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    Published on: June 24, 2015

    Netherlands-based Royal Ahold this morning announced that it will acquire Belgium-based Delhaize Group in an all-stock deal for about $10.4 billion (US), a move that will create the fifth biggest supermarket chain in the US.

    The announcement says that "the merger will create a complementary base of more than 6,500 stores with 375,000 associates ... The combination, Ahold Delhaize, will be able to serve over 50 million customers per week in the United States and in Europe." The companies said that they believe that "the transaction will create significant value, with anticipated run-rate synergies of €500 million per year to be fully realized in the third year after completion."

    According to the press release, "Mats Jansson, Chairman of Delhaize Group, will become Chairman of Ahold Delhaize. Jan Hommen, Chairman of Royal Ahold, and Jacques de Vaucleroy, Delhaize Group Director, will become Vice Chairmen of Ahold Delhaize.  Dick Boer, Chief Executive Officer of Royal Ahold, will become Chief Executive Officer. Frans Muller, Chief Executive Officer of Delhaize Group, will become Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Integration Officer."

    The deal is expected to be completed mid-2016, following regulatory clearances, associated consultation procedures and shareholder approval.

    According to Bloomberg, "Delhaize investors will receive 4.75 Ahold shares for each share they own, the European owners of the Stop & Shop and Food Lion chains said in statements Wednesday. Ahold investors will own 61 percent of the combined company."
    KC's View:
    It is early yet, and we don't know how this all will play out. But I'm going to take a moment to sing a familiar song from the same old hymnal ... if this transaction ends up being only about efficiencies and not about effectiveness, then it will not live up to its potential. It'll just be a bigger company, but not a better one.

    That'd be a shame, and an opportunity lost.

    Published on: June 24, 2015

    by Kate McMahon

    Sacré bleu! An international food fight recently erupted over an unlikely source – Nutella.

    Yes, #Nutellagate was trending on Twitter and lighting up Facebook last week after Ségolène Royal, France’s ecology minister, called for a boycott of the sweetened hazelnut-chocolate spread because it is made with palm oil.

    She clearly underestimated consumer passion for Nutella, Italy’s pride in its product and parent company/chocolate giant Fererro’s responsible position on palm oil. Even Greenpeace weighed in - on Nutella’s behalf.

    In a television interview, Royal blamed palm oil plantations for a host of environmental woes. "We have to replant a lot of trees because there is massive deforestation that also leads to global warming. We should stop eating Nutella, for example, because it's made with palm oil," she said.

    True enough. But ... palm oil is a versatile ingredient used in thousands of products including cooking oil, shampoo, French fries, bio-diesel fuel, ice cream, lipstick and margarine. And Ferrero has been hailed by environmental groups such as Greenpeace for its “ambitious” policy to use only palm oil from certified, sustainable sources.

    Social media lit up after Royal’s comment, not surprising since Nutella is a worldwide fave, ranks consistently in the Top 20 most-liked Facebook retail brands and is often referred to as an “addiction.”

    Italians were incensed by Royal’s comments, and her counterpart in Rome, Environmental Minister Gian Luca Galletti, tweeted that he would eat “bread and Nutella for dinner.” Italian media showed photos of the prime minister’s wife Agnese Renzi ordering a pancake filled with Nutella for her daughter Ester. Ardent Nutella fans expressed outrage.

    A chastised Royal took to Twitter two days later and wrote: “A thousand excuses for the controversy over #Nutella. Agreed, progress made should be [recognized].”

    I think there are two takeaways from this tale.

    First, politicians and brands need to understand that social media can turn one comment into a firestorm. In this case, Twitter was the fastest way to extinguish the blaze.

    Second, the palm oil controversy is only likely to grow, particularly since it can be used as a substitute for partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) found in products such as frosting, microwave popcorn and coffee creamers.

    The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week issued final rules requiring that the American food industry phase out within three years the use of PHOs, which are the main source of trans fats and linked to heart disease, obesity and memory loss.

    Currently, palm oil is listed as vegetable oil on many US product labels, leading to uncertainty about the ingredient and where it has been sourced. The approach that Ferrero has taken is to be very specific about using only palm oil that has been certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

    In the US, Kellogg last year said it would require its suppliers to trace their palm oil to plantations that have been verified independently as complying with the law and meeting standards for protecting the environment and human rights.

    Greenpeace and other groups are calling on consumers, producers and traders to work together to put an end to deforestation linked to commodities such as palm oil.

    The conversation almost certainly will continue. The people and companies involved better know what they're talking about.

    Comments? As always, send them to me at .
    KC's View:
    I'm sorry, but I can't help myself.

    There's an organization called the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil?

    Anybody else think that sounds like something out of a Monty Python movie? And that Roundtable's offices almost certainly are adjacent to the Ministry of Silly Walks?

    Like I said, I can't help myself...

    Published on: June 24, 2015

    by Kevin Coupe

    I was happy to read yesterday in USA Today that the "Like A Girl" commercial - produced by the Leo Burnett agency for Procter & Gamble's Always feminine hygiene brand - won the Grand Prix award in the PR category at this year's Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity - one of several gender-busting campaigns that were recognized.

    We featured this ad last year on MNB, and at the time I made two observations.

    One was that it seemed to me to be both a smart piece of filmmaking and intelligent advertising by a relevant brand, and that I was jazzed to show it to my wife and daughter.

    But I also wrote that "the more I thought about it, the more I thought that the video also ought to seen by boys, and parents of boys. It is about going beyond expectations, about not living within other people's boundaries, and about not settling. And that's a message that certainly transcends gender."

    I watched it again yesterday. I feel exactly the same way, maybe more so.

    Which is why I'm bringing it back for an encore.

    Congrats to the brand and the agency. Go do more great and Eye-Opening work.

    KC's View:

    Published on: June 24, 2015

    Reuters reports that Walmart plans to start "charging fees to almost all vendors for stocking their items in new stores and for warehousing inventory, raising pressure on suppliers as the world's largest retailer battles higher costs from wage hikes.

    "The company said it started informing suppliers about the fees and other changes to supplier agreements last week. The changes, which also include amended payment terms, will affect 10,000 suppliers to its U.S. stores."

    In a letter to vendors, Walmart said that it aimed to bring "consistency to the collection of allowances related to the growth of our business and suppliers' use of the Walmart supply network."
    KC's View:
    I think we've just seen Walmart jump the shark. The company's decision to accept slotting allowances is the biggest indication yet that all is not well in Bentonville, that there are significant concerns about the company's long-term sustainability and profitability, and that management is willing to do just about anything - including breaking with a policy that has long been a distinguishing characteristic and, I would argue, differential advantage.

    It has long been an article of faith among many of us that slotting allowances (and, by the way, Walmart doesn't seem to be using the term, but make no mistake that this is what these are) have been one of the most corrupting influences in the retailing business. When companies seek and accept them, it is evidence that they have decided that it is better to make money on the buy rather than on the sell. Inevitably, it leads to carrying products that have a big check attached to them, not necessarily the products that are the most innovative and relevant.

    By not accepting these fees, Walmart was able to drive costs and prices down ... and this made a lot of retailers nuts as they tried to figure out how to lower prices and still cash those slotting checks.

    Here's a basic truth about slotting allowances. They're like heroin. They make you feel good in the beginning, and by the time you decide that maybe this isn;t so good for you, you're hooked. You're a promotional fee junkie. And it is really hard to go back.

    Walmart can say all it wants that the charges are aimed at achieving the low prices "they expect and deserve." It's a crock. This is all about bolstering the bottom line, no matter what the repercussions ... though it may well be that Walmart, like most junkies, has convinced itself that it won't get hooked, that it'll be the exception to the rule.

    Like I said. It's a crock.

    I suppose that the argument will be made that Walmart has to do this to compensate for the fact that it is raising wages and investing in e-commerce. But this strikes me as another crock. Hell, the company had something like $17 billion in profits last year, and apparently has $76 billion in assets stashed away in foreign tax havens. If that's not enough, then I guess, yes, it is time to break with a basic philosophy that dates back to founder Sam Walton.

