retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Regarding Walmart’s decision to move its fashion office from New York to Bentonville, one MNB user wrote:

I don’t see this as desperation, just getting back to their roots.  I was fortunate enough to be a Wal-Mart Divisional for 10 years from 95 -06 and I believe they are getting back to what they do best.  Name brands for less.  Wal-Mart has always been about change, so change here is not unusual.

But another reader offered:

When I look at Wal*Mart today compared to it's beginning, I'm reminded of the history of other large retail institutions. It appears to me that Wal*Mart is going the way of many large corporations, forgetting its roots and business philosophy. It is becoming entrenched with burdensome rules and committee style decision making and becoming top-heavy with management that contributes nothing to the bottom line. What was once a nimble and fast acting company is fast becoming a monolithic immovable object that has no idea which way to go. It looks like the rise and fall of a larger Kmart.

We had a story yesterday in which the USDA predicted an increase in food prices this year, prompting one reader to write:

Wow. I want that guys job. It must be nice to get paid to predict what's going to happen after it's already happened. The amazing part is, I think they still got it wrong. I'm no expert in the area but pretty average. Between content reductions in so many staples and price increases, my family's grocery bill is up closer to 10% this year. Being pretty average, I'd guess that's common and the 3.5% to 4.5% post-call is short of the mark.

We’re still getting email about Kate McMahon’s column, which criticized Dr Pepper for its introduction of Dr Pepper Ten as a “for men only” drink ... suggesting that perhaps it was misguided to be condescending to women, who still do most of the shopping. Besides, she said, the commercials aren’t funny: “When the joke is sexist, demeaning, offensive or part of a lame marketing strategy ... that falls as flat as day-old soda,” she wrote.

One MNB user wrote:

Kevin, Can’t say that the ad is particularly interesting but what I DO find interesting is the ever-present ‘men bashing’ group who will take any opportunity to find what men do, that excludes women, to be offensive. IT’S A COMMERCIAL ... since when do we take ANY commercials to be serious…………every one of them is simply trying to get our money.

It certainly seems unpopular to be a ‘man’ these days unless you have been sufficiently emasculated and judged by the women around you and, in that case, you now ‘think’ yourself to be a man as defined by women. Should women be held to the same litmus test ???


We actually got a bunch of emails from guys who think that men in general have been emasculated. Which surprised me, since I don’t feel particularly emasculated. Though to be fair, when I wrote yesterday that I agreed with Kate’s opinion about the marketing campaign, one MNB user thought I needed help.

Steve Kneepkens wrote:

Dude – seriously put down the rose wine, the turtle neck, and the hair gel -   and move to Iowa and bale some hay or something cause you are exactly why this country has problems discerning between the roles of men and women. The whole metro thing is a lot more offensive then any Dr. Pepper commercial.

There is a very special woman – MY lovely wife  - who watched this commercial and thinks it was kind of cute – her words not mine – the 2 ½ men version of an ad. Great analogy! I am sending you a flannel shirt and a tool belt for Christmas.

Thanks for the offer, but I have plenty of flannel shirts. As for the tool belt, I’d have no idea what to do with it. And I’m not a hay-baling sort of guy.

However, I do make a mean seafood risotto ... which you probably think makes me emasculated, but I always figured simply made me self-sufficient. (I can live without hay. Risotto, not so much.)

Finally, I noted the other day that I’ve just “cracked open” my copy of the new Steve Jobs biography, which led MNB user Paul Woodard to ask:

Curious, when you say “cracked open” the bio – hardcopy or Kindle?  I’m reading my first book on my iPad, not sure how I feel yet.  Great when traveling, still not sure it will be my “go-to” for all of my reading…yet.

In this case, I have the hard copy ... because I wanted to make it easy to lend out, especially to my kids.

But I read most books on my iPad or Kindle. And love it.
KC's View: