retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to yesterday's "Sansolo Speaks" column, MNB reader George Frahm wrote:

This morning’s Sansolo Speaks: Too Much Information; Too Little Knowledge article really hit home with me.  I enjoy reading the MNB daily not because I always or even regularly agree with the content and “editorial opinions” expressed, but because I do not!  The value of reading articles with a different point of view from my own is often times enlightening and invigorating and many times informational to the point that I learn something new.

As far as I’m concerned the revelation in the article of a new app, BuyPartisan that supposedly determines the political leanings of every product I purchase is frightening for many reasons, not the least of which is who is going to check the “facts” of the fact finders for BuyPartisan?  And since when does a CEO or any other single person speak or represent the viewpoints of everyone who works at a company? 

I have always believed that it is the diversity of thoughts and ideas that has made our companies and country strong.  I for one will not use such an obviously divisive app now or in the future.  I will be very curious to read how others react to the article.

MNB reader Mike Franklin, reacting to Michael's opinion of the BuyPartisan app, wrote this:

Michael…your opening story indicates you are not for full disclosure…which doesn’t surprise me…even though the App would indicate which way you lean politically…I’ll continue to read…I don’t fear full disclosure…unlike many in the food industry.

I have to admit that, having given it some thought, I sort of like the idea of the BuyPartisan app. Not that I would be a slave to its claims, but I think it might be helpful to see where certain companies come down in certain areas.

On another subject, one MNB user wrote:

The mushroom cloud that you saw in the western sky last Friday was the result of my wife reading the comments regarding Lands’ End’s attempts to objectify women as part of their new advertising strategy.   She is not a subscriber to your website, but she receives content from me via email fairly regularly and your comments are frequently a part of our evening discussions.

We purchased our first clothing from Lands’ End back in 1981 and have been loyal customers since that time.   It would not be an exaggeration for us to say that our purchases over the years have accumulated into the thousands of dollars.  One of the reasons that we have remained LE customers has been because we knew that we could open a catalog received in the mail (even one that sold swimsuits) and know that the clothing would be tastefully modeled.  We have noticed the not-so-subtle changes in LE’s recent catalogs and have been disappointed.   If LE’s marketing strategy is changing to match that of the other sportswear retailers who have elected to show more skin and less clothing, then they will likely lose us as customers.

There are many reasons that I love and respect my wife….and one of them is that she has worked hard to educate our two college-aged sons that the promotional images of women shown in the media today are NOT typical and are unfair to the majority of women in general.   She is convinced (as am I) that the majority of these marketing decisions are made by men and that there are not enough women who are willing to speak out about the use of digitally enhanced and/or scantily clad women in advertising.   More than anything, she is far from prudish in her approach to life in general, but still thinks that it is simply impossible to live up to the expectations placed on her and other women based on what we see every day on television and in print.   Regardless, I find her to be a truly beautiful person both inside and out and am very proud of the person she has become over our 31 years of marriage.

Both of us respectfully take issue with the description of this as a “kerfuffle” to the extent that we believe there are many others out there who for years have shared the same opinions that we do but feel it serves no purpose to voice them.   While I don’t think that my wife would bother to take the time and effort required to notify a retailer about her feelings on the images they choose to use for advertising, (not that anyone would pay attention….) she certainly votes with her wallet every time she elects to update her wardrobe.   Maybe someday, enough women will do the same that it will truly be an “eye-opener” to a company such as Lands’ End.

Tell your wife that I consider myself chastised.

Yesterday, MNB took note of a San Francisco Chronicle report that the average, middle-income parents of a child born in 2013 can expect to spend $245,340 to raise that child through his or her 17th birthday, while high-income parents will spend $407,820 to raise a child for that same period of time. Low-income parents will spend about $176,550 in today's dollars.

Which led one reader to write:

Of course, people who think of their children as “expenses” probably shouldn’t have them….

Good point.

On the subject of anti-gun groups pushing Kroger to ban all "open carry" from sits stores, MNB reader Ernie Monschein wrote:

An understanding of both sides is fine, but put yourself in the shoes of customers and employees who have to be exposed to this posturing. Walking through a store with an AR-15 on your shoulder because you can is intended to intimidate others. And it works. If I were walking through a store with my three granddaughters and saw someone armed like this, I would leave and never patronize that store again. I would also call the police.  How do I know this person is not about to turn this weapon on the people in the store? Are you sure? I’m not. I’m not taking that chance that he/she is one of the “good guys”. I support the rights of gun owners, but this type of display is simply over the top. It is insulting and creates unnecessary anxiety. Why is it you aren’t talking about the rights of non-gun owners and responsible gun owners to an anxiety free shopping experience?

If you really think about it, your point is absurd as is you equating the value of the first and second amendments. We must simply stop defaming American culture by exploiting constitutional rights to the point they deny the constitutional rights of others.

I'm not sure I have the right to say that the Second Amendment is less important than the First Amendment. I can argue with the way it has been interpreted by some groups, but I don't think I can prioritize them. Even if I'd like to.

I totally agree with you about people who would openly carry an AR-15 into a store, just because they can. I'd probably do the same thing you'd do.

But I still think that retailers have to obey local and state laws, and that it is up to activists to change those laws if they are not happy with them.

Regarding the USPS, MNB reader Jeff Folloder wrote:

I'm in a very highly regulated business.  Two days ago I ordered copies of federal publications containing those regulations.  These publications are offered by the Department of Justice, on behalf of one of their bureaus, at no cost to me, the recipient.  I used an online resource to submit my request.  I received an email confirmation within moments.  I received the publications today.  Via FedEx instead of USPS.

Congress should pull the plug on this patient and sell off the assets and services to private enterprise.  Now.  Of course, Congress will also lose their ability to send out free mail if they do that…
KC's View: