retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Got a number of emails yesterday responding to my piece about the last Howard Johnson's.

MNB reader Alyson Kretser wrote:

At least they are consistently horrible. There are a LOT of great food places in Lake George. Hopefully you had a better experience downtown.

MNB reader Donna P. Burns wrote:

OMG Kevin you just conjured up memories of the WORST summer of my life!  I thought I had securely tucked them away never to breech my conscious again but they came roaring back with your article!  The vivid brown and orange polyester uniforms with pockets so big you could fit an entire dinner plate in one, the smell of All You Can Eat Fish and Clam Strip Night forever embedded in the fabric, the vacant stares of both customers and staff, the endless cups of coffee for those that ordered toast for dinner (!), and no matter how big the check was you usually were left $1.00 as a tip!

It was a summer job between high school and college, my Dad secured it for me, and no matter how much I begged to quit, he told me work ethic and a promise to complete the task was more important than evidently my well being!  No lie, I even tried to break my leg one day so I could get out of work!  That’s how bad it was!  Although I have to say, it has been the best of the stories I have told, the laughter of many a night reliving the nightmare and to this day I use it as a barometer of how bad things can really be if I could make it through THAT summer waitressing job, I could pretty much do anything!

MNB reader Karen Shunk wrote:

I recall visiting Howard Johnson’s regularly with my grandparents in the early 70s in Florida.  The first time I went with them, I ordered the kids platter with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  The waitress apologetically informed me they had no peanut butter and asked me to make another choice.  My grandfather, flabbergasted by this answer, asked me to order this every time we went just to see if they ever had any peanut butter.  On the fourth or fifth visit, my grandfather couldn’t take it anymore; he gave the waitress a ten and told her to get his ‘grandbaby’ some peanut butter from the supermarket in the strip mall where this restaurant was located and to keep the change (and he called her Doll – definitely a different time).  So, it sounds like the same old joint, it just used to be cleaner.
Thanks for taking one for the team!

MNB reader Peter Talbott had better memories:

When I close my eyes I can still smell the fried clams cooking…

Those same clams are still cooking. And cooking. And cooking.

And, responding to the skeptics about how effective Lidl will be when it comes to the US, MNB reader Tom Gillpatrick (my boss at Portland State University) wrote:

Should USA retailers be concerned about Lidl? - IMO yes.  I shopped Tesco abroad never saw anything special, Fresh & Easy, did't offer me anything I really want.

While in Germany Lidl was my go to grocer...good quality, good selection of things I wanted and very good prices and in and out quick.  Be concerned!

And from another reader:

During my long career (36 years). I have dealt with just about all retailers at one time or another.  Any retailer who ignores Aldi is asking for disaster.  They have a very specific niche and no one is better in that niche, no one.  Most importantly that niche has an impact on any retailer who relies on solely price and any “low cost” retailer.  History backs me up on this.  They start slow and then become a more and more significant factor in the market they enter.

And finally, from another reader, on another subject:

Almost a week after you posted about ballparks, I’m not sure if you are getting tired of reading about other’s experiences.  Mine is not an experience but a question…
Since you’ve mentioned all the major league parks you’ve visited, and states you’ve visited, I was wondering if you’ve been to the Field of Dreams ballpark, and what your impressions were?  If not, any plans to make it a stop on your next cross country drive?

Never have. Always wanted to. Maybe next year.
KC's View: