Published on: December 1, 2015
Got several emails from readers who wanted to talk about the news that Brookshires no longer is for sale.
MNB user Rich Heiland wrote:I was glad, like you, to see Brookshires remain on its own. I have noticed it tends to dominate down here in more rural areas, but in some of those it is feeling a pinch. In our town - north of Houston - Kroger just this week opened a Country Market and you would think it was a run-up to the second coming. We never have had that sort of selection and diversity in groceries. That store is out on the freeway.
However, about four blocks from our Brookshires, HEB bought an old shopping center, is tearing it down and will put in a store to compete with the Kroger Country Market. So Brookshires will be sitting as a "traditional" smaller town grocery between two upscale and diverse markets. It is going to be interesting to see what happens and how the store responds. I don't know if this competitive situation is unique for the company or not.
From MNB reader Bob Overstreet:I hope the story is true. In 2005, Larry Johnston of Albertsons made the same announcement during a "townhall" meeting of all the Home Office staff right before Christmas. After weeks of uncertainty and fear, he announced the company was not for sale. Two weeks later he announced we were for sale again and he sold Albertsons to Supervalu and took an approximate 115M tax free parachute. I worked there at the time and the relief was amazing and then the gut punch.
BTW the Albertsons stores are great again. Well stocked with great engaged employees. Took 9 plus years after LJ, but its back to what Joe created.
I feel your pain. I used to work for a publishing company that seemed to exist in a state of mild panic about the future - this was just at the beginning of the internet revolution (I was, I think, the only writer with both a laptop and an internet connection - dial-up - in my office.) There were always rumors about being sold, and the panic usually escalated from mild to abject whenever one of the bosses would call a meeting and say that "the worst is over," and that there would be no more layoffs. These bosses had no credibility, and this usually was when the copy machines started humming as people updated and printed out their resumes.
MNB reader Tom Murphy chimed in:Having served on a public Board of Directors in the past, I have to wonder what trigger events caused them to: 1) look for a buyer and 2) back away from a sale? The former is likely driven by a performance trend that did not portend future stability of financial assets…or, the owners could simply have been concerned with succession. The question #2 is probably easier to figure out…they simply didn’t find what they wanted, translated as “not getting a high enough offer”. So the question is, does Brookshire, for some inexplicable reason, now have a sustainable business model that they didn’t before?
We've also been getting emails about the shift to online shopping over the weekend.
One MNB user wrote:I am thinking after paris..security may be big emerging factor in online shopping increase.. not just convenient.. but much safer!
From MNB reader Lisa Bosshard:Kevin, something interesting happened over the past few weeks while grocery shopping – I haven’t been able to find the brand and type of tea I purchase every week looking in 3 different stores. That led me to a desperate move and I brand switched. The interesting part is what happened next and subsequent communication with the company.
Allow me to digress, I have a Keurig brewing system and love fresh brewed tea. I’ve been a loyal Lipton fan for years and occasionally try something new if Lipton is out. As I’m having such a hard time finding it on shelf, I decided to try their competitor – Luzianne. Both are black, unsweetened classic teas. However, when I attempted to make a cup of Luzianne, the Keurig told me the cup was not compatible. I thought maybe it was a defective pod (happens occasionally), so I put another in to have the same error. Then, thinking I made an error, pulled out the box to read, “compatible with Keurig brewing systems”. It’s on the front of their printed packaging. This led me to send a quick note to the company advising I was having an issue using their k-cup pods with my Keurig system ... My beef with this is, they know of the issue and their packaging is completely misleading. While they are offering to send me new pods that will supposedly be compatible, or refund my money if I go through major hoops to return product to them, why are they selling something that is misleading to the public? Huge missed opportunity to convert this tea drinker to their product.
In the spirit of no thanks, I went out to Amazon and ordered my Lipton from them. Walmart, Kroger and Luzianne missed out on this one! So my cyber Monday included grocery shopping – what a change!
From another reader:Kevin, what i don't get about Black Friday. Reports say the brick and mortar stores sales are down at least 10%, with online up 14%. On the surface this sound good, but were talking percentages and not dollars, and were taking the 14% of a much much smaller base. Let's say the retailers have switched customers to online. A channel that is even more competitive than going to a brick and mortar location... If you go to a retailers and say the weather is bad or your tired and their just a percentage or two difference then the cheaper guy, you might just buy it where you at and not hassle going to the other store. Online, you just look at site that tells you who's the cheapest and click and buy. Great for the customer, bigger margin / dollar loss for the retailers. Plus they never trade up if there is an out of stock, they never buy seasonal or impulse items either. It's going to be interesting to stop just looking at sales and percentages and keep an eye on PROFIT.
I think you make a couple of incorrect assumptions.
First of all, I often trade up - or over - when there is an out-of-stock. In fact, I find that Amazon is extraordinary when it comes to suggestive, relevant selling. Better than most, and as good as anybody in any realm or venue.
Second, I think it is in accurate to suggest that every online purchase is dictated by price. Many are, but not every purchase ... often convenience and selection are the determining factors. And I think fairly often, a lack of a compelling reason to go to a bricks-and-mortar store leads folks to shop online.
In the end, though, it doesn't really matter if online is less profitable than bricks-and-mortar (and it doesn't necessarily follow that it is). Clearly, it is what customers want ... and retailers cannot and will not shut off the e-commerce spigot.
MNB reader Jim Swoboda seems to agree with me:As you said, it amazes me that any retail executive could be surprised by more of their shoppers doing it on-line. It’s been coming since at least the advent of Amazon in the late 90’s. Perhaps the inflection point has actually arrived and it will never, ever be as it was. Imagine that.
Maybe the surprised executives can have coffee with the Blockbuster team. I am sure they have nothing else to do.
And, the drone debate continues....
Yesterday, one MNB user email read, in part:“This is absolutely hysterical … Drones are stupid at best...and will be used for spying at least!”
Which prompted another MNB user to write:When I read this response, I pictured someone in the early 20th century commenting about how the loud, obnoxious, dangerous, horse-less carriages would never catch on and posed a huge danger to society.
I’m with you. Drones are coming. If you hear of any up-and-coming companies specializing in home, roof-top, drone landing pads and dumbwaiters to complete the delivery to your table, let us know. I want to invest!
But another MNB user disagreed:I just don't ever see this working. Personally, if I see a drone hovering over my property, I will assume it is either equipped with a weapon or cameras, and I will shoot it down with my 20 gauge. (Perhaps I've watched too much TV.) I still feel these things are an invasion of privacy. I'll be watching how this progresses closely, especially with stories of children losing eyes, thoroughbred horses dying from being spooked, etc. There are just too many things to go wrong.
Maybe it is just me, but I'm more frightened of you and your 20-gauge than I am of Amazon using drones to deliver products.
And, from another reader:Drone delivery is a very bad idea and hard to deny it will take away thousands of blue-collar and middle class jobs. I suppose until one of these drones cause someone to actually die (apparently the boy losing an eye wasn’t enough) this “enabling” service will continue to gain momentum.
First of all, that kid did not lose an eye because of a commercial delivery drone. It was somebody screwing around with a drone on his own ... it is the same sort of scenario as when people shoot off fireworks in their backyards and people end up losing fingers. Stupid people do stupid stuff ... but that's not a good reason to inhibit progress and not adapt new technologies.
With all due respect ... your argument about how how drones will cause the loss of jobs strikes me as specious at best.
Technology and progress can, of course, lead to the elimination of jobs, businesses, and careers. Smart cultures, intelligent societies, and savvy people understand that, and adapt. They are defined by their ability to develop new skills, invent new jobs, identify new opportunities, and make the most of the moment, not the least. They embrace the opportunity, rather than bemoaning the loss of the good old days.
Drones will continue to gain momentum because that is the very definition of progress.
There is, of course, a movie reference - Other People's Money
, which posed the question, does it make sense to make the best buggy whip for a world where nobody needs buggy whips?