Published on: November 9, 2009
Responding to last Friday’s piece - and my skepticism - about Ahold’s newest reorganization of its US operations, one MNB user wrote:Ahold's latest reorganization of their US retail holdings is just another chapter in their constantly changing playbook since Ahold bought the US retailers and may again be "too little too late". For example, Giant Food of Landover,is on their third CEO since Ahold took over the chain and the external leadership the company had in the region in the community, business, civic, and consumer circles has dimmed significantly since several well-known former Giant executives departed. Giant's lack of continuation of what made Giant the best food chain in the region is the reason why their market share declined so dramatically and the reason why Wegmans, Harris-Teeter, and Food Lion came to town so strongly to take away Giant's "cookies"! The same can be said for their other markets too with their CEO's constantly going thru revolving doors. Maybe they will get it right this time!
Maybe. But maybe not. And most informed people I know are betting on the latter.
Regarding the role of online shopping, which projections suggest will be the sole economic bright spot during the holiday shopping season, MNB user Lisa Bosshard wrote:I'm in the 40 something category and have seen a shift in shopping habits over the past several years. While I don't know many who shop exclusively on-line, what I do think we'll find is a new 'hybrid' shopper who spends some of their dollars through on-line retail and some in traditional brick/mortal stores. For my family it comes down to convenience more than cost. We don't have many days off during the holidays to shop and have to make the most of them. To be honest, I don't find that you save much money shopping on-line by the time you include shipping charges... In spite of this thought however, I did recently save $35 on a backpack (including shipping) because I did my homework - as a friend likes to say, I hunted it, killed it and drug it home; had a caveman moment there...
Another MNB user wrote:As I approach the big six-oh (t-minus 26 days and counting – argggghhhh!), the wife and I find it harder to brave the mall for the yearly Christmas shopping. It isn’t so much the physical stress as the mental part of the shopping that has pushed us to do 90% of our shopping online. Why rush from store to store looking for THAT item for the grandkids, only to find it out of stock, when we can locate it quickly online. And, most times, even including shipping, cheaper than from the mall or big box stores. The catalogs started arriving in the mail about a month ago and the wealth of ideas for gifts is greater (and in some cases, stranger) than ever, opening options that would never be found in hours of driving, parking, bustling and hustling. Sure makes it easier for Maw and Paw!
To me, the quality of the holiday season is in direct inverse proportion to the amount of time spent in stores doing actual shopping. And I don’t think I’m alone.
On another subject we featured here last week, MNB user Derek A. Helderman wrote:As a registered dietitian, I have mixed feelings about the New York Times' article highlighting the new found role of Sam Kass, White House Chef. I agree that he is most likely more qualified to discuss food and nutrition issues than some legislators. However, let's make no mistake that he is not a nutrition expert. He, for all practical purposes, is a cook. As the NY Times article stated, he has no formal culinary training. He honed his skills the old fashioned way; and if he's cooking for the first family he's obviously a talented cook. He, however, has spent no time formally researching, studying and being tested on nutrition, hunger, health and wellness. A registered dietitian has.
I don't agree with or support most of what the Obama administration has done or plans to do. I feel that trying to legislate health, wellness and weight loss will be a terrific failure and will add undue taxation and restrictions on the lives of Americans. The answer to improving the health of our country is not a simple one to be sure. However, the answer lies not in restricting the choices of citizens and taxing them for their lifestyles, but in education.
I have to add that I thoroughly enjoy your witty commentary on the website. Your viewpoints bring lightheartedness and common sense to subjects of serious levity.
And I love the phrase “serious levity.” I may add it to my business card.
Another MNB user chimed in:Great coverage and insights about what is going on in the White House…but…” a chef is far better able to talk about nutrition than a lot of elected officials.” What an understatement based on what I have been hearing during the insurance reform debate…almost anybody is far better able to talk nutrition than our elected policy wonks…
Responding to last week’s coverage of continuing executive changes at Supervalu, one MNB user wrote:Your comments regarding SVU’s need for individuals with strong marketing and merchandising background diminishing is absolutely true. When people like Steve Kaczynski were hired in Division President roles, it was almost a requirement. The reason was due to the fact Jeff Noddle was interested in keeping “local relevance” at the banners during and after the centralization process.
As it turns out, Division Presidents have almost no say in any merchandising or marketing plans. BDM’s at corporate are actually telling VP’s at the banners what products will be carried, what promotions will be launched and what items will appear on the front cover of the ads. – like running an ad featuring Dole Banana’s in Bigg’s market – where Chiquita Brands Int’l happens to be located. Decisions like placing Tide 150 oz. 16.99 as a front cover item in Virginia Beach where per capita income is below state and nation don’t make sense. While $16.99 may be a great deal, shoppers in that market may have gone to Harris Teeter who advertises 50oz at $5.99.
And by the way, these decisions are being made by people in MN who have not been to these markets to see the stores.
I understand CEO Craig Herkert is putting a hold on “centralization” for certain markets and/or certain categories but in some areas (New England and Pennsylvania) the damage has been done.
I keep arguing that eventually DVDs are going to go away, to be replaced by downloads, but MNB user Michael Schillo disagrees:People like physical product and it will never go away. It will evolve, yes. But it will never disappear.
Reminds me of the argument back in the 1950's that one day, we will eat capsules to nourish ourselves.
Wrong. People like to eat. They enjoy the meal aspect of it.
People will always buy some sort of physical products. As gifts. For portability. Etc.
To think it will be 100% digital is simply wrong.
But, Michael...if I eat a pill instead of the plate of pasta, I may get the nutrition but I don't enjoy the experience. If I download a movie instead of buying a DVD...watching it is precisely the same experience. What's important, it seems to me, is the quality of the content, not the physicality of the media.
Which is why DVDs will vanish. Maybe not soon, but eventually. And sooner than we all think.
MNB user Bill White had some thoughts on the passing of Gene Walters:I worked at Farm Fresh for a couple of years in the late '90's, just after their bankruptcy and subsequent buyout by Richfoods. As a member of senior management, I had some interaction with Gene Walters, who, as you have mentioned, stayed on as a consultant. He still appeared in our commercials, as the "trusted voice" of Farm Fresh, and really enjoyed that role. As we revitalized "his" chain that had been pillaged and run into the ground by others, Gene and I had many conversations about the chain, where it had been, and where it was headed. As I saw that twinkle in his eye, it was apparent that he was synonymous with the Farm Fresh chain and its core values, and he genuinely cared what happened to it in the future. Most people who had cashed out of a chain such as Farm Fresh would not have had the same attitude. He cared about the people, and how secure their jobs were, and genuinely felt bad when the chain declared bankruptcy. In the stores, he was loved by the employees, who felt his love for them and his passion for the business he ran so well for so many years. He was truly a good person. Gene left a great legacy - we should all hope to be half the person that Gene Walters was, and live our lives the way he lived his until the very end. May he rest in peace.
Finally, I=in a story about beer preferences last week I noted that the great Robert B. Parker once wrote that “the worst beer I ever had was wonderful.” To which one MNB user responded:Perhaps its optimistic thinking, but didn’t the Parker quote in fact say “sex” instead of beer?
My subconscious says they are doubtless related…
True. Dr. Parker did wrote that about sex. And beer.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet and interview Dr. Parker, and I’ve read pretty much every word he’s ever written. And I don’t think he’d disagree with the observation that when he finds a good line, he doesn’t mind using it again. And again.