retail news in context, analysis with attitude

This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either ... they are similar, but not exactly the same. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.

Hi, Kevin Coupe here, and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy...coming to you this morning from Redondo Beach, California, and the almost empty parking lot of an almost empty Haggen store.

Now, to paraphrase Shakespeare...

I come to bury Haggen, not to praise it...

I just had a chance to wander through this Haggen store, and I can tell you that it is a pretty depressing sight. There are no going-out-of-business signs up here ... though there are at other, nearby Haggen stores ... but you can tell as soon as you walk in the door that this is a store breathing its last breaths.

There are more employees in there than customers (and there aren't very many employees in there). There are tons of out-of-stocks, though there is some restocking o taking place in the dairy department. The fresh food looks anything but fresh. And it is just enormously depressing.

I feel bad for the people working in there. When I was young and working in retail, I went through a couple of going-out-of-business sales, and I remember feeling like my heart was being ripped out. Of course, I had an emotional investment in those stores, and I'm a little doubtful that anyone in this store has an emotional investment in Haggen; after all, they only worked for Haggen for a few months.

This used to be an Albertsons, and not a very good one ... but when you walk through this shell of a Haggen store, it is easy to see that they didn't really do anything major to tell local shoppers that this was going to be a different sort of shopping experience. There's little that's differentiated about it. And I think that's a lesson that needs to be absorbed by every retailer ... that it no longer is good enough to be just good enough.

Haggen's miscalculations and missteps are going to live on for a long time. In some ways, that's a negative ... but it also should serve as an object lesson for companies that think they can bring anything less than their A-game when opening new stores.

Good enough isn't good enough. You have to bring something new and different and compelling to the table, or you might as well not come to the table at all.

For now, we'll have to watch these Haggen stores slip away into memory ... and I find myself thinking about the rest of those lines from Shakespeare...

The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones...

That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.

KC's View: