business news in context, analysis with attitude

In ruminating last week about the investigation into herbal nutritional supplements, i wrote:

I'm just wondering ... what might be the overlap between the population that believes in and trusts in supplements, and the populations that does not believe in vaccinations.

One MNB reader responded:

As a former CMO of a couple of nutritional-supplement companies, I think you're on very solid ground here.  There seems to be a substantial overlap between religious-fanatics and heavy-users of supplements.  The medical-industry/drug company cartel is out to kill us (e. g., with vaccines).  Anything man-made is evil.  Anything "natural" is provided by supernatural forces and thereby good (e. g., supplements).  Their bodies are their temples, and no product of Intelligent Design belongs inside them.

Another MNB reader wrote:

I find it interesting that no one is talking about the unvaccinated illegal immigrants that the President allowed and encouraged to come to our country earlier this year. This is what we get when political correctness is our first priority.

It also is what you get when the first thing the government hands all these illegal immigrants is a voucher that gets them into Disneyland, where they get to run around and infect the rest of us. Dammit! It is just the liberal media that's trying to infect our minds with the notion that it is anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists that are creating this problem, as opposed to illegal immigrants.

Cut off those Disneyland vouchers, and the problem goes away.

On another subject that keeps coming up on MNB, a reader wrote:

A note about hotel fees in general.  Last year, I was driving to an event in Chicago.  I spent the night before I arrived in a very inexpensive roadside motel -$65/night.  The phone, internet, breakfast and parking were free.  In Chicago, I stayed at one of those very upscale hotels on the pricey end of Michigan Avenue - $295/night with the event discount of about 15%.  Phone was $1.95 for the first 5 minutes.  Internet was $19.95 per day.  Breakfast was $25 plus tip.  Parking was $65/night.  Bellboy who insisted on carrying my very light overnight bag to my room required a tip, too.  I’ll forgo commenting about the very misleading room service charges and fees.  Odd that a place charging so much for a room needs to tack on so much for the extras, too.

On the subject of Target focusing more on small stores in the coming year, one MNB reader wrote:

It's been interesting to watch Target's struggle to find it's toehold in the market. 

A few years back (can't remember how long ago) Target made the decision to change their marketing focus and water down their style and branding. They had great ads and a nice store experience (merchandising) that made you feel 'cool' to shop there, but that changed. They became just another retailer competing on price with the Walmarts and Amazons of the marketplace. It was about that time that my shopping with them plummeted. Their stores were messy, their merchandising weak and the quality of their products (they did away with a number of brands I bought and went heavily into their hideous 'up and up' brand) went down. 

They are now just another place to buy toilet paper and batteries to me. Heck, I find myself stopping at Walgreens instead just because it's more convenient and I sure as heck don't love them, but meh, who cares? 

When I want fun style and hip things now I shop local or shop online at retailers like or Etsy. 

Of course, I'm just one person who used to spend hundreds of dollars at their stores each year and shopped at least once a month. Now I stop maybe every quarter and if they're lucky I spend $75.

There have been a number of stories in the media about how Target is currently featuring a line of products inspired by the book and about-to-be-released movie Fifty Shades of Grey, such as massage oil, a blindfold set, lubricant, and a vibrating love ring.

Wonder what that'll do for Target's image? And sales?

On another subject, an MNB user wrote:

Sprouts is a serious competitor in that it is attracting a good number of people like myself who do not go to health food stores.  They have pretty good prices on certain meat products, most produce items and bakery goods.  That is enough to draw people into the store.  They generally undercut Fry's (Kroger's) on most produce items.

I am so impressed with retailers like Sprouts and Fresh Thyme, which seem to have identified a really powerful niche, appealing to Whole Foods customers who do not have Whole Foods bank accounts. Whole Foods, to be sure, needs to take these folks very, very seriously.

Regarding RadioShack's bankruptcy, one MNB user wrote:

What a shame. I remember when Radio Shack used to actually sell radios (audio equipment). Some pretty nice gear,at that. But they lost their vision and became just another cell phone store. How could anyone think this company could survive having tossed aside their old customer base to sell cell phones and radio control (rc) toys? So who wants to buy them...another cell phone company. Ugh!
KC's View: