retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email about Amazon's opening of a bricks-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle:

Isn't it ironic that the company that commoditized book buying and forced mom and pop stores and even Borders out of business, is now trying to revive the romance of browsing physical books? Is Amazon considering b&m stores or will book buyers in this store simply be part of an experiment? We know prices will be the same as the site, but there will be a Amazon Answer desk and Kindle and Echo displays.

Time will tell, but Bezos loves new innovation and chances are I may run into him at the store!

Thanks once again for your terrific blog, what would mornings be like without MNB with my coffee!

My pleasure. As I've said, my guess is that this is not the beginning of an Amazon assault on the bricks-and-mortar world, but rather just an experiment to test some theories and gain some knowledge. But this is just a semi-educated guess.

MNB reader Jackie Lembke had some thoughts about Kmart reviving the Bluelight special:

So do you have to actually be in a K-Mart to get the special? Because for me that would be an issue. I haven’t shopped at a K-mart in years and the last time I did it was sad and depressing. Even with the possibility of getting a special deal, K-mart is not on my list of stores to visit.

I commented the other day about this story:

Compare this to Target and even Toys R Us. They're focused on the future, and Kmart is reviving a concept that was created in 1965.

Put me in the "unimpressed" column.

This prompted MNB reader David Peterson to write:

You are already in my “unimpressed file”.

Your insights into the obvious are so...

Oh, well. Can't please all the people all the time.

I just try to come up to the plate and take my hacks. Sometimes I connect, sometimes I strike out.

I'm always sorry when folks leave disappointed.

On another subject, from an MNB reader:

I was reading your piece on Market 32 today, a day after I happened to visit their new store in Sutton, MA. I looked forward to a visit to the new store and thought it would be an experience of learning.

While I do believe they have a disconnect with their consumers in general right now, I am not sure I saw any solutions or many WOW factors in the store. My only 2 WOW moments were when I found a large bag of rice for what I believe was $69 and ground black pepper for what I remember to be around $54 per pound. I found the store to be “pretty”, but confusing and full of areas with high price gimmickry  instead of volume movers at a good savings. There was very little if any for discounted displays of merchandise, but yet many kiosk of high margin items, just tying up valuable real estate. Perhaps I am not embracing change enough, or maybe I am smart enough to know not to abandon the basics? Time will tell, but I am not sure we will see 100+ Price Chopper to Market 32 conversions in the near future!

From there I paid a close by visit to a busy Market Basket in Oxford, MA & a new Wegman’s in Westwood, MA. 2 different ends of the spectrum, but both companies with a clear idea of who they are and where they are going, each with many WOW factors each in their own way.

We had a story yesterday about Google's plans for drone deliveries, and I commented that this now seems to be more a matter of "when," not "if." One MNB user replied:

But after the first two-year-old is decapitated, the best-laid-plans-of-mice-and-men will go totally awry.

I hope it doesn't come to that ... but I wouldn't be surprised.

Regarding the new "Star Trek" series that will be available for streaming-only in January 2017 to people who subscribe to the CBS All Access service, MNB reader Brian Blank wrote:

Much excitement here over the announced new "Trek" series (tempered by memories of "Enterprise"…).  You mention the digital-platform delivery will bring younger viewers to the franchise, which the JJ Abrams films have probably already accomplished, at least somewhat.  I would suggest that there is a flip-side to that observation:  it will bring OLDER viewers to CBS All Access.  Longtime fans, many of whom watched the original series in first-run, are sure to be first-time customers for CBS All Access, some may even be first-time or relatively new streaming viewers.  Personally, I am pretty close to 50, a big Trek fan, and streaming is far from my first choice in viewing—though I am no stranger to it.  Ordinarily, I would wait for the DVD/Blu-Ray to be released (as I’ve done with "House of Cards"); but there’s NO WAY I will wait to see the new "Trek" series.  And, yes, I will most likely still buy the Blu-Ray sets when they are released.

I have kind of a weird fondness for "Enterprise" - especially for the final season, during which the writers seemed to be having some real fun playing with some franchise myths.

Not everybody is engaged, though. MNB reader LuRene Dille does not want them to make it so:

I’m outraged that I would have to pay yet another monthly fee to stream Star Trek.

The reality is that the TV business is changing, cords are being cut, cable packages are being disassembled, and lots of companies are going to be testing ideas like this one.

Businesses can't be caught flying at impulse power when everybody else is doing warp speed.
KC's View: