All drinks are on the house

A new bar opened its doors in St. Louis, and it’s charging customers by the hour. According to Open Concept’s website, when you open a tab, you’re paying for access to the space — not the booze. The rates: $10/hr for a regular open bar, and $20 for top-shelf liquor.

The entire experience is powered by a backend technology that the bar developed and owns. Customers are encouraged to buy their time in advance on the bar’s website, though walk-ins are also accepted. (Guests are able to tip the bartenders either in advance at the door or with cash after each order.) Those who booked online will receive a confirmation code to show at the door; all customers also receive text messages at the bar alerting them as to how much time they have left on their booking.

Open Concept also uses its technology to track all of a customer’s consumption and keep the bar in compliance with legal limits.

Founder and proprietor, Michael Butler, who also moonlights as the city’s current recorder of deeds, got the idea from fundraising parties while running for office after open-bar fundraising events were successful during his campaign.

Why it’s hot:
At a time when younger generations are notoriously cutting back on their alcohol consumption, that flat guaranteed rate might be more valuable than hoping customers keep buying more the longer they stay.

Kill ’em with kindness

Last week, the University of California opened the world’s first institute to study kindness. The idea would be to pool the knowledge gleaned from researchers and house all of their insight about kindness in one place.

A few topics the institute is looking to dive deeper into include:

  • Why does a person give up his or her seat on the train?
  • Why does somebody volunteer his or her time to help someone in need?
  • How does kindness spread, and does being kind impact our brains?

Researchers even agreed on an academic definition for kindness: an act that enhances the welfare of others as an end in itself.

But it’s not all philosophical. Data from UCLA scientists has already shown mindfulness and kindness alter the behavior of genes, turning down those that promote inflammation, which can lead to heart disease or certain cancers and turning up the activity of genes that protect against infections.

Why it’s hot
As student enrollment continues to decline and people opt for nontraditional career paths, public and private higher education institutions are adding programs and offerings with seemingly little strategy behind them. Since 2012, 41,446 degrees or certificate programs have been added across the country.

UConn offers a BFA, an MA, and an MFA in Puppet Arts. One can get a degree in bagpiping from Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. Even Notre Dame offers an interdisciplinary academic field called Peace Studies.

Will these new offerings drive action and shift the “is college worth it” narrative that continues to be omnipresent? The verdict is still out.

Sources: National Center for Education Studies; NPR

Louis Vuitton ventures into esports

Fashion brand Louis Vuitton and video game developer/esports tournament organizer Riot Games have announced a partnership, starting with the 2019 League of Legends World Championships.

For the Championships, Louis Vuitton is creating a one-of-a-kind Trophy Travel Case for holding the world champions’ trophy, called the Summoner’s Cup. Previously, Vuitton has created similar travel cases for other sporting events including a laser-engraved titanium case for the FIFA World Cup.

The trophy case features Louis Vuitton’s iconic logo and design, with additional elements related to League of Legends. It will be unveiled publicly at the Eiffel Tower in Paris and eventually given out Nov. 10 in the same city, where League of Legends is holding its world championship this year.

But wait, there’s more. The partnership also includes the creation of a capsule collection of clothing from Nicolas Ghesquière, Louis Vuitton’s artistic director of women’s collections, as well as in-game digital assets like champion skins.

Why it’s hot:
Louis Vuitton’s new partnership continues the brand’s embrace of digital endeavors to accompany its physical products and marketing.

The pairing of a luxury non-endemic brand entering the esports scene is not one often seen. However, it creates a huge opportunity for Louis Vuitton, especially in expanding its consumer base. With millennials said to drive about 130% of luxury market growth in the next seven years, the gaming space could be a key area for expansion.

Louis Vuitton joins others including State FarmGilletteRed Bull, and Axe to embrace the esports world. A category in which 2019 revenues are forecast to rise by 27% and estimated to top $1.1 billion.