retail news in context, analysis with attitude

…with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• The Seattle Times reports that Seattle's iconic Uwajimaya store in the city's Chinatown district is getting a major makeover - almost 75 years after it opened and 20 years after it moved to the current location.

According to the story, the store will capitalize on "its best-selling products and services, after management gathered feedback from customers who browse its aisles often. The new front doors will open up into the produce section, aisles will be moved to make them easier to navigate with a cart, and the cash registers, which are in the middle of the store between the grocery and the beauty/kitchenware section, will be moved to the front.
The new store will feature an updated grab-and-go section for customers to buy poke, Chinese BBQ and lunchtime meals, and different sections of the store will be labeled to showcase categories such as sake and beer, health and beauty products, and different types of groceries."

It is, the story says, "an effort to make the store more accessible for new customers who want to explore products they’ve never seen or used before — a recognition of the changing demographics of the Chinatown ID." What this means is that Uwajimaya will look to do a better job educating consumers who may have less knowledge about their products that its traditional customer base: "The remodel will include information cards and a demonstration station for customers to make sense of the dozen types of soy sauces … the difference between soybean paste and miso … and how to remove the tough, waxy skin of a mature karela."


• From the New York Post:

"The city slapped the 'lox' on famed Upper West Side deli Barney Greengrass this week, citing the eatery for a host of sanitary violations — including mice and roaches, The Post has learned.

The Jewish deli, which bills itself 'The Sturgeon King,' was shuttered Thursday after Department of Health inspectors discovered six violations, five of them critical, including not keeping food hot enough, mice, live roaches and lack of vermin-proofing, records show … In addition, employee clothes were 'soiled,' and food was not protected from contamination."

The story says that Barney Greengrass can reopen as soon as it address all these issues … but notes that the store has had some of them since 2016.

Store employees tell the paper that they'll get things cleaned up quickly and reopen the store, but I don't know … I love lox and bagels, but I think if I lived on the Upper West Side I might be thinking about finding another purveyor. I'd be worried about the capers on the lox, and that the schmear on my bagel isn't cream cheese…


USA Today reports this morning that Transformco, the ironically named company that, under the management of financier and former Sears CEO Eddie Lampert bought Sears and Kmart out of bankruptcy, plans to close more stores early next year - though it is not saying how many or where.

When Lampert bought the Sears assets, the plan was to close 142 units and keep about 400 open. With additional announced closings and the new undisclosed closings, it is estimated that there will be fewer than 300 open stores to the company's name.

With Lampert's recent track record, I'm kind of surprised that he hasn't announced that he's turning all the closed Sears locations into WeWork facilities…
KC's View: