retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to a piece we wrote last week about Harris Teeter, MNB user Dennis Sirianni wrote:

I, too, have always been impressed by Harris Teeter and like you, KC, I am blessed and cursed to live live in CT.  Thankfully, I have the good fortune of representing a great company that afford me the opportunity to visit great retailers throughout the country, of which Harris Teeter is among the best.

On another subject, MNB user Chuck Lungstrom wrote:

I found the quote from one of your MBN users, "Convenience that meets your needs is all it takes to make you a former customer"  to be right on the mark and should be a bell ringer to all retailers to make sure they are relevant to today's consumer.

Regarding the onslaught of price-matching and same-day delivery programs being initiated by a number of retailers, one MNB user wrote:

Boy, a lot of the brick and mortar stores better improve the real time inventory levels from where they are now or their going to hack off a lot of folks...

MNB user Elizabeth Archerd wanted to respond to one of the emails posted yesterday on MNB:

To the MNB user who wrote...

"I especially want to know if the organic food item is natural, or genetically engineered, and grown without the use of pesticides. I, personally,  do not consider a genetically engineered food product as 'organic'."

...Nothing labeled "Certified Organic" contains GMOs. The rules governing the label do not allow them, period.

Certified Organic is not only your best bet for avoiding GMOs, it supports agriculture that enriches the soil, cleans and protects our water and wildlife and yes, can feed the world.

Responding to a story about how more stores than ever are likely to be open this Thanksgiving, I commented yesterday:

I'm saddened by the idea of stores being open on Thanksgiving. It ought to be that one American holiday that is sacrosanct, that actually allows people to disengage. . . .

Which led one MNB user to write:

So you choose to not shop on Thanksgiving.  Does that mean no one else should be able to?

First of all, I'm perfectly happy to foist my point of view on everybody. But since I'm unlikely to be named dictator anytime soon, maybe I can take refuge in what I actually wrote yesterday, taken in context:

I'm so torn on this.

On the one hand, I'm saddened by the idea of stores being open on Thanksgiving. It ought to be that one American holiday that is sacrosanct, that actually allows people to disengage and, yes, give thanks for and with each other.

But the reality is that online stores are open on Thanksgiving. So maybe the sad reality is that bricks-and-mortar stores have to fight back in the only way they can.

Too bad.

People got by for a long time not being able to shop on Thanksgiving. I recognize that reality has changed. But I can still be a little wistful.

MNB user Bill White - who, for the sake of context, needs to be identified as president/CEO of Belle Foods - wrote:

Having worked for many retailers in my past lives, some of which were open on the major holidays to my chagrin, and now having been blessed to acquire a regional supermarket chain this year, I am able to affect my employees’ lives and work life balance in a very positive way.  I was in a store last week meeting with our employees prior to a grand opening of one of our re-branded stores, and announced that all of our stores would be closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter (even though some of our competitors will remain open), so they could spend that time with their families.  They all cheered, and I actually got a standing ovation.

We are all in business to make a profit, and sometimes that gets ion the way of doing what is right for the employees on the front lines that make our business successful.  Are we going to lose some sales? Certainly!  But our employees will be much happier, much more productive, etc., which will translate into better sales down the road.  It’s the right thing to do!

MNB user Mike Moon, of Moon's Hometown Markets, wrote:

I hesitate writing this email for fear you will blast me, but my stores are open on both Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. When I became a partner here twenty years ago, the store had been open on both holidays for several years. It wasn't something I was terribly happy about as I was going to work them as the Store Manager, but I quickly learned that this seeming disrespect for the holiday and the family unit was really a service for the consumer. You don't know how many times a frantic shopper comes in on Christmas Day because they forgot the whipping cream or burned the dinner rolls.

We think we have developed a good system that makes it fair for the staff members. First, we are only open for a few hours, usually 7 AM to 1 PM. We write a really small, "skeleton crew" kind of schedule consisting of only checkers and stock clerks (no meat, produce, or deli staffing). We hang a sign up sheet with the shifts posted and allow employees to sign up if they want to work. We pay time and a half on Thanksgiving Day and double time on Christmas. We allow them to wear whatever they want to work as long as they wear their name badges. We have always had a full signup and never had to lean on anyone to work.

Mike, I would never "blast" anyone for doing what they think is right for their business and their customers. I absolutely respect both your decision and your reasoning ... and hope you'll never hesitate to challenge my thinking because of some worry that I'll "blast" you.
KC's View: