retail news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB Channel on YouTube.

Hi, Kevin Coupe here and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy, coming to you this week from San Francisco.

See that building behind me? It is the Sentinel Building, was built in 1907, is a San Francisco landmark ... and it is owned by Francis Ford Coppola. In fact, much of the building is occupied by Coppola's production company, and it is where a number of his films - including The Godfather - have been edited. For a movie geek like me, that building is like going to the Vatican. Except with better food.

The better food is because the bottom of the building is occupied by Cafe Zoetrope, a small bistro owned by Coppola.

Now, I like to try new restaurants when I travel, but there are certain cities - Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco - where I have favorites places I like to visit. They're sort of like comfort food ... when I'm traveling, I like to go to what I think of as my neighborhood places, even though my actual neighborhood sometimes is thousands of miles away.

It so happens that when I first when to Cafe Zoetrope, many years ago, it was the first time that I ever had chilaquiles, which almost instantly became one of my favorite comfort foods. (My fondness for the dish only increased when the bartender told me that the only reason it is on the menu is because it is one of Coppola's favorite dishes ... which means we have one thing in common. I'll take it.) Which is why I'll be going over there shortly to have chilaquiles and a glass of two white wine...probably one of Coppola's own sauvignon blancs.

I've been thinking about the concept of comfort food because I am in Northern California for the inaugural Retail Tomorrow conference being sponsored by GMDC, which I'll be writing about here on MNB over the next few days. We're going to looking at cutting edge retail, visiting Google, and taking a hands-on approach to formulating answers to the question of what retail stores are going to look like in just a few years. Fascinating stuff ... and definitely an instance in which GMDC is getting outside its traditional lane of business, beyond its comfort zone and certainly prompting the retailers, suppliers and even this reporter to do the same.

There is much to be admired about that. I think that's exactly what the National Grocers Association (NGA) and the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) were doing this week when they announced a new alliance - recognizing that as consumers change, retailers have to change with them or risk irrelevance. Consumers think about format far less than stores do, and so it makes sense for retailers to get outside their comfort zones and look at consumer needs through a fresh prism.

When you think about it, that is exactly what Walmart is doing at it invests billions of dollars and enormous people resources to the e-commerce channel, even upending its own organizational chart to make it work. And that is what Amazon is doing, as it looks to create a new approach to bricks-and-mortar, understanding that it needs to get beyond its e-comfort zone and address last-mile issues that could inhibit its growth down the road.

Call it the discomfort zone. And so while I might be about to enjoy some comfort food of chilaquiles and wine, the rest of the week, I'm going to go where I've never been before.

That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning, and as always, I want to know what is on your mind.

KC's View: