retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Some reactions to yesterday’s piece about President Barack Obama welcoming two major American business leaders to the Oval Office,m and my comment that “if there is one thing that the Obama administration needs right now, it is great engagement with the business community. It’d be nice to see the White House draft people like Lafley and former Walmart CEO Lee Scott, bringing them into the fold and getting their constant input and management skills.”

One MNB user wrote:

Amazing, this Administration has always had access to great business people, but up to this point have never felt the need to talk with them or anyone else of substance. Interesting how getting your head handed to you in the election makes them moon-walk to the middle. I guess you could say better late than never, but in this case, I am not sure this is credible and nothing more than setting up for re-election in 2012. We were sold on transparency, which did not happen. We were sold on working together in a bi-partisan environment, which did not happen. We were sold on change, which did happen to the tune of the biggest deficit of all time. We are now to believe he wants to work with big business....hello, anyone in there?

Increasingly, my approach is to adopt the Mel Brooks line as my mantra when it comes to all forms of government, regardless of the party: “Hope for the best, expect the worst.”

The one thing I won’t do is assume that the people who agree with me have purer motives and are more patriotic than those who disagree with me.

Another MNB user wrote:

I think getting these two “available” executives taking some position in the Administration would be the best thing to get some confidence and get some people who know how to make things happen and re not afraid of getting bad news and overcoming it.  I think both are known for asking the hard questions and coaxing consensus without intimidating the participants.  All ideas are on the table.
I think it was Lee Scott in an interview said that any problem is solvable…getting to 80% success is easy, it’s the last 20% that is the devil.

Following up on yesterday’s email in which one MNB user wrote:

Kevin, I am going to make a wild guess that most of your bricks and mortar retail experiences are not favorable for you, as neither are any of your experiences one-on-one with the put it probably come across in person as a bigger ass than you do sitting behind your computer screen blogging away.

I responded that a judgement on whether I can be described in those terms is really up to other people, but I listed a number of brick-and-mortar stores that I love.

MNB user Randy Aszman wrote:

It never ceases to amaze me the comments folks will make on line that they would never say to your face. On line courage  I call it. I don’t agree with everything you comment on but you have never come across as an ass to me. But I will double check with your spouse.

I was in Minneapolis last week looking at retail and walked into a Byerly’s. It had been a few years since I had been there and I was wowed all over again. What a store.

And MNB user Katherine McClure wrote:

I had to comment to your favorite email of the week.  My list of stores that I actually like to shop in mirrors yours and my husband and I joke about being “snobs” compared to most people.  It’s not that we actually think we are snobs, but we have standards for service that we are willing and fortunately able to pay a little extra for.  I’ll go to Publix and spend a few dollars more rather than Walmart.  No question.

In my case, I attribute it to my first job in a full-service restaurant.  The training I received at Little Pappasito’s in Houston, TX made me realize that proper customer service makes all the difference in how people feel about spending money.  I had to pass tests on the entire menu before they would let me become a hostess! That raised my awareness for life.

I’m with you on this. I worked my way through high school and college in a couple of different men’s clothing stores, and I learned much about customer service - and life - from a fellow named Richard Coulter, who owned a couple of stores in New Rochelle and Scarsdale, New York, called County Boys’ and Men’s Shop. I also worked at a men’s store in Marina del Rey, California, called the British Stock Exchange, where the owner, Tim Dyckman, taught me a lot.

Ultimately, both jobs raised the bar for me on what I feel is an acceptable in-store shopping experience.
KC's View: