Published on: October 27, 2016
Got the following email from an MNB reader:In your post about Amazon's 3rd place in the denim market, I found the most interesting bit to be the top 2 places- Nordstrom and Old Navy. I think it's telling that the top 2 denim retailers represent essentially the polar extremes of the mass market in terms of quality/price. It would seem that Amazon has figured out how to live in the middle, while Kohl's and Macy's still struggle. Could be an interesting case study for grocery retailers who are struggling to find how to survive in the widening gulf between Aldi and Whole Foods.
Keeping mind that the denim market we're talking about is online - not the total market - you're absolutely right. It could be that most retailers will have to occupy either end of the spectrum, and that Amazon's dominant position will be firmly in the middle.
If this is true, that is a potential roadmap for how to compete with Amazon ... because it isn;t called the "mushy middle" for nothing.
Regarding the potential advantages that Kroger's c-stores may give it in any long-term battle against Amazon, one MNB user wrote:The point being made about Kroger having an advantage in owning convenience stores is valid only if Kroger chooses to reinvest in its properties. In our market, they have owned a group of stores they purchased from a competitor almost 30 years ago. The closest Kroger supermarkets would be at least 70 miles away. During this time, Kroger has spent almost no money on any of their Kwik Shop locations, other than a coat of paint or a minor cosmetic facelift.
Kwik Star/Kwik Trip of LaCrosse, WI has opened six new stores in our market within the last 24 months and has taken a large share in a very short time, primarily because their competitors were 10 to 20 years behind in updating their stores.
From another reader:Being a loyal Kroger (Fry’s) shopper, I can tell you one of the big attractions of their C-Stores is that you save up to 40 cents per gallon based on store purchases. This is a benefit of using their customer card. Hard to believe that Amazon couldn’t duplicate this program for Prime users. I’m sure that there are fuel retailers who would be tempted to do a deal to get all that traffic.
Responding to the criticism of CVS for not going far enough when it banned tobacco products, one MNB user wrote:Some people just need something to complain about KC, and instead of applauding CVS for removing tobacco products, go after the foods they carry.
What would they have CVS do, sell prescription drugs and nothing else? Come on!
MNB reader Beatrice Orlandini had some thoughts about Michael Sansolo's column about business lessons learned from the new Bruce Springsteen autobiography:Oh Michael, only a great fan of the Boss like you could write such a beautiful article!
I haven't read the book yet but have seen great reviews even on the Italian press.
With all these comments in mind I can only feel even safer in buying it.
This said, this proves that lessons - non only for retail but life in general - can be found anywhere. Even at a rock concert or in a rock star's autobiography.
Thanks for reminding!
Don't forget business lessons from the movies. I think there's a book about that...
Got the following email from MNB reader Tony Moore:Have to pass along an experience that I think you would appreciate. I shop at a Giant (Carlisle). Recently they installed near the front of the store reserve parking spots for Associate of Year and Month. As the store is never that busy, it's not really pushing customers to the back of lot, but I was still a bit taken back that a business would visibly put employees in front of customers. Several months in I've never seen the spots occupied. Yesterday I had an occasion to go to Customer Service and decided to jokingly asked if the Associates had either resigned or been let go. The two employees at the desk expressed no knowledge of rewarding these reserved parking spots to these recognized Associates. I was then informed that the Associate of the Year wouldn't be able use the spot since he doesn't drive.
Strikes me as a lose, lose, lose program. Shoppers told employees are to be to be shown preference over customers, employees never communicated to about the rewards of being selected in a recognition program, and such valued employees are unable to take advantage of this recognition. If I was to ever see a manager in the store, I'd pass along my thoughts.
Got several emails responding to Kate McMahon's column about Martha Stewart's ability to rebuild and maintain her brand.
One MNB user wrote: Why would your waste you time on a column of a wash-up/convict that is little to no interest on a blog like this? She a total has-been and this delivery service will go nowhere just like blue apron. She will collect a few million and her partners will get screwed in the process.
Post another story in three years telling everyone of the success and I will then be a believer.
You haven't been paying attention. Stewart got out of jail in March 2005, and since then has continued to grow her brand in efficient and effective fashion. I'm not a big fan, but I respect her ability to adapt and evolve and get past some pretty big hurdles in retaining her cultural sway.
From another reader, Jerome Schindler:I am not a fan of Martha Stewart. I have always gone out of my way to avoid buying anything with her (or Donald Trump's) name on it.
However, I thought sending her to prison on that insider stock trading charge was a major overkill and totally out of line with punishment of others for "crimes" of that nature. I think her notoriety worked against here in that instance.
That said, from what I have read she handled it well and became a better person for it and I greatly admire her for that.
Regarding Whole Foods' decision to sell Purple Carrot meal kits in select stores, and my suggestion that the retailer could take the learnings and start its own meal kit business, one MNB user wrote:Kevin, not sure I am in agreement with you on this one. Given the supply chain and ingredient complexity of the business, much more likely, Whole Foods is testing the Purple Carrot with the goal of purchasing the business if the test works out.
We continue to get email about the protests by NFL players over concerns about racism, being staged at games around the country.
MNB reader Mike Winterbottom wrote:Call me altruistic, but … I guess it all boils down to what any given person believes is the reason why we all typically stand side-by-side and pay respect to the nation’s flag, prior to a public event. I was always taught that this is one of the few moments during which we stand together to demonstrate our respect for the country in which we all live, and acknowledge all of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for that country. A symbol, yes … but there are very few moments that I believe we can all agree are simply unassailable, with regard to whether or not they are deserving of our unfailing respect … a funeral for a fallen soldier’s funeral would be one, and so would that brief moment just prior to public events during which we place our hands over our hearts and show gratitude to all who have fallen for our sake. While I respect the right, and applaud the courage required, to protest an issue in the face of significant adversity … I simply have no empathy for those who choose to do so on a sacrosanct platform such as the funeral for a fallen soldier … or the honoring of all who have fallen during our national anthem. An apt comparison, indeed.
From MNB reader Jim Huey:Kevin, I think perhaps we are all missing the point on the anthem protests and the negative feelings it inspires in some of us. For me to believe that Colin Kaepernick and others are simply trying to raise awareness about issues they see as needing additional exposure, we must presume that this is only possible by their protest. If it is possible for these HIGHLY PUBLIC and FOLLOWED athletes, who do national interviews on a weekly basis, to raise awareness in a different way, I think we then can reasonably ask ourselves what might be their motive for choosing this way to make their point. When I was a younger manager I was fond of using shock and awe to “inspire” those I led. It did tend to get results in the short term, but it never endeared people to me and the reality was I was simply being rude. It stunted my career growth for years.
However, the entertainment/sports industry often lives in denial of this. Bill Belichick throws his tablet down on the sideline and the announcers praise him for caring so much. When I have behaved that way in business it has gotten me labeled a hothead and emotionally unstable. Just because something works does not mean it is the right or best thing to do.
From another reader:I actually started a note to you on this when it first came up, and didn’t send it because anything anybody says can be nit picked and made to look ignorant.
So now I’ll say it. I was surprised that it didn’t occur to you that the National Anthem “issue” that the NFL has chosen to ignore, isn’t impacting viewership. I for one am not watching this season. I’m not protesting people expressing themselves. I watch football for entertainment, to take my mind off of serious issues and “zone out” for several hours. And it irritates me that the NFL won’t allow certain expressions of glee when a player sacks a player, or scores a touchdown, but they can protest during the pre-game ceremony.
Hey, I travel overseas a lot, and when I’m out of the country I’m always reminded how luck we are to be able to say “Hillary is a bum!” and not worry that the secret police will follow me or put me in the Gulag.
Ok, this is a stretch, but can you imagine cast members at Walt Disney World being allowed to wear Trump for President” pins, or protest during their flag lowering ceremony on main street? What, they can’t express their free speech at work? What if the local meat cutter working the service counter at Kroger had a KKK button on his apron. Or down here in Tennessee some folks fly the confederate flag, and that offends some (myself included)?
So my choice is NOT supporting organizations that have different important or foundational beliefs (or offensive) than me, whether it’s the church I attend, the charity I donate to, or the shows I watch. I do not think the NFL, an entertainment service, should allow their “product” to be denigrated with political protests of any kind. Or maybe they think this makes them MORE relevant? Their choice. I don’t want to watch Football and have somebody yelling into the camera something about wiki leaks, Bill Clinton is a rapist, etc. It’s entertainment not a “public place for assembly”.
When I get mistreated at retail, or find the service horrible, I’ve always felt my best move it to stop going to the retailer! So in this case, I’m just not going. And there are a lot of people not watching because of this issue.
Yes, I will watch the Super Bowl.
MNB reader Gregg Raffensperger wrote:I don’t agree with the analogy that free speech and protesting from an individual should be compared to a corporately sanctioned, charitable giving initiative. I don’t feel that a corporate work place is the time or location to protest individual feelings. Now regarding OUR flag and what it stands for. Our flag is a symbol of opportunity, sacrifice, and freedom. It stands for the ability to voice ones opinions and that is why you stand and support it. To kneel in disgrace of that symbol because you don’t agree with events, that may or may not be totally and truthfully portrayed, is not right either. I don’t agree with Obama, but I will never not show the respect for OUR flag.
But, MNB reader Steve Paul had a different perspective (and he gets extra credit for a movie reference):You wrote:
“…….it always kind of bothers me when folks who normally embrace the notion of freedom of speech have a problem when folks with whom they disagree actually practice it.”
Well said, thanks.
Also might remember this movie quotes...
"America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've gotta want it bad, cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say 'You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, and who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.'
You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.’’
From The American President, written by Aaron Sorkin.