retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Differing opinions about a potential deal between Kroger and Ave Hardware.

MNB reader Gregg Raffensperger wrote:

I disagree with seeing nothing wrong with Ace Hardware stores in Krogers.

What happens to the local hardware Ace store that has a Kroger down the street? What happens to the employees that work at that local hardware store? What happens to the selection and service from the local hardware store?

Plus, talking about personal experience.  Going into your local hardware store and having the attention given from the owner, who knows your name, and truly engaging in problem solving is immeasurable.

Personally, if this “partnership” happened and the local Ace closed or moved into a Kroger, I would become a much more frequent Home Depot shopper.  I’d probably get the same substandard service in both, but HD would have the pricing and selection. 
Buy local and shop small.  Makes for a better experience.

But, from another reader:

Great idea putting ACE Hardware stores inside a Kroger store. Fred Meyer, the largest KMA inside Kroger land, has had a mini hardware store inside their super stores for decades. Good selection, well stocked, but try to find an employee who has any knowledge about what nut, bolt, tool, etc. to buy or how to use it is impossible. Opposite of this observation is the local ACE Hardware store, which is independently owned, the knowledge factor of the ACE Hardware people on how to use, fix, repair, get the right tool is light years ahead of Fred Meyer. For this Kroger and ACE marriage to work, Kroger must have employees who are highly trained in dealing with the public who does not know how to fix things. Would Kroger consider having ACE people come in and train the Kroger people or hire ACE people to become Kroger employees? Past experience has me still going to my local ACE hardware store.

And from MNB reader Sarah Hamaker:

Ace opened a smaller version in the City of Fairfax a year or so ago, and I've been very impressed with the level of service and items it stocks. An employee greets you as soon as you cross the threshold with a smile and an offer to help. If assistance is required, the employee escorts you to the aisle and ensures that you find the right item before leaving--no pointing vaguely, no saying "It's not my department," as I get so often at Home Depot. Those little touches--plus a smaller store that doesn't overwhelm you--has made Ace the first place I go to for all my hardware/gardening, etc., needs. That and their fabulous community connections and charitable giving.

Regarding the possibility Amazon’s Alexa-powered products may start carrying advertising, MNB reader Bruce Wesbury wrote:

If Alexa even so much as mentions a product to buy without asking I will immediately send her back to Amazon.

And from another reader:

You have a choice. That choice is to throw the Echo out or Push Echo to give consumers a choice to opt out of these advertisements. Reminds me of the Home Advisors scam where they recommend services based on what they are paid not on what is truly the best service.

MNB reader Lisa Malmarowski wrote:

The only problem (okay, not only) with these devices is that consumers have to pay for them. The companies should be paying consumers for ad space in their homes.

Do people really believe that this wasn’t going to happen?

Got the following email from MNB reader Chad Spiegel:

Over the holidays I was traveling through Miami and happened to see Eddie Lampert’s yacht moored in South Beach.  His yacht, which he named Fountainhead in honor of his twisted economic hero Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, is the embodiment of everything wrong with men like Eddie and their dystopic worldview.  Here we have a very wealthy man whose mission in life seems to be ruining everyone he comes across in a craven effort to raise himself up one centimetre at a time.  Like his fictional idol, his plot with Sear’s is very obvious: take the golden goose from everyone else and then retreat with it to your private paradise.  I couldn’t help but feel a very deep disgust for this man who is working to destroy the lives of the millions of people who have worked for and depended on Sears over it’s 100+ year history, also so he can travel in luxury on one of the ugliest yachts on the sea (which he is apparently so ashamed of he tells everyone he meets that the yacht belongs to his ideological rival Mark Cuban, or maybe Lampert really is just a childish troll deep down). 
When the history books are written about this period of civilization, they will not be kind to the robber barons like Lampert who have undermined our economy, our government and civil society itself all for their exclusive personal gain.


On the subject of gender pay inequity, one MNB reader wrote:

Absolutely there is still a gap in gender pay, and I know it varies from company to company. The disparity not only falls in the pay, but in the responsibilities from one associate to another. You’ll see those who have several responsibilities that require bouncing from one report/task to another daily. Then there are others who have only one job to do, can go to the gym, read a newspaper, go get their hair done, or just hang out. It isn’t managing your time effectively, because you have less responsibility and so much extra time. Companies place their salaried people on “levels” and those levels are not determined fairly.  It affects stocks, bonus percent, and salary.  The workload is more, but the level you are placed in is lower, so you don’t get the raises, the bonuses, the perks the person in the higher level does, because of the classification they fall under. It isn’t just one corporation that this happens in, it is all over. People stay in jobs because they have longevity and tenure and many times are at an age where they can’t start over someplace else, or, because there are not enough jobs in the geographical location they are in to do something else. The reality is, wage disparity is real, and it isn’t only due to gender.

And, from another reader:

Starting a new revolution: Down with FROWNs (Fat, rich, old, white Neanderthals).

You getting hats and t-shirts made? Sounds like a natural to me.
KC's View: