retail news in context, analysis with attitude

From MNB user Kat Shumway:

I just read your article on the new UP by Jawbone.  I, too, was very excited for this product launch.  The first big miss was the product availability upon launch which I didn’t see mentioned in the article.  To this day you still can’t order a colored band from Jawbone and even finding a black one in a retail store is tough.  Having said that, I did finally find one (a black one) and have used it for a couple of weeks.  Yes, communicating to the app would be cool but I wonder about the impact on the battery life which is pretty good right now.  While it doesn’t seem very cool, syncing twice a day is easy, works well and still allows me meet my daily step goals.  What is missing is any way to add my food intake from a calorie perspective.  I don’t take pictures of my food and adding how I feel might be “nice” to have, but what I really want is a way to track calories in and calories out.  There are many apps that do this today…..Jawbone needs to add this functionality to the very next release of the app!  I suspect it is on the list but hope to see it very soon.  This will take this device/app a long way to help with my “fitness” goals.

From another MNB user, regarding Black Friday sales:

What I hope all taken into consideration is the following:

First comp sales are all messed up as some retailers opened on Thursday, some open earlier on Thursday then last year. Some started their Black Friday sales Thursday vs. Friday last year. Some on Friday started their sooner than they did last year….

While sales were up, this year so were the price points. TV’s, washer and dryers, I Pads, Tablets, Laptops….

Some retailers open both black Friday and cyber Monday online sales early

Kohl’s, gave an extra $5.00 cash bonus.

And we have yet found out what Profits are after the free shipping, labor, security, etc is factored in…

Another MNB user, describing himself as a Kmart manager, wrote:

Kmart was a huge exception to the rule- company was down in the neighborhood of 30% vs LY on Thanksgiving- Black Friday sales were down between 10-30% across the US. Not "executing the plan" is what emails from regional managers blamed the slump on- in the stores we knew it was due to a lackluster ad, run down stores, and not enough of an emphasis on real customer service. How many years can you go on with no product to support ads and no personnel to serve the customers who might be willing to give you one shot to take care of them? I think we just found out. 

They/we either have to figure it out quick, or just stop playing. Leadership touts online growth, but overall sales continue to fall. We are not attracting new customers; it looks like we're just cannibalizing from our B&M locations and giving our loyal core of customers another reason not to set foot in our outdated, archaic stores.

It may be time to freshen up my resume....

Responding to yesterday’s piece about youth hostels as a business opportunity, one MNB user wrote:

I am glad that someone is finally picking up on this idea!  I started traveling around Europe in college and normally had great experiences.  So great, in fact, that I continue to stay in youth hostels today when I travel to Europe.  Many of them offer private rooms and private baths, just at cheaper costs than a regular hotel.  Most recently, I traveled around Italy earlier this year with my mom and we chose to stay in hostels based upon high reviews on  In each location, we had a great experience, only choosing to stay in a hotel in Rome due to the lack of private rooms available.

The primary reason that I’ve stayed in hostels is due to the fact that I like meeting fellow tourists.  I have consistently found that hostels are environments where people want to meet and sightsee with one another.  I have made some great friends in hostels that I continue to stay in contact with. I will usually choose to stay in a hotel when I am looking for a more private travel experience.

And, from another MNB user:

As a parent who hopes my children want to take some time to see the world one day (and the person who will likely fund at least some of that exploration), I LOVE this idea. Give me some peace of mind to cling to, perhaps illogically. Of course, Miami isn’t my idea of seeing the world so I hope they extend to Europe and other locales.

MNB had a piece yesterday about Staples licensing the Dunder-Mifflin name from “The Office” for a new line of copy paper that it hopes will reverse sales decline in that category, and I said that they were missing the bigger picture - that paper and ink are dying, and all the licensing deals in the world may not matter.

One MNB user replied:

I was at an International Paper plant for meetings recently and the first portion was all about sustainability given IP is in the forest products business and a couple of things struck me.  One,  there is more land under forest in the US now that there was in 1940, and two, the use of copier paper actually encourages the planting of new trees.  So print that page and cause a tree to be planted !!!  An interesting concept that is counter intuitive.

And MNB user Bob Savage followed up on one of yesterday’s RIP notes:

Our industry certainly lost one of its larger than life characters last week with the passing of Jeno Paulucci. I had the privilege of working for him for almost five years and like anyone that has been around him for much time, have a lifetime of stories about the experience. While at times, he could be harsh and impatient, deep down he cared for those in need and did many things about it. What I will always remember about my time with him was his passion and determination to achieve his goals. He never quit. He had no use for technology but preferred working solutions out in his mind or on a simple sheet of paper. He would often have the answer before I could input all the information into my spreadsheet!  This straight-forward business process was used over and over again to achieve much success. For many of us that got to work with him closely, we were made better for just the experience of watching him work.

Here is to the legacy of a great food industry entrepreneur that positively impacted my life and many others.
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