retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Just some random thoughts this Friday morning...

I’ve been spending a little time on the road this week, and it has been the first time we’ve had the chance to try out our Garmin GPS gizmo in unfamiliar places. I’ve never really used one before, but now that I have, I’m wondering how I survived without one.

This is one of the best pieces of technology that I’ve ever used. You tell it where you want to go, and it gets you there. It helps you get around traffic. It does everything but drive the car.

Now, most of you have probably used GPS technology before, and are wondering what took me so long. But if you haven’t...you gotta get one of these puppies. Because it is really, really cool.




I was getting a cup of coffee the other day, and had the opportunity to listen in on a job interview being conducted with a very attractive young woman. (She reminded me of my daughter...it was like seeing what she’s likely to look like in about 10 years. All I can say is that she is going to be a heartbreaker. And the first one she’s likely to break is mine.)

Anyway, the question from the interviewer struck me as a good one: “Can you give me an example of a time when you found yourself completely overwhelmed, and how you dealt with it?”

And the answer, after a moment’s thought, started like this: “Well, it was probably my first day in China...”

I couldn’t hear the rest of the answer, but it occurred to me that any answer that starts out with “it was my first day in China” has to be a pretty good answer, and one likely to advance the likelihood that she was going to get the job. (Just one of many good reasons for kids to spend a semester abroad.)




Internet Retailer reports that LL Bean saw a significant shift in its business model last year - online sales surpassed catalog sales for the first time.

That’s pretty interesting. I’ve always said that LL Bean is my favorite fashion designer, and I’ve been impressed with the level of its online communications over the past year ... it isn’t wildly surprising that online sales have grown to that extent.

Lately, the retailer has been promoting its new Signature line of clothes, which it has said would bring a little more style to its traditional look. I was very excited about this - I can use all the style I can get. (It has been pointed out to me that I am wearing essentially the same clothes these days that I was wearing 25 years ago - not the same size, I grant you, but the same basic style. Jeans. T-shirts. New Balance cross trainers.)

But when the line became available for purchase this week, I came to the crushing conclusion that “a little more style” may be just a little bit too much style for me. Signature is for a younger customer...and, alas, I no longer fit in that demographic.

Sigh.




I’ve noticed something this week, and I’m wondering if there is a reason for it. Whenever you go to a McDonald’s to use the rest room, the men’s room is almost always on the left and the ladies’ room is on the right.

I know this is a silly thing to think about, but I’m just curious.




It was with some sadness that I finished “Split Image,” which may be Robert B. Parker’s final Jesse Stone novel. (Parker, who died in January at age 77, was usually four or five books ahead, and so it is hard to know precisely how many manuscripts may be sitting in his publisher’s offices.) Each Parker novel now will bring with it a certain finality, and for those of who love his work, that is a sobering reality.

But if “Split Image” is it for Jesse Stone (at least in print...Tom Selleck reportedly has a couple more TV movies about the character in the can), it is a fitting end. Jesse continues to struggle with alcohol and an almost obsessive need for control...he has a couple of murders to solve...there is sex and depravity, but not so much so that you feel like you need a shower...there is a cameo appearance by Susan Silverman (better known as Spenser’s squeeze in that iconic series of Parker novels)...and there is plenty of great dialogue and minimalist narrative.

In other words, it is typical Parker. No breakthroughs here, but that’s not what we want at this point. It is good stuff.




My wine of the week: the 2007 Point Break North Coast Red Wine from Longboard Vineyards, which is a terrific and versatile little red.

And I have a beer of the week: the Red Snapper Amber Ale from the Arbor Brewing Company in Ann Arbor, Michigan...which is terrific, especially when served with one of the brewery’s delicious burgers and sweet potato fries. Yummm....




I don’t know why, but there is a lyric I cannot get out of my mind this week...Jerry Jeff Walker came up in my iPod rotation, and “The Cape” was first up:

He’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
Always trust your cape...


We should all do that more. Spread our arms, hold our breath...and trust our cape.




That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.

Slainte!
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