retail news in context, analysis with attitude

We had some conversation here yesterday about an observation I made earlier this week, prompted by a story about how some retailers are selling through current vaping inventory before eliminating the category from their stores:

I was interested to see a story yesterday about how Dick's Sporting Goods did not decide to sell through its inventory of assault style rifles after announcing (after the mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.) that it would no longer sell them because of concerns about the epidemic of gun violence in this country. No, Dick's actually destroyed more than $5 million worth of assault-style weapons … preferring, as it were, to bite the economic bullet rather than feel complicit in future mass shootings.

MNB reader Mike Carter responded:

Many may not remember a similar story when the great Texas grocer, HEB, also “did the right thing.” In the 1980’s, in the aftermath of copycats to the Tylenol poisons in Chicago, HEB was threatened by extortionists claiming that they had poisoned products in some of the 5 HEB stores in Waco. It was pre-Thanksgiving and the stores were packed with holiday merchandise. HEB execs quickly made the decision to close the stores over four days and dump every item that could possibly be contaminated by opening the package or even penetrated by a syringe. This saved only most canned good items and created the need to restock all stores with new product. Needless to say this was very costly but gave HEB tremendous customer and community support, a strong reason for their continued success today.

MNB took note yesterday of a Bloomberg report that US consumers could see tightening bacon supplies next year … and, go figure, it is all China's fault.

Apparently there is a "pig-killing disease in China" that is rippling "through the global market. According to the story, "Smithfield will prioritize supplying its long-held U.S. customer base before directing meat for export to China, Silver said. But strong demand from Asia means more U.S. pork exports could flow to the Asian country, and some cuts of meat could face particular tightness."

MNB reader Bob Samples responded:

It was interesting to see Smithfield, a Chinese owned company, talk about putting a priority on US pork customers. Have they been watching what is going on in Hong Kong? I find the source a little suspect.

A completely legitimate point. China's leadership seems these days to be utterly uninterested in tolerating any sort of dissent, either inside or outside their country.

We wrote yesterday about how Glenlivet is putting its scotch whiskey in edible capsules, like the Tide Pods you throw in your washing machine.

I commented:

I don't know. At some level, this seems like an idea that is totally wrong, totally ripe for a nightmare scenario. (Though one has to admire innovative impulses, however misguided.)

Me, I think certain drinks simply call for a thick glass tumbler, something with weight to it. Doesn't have to be crystal, but it has to have some heft. Call me a traditionalist.

MNB reader Suann M. Ingle wrote:

I think the "on the go" part is what I can't get past. Does the company think customers want to have a drink on hand in case you want to sip, while driving? Save the disappearing glass for the laundry.

Agree with you that good scotch deserves the weighty, substantial glass. After all, that's how Denny Crane closed every episode of "Boston Legal." Cheers.

And MNB reader Gary Harris wrote:

I’ve often paraphrased Choral composer Healey Willan who once remarked he was, "English by birth; Canadian by adoption; Irish by extraction; Scotch by absorption."
I still use that. My version; “Dutch by adoption, Welsh by extraction, Scotch by absorption.”
Much to my (of Dutch heritage) wife’s dismay, as I’m sure you’d understand.

I also commented:

On the other hand … I wonder what would happen if I tried to wash my clothes in Glenlivet.

Prompting MNB reader Gary Goff to write:

For peat's sake, don't do it!


Finally, thanks to all the MNB readers who got this reference yesterday, made on the bacon story:

Of course, it is possible that the Chinese could turn to mutton … and as we know, there is nothing better in the world "than a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is lean and the tomato is ripe…"

Lots of reaction.

Sometimes just one word: "Inconceivable!"

One person wrote: "Have fun storming the castle!"

One of the best responses:

Loved your Miracle Max reference.  If you research the scenes, it is said that Billy Crystal ad-libbed half the lines (such as the one you quoted about the MLT) and that even Reiner had to leave the set as background laughter kept ruining the takes.

The movie, of course, is The Princess Bride … and I'll leave you today with a bit of William Goldman's wisdom:

"Life is Pain. Anyone who says different is trying to sell you something."
KC's View: