retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Regarding Walmart's decision to give a raise to $9 per hour to some 500,000 employees, one MNB user wrote:

Make no mistake, this is a business decision. This impacts the lower third of their schedule, which is where you find most of the turnover. Having said that, I am hoping the industry follows their lead. After all the industry has been following them in lower wages and benefits for years. It is time to increase the standard of living for this industry that many times works 24 hours a day 7 days week often only closing at Christmas.

From another reader, about the bigger picture:

Perhaps another question here is what is being done to alleviate the huge disparities between CEO and Executive pay and that of the average worker. That disparity is only growing and we are effectively eliminating the middle class. If you knock down some of those outrageous (almost criminal) salaries, one could effectively boost morale at the lower levels by some small increases.

And another reader:

In your comments regarding “Wal-Marts wage increase” ….

“This is all incredibly complicated stuff, and I certainly don't want to minimize the importance of Walmart's wage increases. It is a positive step, especially if it creates movement on the part of other companies. I continue to believe that there are limitations, though ... I want to know how many of the Walmart employees who get raises are able to quit their second jobs because of it. I am, fair to say, dubious. And it seems to me that the issue of sufficient hours is as important as wages.”

Seems to be more Wal-Mart “bashing” as you don’t mention/ponder/opine whether the Tj Maxx, Homegoods, etc. workers “will be able to quit their second jobs” with their pay raise. Do you think only minimum wage employees of Wal-Mart might have second jobs?

Regarding my decision to send out an alert on Friday regarding the death of Leonard Nimoy, MNB reader Bob Warzecha wrote:

Excuse my language but what the f do I care about your thoughts of Leonard Nimoy (our newsletter should be  about how I can make money in the supermarket arena).

When I got the email, I immediately responded:

Call it a point of personal privilege.

Over the years, I've often quoted Spock in particular and the Star Trek films in general, sometimes when offering business lessons and sometimes just for the hell of it.  I've done it enough, and have read enough email, to know that a sizable portion of the MNB audience is comprised of Star Trek fans.  So...when Leonard Nimoy died, I figured, why not?  (If today had not been a Friday, I probably would have held the obit and commentary until the next day.   But I did not not want to wait until Monday, so I figured, why not?)

BTW...over the years you've written me email about Alex Karras and Best Buy ... two subjects that have come up on MNB not directly related to making money in the supermarket arena.  So I'm guessing that your email today is prompted in part by you not being a Star Trek fan.  That's okay.  As I said, I did it today for no other reason than I wanted to.

Part of the problem may be how we define MNB differently.  I've never thought of it as being a newsletter about how to make money in the supermarket arena.  Sure, that can be the result of reading it ... but my goal is to find interesting stores that offer intriguing and provocative business lessons on a wide variety of fronts.  And in this case, if the Nimoy obit causes one person to think about the notion of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, and what that means in terms how we treat customers and employees, and even how we think about the world we live in, I'm okay with that.

Live long and prosper...

But Bob wasn't satisfied with my response. He emailed me back:

I want you to know that the only reason I participate on your forum is that I want to have others think about how we can influence companies to increase their stock price.  If my (or my clients') investments increase, that is my main mission. For example, you and I are at odds that CVS stop selling tobacco products.  I think CVS is missing the point.  You, on the other hand are on another crusade about this which I think is foolhardy given my mission.

Ah, well ... may fortune favor the foolish. (Extra credit to anyone who gets that movie reference.)

Here's the thing. I think we have different missions. Increasing companies' stock prices is, to be honest, way down on my list of priorities ... we often write here about paying more attention to Main Street than Wall Street.

Sometimes our missions will overlap, sometimes they won't.  That's okay with me.  I hope it is okay with you.

BTW...I got a ton of email from readers who really liked what I wrote on Friday.  I know I can't please all the people all the time, so I don't even try.

Mostly I try to please myself, and hope that enough other people are willing to go along for the ride.
KC's View: