Published on: May 18, 2015
Got some email reacting to Friday's "FaceTime" commentary about the Haggen conversions.
One MNB user wrote:I need this to be anonymous since I am a supplier to Haggen.
While our sales people are out in the stores here in Washington, particularly the converted Safeway stores, the feedback they are getting from the store personnel are sales are down as much as 40% since the conversion.
One store that was converted a month ago was supposed to have flyers going out to local residents announcing the change. They have still not been mailed.
Several stores that have been ordering from Super Valu instead of Unified Grocers have gone back to Unified because Super Valu prices are too high.
Things had better change quickly or this new venture will not last 2 years.
From another reader:I don’t know too much about Haggen or its conversion of the Albertsons/Safeway stores. I’ve never been in a Haggen, nor have I been in a Safeway (other than Von’s and Von’s Pavillion). From reading MNB, I understand that there was a mandated deadline for getting the old names off the buildings. With the scope of the undertaking, it is quite understandable that things would need to happen in stages—at least that would be the logical assumption.
Maintaining a working store to a) serve each location’s existing customers (and not send them into the arms of the competition), and b) maintain revenue flow would also be necessary. Sure it would be nice to open Jeannie’s bottle and have her blink a beautifully renovated store into existence, but that’s not real life. But, from what I’ve read on MNB, the real issue doesn’t appear to be ‘making a mediocre first impression’, but rather simple communication.
Well, I should say that I am giving Haggen the benefit of the doubt by working on the assumption that their end goal is to convert their newly acquired stores into the same sort of experience that they are known for in their home market. Assuming that to be true, it would seem that they have not taken the opportunity to market the planned changes, build anticipation, and (as you are fond of saying) control their own narrative. Ads and signage discussing their history, values, etc. and promising a wonderful new store to emerge in the coming months would go a long way toward negating the axiom of only getting one chance to make a first impression. Planned and executed well, upgrades could be done a bit at a time (without the disruption of a major remodel project) so that every shopping trip could be a little treasure hunt—“ooh, I wonder what’s new THIS week”! But, that IS working on the assumption that they are planning to be more than a meh player in their new markets.
Regarding Target's decision to create "connected home" departments, one MNB user wrote:This from the people who knew confidential information was being pilfered from their front ends and didn’t react swiftly to protect their own shopper base?
From another reader:Regarding Target’s ‘connected home’ sections. A very nice bit of differentiation and not out of line with much of their customer base. A very valid point you made about being sure to staff the section properly, because otherwise—why not just order from Amazon. But the first thing I thought of when I read this item? The data breach. I don’t want anything from Target connected to my home!
On another subject, from another reader:As cliche as it might be...long time reader, first time commenter.
I couldn't help but reflect on your recent reaction to the term "super" regarding the Ahold-Delhaize merger talks. It feels rather reminiscent of the press around Supervalu's incorporation of Albertson's stores, making them the #2 grocery retailer at that time. Having worked at Supervalu post Albertson's acquisition, let's hope Ahold-Delhaize have a solid plan for serious operational and technological alignments to avoid looking like Fezzik battling the Man in Black.
Boom! Extra credit for the Princess Bride
And I love it when people use the "first time, long time" intro ... from the beginning, I've wanted MNB to have a semi-sports radio vibe.
We took note last week of a Reuters
report that Walmart has promised to "start disclosing directly to investors what it spends on lobbying on a state-by-state basis, responding to shareholder pressure to improve transparency on how the retailing giant seeks to influence public policy."
I commented:Good. I'm a total believer in complete financial transparency when it comes to lobbying expenses and political contributions ... every expense over $100 ought to be immediately disclosed online by whoever is getting the money and whoever is spending it. Since we now seem to be at the point where the courts increasingly are removing constraints on what people can spend, if we are going to have the best government money can buy, we at least ought to know who is doing the buying and what a politician costs these days.
Which led MNB reader Bob Stevenson to write:Do you trust the government's transparency and full disclosure numbers?
No. I don't entirely trust anyone. (Except Mrs. Content Guy.)
But that's not a reason to not require total political and financial transparency.
Got a couple of emails responding to Michael Sansolo's column about Spirit Airlines.
One MNB user wrote:Michael - loved your article. My cousins fly Spirit all the time - they get last minute, one way flights from Detroit to Dallas for $29!!! Amazing - and I love it because they visit often!
But another wrote:I too was "Spirited Away" although by Spirit to never ever fly them again...as they were closing the jetway door as we barely made it on I explained there were many more passengers trying to get through their terrible ticketing process and was told these words..."Hey buy cheap...fly cheap" and he was right...Michael you too will experience the lack of value from Spirit..it's not an if it's just a when
Perhaps best put by the Emirates Airlines Chairperson while responding to United and American complaints about losing market share to Emirates...“Offer the best to the passengers and people will fly with you,” Sheikh Ahmed said in an interview at his office at Dubai International Airport, which overtook London Heathrow as the world’s top hub by international passengers last year. “They don’t mind paying maybe an extra penny to fly if your service is good, at the end of the day it is all about service.”
As I also travel extensively I am fortunate to be able to travel on both jetBlue and Emirates frequently...and also have the additional benefit of these 2 airlines being travel partners...(do you think that was their strategy??...just asking).
Finally, got the following email from MNB reader Ron Sarasin:Just read your MNB comments about the federal government owning Texas.
The federal government was created by the states, not the other way around. The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution is very clear on that point.
Amendment X: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Seems pretty clear, even though Congress seems to be unaware of the Tenth Amendment!
A fair point. But I still think that the concerns of some Texans that secret tunnels, shuttered Walmarts and military training exercises all are being used to mask a federal declaration of martial law there seem a little...paranoid.