    I check in late last night with my friend Glen Terbeek, who has forgotten more about all this stuff than I will ever know, and he offered the following analysis:

    In my opinion it will just drive CPGs/suppliers to go direct by themselves or through a a value added enabler.  Slotting  allowances are a "false economic" resulting from an out of date mass marketing/store based buy for resale model. In my opinion this is the start of the end of Walmart and the start of a new industry model aligned with the shoppers in control.

    And, he adds:

    Walmart should be worrying about adding "real" shopping experience value as a way to compete and taking the false economics (slotting allowances) out of the (equation). After all a national brand is the same wherever it is bought and competing on price is becoming more and more difficult in saturated markets.

    You read it here first. There are few people out there as smart about this stuff as Glen, and he tells it the way it is.

    By the way ... One consultant tells Reuters that "not doing these things has helped Walmart get the lowest cost from vendors historically," and that "you can't increase the cost of doing business and expect to get the best cost." Of course, the consultant isn't willing to go on the record because he or she doesn't want to harm his or her relations with Walmart.

    That's how it is with junkies. There's always an enabler, who knows that this is a really bad idea, but isn't willing to say so because, hey, why hurt a relationship.

    Published on: June 24, 2015

    The Cincinnati Business Courier reports that Kroger "has added a second Greater Cincinnati store where customers can order groceries online and pick them up.

    "Kroger’s Lebanon store on Columbus Avenue is now offering the service known as ClickList. Kroger launched the service at its Liberty Township store to all customers two weeks ago. It began testing that service last year with employees."

    Addressing the sense among some that Kroger was moving very slowly, CEO Rodney McMullen said that “the length of the test would seem long just because it became public a lot faster than we had intended to because somehow, one of the newspaper folks that follow us found the actual website that we were testing with our associates ... So it’s not that it was longer than normal, it’s just that it was public longer than what we normally would (make it). We’re tracking on exactly where we thought we would be on the original plan and feel good about it.”
    KC's View:
    Since I think it may actually have been MNB that first reported on the existence of a test Kroger e-commerce site, I will consider myself chastised. A bit.

    Published on: June 24, 2015

    Following yesterday's news that both Walmart and Sears decided to stop selling products bearing the image of the Confederate flag, less than a week after a white gunman killed nine black people in a historically black South Carolina church and was seen in pictures where he was posing with that flag, a number of other retailers have followed suit.

    According to the New York Times, Amazon, Google, eBay and Etsy have all made similar decisions and have "disavowed, sometimes in strong moral terms, merchandise that has been sold quietly for decades."

    eBay, for example, called the flag "a contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism."

    However, the story also notes that Amazon, which had some 29,000 items with the Confederate flag listed on its site, was slow to come around, only deciding to pull the items once it was bombarded with complaints via email and social media.

    The Times also notes that the actions by these retailers - and the calls by a number of politicians to take down the Confederate battle flag that continues to fly on the South Carolina state house grounds - has had another effect. There has been a run on Confederate merchandise as some consumers have gone to retailers still selling it to make sure they stock up while the stuff is still available.
    KC's View:
    Of course there's a run on this stuff. These are the same people who tend to drive up gun sales after there's a classroom massacre somewhere, because they're convinced that somehow, some way, the federal government is going to come for their guns. And the gun manufacturers are happy to drive that level of paranoia, because it's good for business.

    For the record, I'm disgusted that Amazon was late to the party. I've been an Amazon customer since 1997, and as anyone who reads MNB knows, I'm a believer. But as far as I'm concerned, when I am emotionally invested in a company (not financially - I do not own stock in Amazon), I expect that company to behave a certain way. In this case, Amazon did not meet the standard that I set for it. I'll forgive, but I won't forget, and I'll be watching.

    One other thing. I got this email yesterday from an MNB reader in response to our story about retailers pulling Confederate flag merchandise:

    Alleging the Confederate flag is responsible for the gunning-down of nine people is tantamount to claiming that celebrating M. L. King Day caused a Black to kill Whites.--i. e., totally nonsensical.

    Again, for the record ... nobody is alleging that. And I find your comparison to be offensive in the extreme.

    The facts are that there are pictures of this killer with the Confederate flag, along with other flags - those of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and apartheid-era South Africa, both of which specialized in the persecution of black people.

    Did these flags cause him to kill black people and aspire to start a race war. Of course not. But they apparently offered him some inspiration and rationalization, which is not surprising since they are the representations of evil, prejudice and the subjugation of an entire people.

    The Confederate flag belongs in a museum, along with other artifacts showing how a culture tried to deprive people of a certain color of their freedom, their basic rights, and even their humanity.

    I hope we're finally to the point where the romanticizing of the Confederacy is over. But I'm guessing we're not, and I'm guessing that a whole bunch of people are going to disagree with me, and will accuse me of being a Yankee who just doesn't get it.

    Forgive me, but I don't think I'm the one who doesn't get it. And I'm really glad that these retailers, one by one and some faster than others, stood up and did the right thing.

    Published on: June 24, 2015

    Bloomberg reports that Darden Group is ordering its Olive Garden restaurants to adhere to company protocols and only clean their carpets once a month - not twice a month, as many were found to be doing.

    "There's a protocol that you clean carpets once a month," CEO Gene Lee said yesterday. "If you do it more than that, you end up actually destroying the carpet — and really not a whole lot of benefit there."

    The story notes that Darden is looking to save money wherever possible so it can stave off takeover attempts: "Lee and his team are paring expenses with an approach known as zero-based budgeting. The buyout firm 3G Capital has used a similar strategy with Burger King and HJ Heinz Co., going so far as to restrict the use of office supplies and the number of pages employees can print."
    KC's View:
    Forgive me. I have to be blunt here, because I cannot do it any other way,.

    These people are morons. Utter morons.

    I suppose it never occurred to them that Olive Garden is, by its very nature, a family restaurant. it encourages families to come in and eat cheaply. (It isn't like they are enticing customers with actual Italian food.) Families have kids ... and it seems like a pretty good bet that the carpets are getting hit with all sorts of greasy, oily foods ... and that some of the restaurant managers are cleaning the carpets twice a month because they have to, not because they're looking to break the company's finances.

    It also seems to me that if these carpets can't stand to be cleaned twice a month, they must be pretty crappy carpets.

    Once again, this seems like a textbook example of a company that is putting efficiency before effectiveness, of putting Wall Street before Main Street, and not giving a damn about the customer.

    I'd use the Italian word for "morons" here - which happens to be "idioti" - but it doesn't seem appropriate because it would be about the only really Italian thing that would be associated with Olive Garden.

    Published on: June 24, 2015

    Fortune has a story about how a new report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that "coffee consumption is declining in the United States for the first time since 2009-2010," and is expected to drop in 2015-16 from 24 million 60kg bags to 23.7 million.

    The reason? Well, at least in part one can blame the K-Cup trend.

    Fortune writes that "almost a quarter of American homes now own Keurig-style machines. But since the brewers generally only make one cup at a time, Americans who used to make a pot of drip coffee for themselves each morning no longer have to pour half their coffee down the drain.

    Says one roaster: “We’re losing the sink as a consumer.”
    KC's View:
    I'm doing my best to hold up my end - to my way of thinking, using the Keurig-style machines takes too long and the coffee is never hot enough for long enough. I need a big old pot of coffee in the morning to get and keep me going, and very little of it goes down the sink.

    Published on: June 24, 2015

    Fast Company has a great piece about Shake Shack, which has quickly become an iconic hamburger chain from modest beginnings as a sort of overgrown kiosk in a Manhattan park just over a decade ago.

    "Created by revered New York restaurateur Danny Meyer, it has since grown from a humble burger stand into a global chain with 41 U.S. outlets and 29 overseas franchises in cities such as Moscow, Dubai, Istanbul, and London. Fans line up for its signature ShackBurgers (flavor-packed beef patties served on squishy Martin’s potato rolls and wrapped in nostalgia-triggering wax paper), hot dogs (Chicago-style or with beer-marinated shallots and cheese sauce), concretes (frozen custard blended with artisanal local ingredients; each Shack has its own unique creations), and house beer (ShackMeister ale, made by Brooklyn Brewery)."

    The story quotes CEO Randy Garutti as telling employees at one of the company's newest outposts that they need to trust customers, always make the "charitable assumption," and do their best to bankrupt the company.

    "What do I mean by that?" he says. "Put us out of business because you are so damn generous with what you give the people who walk in this door. If there’s a kid crying, who’s going to walk over with a free cup of custard? I challenge you to put us out of business with how generous you are. Go do it. Give away free stuff."

    Fast Company writes that "this is not merely about the occasional gratis dessert: It’s part of a larger effort to empower employees to do whatever it takes to make customers feel loved."

    Great piece about a great company - and one of my favorite places to have a burger. (When a piece of commercial real estate opened up in my town, my first impulse was to tell the guy who owns the property - that rarity, a real estate guy with a big heart, a strong community-oriented sensibility and first-class taste - that Shake Shack would the first, best option. And I know I wasn't the only one to tell him that.)

    You can read the entire story here.
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 24, 2015

    • The Wall Street Journal reports that Walmart has gone shopping at eBay, "hiring away at least 65 technology professionals recently as it buys the talent needed to compete in e-commerce ... Wal-Mart is looking for help in open source software, data analytics, search and cloud, among other key areas. In the last two years alone, at least 49 such experts have left eBay for Wal-Mart, according to research by CIO Journal."

    Among the people Walmart reportedly has hired away from eBay are human resources executives who, the story say, know who the stars are so that Walmart can hire them away, too.

    Business Insider reports that "Wal-Mart is testing a revolutionary barcode technology that could eliminate long lines at checkout registers. The technology is called invisible watermarking, and it allows scanners to read barcodes from anywhere on a product's packaging ... That drastically speeds up the checkout process because employees don't have to waste time searching for the barcodes on every item they scan. Eventually, the technology could enable shopping carts to read barcodes as items are placed inside them — eliminating the need for checkout registers altogether."
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 24, 2015

    Social Times reports that a new Pew Research Center study says that "more than one-half of adults use more than one social network. New data from email marketing software provider Yesmail indicates that marketers are also using multiple social media channels ... According to the study, more than 90 percent of brands are using two or more social networks. 100 percent of the brands in the home goods category were using multiple channels."

    According to the story, "Facebook was unsurprisingly the most popular network across categories, with 100 percent saturation of home goods, apparel and big box brands. Twitter came in second with more than 90 percent saturation in four out of five categories, and YouTube came in third. While 82 percent of apparel brands have adopted Instagram, adoption was much slower in other categories."
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 24, 2015

    • A new study from the National Retail Federation (NRF) says "that retailers lose billions of dollars to shoplifting, employee and vendor theft and administrative error – collectively known as inventory shrink. According to the National Retail Federation/University of Florida National Retail Security Survey, retailers say inventory shrink averaged 1.38 percent of retail sales, or $44 billion, in 2014 ... Specifically, retailers surveyed estimate that shoplifting accounted for the largest part of reported shrink in 2014 – 38 percent, followed by employee/internal theft (34.5%), administrative and paperwork errors (16.5%), vendor fraud or error (6.8%) and unknown loss (6.1%)."

    MarketWatch reports that "a federal judge on Tuesday issued a preliminary injunction blocking Sysco Corp.’s planned acquisition of US Foods Inc., a ruling that could kill a deal to combine the nation’s two largest food distributors. The decision handed a high-profile victory to the Federal Trade Commission, which filed a lawsuit in February challenging the transaction on antitrust grounds."

    The story notes that the deal "sought to combine the food distributors that lead the pack in providing ingredients and a range of other supplies to restaurants, hotels, schools and other food-service operations. The FTC argued the merger would leave customers large and small vulnerable to higher prices and reduced levels of service."
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 24, 2015

    • CVS Health announced yesterday that it has hired Norman de Greve, currently the president of the Boston and Detroit offices of DigitasLBi, a highly regarded marketing agency, to be its new chief marketing officer, effective July 15.
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 24, 2015

    Yesterday, MNB took note of how pop mega-star Taylor Swift managed to get Apple to change its tune when it came to a stated policy of not paying royalties to singers whose music is part of a three-month free trial period for its new streaming music service. Swift's position was that artists should be paid for their art - and she underlined her point by saying that Apple could not use her "1989" album on the service.

    When Swift objected, Apple changed its mind and said that artists would indeed be paid.

    One MNB user wrote:

    Apple didn't have a hand to play after Swift's letter eviscerated the company. There would have been absolutely nothing they could have said that would have justified their stinginess. The influence SHE has on THEIR customers must be unsettling.

    That's a really good point ... and a great lesson for any business in how they have to be careful about how they are perceived and characterized in the marketplace. This is an extreme example of an outside entity having influence over customers ... but it will happen over and over again in different venues, I expect.

    This email made me think that I made a mistake yesterday by not posting the entire text of Swift's letter to Apple, posted on her website, which is a model of how make a point and make a threat without being heavy-handed. So, here it is:

    I write this to explain why I’ll be holding back my album, 1989, from the new streaming service, Apple Music. I feel this deserves an explanation because Apple has been and will continue to be one of my best partners in selling music and creating ways for me to connect with my fans. I respect the company and the truly ingenious minds that have created a legacy based on innovation and pushing the right boundaries.

    I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. I’m not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.

    This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows. This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field…but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.

    These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child. These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much. We simply do not respect this particular call.

    I realize that Apple is working towards a goal of paid streaming. I think that is beautiful progress. We know how astronomically successful Apple has been and we know that this incredible company has the money to pay artists, writers and producers for the 3 month trial period… even if it is free for the fans trying it out.

    Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing. I say this with love, reverence, and admiration for everything else Apple has done. I hope that soon I can join them in the progression towards a streaming model that seems fair to those who create this music. I think this could be the platform that gets it right.

    But I say to Apple with all due respect, it’s not too late to change this policy and change the minds of those in the music industry who will be deeply and gravely affected by this. We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.



    I'd just like to say here and now that I never, ever want to get into a fight with Taylor Swift ... and that if she ever wants anything from me, she can have it.

    On the subject of the US deciding to put a still-to-be-determined female historical figure on the $10 bill by 2020, one MNB reader wrote:

    This is the problem with equality.  They've chosen to select a female because they are female - not necessarily because they are the most deserving.  Imagine the outrage if they said they were going to choose a white male!

    You miss the point.

    The problem is that women never were seen as deserving precisely because they were women ... and it is damned well high time that this be rectified.

    And by the way ... I'm thinking that maybe we should put Taylor Swift on the $10 bill. Think we could get a petition going?

    MNB terry Steele wrote:

    I would agree that the $20 bill should have the face of a woman on it with the ratification of the 19th amendment happening in 1920.

    That and the fact that Andrew Jackson, who is on the $20 bill, didn't believe in paper money.

    Responding to my criticisms - yet again - of McDonald's, one MNB user wrote:

    Not having been in a McDonalds for years, during a recent road trip to my 50th HS reunion my wife and I decided to give their new sirloin 1/3 lb. burgers a try. To your point, at least for us, they struck out again. Just a larger amount of no flavor. Fries are still the only thing worth stopping for.

    I said the other day that I'd have to buy the new Neil Young album if only to find out how, when he criticizes a specific Supreme Court ruling, he rhymes "Citizens United."

    MNB user W. Brian Fox wrote:

    Citizens United…a country divided….

    And another MNB reader wrote:

    Citizens United ... Let wrongs be righted.

    You're both playing my song...

    On the subject of Roundy's defending its Wisconsin business with an ad campaign essentially accusing Meijer of being a carpetbagger. one MNB user wrote:

    If Roundy’s had taken care of business in Milwaukee rather than sinking most of their money into Mariano’s they might not have to worry about Meijer’s or any other out of town competitors. My guess is Meijer’s will do well at Roundy’s expense.

    Finally, from MNB reader Jeanne Colleluori, responding to the person who thought that I ought to "stick to business" and not write about the faith, hope and love that I saw being displayed by much of the Charleston, SC, community:

    My husband and I had an interesting conversation last night. We’ve both been so impressed with the dignity that the people of Charleston have shown while slogging through incredible disbelief, horror, and sadness. We have enjoyed vacationing in Charleston in the past and we now feel strongly that we will do so again. We want to spend our vacation dollars supporting a city that rises above hatred and evil. So, in our minds, it is a business decision.

    In so many ways, this is all about business.

    And, by the way, thanks to all the folks who wrote in to say that not only did they like my piece, but that I should write about anything I damn well please.

    Which I will. Count on it.
    KC's View: