retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to yesterday's obit about Leon Gorman, the former CEO of LL Bean and grandson of the company's founder, one MNB user wrote:

Is it possible that great retailing is genetic? Or is there some correlation between great retailing, or simply great business people, and humility? That would be a character study of value to the industry to be sure.

Sounds like a Michael and Kevin project? (Or do we have to wait for someone to make it into a movie first?)

I think that it is both nature and nurture. The qualities that make a great retailer can be passed down genetically through generations ... but I also think that it is important that kids are raised right. It is important, to steal a quote from another discipline, that people who are born on third base not think they got there by hitting a triple.

We had a piece yesterday about Chipotle being sued for not living up to what some see as its promise to get out of the GMO food business. One MNB user wrote:

This article makes me weary. As a consumer, I'm so tired of others making choices for me about what is an option and what is not when it comes to buying food. Chipotle is a case in point. I am not anti-GMO. I used to eat there once a week, faithfully and cheerfully. However, since they decided to cut all GMO’s, they have no pork suppliers, so the pork carnitas are not available. At all. No future date available. Would you like some bean curd we have instead? So, now I eat there maybe once a month, and I am no longer cheerful, because I’m eating a protein that’s not my preference. I know my weekly business is no loss to them; they haven’t missed me. But I miss them.

To be redundant (and probably whiny), I’m tired of no longer being able to purchase food items like an informed adult – because someone, somewhere has already made those decisions for me.

Got a number of emails responding to yesterday's piece about the new bfresh store in Boston that has been opened by Ahold's Fresh Formats division.

One MNB user wrote:

It certainly will give Whole Foods a run for their money.

And, from another reader:

It is great to see an account like AHOLD both “get it” and “execute it”.

And another:

There are so many producers (ranchers and farmers) just waiting to bring great program specific programs to a retailer with the clout to reach a consumer that is desirous of excellence but in need of real competition to normalize pricing.

Cheers Team AHOLD.  All the best.

Got the following email from MNB reader Bryan Silbermann:

What a great way to start this post-holiday week:
First, Kevin riffs on bfresh, which really seems to be a breath of fresh air in the crowded retail space. 
Next, who but Michael can weave together Queen Elizabeth, Cal Ripken and Woody Allen to tell a tale of perseverance and commitment?
Loving it with my morning coffee.

We aim to please.

But, apparently, we don;t please all the people all the time:

At the beginning of the year you promised less stories about Apple, Amazon and Walmart and more stories about innovation and innovative retailers.  I think you have not completely lived up to that promise.

Your article today is proof that you are trying.  Keep up the good work.  I loved the "peak under the fence" at the new format.

If I promised that ... and to be honest, I don't remember that ... I misspoke.

Mostly because I think that the vast majority of my stories about Apple, Amazon and Walmart are about innovation.

When it comes to the companies and situations I decide to write about, I don't believe in quotas.

Yesterday, I posed an email from a reader who accused me of being biased against Haggen. Another reader had some thoughts about that:

I want to respond to the reader who thinks your comments on Haggen are biased.

I have been an active reader and contributor for years, and as I see it your comments and views are part of what makes Morning News Beat interesting and useful.  I sometimes agree with you, and sometimes I don’t, and I would guess most readers feel the same way.  I would hate to get to the point that I only want to read views that I agree with, since that would limit my understanding of the world around me.  While facts are very important, In the final analysis, isn’t an opinion naturally biased in some way?

And from another:

Your reporting on Haggen is obviously in the "I calls 'em as I sees 'em" category.  That is your  prerogative, and what your readers want to hear.  Nothing you (or anyone else) say, positive or negative, is going to change the course of history in regard to that company.  What will be will be.  From what I read, and with no inside info, it does appear that they have dug themselves a hole that they probably can't get out of, and have bit off more than they can chew on.  Other time worn metaphors may also apply.
KC's View: