retail news in context, analysis with attitude

In a piece yesterday about Walmart’s plans for the Portland, Oregon, market, I suggested that while Portland may be one of the places in this country that seems least appropriate for a Walmart - in my view, it rivals San Francisco in institutionalized eccentricity, which is one of the reasons I love it - economic pressures create new realities. It’ll be up to the consumers.

One MNB user wrote:

You are correct that Portland has its share of eccentric residents, from its mayor on down. But it is also a very polarized community, which means there is room for all sorts of retailers.

It appears that Target, for example, will open a store on the second and third floors of a former five-story department store in downtown Portland.

If Portland is ready for that, at least some customers in Portland are ready for Walmart.

Walmart supercenters can be found in many Oregon communities. The real question is not whether Walmart could find a market in Portland, but whether Portland's economic conditions are dire enough (with some of the highest unemployment rates in the country) that the elitists who run the city are willing to relax their regulatory stance enough to allow more Walmarts in the city.

On the subject of competition coming from non-traditional retailers, MNB user Dan Graham wrote:

Our family just made the switch to Amazon's Subscribe and Save services for a number of categories (paper towels, shampoo, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent and popcorn among others) driven both by a desire to reduce trips and frustration at not being able to find all of the products we want in one place.

I spent the majority of my career with a major food retailer, and one of our goals was to find ways to take consumers "out of the market" for competition by giving them compelling reasons to buy from us.  Baring unforeseen circumstances, Amazon has now permanently taken us out of the market for a number of key categories.  As a retailer you cannot do any better than that.


And yet, it is amazing how many retailers I meet who have never ordered groceries from Amazon, and have no sense of what Subscribe and Save does. I feel like John the Baptist sometimes, preaching to the skeptical and unconverted. (And then, every once in a while I am reminded by someone what happened to John the Baptist...)

Responding to our story about Supervalu’s move to consolidate its private label offerings and create a new line that cuts across all banners, MNB user Geoff Harper wrote:

I sympathize with Supervalu over the private brand label control issue.  It is very difficult to run economic quantities of labels in all but the biggest supermarket companies.  However, I have always believed in getting your store name on as many items as is practical. Your name is in the cupboard, in the refrigerator, on the counter.  If your private brands are good (and they had better be!) the label is great advertising for your store, and a constant reminder of where to shop.  In this case, that asset will be lost.
KC's View: