retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to yesterday's story about Fresh Market's competitive, financial and image problems, MNB user Mark Delaney wrote:

Funny - shortly after I read your piece on Fresh Market my wife came home and asked "why would I go to Fresh Market?". One recently opened near our home on Long Island and while we do have reasonably good choices when it comes to food retailers ( though a Wegmans would be nice - hint, hint  ) we often talk about how produce and healthier options are often a challenge. On the other hand a couple of months ago when corn was in season I walked into that same store looking for some and could not find any. When I spoke to a stock person they told me they had plenty in the back but has nowhere to put it on display. Really? On that same trip my daughter got a slice of pizza at no charge because the machine they use is not fast enough. Kudos to them for comping the pizza but it would seem there are some basic issues at play. Mr. Anicetti may have his work cut out for him but perhaps some good old fashioned block and tackle merchandising work will allow me to answer my wife's question.

From another reader:

I couldn't agree with you more regarding Fresh Market.  I think they have a bit of an identity crisis.  Until recently I lived close to their store in Montvale, NJ (ironically in the "backyard" of A&P's headquarters) and it was never on my radar to go there, even though it was of a similar distance to a rather large Whole Foods market, and the local and excellent Market Basket - both similarly upscale in their offerings and pricing, with interesting choices for a Foodie - IMHO.
I had gone twice to the Fresh Market store.  It was beautifully merchandised and had friendly staff, but it just never came up as a shopping option for me.  And until I ventured in I wasn't really sure what to expect...and once inside I was pleased by their prepared food offerings as well as the fresh fish and produce available.  It was also relatively empty
A little self promotion by Fresh Market would go a long way towards establishing a face to the consumer and reminding those of us who know and like them, that they are an available choice ...

MNB user Rick Charles wanted to chime in on the CVS discussion:

You are correct on CVS, they have terrible customer service.  You did not address the Pharmacy department.  They are even worse.  They seem to be out of stock on the most basic items and have to order from the warehouse and takes days to get your order.  They text me that my refills are ready and when I go to pick up, they can’t find the order.  My son has Crohns disease and we turned in a prescription and went to pick it up, the prescription was lost.  I asked how that can be.  The counter where I turned in the prescription is 10 feet from the Pharmacist.  Just 10 feet and it was lost.  Had to contact doctor to send new prescription.  They are the worst.

And, regarding Chipotle's continuing food safety issues, one MNB user wrote:

I was also sorry to see Chipotle's food safety issues flare up again.

I enjoy their food and their mission - the Scarecrow video that you highlighted a few years ago speaks volumes about why so many consumers are fanatical about their brand.

I thought they handled the first outbreak very well and appeared to be transparent throughout. Now this second round will cause many customers to stay away, as you noted.

We live in Minnesota, not far from one of the locations that was reported. My kids were with us over the weekend and we decided to get Chipotle for dinner - in part because we all love the food, in part because we wanted to support Chipotle in these difficult times.

I hope they are able to figure this out and correct it quickly.

From another reader:

I lost all faith in Chipotle when I found my burrito bowl to contain uncooked chicken(not partially cooked). I didn't get sick. Fortunately, I figured it out after a bite. Visually, it was difficult to see the problem since everything is blended together. The uncooked chicken was camouflaged.

The staff was rushing to take care of the throng of customers and they missed the mark big time. My stomach still flips when I think of the experience. Don't think I'll ever go back.

And MNB user Ken Wagar wrote:

My family are big fans of the food, the choices and the service at Chipotle, but I have never been a fan of their attacks on "factory farms" and their holier than thou attitude toward the people who work hard to help feed the world. Now they seem to be getting their payback for that attitude. A little more focus and a lot more science needs to be put on their small, fresh, natural food suppliers who also run the risks of contaminated or pathogen carrying food and ingredient items.

A clear focus on food safety and wholesomeness should not require attacks on others but rather working together to solve such problems. I hope there are lessons learned, such things can happen to anyone at any time and can be compounded by dealing with a large number of small unrelated suppliers just as such problems can explode quickly when dealing with a single large supplier. The issue should be safety first.

Finally, addressing my contention yesterday that technology and e-commerce have rendered things like Black Friday and Cyber Monday irrelevant, convenient more as business constructs than as consumer tools, one MNB user wrote:

I bought a 50 inch TV today on line. I used the Black Friday ad from a major chain.  Free delivery and no shopping on Black Friday.   I paid $300 less than my son paid for the same TV, at the same chain, three months ago.
Who needs Black Friday or Cyber Monday?

KC's View: