retail news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB reported last week that Costco opened a new Costco Business Center in Hawthorne, California, described as stocking more business products than the average membership warehouse store that the company operates, and also offers delivery services to area businesses.

One MNB user was there, and offered this appraisal:

I was there for the VIP party last night at the new Hawthorne location.

The building was really nice, lots of skylights, walk in refrigerators to keep everything cold, and jackets available for the customers to keep warm (as long as they stay clean no one walks out of the store with them on anyway). Definitely catering towards restaurants with the equipment and accoutrements to back it up and there were also many great grand opening deals on basic business needs that I will take advantage of.

It has a good mix but there were a few items that my business needs that are not carried there and when I asked if we can request special purchases the representative told me no. But also the prices and variety are not totally in line with Restaurant Depots on some staple items like sugar and flour and paper goods like bakery and pizza boxes. Oh, I could not find unbleached flour, which we use in many of our standard recipes so maybe they should also over the next few months speak with their business customers to see what they are missing.

Also, many of their produce items were of similar packs to what is sold in their general Costco stores. Example, 3# bags of bananas. Our bakery goes thru anywhere between 2 to 3 cases per week. Sell the product by the case.

I think that the hope for business owners will be that the business center will cater to the businesses and general public traffic continues to use the Costco location at the 405/Hindry/Rosecrans intersection.

All in all it looked great and so was the product. But for us, we’ll need to continue to shop elsewhere because of pricing and missing staple items.

There was a report last Friday that Nestlé was either more vigilant or just luckier when it inspected the Peanut Corp. of America (PCA) plant that since has been found to have sold tainted product that caused a salmonella outbreak – it found “grossly unsanitary conditions” during two different visits, and decided not to do business with the company.

Which led me to ask:

Would it be too much to ask of a system that would allow, encourage or require a company like Nestlé to sound a very public alarm – telling the government, which would then spread the word among other manufacturers – if it found “grossly unsanitary conditions” at a supplier?

Sure, it might be helping the competition. But the damage that has been done to the entire food industry by the PCA scandal may not be fixed for years…and hurts everyone.

One MNB user responded:

I can’t think of anyone who would disagree that maybe Nestle should have sounded the alarm and perhaps could have saved the entire food industry of another crisis…but… there was an insider at PCA that sounded the alarm (both internally and to the FDA) and after months of on the job harassment and being ignored by the FDA he was fired by PCA. And, I’m sure Nestle would have been sued by PCA. Nestle found a way to compete in a broken and flawed system…why didn’t everybody?

And another MNB user wrote:

Without a law degree I am only guessing, but I would say it isn’t so much giving the competition a head’s up that prevents sharing, but defamation of character and false accusations fears that prevent the sharing. When you have to be careful how to answer questions about former employees I don’t think sharing inspection findings would be very easy either.

It ain't defamation if it is true.

I keep calling for the Obama administration to find a role for former Walmart CEO Lee Scott, which led one MNB user to write:

Lee Scott, along with a sizable cadre of other credible, hard-working, no-nonsense other former middle and senior executives willing to work for $1 a year and would honestly put the good of the country ahead all else, are not likely to volunteer. After seeing the new CEO of AIG, asked by the government to do it, pilloried by all the posturing Representatives, playing to populist sentiment---when in their haste they didn’t read or understand what they were voting for. Sounds like people didn’t read or understand how mortgages work.

A few minutes of watching Liddy confirmed that he had a firm grasp of the facts, a credible objective and plan, and was well on the road to executing it. Then to have the inane questions and undeserved scorn dumped on you by incompetents---well it’s more than any smart person would want to be within the same zip code of.

Funny line, BTW, from Jon Stewart the other night, when he noted that AIB is going to have to change its name because its reputation and image have become so toxic.

The new, less controversial name, he said, would be “Herpes.”

Finally, in “OffBeat” on Friday I lamented the reported return of lard as an ingredient, which prompted one of MNB’s Parisian readers to respond:

Don’t want to call it lard? How about saindoux? (sane-doo) -- that’s what it’s called here in France…sounds almost pretty, doesn’t it? But oh, those pie crusts…

In Paris, they can get away with a lot of things…

I think about Paris
When I’m high of red wine
I wish I could jump on a plane…

KC's View: