Published on: October 6, 2003
The depth of feeling about the issue of importing inexpensive prescription drugs from Canada continues to be impressive, as we continue to get emails from the MNB
user wrote, in response to another letter we posted last week:As to the gentleman who travels to Bangkok or other far east areas and makes annual purchases for medicines, clothes and other things., how does he deal with customs and it applied charges?
user wrote:How beneficial would it be to restrict the advertising and promotional activity of medications by all the drug manufacturers and plow all those millions into the lowering of costs for the people in the US now buying their drugs in Canada......
Excellent point. Not only would this potentially lower costs, but it would save us from all those annoying commercials for pills that will perform some miraculous function…though always with the caveats that your hair may fall out, your teeth will turn blue, your skin will turn orange, and you could become impotent…
user asked that we pose the following question to the MNB
community:How do supermarket chains/wholesalers etc. place slotting allowances on their books? Why doesn't the IRS investigate how these grocery business runs this influx of capital through their business. Do they pay taxes on the money they receive?
Anyone want to take a whack at this?
In response to the piece last week that noted Coors' plan to launch a low-carb beer, one MNB
user wrote:Let be known that Miller Lite beer was the original Low Carb Beer...
We continue to get emails about the Minnesota town that has initiated an anti-big box store campaign. One MNB
user wrote:Although the town of Excelsior, Minnesota has a population of about 2400, it is a charming old Lake Minnetonka resort town and in very close proximity to Minneapolis. It is, in fact, facing the threat of big box stores. The town is one of the few left that has maintained the old charm and small-town feel in the middle of the maddening sameness of suburbia. It lies directly in the gun sights of those who would like to "pave paradise and put up a parking lot". I don't blame them for not wanting to sacrifice their way of life for a few silver shekels and yet another Wal whatever, Home Despot or Best Bye-bye.
I live in an adjacent "burb" that has all those things (as well as traffic, road rage and rudeness as a by-product)--all close enough for the Excelsior-putians to shop close to home without soiling their own nest. Can you tell I have a fondness for the place?
In response to the story last week about the $138 million that the "experts" say Kmart owes them for getting the company through bankruptcy, one MNB
user wrote:This type of "data" is becoming less and less newsworthy as we all become
numb to this size number. Of course, it will be approved and paid.
We thought that it was a shame that all the former employees and shareholders who got screwed by former management couldn’t find a way to get paid, which prompted one MNB
user to write:I couldn't agree with you more regarding the K-Mart employees and the claims they rightfully have.
On another subject, one MNB
user wrote:In response to your reader who said, "So if product offerings continue to be lightened, de-sugared, and in other ways have all the fun surgically removed from them we'll be a healthier but more stressed-out populace. Bring on the Oreos…"
Yes, this may have been stated in half seriousness, but I am continually surprised that one, we know we have a problem as a nation with nutrition that leads to many health problems i.e. obesity, two we rant and rave about personal responsibilty versus what we are being offered out there in grocery stores and restaurants and yet three, we go along with all those years of advertising and marketing that has taught us - sugar and fat (more particularly the bad fats and corn syrup, yes like the stuff in Oreos) are FUN.
Well, quite frankly, they're not. They're actually dangerous, i.e. obesity, diabetes (now found in kids), etc. Try the book Fatland and you'll see what I mean.
I'm really not trying to be a food nazis here, but could we at least attempt to make fruits (the real ones, not the ones found in Snapple) and vegetables fun (our mothers seems to be the only ones with this job)? Then you can have your Oreo.
The problem with fruit is that you can't twist it apart and find that really great tasting white cream inside…
And, responding to an MNB
commentary last week, one MNB
user wrote:I'm a cynical old goat but compared to you I'm a regular Zig Ziglar. Today you wrote:
"But if everyone else goes out of business and only Wal-Mart is left, does the consumer really win?"
How likely is it that Wal-Mart will put everyone out of business? You need to have more faith in the entrepreneurial spirit and talent available in this great country both in current and future generations.
Remember all the hand wringing people who were firmly convinced not so long ago that:
A & P would dominate the national grocery market forever. Hypermarkets would grow to dominate the national grocery market forever. Food Lion would grow to dominate the national grocery market forever. GM would dominate the world auto market forever. AT&T would dominate the world communication market forever. IBM's monopoly of computer technology would never be broken, shortly followed by Microsoft's monopoly of computer technology would never be broken, shortly followed by "How do you compete against Linux and free open source software?"
Wasn't the conventional wisdom that John Elway could never win a Super Bowl after a string of blowout losses? That only a nuclear conflict with the Russians would result in the Berlin Wall coming down? That as talented as Bill Murray is that he would never be in a really good movie?( I agree with you take on Lost in Translation 100%). Or for that matter after the debacle that was Godfather III that Sofia Coppola had any future in Hollywood? Just because you or I may not be able to figure out how to top Wal-Mart doesn't mean that someone else can't or won't. In fact, I'm convinced someone will. I'm just not sure I'll recognize it when it starts to happen.
Another example - not only would I have never thought of the concept of Starbucks, if you had showed me the original business plan and asked me to invest I would have told you that you were crazy. Just goes to show what I know. But I am confident that there are smarter, more talented people than me working on the next great ideas even as we speak and that is one of the great strengths of this country.
Buck up man.
We feel much better now…
We were, to be honest, surprised by the number of responses we got to Friday's piece about Jim Bildner, formerly of the yuppie supermarket chain J. Bildner & Sons…
user wrote:I believe you made a very small unfortunate choice of one word in your last comment on Jim Bildner. Was. I found the story invigorating and refreshing and in my opinion, Jim Bildner IS now, perhaps for the first time, a real stand-up guy.
When we used "was," it was in the context of a meeting two decades ago, not to suggest he isn’t a stand-up guy now.
user wrote:That was a very generous footnote to the article about the current happenings with Mr. Bildner. He was indeed - ahead of his time, look at Whole Foods, etc.. Visionaries lots of times don't succeed - but pave the way for those that follow. Keep up the good reporting - enjoy your daily MNB.
user wrote:Kevin, there was another story beneath the surface of your story today. As you may know, Jim Bildner is the son of Allen and Joan Bildner, who owned Kings Super Market prior to selling it to Marks & Spencer. Jim and his brother Rob, (who owns RLB a distribution company in New Jersey), were at one timed being groomed to run Kings. Jim had ideas of his own and he really wanted to make his own mark. His father is a very dynamic leader and widely admired internationally among food industry executives. Needless to say those were big shoes to fill. I believe Jim wanted to prove he could be successful on his own.
Since neither Jim nor Rob was interested in taking the reins of Kings, Allen sold the company to M&S in 1986. I am sure a few people have asked where would Kings be today if Jim Bildner had taken over Kings and poured his boundless energy in improving Kings which was in a strong market position prior to selling to M&S.
It likely would be a different company.
But in fairness, you also could argue that Jim didn’t take the safe route, which you have to admire. We're a big fan of sons who want to escape, rather than mimic, their fathers' success.
And another MNB
user wrote:At the end of the day being a "stand - up guy" is all we have left no matter what kind of successes or failures we've had. Thanks for the reminder.