retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to yesterday’s column, “Who Killed American Exceptionalism?”, one MNB user wrote:

I saw your comments on the High Speed rail. To put things in perspective the US has roughly $13B ear-marked for high-speed rail over the next 5 years, while China will spend $300B over the next 10 years on similar projects.

Wishing that we'd have spent more of the $850B stimulus package on tangible infrastructure that would serve us well over the next 50 years. China sees the future clearly and is investing in it.....

Another MMNB user wrote:

You must note that the exceptionalism you talk about is related to politics, i.e., it was the oil executives (excuse me they were President and Vice-President) who led us to the false reasons for invading Iraq. It was for oil (old thinking). And the electric car was killed in the 1990's because the oil industry did not want to become obsolete. Of course other innovations are allowed to move forward because they do not effect the political system (the ones in power) the same way, like Microsoft and Apple. They are outside of the political power structure as it exists. The old way of thinking has always struggles to stay afloat until circumstances force it out of the way.

Perhaps this quote sums it up the best: "You never change things by fighting the existing reality.  To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." --- R. Buckminster Fuller

MNB user Richard Evans chimed in:

Good piece on American Exceptionalism in Thursday's MNB, however, a few points to make.

It has been proven the only way it is cost efficient for electric transportation to operate is in mass transit (ie. trans and rail cars) Otherwise, just as you mention the electric grid being overloaded, it still takes fuel to provide the electricity to charge the cars.

This is not as efficient as you might imagine, although, it is clean.

This is the true advantage, not a reduction in fuel consumption.

An electric generating station can furnish more power at a lower cost both economically and environmentally than on a per vehicle basis.

This may be true, but even if it is, I would add two words:

So far.

MNB user Gerry Buckles disagreed with some of my conclusions:

You’re kidding, right? These two examples are evidence of why you feel we as a country are not exceptional? The two areas you cited appear to be more personal than practical. The obvious reasons why we have not pursued these areas and why some countries have would require too much time and energy to enumerate. The debate on this will be entertaining and you are always a good sport about that. I’ve got to go now, I think my car has enough of a charge to get me to the light rail station...

On the subject of changes (like not allowing charities to solicit on sidewalks in front of stores) being made at Ukrop’s - now that it has been sold to Ahold and will be operated by that company’s Martin’s banner - one MNB user wrote:

You seem to have a thing against any of Ahold's banners.

I think this is a great idea and I applaud this.  Thank you!  I'm excited for Martins to come to this area as they have beautiful stores along with great prices and services.

Changes were needed at Ukrop’s otherwise the family would still own it.  Yes this company was great for us customers and did a lot for charities, but that's also why they had to sell the family name because these programs never made them enough money to be the number one player in this area.  I'm sure Ahold will lose customers (Ukrop’s loyal) but they will gain a lot more in the long run and make A LOT more money then Ukrop’s ever did because of these changes.

Parts of that article you failed to mention were the following....

Worthy said he was not surprised when Martin's notified the Salvation Army of the chain's policy late last year. For instance, retailer Target banned Salvation Army kettles from all of its stores nationwide a couple of years ago."We expected this because more and more stores are implementing these policies. As far as the Salvation Army is concerned, we're comfortable with the decision that's been made," Worthy said.  He added that Martin's parent company has been good to the Salvation Army in other markets, so "we're not worried."

MNB user Steve Methvin wrote:

This debate could go a long time...the two most undefined words in retail are "community" and "loyal". If Ukrops had "loyal" customers these changes may never have happened and if the "community" had supported Ukrops - the scouts would still have a sidewalk to stand on...

True. Sad but true.

But I still think Ahold and Martin’s are thinking about their own needs, and not like customers.
KC's View: