retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Got a number of emails responding to yesterday’s commentary about the rooster that stabbed the guy running a cockfight, severing an artery and killing him - a great “you reap what you sow” moment that I thought was a good metaphor about the importance of long-term strategic thinking.

One MNB user wrote:

What a happy ending that would have been to the Michael Vick story.

That was a common theme. From another MNB user:

All I can say to the cock fighting story is "touché" and too bad that Michael Vick's dogs didn't get a piece out of him when they had a chance. I will say that  Vick seems to be keeping his nose clean so far, and playing some great ball, but I will never be a fan, will never forget what he did and I'm not sure that I'd forgive him either.  His brand is permanently damaged as far as I am concerned.  I wonder how much he donates to the ASPCA on an annual basis? That might help his image with me and scores of other pet lovers.  Abusing animals and kids - no excuse, ever and no punishment sufficient (save, perhaps, the cock story).

I ended the commentary with the following phrase: “As Jimmy Malone might say, here endeth the lesson.”

Which led MNB user Alex Drew to write:

Love the call out line for The Untouchables! I guess you could say the chicken listened to Jimmy pretty well.  "He sends one of your guys to the hospital, you send of of his to the morgue!"  "Now that's the Chicago way"!

This is why I love the MNB community....

On another subject, one MNB user wrote:

Concerning the comment from the Walmart opponent that stated that "Walmart should not be built because all the stuff it will sell will make poor kids want to shoplift, ruining their lives from criminal records". This is the same attitude that keeps poor kids and parents poor. The inability to take responsibility for their own actions. It's always "someone else's fault" - Walmart, local governments, federal governments, local grocers, take you pick. It's a destructive mindset that needs to be challenged.

And another MNB user wrote:

Somehow, you find a way to make news truly entertaining. I couldn't help but to let out a belly-laugh at the quip about local kids being coerced into shoplifting by Wal-Mart, especially with your follow-up comment about how that ranks high on your list of dumb statements. You get the important news out, but also make it fun to read.

My pleasure. If we didn’t laugh, we’d all go insane.

MNB yesterday took note of a Miami Herald report that Whole Foods is trying to take advantage of a growing trend - Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), which allows people, for $20 to $40 a week, to “buy ultra-fresh food straight from the farm at prices similar to the grocery store. And their contribution helps small farmers remain in business.”

MNB user Lisa Malmarowski responded:

Seriously -  Whole Food 'invented' the idea of using their stores as CSA drop off points? Um, no.  Food cooperatives have been doing this for YEARS, decades in fact. Some co-ops even help buying clubs. I guess that will be Whole Foods next 'new' idea.

Our three locations have been drop off points for various CSA's over the years. We hosted a 'farmers market' at our last annual meeting where our owners (shoppers) could buy directly from the farmers and suppliers without us taking any cut whatsoever. If you think this is innovative, is not - Local cooperatives are the true innovators. 

Large retailers watch the smaller retailers and present ideas as new. And this is nothing new to those of us that have been quietly building communities, supporting local farms, educating people about authentic foods and healthier eating all while keeping dollars genuinely local by being community owned. 

I've watched your blog and other news services give large national and multi-national companies the credit for innovation when the fact is smaller, locally-owned and community based retailers have been doing these things for years. We just don't have that shiny brass megaphone to shout about it the way these companies do. 

This isn't sour grapes - I just want the record to show, this idea and others like just ain't new.

Fair enough.

For the record, I only wrote that Whole Foods was embracing the concept - not that they invented it.

But you’re right - people like me tend to focus on these innovations when people with megaphones draw our attention to them. And CSA is largely a new concept to me - I’ve hard of it, but have no personal experience with it.

Thanks for raising my consciousness.

And, regarding the Chick-fil-A story, more email.

(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 Tom Redwine wrote:

Most of your commenters talking about Chick-fil-A were referencing their store & food experience, but the ramifications of their decisions are deeper than serving chicken to their customers. Chick-fil-A could lose out on getting some valuable talent in other fields, like Logistics, PR, Accounting, Marketing, Construction, IT, Operations, and more. There may be vendors that take a second look at supplying Chick-fil-A because of their public support (yes, it's food that's donated, but that counts as support) of causes and groups that don't align with the vendor's culture. That's just two areas, and I'm sure your readers can imagine many more. It is Chick-fil-A's decision, but it goes a lot farther than the drive-thru.

And another MNB user wrote:

In the continuing discussion of religious morality and secular ethics as regards the Chick-fil-A stand on gay rights, you began a comment today with the phrase "I also believe that if there is a God, ...".  You then went on to make a point about the presumptive position a God would hold regarding personal behavior & personal choices about who to love.

Your statement about "if there is a God", however, seems very much like what someone might say if they wanted to make a point about morality, but were not themselves a believer in God.  Sort of an illegitimate misuse of the God entity, in a sense, if in fact you are a non-believer.  [Here's a metaphor, in fact, from a past experience of mine, since you brought up metaphors in an earlier article today: about 15 years ago, I was called to be a juror in a traffic case in Southern California involving a defendant who was charged with committing some sort of relatively minor traffic offense while driving.  The defense lawyer's case to the jury basically amounted to two propositions, and he indicated to us that if we were satisfied with either one, then we would need to find his client not guilty.  The first proposition: my client was not even in the car in question.  The second proposition: even if my client was in the car, he wasn't driving it; his brother was. ... We found the defendant guilty.] Your "if comment" comes across as if you had said: "While I don't believe in God myself, here's what I think, hypothetically, God's position on the issue would be, if (s)he existed...."  To which Gertrude Stein might reply, "there's no there there."

Would you be open to revealing for the record whether you are a believer or not? The "if" in your response to the letter writer casts a significant shadow over your subsequent comments about how and what a God would presumably feel about the issues under discussion.  (For the record, I myself have become a believer, only in rather recent years, after several decades of being a non-believer.  And also for the record, I have a daughter who is gay and, wow (!), I still love her.) Thanks for your consideration.


I hate to disagree with you or Gertrude Stein, but I actually think belief in God is besides the point.  My real point is that mere mortals ought not presume to speak for whatever deity they happen to believe in.

My specific beliefs are my own, though people are free to draw conclusions.  (I think I'm about as "out there" as anyone could be ... I'm the only person who doesn't get to hide behind "an MNB user.")

I prefer to take the approach that Humphrey Bogart did in Casablanca.  When asked by Major Strasser what his nationality is, he replies:  "I'm a drunkard."

In other words, it really isn't anyone's business.
KC's View: