retail news in context, analysis with attitude

On the subject of Ukrop’s possible sale, MNB user Chris Roy Dean wrote:

Having had the pleasure of leading a number of Australian retailers on a tour of Ukrop’s stores just on three years ago a couple of points stood out. In a taxi to one of their stores the driver commented that you could eat your food off a Ukrop’s store floor, how many retailers could boast that, also the welcome that we were given was fantastic, I had a pre meeting with Jackie Legge who not only gave me four hours of her time but was our keynote speaker to our retailers and held them spellbound regarding the growth and business principles of the Ukrop family.

The advent of developing gymnasiums within store complexes and having health and wellness centres in store was inspirational to our retailers looking for the point of difference and understanding their customers concerns.

Hopefully the stores will continue in to the future, as they are synonymous with the Richmond and Virginia area.


From your lips…




Yesterday, MNB reported that Starbucks is testing yet another new marketing approach as it tries to recapture its mojo - it is renovating its store on Seattle’s Capitol Hill and giving it an entirely new name, 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea. Not only won’t the Starbucks name be on or in the store, but it also plans to sell beer and wine as well as sponsor live music and poetry readings. (There are subsequent reports that Starbucks is considering testing the same idea in other cities.)

My comment:

I can understand wanting to get more in touch with local neighborhoods and communities, but taking one’s name off the door doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense…especially because everybody is going to know who owns the store anyway.

I like the idea of expanding into wine and beer and hosting live music…but it seems to me that maybe they need to change the management style a bit, decentralizing and localizing, rather than going incognito. The way they’re doing it has just a hint of desperation…


One MNB user responded:

De-branding the Capitol Hill store isn't desperate, it's bold. With such high brand equity, there's a short list of possible reasons for this move.

Most likely, they've recognized they're selling an experience, not just coffee. Unfortunately the brand has become divorced from the experience in the minds of many consumers. So what do you do? De-brand. The more I think about this, the more brilliant it seems. The current brand image, whatever you believe that to be, has been established over many years and millions upon millions of consumer experiences and impressions. Instead of flushing gazillions of dollars trying to suddenly change the consumer's mind, they're doing what they do best and stepping it up a notch sans
branding. If this little experiment really gets legs it may eventually (years from now) cannibalize the Starbucks banner which would open up a world of new strategic choices for the corporation.


And MNB user Garry E. Adams wrote:

My opinion on Starbuck’s 15th Ave Coffee and Tea is that’s what good retailers do. It’s not desperation, it’s innovation. It may not work but you don’t know until you try it.

Think of Wal-Mart’s Marketside concept. The Walmart name is in very small letters and the look/feel is quite different than the plain vanilla big box...If SB wasn’t doing new and different things … like other good retailers… they would die.


Fair enough. Maybe I judged too harshly and too quickly. (Go figure. What were the odds on that?) I can be convinced.




MNB took note yesterday of a Dayton Daily News report about how Dorothy Lane Market is selling fresh fruits and vegetables that have been harvested by people involved in the “TransPlant Project, in which prescreened ex-offenders work for local farmers helping to cultivate and harvest fruit and vegetables destined for the dinner tables of Dayton-area families … The TransPlant Project is the brainchild of Howard Solganik, who has operated restaurants in the Dayton area and consults with grocery chains and eateries .. Solganik plans to expand the project so ex-offenders can cultivate organic fruits and vegetables on vacant lots in urban settings, while learning skills that can help them become productive and self-sufficient.”

MNB user Velena Prunty wrote:

I agree, I love this too! I worked with “offenders” for several years and heard the same complaint from them all the time. They couldn’t obtain legitimate work, since employers were unwilling to hire them. They ended up working for bad employers who paid “under the table” with no health insurance or even a chance at a better job. I always felt awful for them, especially those who really wanted to turn their lives around. When I see an employer willing to take a chance, or someone as creative as Howard Solganik, I want to cheer! Bravo, Bravo!!
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