retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to Michael Sansolo’s column yesterday about the stuff that young people don’t know, MNB user Cleve Young wrote:

Several years ago when I was still stocking shelves overnight I had a college kid come in who had a flat tire and needed help. At first I looked at him like he was pulling some kind of prank, but turned out he was serious. So there I was at 2:30 in the morning in the parking lot, in a cold rain, while his female friend watched from her car behind us, changing this young man’s tire. A couple of weeks ago my fiancée’s 22 year old son had a flat tire in his driveway. I was taken aback when he said he didn’t know how to do it. My first thought was ‘how can you not know something so simple and basic!’ Growing up all the guys (and most girls) I knew either learned to do those types of things, or we walked, as who had the money to actually pay someone else to do it? But before I said anything to him I stopped and thought about it. He’s a good young man who is earnest and responsible, but simply never had someone show him how to do anything with a vehicle, so he was unsure and worried he might somehow screw it up. I walked him through the process and now he has a lifelong skill (at least as long as cars with round rubber tires are around).

What we of a certain age need to keep in mind is we may have skills that many young people don’t have, but at the same time they have ones we don’t. They may not know how to change a tire, but they sure can use the heck out of a smart phone (I use mine as an expensive watch). So the opportunities retailers have to educate customers is not limited to just the young, but to everyone who has a need which that retailer can fill. And more and more it may be that need is not just the tire but also guidance in how to change it.

MNB user Gary Harris added:

I’m thinking my mom learned how to cook from her mom because at some point she was expected to help out with preparing meals. The stuff we learn best, whether as kids or adults, is either something we’re interested in or something we’re expected to do. My folks didn’t teach me much about cooking, but thankfully my employer has made it a priority to help its customers and employees ‘make great meals easy.’

I taught my son to sweat copper when he was around 12 years old. (20+ years ago) We were putting in an extra bathroom in our house and he and I shared the plumbing work. When I finally turned on the water, the only leaky joint was one that I had done. (those who can, do; those who can’t…) Anyway, this past Sunday my son sent me a video on his phone of the demolition of his current bathroom in his home in Georgia. Oh, and when he’s not doing home improvements he’s keeping multi-million dollar jets flying for the US Air Force. And our daughter just completed a complete remodel of her kitchen.

And they and their spouses and all our grandkids over the age of 4 can all tie their own shoes. Wow, don’t think we need to outsource that one!

MNB user Tim Heyman chimed in:

I try to give all lessons of life to my kids, my youngest at age 5 is in the kitchen with me rolling stuffed cabbages, learning how to pinch pierogies shut so they won’t break open.  He has his own tool set out when I’m fixing something, his wagon is in the yard during yard work with me, and I did this with my older son.  But by the 5th grade, my oldest was teaching me things on the computer.  I left home with all the basics covered, thanks to mom and dad, and to my grandparents who enjoyed taking the time to both teach cooking and being a “fix it man”.  With technology, teaching goes both ways at a young age.

And, we continue to get email about the Chick-fil-A story. (The privately held fast food chicken chain, well-known for a conservative religious culture that goes so far as to close its stores on Sundays, has come under fire from some gay rights groups for having contributed food to an anti-gay marriage group. The company says it is not anti-gay, though it does believe in the “biblical view of marriage.” And analysts say that the company’s culture may make it difficult to expand to national proportions, where its beliefs will be seen as unacceptable by some.)

MNB user David Burgess wrote:

I knew you would get a lot of feedback on the Chick-fil-A story.  It’s a hot button issue.  And, I knew that most of it would be supportive of Chick-fil-A.  That, I think, accurately reflects where most of the country is, not because we are all so much anti gay, as because there is a sensitivity to the fact that the moralizers on the right are tired of being criticized by the moralizers on the left as intolerant.

There is a difference of opinion on the morality of this issue, but the left has successfully framed the debate so that those who do not support the gay agenda are anti-gay.  Look back at the original story.  The unnamed groups was characterized as “anti-gay.”  I don’t know who they are talking about but I can assure you that the group in question likely does not exist for the purpose of being “anti-gay.”  They probably are “pro-family,” as they understand the term.  They are very likely only anti-gay in this sense – they do not subscribe to the gay agenda.  Very few groups advocate the denial of civil rights to gay people, as you suggest, except for extending the definition of marriage to include gay relationships.  Now, if the definition of marriage is merely an arbitrary social convention, then of course we can define it any way we want.  But while some are apparently unclear on what the meaning of the word “is” is, others do not think it is that arbitrary.  A healthy difference of opinion is fine, but let’s make it a fair discussion.  Such rhetorical strategies as labeling everyone who doesn’t agree with the gay marriage agenda skew the entire issue.  By framing the debate in such a way make the pronouncements of those who do not agree with the gay agenda as “hate speech,” or at least as intolerance.  Is it not possible to be morally opposed to the gay agenda of equating gay relationships with marriage?  If the gay community can only “feel the love” by others delegitimizing the strongly held moral beliefs of those who disagree with them, then perhaps that is one of the reasons that they do not “feel the love.”  It’s a two way street.  Even when you feel that you are being unfairly treated, you have to give respect to get it.  Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. understood this.

MNB user Jeff Gray wrote:

As a Christian businessman, I am many times criticized for my decisions. Many companies claim to measure things morally and ethically because those terms have a cloudy definition. I add righteously to my decision making. In a country where most claim to be Christian but an immoral majority seems increasingly to be the norm, I can only hope that one day I can make the stand that Cathy has made. It seems Cathy truly hates the sin but loves the sinner. KC, maybe one day we will meet and I can help you understand life as God has created it. Either way, I may go to my grave poor one day, but knowing I made God honoring decisions.

I realize that this may annoy some folks, but...what you really want to teach me is life as you believe God has created it.

Which is fine. But is not the same thing.

Another MNB user wrote:

I find it absolutely fantastic that a company is willing to act as they believe. This in itself says a lot about the company. I would be elated to get some criticism from “the gay groups”.  To me it would mean I am doing something right. “Love your neighbor as yourself “ is totally different than accept what your neighbor does as being right. This is a concept that a whole bunch of folks fail to grasp. Have a nice day.

Once again, let’s be clear. You have a right to accept what you want to accept, and reject what you want to reject - as long as you don’t infringe on people’s civil rights.

And I have no problem with companies that act according to their beliefs, as long as they don’t infringe on people’s civil rights. Which, I would argue, Chick-fil-A did not do. The company did not infringe on anyone’s rights.

But, it did indicate a cultural position that could hurt its expansion efforts. And that’s what the story was all about, and the subject that my commentary focused on.
KC's View: