolve the company or sell it to your co-owners or someone else who will assume your part of the business.
  • Accounts Receivables: If you’re a sole proprietor, and you’re looking to close your business, make sure your accounts receivable are all paid and up-to-date before you inform anyone that you will be closing the company. Once you have all your payments, you can then notify your clients that you will be closing the business.
  • Notifications: Once you’ve gotten all of the revenue sorted, you need to close your accounts with any creditors. You’ll also want to complete dissolution papers and file those with the state where your company is located. If you have a rented office or business location, this is also the period where you will notify your office landlord and anyone else with whom your business is associated.
  • Protect Your Tradename: When you’re in the process of making notifications, you still want to protect your brand name and image. Cancel any licenses, permits or registrations that are in the name of your business.
  • Team Members: One of the toughest things to do, especially if you have an excellent team of people working with you, is to inform them that they will be losing their jobs. The best thing to do is to give as much notice as possible so people can prepare. If possible, offer severance packages, and make sure that you comply with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act depending on the size of your business.
  • Financial & Regulatory Obligations: If you have an inventory of any kind or assets, you’ll want to liquidate everything. You’ll also want to make sure that you are compliant with the state and federal tax authorities. Don’t forget to cancel your Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS. For additional information about closing a business with the IRS, you can find that information here.

When you close a business, there’s a lot of work to be done, and many details to make sure are tied up. There are several resources that you can use to ensure that you have everything covered from a business and regulatory standpoint. One of the first places to visit would be the Small Business Administration, which has a great regulatory and compliance checklist for closing businesses. Another excellent source is NOLO, which also has a list for companies, which are more geared toward the business side of things.


Corporate Welfare Destroys Jobs Long-Term

General Motors’ notice to shutter several plants reminds us that corporate welfare does not produce long-term sustainable businesses. It’s a band-aid and a colossal waste of taxpayers’ funds. Government could apply those funds to help retrain workers, assist them to find new jobs, and minimize loss of income during the transition to their new situations.

Businesses Create Wealth and Jobs

Business is the vehicle owners use to create jobs and provide incomes for employees and shareholders to become consumers and keep the economy growing. A firm must have the right people cooperating in the correct slots headed in the right direction. Its ability to pay its workers and shareholders comes from producing and selling machinery, equipment, goods, and services people want or need.

We should encourage business owners to pay their employees well, become profitable, retain profits, reinvest in the business, and pay dividends to their owners. But we shouldn’t bully firms to keep uneconomic plants open. If there is no market, there are no sales, no funds available. A structurally unsound business should close early while treating workers fairly and respectfully.

Corporate Welfare Destroys Jobs

Governments are not short of wealth destruction tactics. Thus, they give companies huge subsidies to “create jobs” or for other political reasons. They do not see that this is merely another major government-waste outlet. Sadly they do not examine results over time to see that their corporate welfare is anti-competitive and destroys jobs long-term.

Governments’ role is to create level conditions for firms to flourish. They must develop conditions amenable for businesses to want to operate in their jurisdictions. It is absurd and naive to believe bribing companies with handouts is more than a temporary fix. According to the Fraser Institute:

Between 1961 and 2013, the federal [Canada] department of industry disbursed $22.4 billion to businesses… The top 10 recipients received just under $8.5 billion, or 38 percent of all money disbursed… [M]any corporations or their parent companies that receive corporate welfare are anything but start-ups. Also, in many cases, cash-on-hand possessed by the company or parent company far exceeds the total original corporate welfare amount disbursed. This calls into question at least one justification for policy that allows subsidies to business-that taxpayer assistance is required to fill in for market failure and a lack of capital.

Some Blue Chip Companies Get Corporate Welfare

In the USA, corporate welfare recipients include Nike, Intel, Boeing. Indeed, it is outrageous how governments arbitrarily dispense taxpayers funds to large corporations without consultation or accountability. Why not use these funds to cut personal income tax? Here again is an example of complacent electorate allowing government waste.

In my experience in business in many countries, I saw several examples of corporate welfare, primarily because governments and unions did not want structurally unsound firms to close. Sadly, some of these firms received welfare payments for years but eventually closed.

Governments and the public need to realize structurally unsound businesses will not survive. Therefore, the best approach is an orderly closure early that includes retraining and relocating workers, where feasible. Encourage companies to close with utmost care and empathy for employees. The alternative of staying open provides false hope about the business’ future. If firms can survive only with financial aid from taxpayers, they have no future.

Corporate Welfare is Cronyism

Since corporate welfare strategies do not work over the long-term, why do governments continue them? The answer is obvious: Corporate welfare produces positive short-term political results. And most of all, ignorance leads the electorate to believe governments’ propaganda about using tax dollars to fund losing businesses. So, who will educate the public about business realities? To be sure, the government won’t. Thus, firms must take on this role although they start with a significant creditability gap. Sadly, a few greedy, self-serving CEOs, take excessive amounts from their firms in different forms.

History will show giving investment incentives to selected industries as Canadian and USA governments do is myopic. Indeed, Canada’s corporate welfare extends to aerospace, energy, agricultural, and automotive industries, yet with this massive support the auto industry is declining and will continue without more welfare. The alternative to corporate welfare is to eliminate special payments and incentives to businesses, eliminate corporate taxes, remove unnecessary regulations, and allow firms to grow and create jobs.


5 Simple Steps to Make a Career Change

With a new school year, many people turn to also look for a new career or work opportunity. Is this the year that you finally decide to break with a dead-end job that’s taking you nowhere or a boss who causes your blood pressure to rise? Are you done giving everything that you’ve got in the tank to a company that doesn’t acknowledge your contribution? Have you thought about moving to a new career, but didn’t know how to get from here to there?

Your opportunity for change is now. It’s here. There’s no time like the present.

If you’ve been thinking about leaving your job for a new career opportunity, now is a great time to look to see what’s out there in the market. The economy is generally good, businesses are feeling more confident, and so unemployment is at low levels. We know that everything is cyclical and there will come a time this will not be the case, and so this is a great environment to see if you can improve your work situation.

Do you need a new job or a new career?

The first question to ask yourself is whether you prefer a new job or a career change. Moving into a new industry will come with all sorts of challenges, such as training, a pay cut, or taking a job that’s at a lower rank than where you are in your current industry. Moving to a new career is a lot of work, and so it requires careful consideration and thought. If you’re not wholly committed to doing everything necessary for a new career, the chances are high that as much as you would like to have been, you’ll probably be okay with a new job.

Take an inventory of your skills.

Even if you’re looking to move into an entirely different industry, you should review and assess your skills, especially those that are transferable to another career. For instance, ask yourself if you’re a strong communicator or manager? Do you have particular skills in marketing, finance or operations? A reason to carefully assess your skills is that you should be keenly aware of your best skills as you begin to transition and go on job interviews. Also, you might be able to ease into a transition to your ultimate career by exploring job opportunities that will get you a step or two closer to your goal, but not yet be the career and job of your dreams.

What’s going to be the effort for a new career?

Once you’ve decided that a new career is in the cards for you, you have to get started on doing your research. Some people who are chasing their career dreams may end up in a situation where they are evaluating more than one industry. Making a career change is more challenging than a job change, so you’re going to have to assess what it will take for you to switch careers. In your research, see if you will be required to attend training or get any certifications. When you make a career change, you will also have to consider if you will be getting a pay cut and starting out a few rungs below where you are on the corporate ladder. Now is the time to prepare your personal circumstances to give you the best chance at success.

Get in touch with who you know.

When you have a firmer idea of what you want to do for your career change, make it a point to speak to the people you know and work yourself out from that point. By communicating to everyone you know, you might have an opportunity, such as an introduction, open up for you. Additionally, the people who know you best will be able to support you and perhaps give you different perspectives and ideas as you begin to search for your new path. Be aware that you might have one or two people who may tell you that you shouldn’t make a career change for whatever reason. We all have one or two of those friends. Take what they have to say with a grain of salt and stay focused on moving along in your career and life.

Get going and make it happen.

Finally, get started. One of the most challenging things to do for so many people is to begin. For many others, once they start and see the additional work demands that come from making a career change, on top of their regular responsibilities, the desire to change a career begins to dim. The way to ensure this does not happen is to create a 90-120 day plan with measurable goals and objectives that you break down weekly. If you need additional training, one of the tasks could be researching schools and then signing up. Another task could be to reach out to a certain number of people you know, as well as professionals in the industry, each week. It’s crucial to keep the passion going so you can make a successful transition.

Making a career change can be daunting. There can be a lot of fear that bubbles to the surface of the unknown and failure, but it doesn’t have to be the case.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

If you take small steps that are regular (daily or weekly), you will be able to make a successful transition.


5 Essential Questions to Ask About Your Business Competitors

Are you thinking of starting a new business or have you done it yet and wondered the crucial questions to ask about competition? America is a nation of entrepreneurs, and small businesses are the leading providers or work opportunities for people. We need great entrepreneurs to continue to propel the economy forward.

If you’re looking to create a start-up, you can’t succeed without understanding what is out there and what the competition looks like; nevertheless, sometimes entrepreneurs don’t know how to approach this task. The way to do it is to identify the right questions to ask.

  1. Who’s Your Competition?

The first question you want to ask is who are your competitors. You might be in a new industry, but the likelihood is that you’re not. The first thing you have to figure out is who your competition is and what they offer regarding products and services. You’ll also want to know how they position themselves in the market. If you were their customer, what would stand out for you about your competitors, their products or services?

  1. SWOT

Once you’re clear on your competitors, do a SWOT analysis. List all of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and the threats your company can face in the marketplace. Be as objective as possible and if possible, bring in trusted advisors who can give you third-party insight. You want to understand what others outside of you and your team think about your company and its offerings.

  1. Differentiation

Think about your products and services in the context of the offerings of your competitors. Consider each of their products or services, even the ones you don’t intend to provide in your company and understand what makes your products better. If it turns out that your competitors are doing something better than you are, or plan to, then think carefully about how you can improve your offerings for the market. Think about ideas and test them, every time you have the opportunity, in the market so you can stay at least one step ahead of the competition.

  1. Customer Relations

Candidly, one of the reasons my companies have had immense success is because we prioritize exceptional customer service and relations. For my team, it’s always about relationship-building, even with our toughest customers. So, as you evaluate your company, think about what your competitors can do better for their customers since this will be an opportunity for you to offer it to them. Be highly thoughtful when you think of how you can develop a customer relations program that will blow away the competition.

  1. Price

When you’re taking your products or services to the marketplace, you have to understand how your offerings compare with those of your competitors. If you’re able to offer a product at a lower price point, is it still something that is of high quality? If, however, your prices will be higher than that of your competitors, what are you offering that will always encourage customers to want to pay a higher price for what you have on the market? When you get to the point of determining price, it is essential to have done the preceding steps because it will help you identify the right price for your product or service and also support your reasons for it.

Once you’ve gone through those five questions, you’ll have a much better sense of not only your competitors but more importantly, vital information that will help you position yourself in the marketplace.


Top 10 Business Podcasts

If you are a business owner then this list of the top 10 business podcasts is a must for you.

As a business owner/ entrepreneur, we all know that maintaining and growing a business can be extremely difficult and taxing at times.

In order to keep growing and moving forward with our businesses, we have to constantly learn and develop new skills. That doesn’t sound too difficult in theory but with the daily pressures of operating a business, it’s not always easy to find the time to learn these new skills.

There’s only so many hours in the day so we need to be smart about how, and what we spend our time on.

A great way of achieving this is to maximize our downtime by listening to podcasts. Even busy business owners have downtime (walking the dog, going for a jog, commuting during the day etc) so it’s a perfect opportunity.

So now you’ve decided to check out some business podcasts where do you start? Well finding the right podcast can be tough, anyone with a microphone and a computer can basically record a podcast so let me show you the best business podcasts so you can cut the fluff and get straight to the gold.

TOP 10 BUSINESS PODCASTS

  1. TED Talks Business
  2. StartUp
  3. Entrepreneurs On Fire
  4. The Gary Vee Audio Experience
  5. Social Media Marketing
  6. Marketing School
  7. Masters Of Scale
  8. The Joe Rogan Experience
  9. The Tony Robbins Podcast
  10. The Tim Ferris Show

There you have it. The best podcasts to get you fired up and ready for action!


The Four Factors That Control Your Managerial Effectiveness

In deciding what makes an effective manager, there are four main factors to consider and not all of them are directly controlled by the manager concerned. They are, YOU, YOUR JOB, THE PEOPLE YOU WORK WITH and YOUR ORGANISATION.

You

You bring your own knowledge, skills, abilities, talents and experience to the job you do as manager and these things will have an impact on how effective you can be in your role. Managers with greater experience can often remember the mistakes they made as a newbie and so appreciate how their now-seasoned skills can improve their job performance.

Your job

The actual position you hold and the work you do in its duties and responsibilities will affect your ability to be an effective manager, since it may be either a good or bad match for your skills and abilities.

The people you work with

Other employees have a major influence on managerial effectiveness. People are important if a manager wishes to achieve the work he/she needs to do. To a certain extent, effectiveness is measured by how well the manager concerned is able to motivate people and coordinate their efforts to achieve best performance. However, in many settings, a more realistic appraisal of management work is that managers are dependent upon their employees to get work done, so effectiveness will be determined by the skills, abilities and willingness of those people.

Your organisation

Organisational structure and where you are within it will affect the amount of authority you can wield and the responsibilities you are expected to be able to handle. It can also specify limits to what is achievable. Also, your organisation’s corporate culture, with its unwritten norms of conduct and methods of working, will influence your ability to be an effective manager.

So it is not enough to simply improve your knowledge of management techniques to improve your effectiveness. These techniques must be tempered by an understanding of these four factors in order to become practically useful in the corporate workplace.


Inclusion Is Your Path to Impact

I attended an event a few weeks ago that was chock-full of inclusion. Not in that reflexive, annoying, politically correct way. In that ‘honoring everyone and celebrating what diversity offers’ way. In every detail, effort was made for this intention to be realized.

What did it serve to do? It made us more mindful. It encouraged us to unabashedly recognize, speak about, and celebrate differences. It connected us. It sparked creativity in ways to do and see things.

Wouldn’t you love to have more mindfulness and clarity, more innovation and connection in your organization?

Of course, putting this into action in an organization is considerably more complicated than in a 4-day event. Still, I was moved by the effort and by the dramatic effect. It highlighted what is possible.

Freeing ourselves up from trying to pretend difference isn’t there, or wishing it wasn’t, takes us away from the impact we could have.

Impact, as I define it, is where your amazing self (or organization) meets the world and helps to make it a better place for all of us. Anything that takes you away from your amazing self detracts from the impact you could have.

Prejudice. Unconscious bias. Unearthing them and finding a more inclusive way is also the work of impact.

In your organization, you can open the door to an inclusive culture, or open it wider through:

  • Awareness of how you see the world, and how you react (your lens)
  • Recognizing and facing your overt prejudices and unconscious biases, so you can avoid the small and subtle aggressions that prevent people from working well together
  • Being curious and willing to learn from diverse people, at home and globally, without feeling superior or inferior
  • Talking about difference, having respect for what makes each person unique
  • Being bold enough to tap into the diverse ideas around you
  • Rising to meet resistance and obstacles by remaining resilient and committed to your impact.

Moving fast in an entrepreneurial environment, or in any environment these days, doesn’t preclude doing these things. In fact, an inclusive culture supports rapid growth, both as a person, as a leader, and as a company. I invite you to welcome diversity in a more deliberate way.

None of us has impact alone. The more ease in the process and the more support we can garner, the better it is for everyone.

Ursula Jorch is a speaker, business coach and consultant who helps entrepreneurs grow a successful business that makes a difference in the world. A 21-year successful entrepreneur herself, Ursula helps you define the difference you want to make in the world and develop strategy and marketing so you have ever-expanding impact.

Find Ursula on her podcast, Work Alchemy: The Impact Interviews where she interviews impactful entrepreneurs and leaders like Seth Godin and Marianne Williamson, and at WorkAlchemy.com for free resources for you and your business.


