business news in context, analysis with attitude

We got a lot of reaction to yesterday’s story about Kmart testing a new, gray-and-lime-green logo. We commented, “Green. The color of money? The color of envy? You decide.”

MNB user Kristen Northrup did:

“Don't forget nausea. All those ups and downs....”

We also received email that addressed Kmart’s priorities. Actually, that questioned Kmart’s priorities.

MNB user Dick Lowe wrote:

“What a waste of money and a bad decision. The current sign is more noticeable. Their problem is the interior decor of the stores. Gray and red! That is where the change needs to be made.”

MNB user Jack Ericsson wrote:

“Unless Kmart fixes what's wrong inside the store- out of stocks, dirty, cases of product on the floors-, the next signs to go up will be Going Out of Business- 50% off! Everything Must Go.”

MNB user Dave Wiles agreed:

“I see that Upper-Management hasn't changed their spots.

“If something is wrong, (out of stocks, poor training, employee heavy turnover and yes, poor sells), then we must change the LOGO!

“When expenses out-perform the income, why look to spend money where it will solve the problem. NO! Not Kmart, Spend more money on a Logo Change!

Stupid!, Stupid!, Stupid! But that's Kmart.”

MNB user Jane Larson wrote:

“Isn't this logo change just lipstick on the pig? Gray and green are the colors of the faces of consumers who are sickened by yet another feeble ploy to resuscitate this dead horse. I know, why don't they try a cool logo, something like a big red and white bull's-eye...

“Oops. Never mind. Been done.”

And another member of the MNB community wrote:

“I keep stopping by the local Kmart but find little has changed. The customer service stinks and the presentation of the store is always a mess. A new sign is not going to resolve the problems they are experiencing. I am looking forward to their bankruptcy sale.”

Yikes, And you folks think we’re cynical…

We posted a story yesterday about Wal-Mart Mexico (Walmex) abandoning ANTAD, a Mexican trade group, because of a competitive controversy. MNB user Bob Thomas, who writes a terrific website at, provided some perspective:

The Walmex decision to leave ANTAD (the largest Mexican retail association) is once again Walmex showing the Mexican businesses that it will not accept practices that are against the best interests of the customers of Walmex.

“The ANTAD board adopted a policy that competitive pricing advertising or promotion could not be used by its members. Walmex withdrew from ANTAD stating that, under Mexican law, it is legal to use competitive pricing. Walmex for years has made available to its customers prices charged by Walmex and its competitors. The implication is that ANTAD is trying to stifle competition amongst its members as well as violate the Mexican laws on competition (of which Walmex recently was charged with violating).

“More importantly, the decision by Walmex is breaking up the ‘old boys network’ in Mexico where businessmen get together and agree to anti-competitive measures hurting the consumer and benefiting them. It is good PR for Walmex and, in Mexico, pointed out the weakness of ANTAD without Walmex. My bet is that the ANTAD board will reconcile and change their mind.”

Regarding on our series of stories and emails about customers providing their own bags instead of using the plastic variety, we got the following email from MNB user Rosemary Fifield of New Hampshire’s Co-op Food Stores:

“We do give our shoppers five cents back on every grocery-sized bag they supply; the number of bags actually used is entered into the register by the cashier and the value subtracted from the transaction before totaling.

“Being a Co-op, we may have more environmentally conscious shoppers, but the program seems to have a positive effect on bag reuse, both paper and plastic. We also offer a higher-quality plastic bag to make reuse possible (not the crinkly type), and periodic reminders to shoppers about the need to reuse as much as possible before recycling. Then, we collect them for recycling through our distributor. Collecting enough plastic bags to ship to a recycling plant is the biggest hang-up. If more stores were willing to work together to accept bags for recycling, it would be easier to accomplish this on a regional basis. (There is also the sorting issue; you can't mix different types of bags.)

“We sell canvas and net bags in our stores, and the canvas bag with our logo is good advertising. But as mentioned before, the hardest part is remembering to bring your bags along. One of the best ideas I have seen is a cotton bag that folded up small enough to fit into a man's back pocket. Unfortunately, the customer who showed it to me had no idea where it had come from and I have yet to find a supplier. It's also possible to purchase fabric bags made from recycled soft drink bottles, for the truly environmentally conscious.”

We posted an email the other day from someone complaining that supermarkets don’t provide enough information to their customers in the form of books, videos, CDs, etc… We then received email contesting that conclusion:

One MNB user wrote:

“You're right. Most large grocery retailers aren't utilizing information to help sell healthy foods and products, and that is sad. But the seas are changing. Healthnotes (is a company) that creates information on healthy living -- covering health concerns, nutrition, and recipes for special diets – and sells it to retailers worldwide. It's the smaller retailers, like the independent health food and grocery stores, that have been taking advantage of this information resource, available as Web content and for in-store touchscreen kiosks (with all of the information printable so shoppers can take it home). They usually locate it near books and other resources that shoppers can purchase and take home to research more.

“But…more and more larger retailers (are) hopping on the bandwagon, including the likes of Kroger, Wild Oats, and Whole Foods. It's hard for the larger retailers to see the value in just providing information resources, as there isn't a direct monetary return. However, like this MNB user noted, providing information will help consumers better understand the value and thus purchase more healthy foods (which tend to carry a higher margin).”

Another email on the subject of irradiation suggested that what is necessary to really make it work is a change of name, like the Reagan Administration did when it dubbed missiles “peacekeepers.” We argued with that, saying that we think it reflects a more mature shopper when actual names like “irradiation” are used and accepted. We also said that for us, missiles always are “tools of destruction,” no matter what they’re called.

Which prompted an email from one MNB user:

“’ of destruction...’ Hooo, boy! I'll bet you used to put daisies in the barrels of Army rifles back in the Sixties. Just remember when you hear an Air Force jet screeching across the sky, that's the sound of freedom.”

First of all, it was the Seventies. We’re not that old.

Second of all, back then we thought there was no such thing as a just war. Maturity and current events have cured us of that delusion.

Third of all, while we would agree with you about the sound of an Air Force jet being the sound of freedom, we’re just old-fashioned enough to point out that when people protest the use of that jet, it also is the sound of freedom.

That’s the thing about freedom. It has a lot of different sounds and shapes and colors.


And have a great weekend. We’ll see you Monday.
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