DIY Upholstery Cleaning Made Easy

Taking care of all the upholstery at home all on your own can seem like quite the daunting task. The modern home sports quite a few furniture pieces, most of which can be spoiled or damaged very easily. This is doubly true for people who share their apartments with flatmates, have small children at home or keep pets. Upholstery tends to be very absorbent in regards to dust, dirt and spills, which can lead to dust build-up and allergies or, to plain and simple, damage to the tissues. And even if you do rely on professional assistance for your upholstery cleaning needs, it is important to know how to tackle situations as soon as they arise! Below you can find a few simple tips and tricks about taking care of your furniture that will make your cleaning sessions a lot easier!

Upholstery Cleaning Sessions Made Easy:

Check the cleaning instructions – every piece of furniture should come with a list of cleaning codes, explaining what types of treatment it needs. Some are just fine with plain water; others might require more specific approaches. In any case, the entire process should be handled with care – never go overboard on cleaning solutions or even water, as they might damage your furniture.

Vacuum your upholstery regularly – If you want to keep the fabrics of your furniture in good shape, you need to give it a good vacuuming at least once a week. You will be surprised by how much dust and dirt can build up over the course of a mere week in your home. All the dust removed is dust you and your family members will not need to breathe in!

Treat old spills and stains- a good vacuuming, followed by mild water treatment can do wonders for fixing old spills. Unless otherwise stated by the cleaning instructions, use warm water for dealing with greasy stains and cool water otherwise.
Make your furniture dry faster – the drying process can be sped up significantly by using a simple fan! Just as effective as lugging it outside to dry under the sun and much easier and safer!

Get rid of stains immediately – Even though this should be common knowledge by now, a shocking number of furniture owners seem comfortable with the idea of letting stains set in. As soon as an accident happens (or as soon as you notice it, at least), it needs to be tackled with post-haste. You want to soak up any excess spill immediately and, depending on the situation, work on removing it or minimising the damage.

The company is a first choice provider of office and domestic cleaning services, trusted by a multitude of business leaders and private clients throughout the United Kingdom. Based in the very heart of London, we have spent the last 10 years alleviating any and all cleaning hassles for our fellow citizens.


Mylar Applications

What is Mylar? Or what does Mylar mean?

The basic info for Mylar is that is a thin polyester film manufactured by DuPont Teijin Films. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, strong synthetic fibers of polyethylene terephthalate are stretched and used to produce Mylar. Since its invention in the early 1950s, Mylar has been used in a broad array of fields, having several applications in electronics, magnetic media, imaging and graphics, industrial and packaging markets. In this article, we will introduce the Top 4 Mylar applications.

Top 1: Insulation function

Mylar is made reflective or metalized by sputtering a thin film of metal onto its surfaces. Much like aluminum foil, the reflective Mylar has one shiny side and one dull side. This type of Mylar is less permeable to gasses and reflects up to 99 percent of light, which is why it is often used in insulation. If used in a cold environment, place Mylar inside the structure with the shiny surface facing inward to reflect escaping heat and warm the interior. If used in a warm environment, place Mylar on the structure’s exterior with the shiny surface facing outward to reflect the sun’s heat away and cool the structure’s interior.

Top 2: Musical Instruments

Since the 1950s, Mylar has been used in the production of drumheads, the thin material that covers one or both open ends of a drum. When stretched over the edge of the drum, the Mylar material provides a pitch, tone and consistency that was previously unattainable. Mylar drumheads are still common today and are manufactured in single- and double-ply versions.

Top 3: Emergency Blankets

Much like Mylar is used for insulation of a building, it is also used to stabilize body temperature. Reflective emergency blankets were first used by NASA and are used to reflect a person’s body heat back to their body. The blankets are often found in outdoor survival kits and are commonly used for shock victims. In an increasing trend, marathon runners are using Mylar blankets after completing a race to prevent their body temperatures from dropping so rapidly after running.

Top 4: Packaging

Because metalized Mylar is less permeable to gasses than regular plastic, it is often favored in the food packaging industry. When used as a foil bag, Mylar provides a flexible surface that has supreme barrier properties and a high puncture resistance. It keeps food fresher longer and increases the shelf life of a product. Mylar bags are also used to preserve pharmaceutical products, seeds and tissue samples that are sensitive to changes in moisture and oxygen.


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