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    Published on: October 30, 2019

    Content Guy's Note: The goal of "The Innovation Conversation" is to explore some facet of the fast-changing, technology-driven retail landscape and how it affects businesses and consumers. It is, we think, fertile territory ... and one that Tom Furphy - a former Amazon executive, the originator of Amazon Fresh, and currently CEO and Managing Director of Consumer Equity Partners (CEP), a venture capital and venture development firm in Seattle, WA, that works with many top retailers and manufacturers - is uniquely positioned to address.

    Tom and I once again had the chance to do this Innovation Conversation "live" - instead of via email - when we got together backstage in the green room during last week's Retail Revolution conference co-sponsored by GMDC, Retail Tomorrow, and Portland State University's Center for Retail Leadership. (We were there to do The Innovation Conversation live-on-stage.)

    Our subject this week: The impact that a growing consumer focus on values (in addition to value) may have on retailer responsibility for the provenance and quality of the product they sell. This is especially relevant these days to Amazon, which has come under increasing criticism about some of the products they sell. We look at the challenges that this issue presents, offer some possible solutions, examine the bottom line implications, and frame the problem within the context of evolving customer priorities.

    We think you'll enjoy this Conversation.

    (By the way, if you'd like us to do a live Innovation Conversation for your company or group, just let me know. It is one of our favorite things to do.)

    You can see our video above left. Enjoy.

    KC's View:

    Published on: October 30, 2019

    by Kevin Coupe

    A restaurant review in yesterday's New York Times made me think about how fleeting success can be, and how a good reputation is only as enduring as one's most recent performance.

    The review, by Pete Wells, was of the iconic Peter Luger Steak House in Brooklyn. (As a point of reference, it is about two miles from the new Wegmans there.) While it is not quite on the level of the blistering review that Wells wrote seven years ago of a new Guy Fieri restaurant in Times Square, this brutal takedown may be more notable because Peter Luger is a legendary outpost that opened in 1887.

    Four excerpts:

    • "I can count on Peter Luger Steak House in Brooklyn to produce certain sensations at every meal.

    "There is the insistent smell of broiled dry-aged steak that hits me the minute I open the door and sometimes sooner, while I’m still outside on the South Williamsburg sidewalk, producing a raised pulse, a quickening of the senses and a restlessness familiar to anyone who has seen a tiger that has just heard the approach of the lunch bucket.

    "There is the hiss of butter and melted tallow as they slide down the hot platter, past the sliced porterhouse or rib steak and their charred bones, to make a pool at one end. The server will spoon some of this sizzling fat over the meat he has just plated, generally with some line like 'Here are your vitamins.'

    "There is the thunk of a bowl filled with schlag landing on a bare wood table when dessert is served, and soon after, the softer tap-tap-tap of waxy chocolate coins in gold foil dropped one at a time on top of the check.

    "And after I’ve paid, there is the unshakable sense that I’ve been scammed."

    • "Diners who walk in the door eager to hand over literal piles of money aren’t greeted; they’re processed. A host with a clipboard looks for the name, or writes it down and quotes a waiting time. There is almost always a wait, with or without a reservation, and there is almost always a long line of supplicants against the wall. A kind word or reassuring smile from somebody on staff would help the time pass. The smile never comes.

    "The Department of Motor Vehicles is a block party compared with the line at Peter Luger."

    • "The management seems to go out of its way to make things inconvenient. Customers at the bar have to order drinks from the bartender and food from an overworked server on the other side of the bar, and then pay two separate checks and leave two separate tips. And they can’t order lunch after 2:30 p.m., even though the bar and the kitchen remain open."

    • "The restaurant will always have its loyalists. They will laugh away the prices, the $16.95 sliced tomatoes that taste like 1979, the $229.80 porterhouse for four. They will say that nobody goes to Luger for the sole, nobody goes to Luger for the wine, nobody goes to Luger for the salad, nobody goes to Luger for the service. The list goes on, and gets harder to swallow, until you start to wonder who really needs to go to Peter Luger, and start to think the answer is nobody."

    Yikes. It seems like a pretty good rule that when a business compares unfavorably to the DMV, it is in trouble.

    Now, to be fair, Peter Luger has pushed back on the Times review with the following statement:

    "“The NY Times has reviewed Peter Luger numerous times over the years. At times we’ve gotten four stars, other times less. While the reviewers and their whims have changed, Lugers has always focused on doing one thing exceptionally well — serving the highest quality of steak — with a member of our family buying every piece of USDA Prime beef individually, just as we have done for decades.

    "We know who we are and have always been. The best steak you can eat. Not the latest kale salad."

    Which, to be honest, doesn't really address the problems that Wells points out in his piece.

    Look. Reviews, by their very nature, are opinion pieces. I know this because I write them (though I've never achieved Wells' high style). One learns over time which reviewers tend to be in synch with one's own tastes, and which ones are less relevant. That's part of being a discerning consumer of news and information.

    This doesn't diminish the larger lesson that Wells' review illustrates - that even iconic experiences have to be nurtured and tended and allowed to evolve and always, always improve.

    I never forget what the great Norman Mayne, of Dorothy Lane Markets, once told me - that while his stores are lucky enough to have a wonderful reputation, a reputation is what you had yesterday … and that today you have to earn it all over again. (By the way, I'd argue that Dorothy Lane Markets' reputation has little to do with luck, and a lot to do with hard work, focused vision, crisp implementation, and a willingness to innovate and challenge customers' tastes.)

    Read the Wells review, and then think about it in terms of your own business.

    It can be an Eye-Opener.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 30, 2019

    Business Insider reports that Kroger plans to test a new delivery service, dubbed Kroger Package Services (KPS), in some 220 stores later this year. The service will have it teaming up with United Parcel Service (UPS), the US Postal Service (USPS), and FedEx.

    Here's how the story describes the new service:

    "The program is rolling out amid rapid growth in package deliveries in the US and globally. More than 12.5 billion parcels were shipped in the US last year, marking an increase of nearly 8% over the previous year, according to estimates from Pitney Bowes.

    "Under KPS, select Kroger stores accept packages - including those that require signatures - from major carriers including UPS, USPS, and FedEx, and store them in a secure area until customers pick them up.

    "The program also allows shoppers to drop off pre-labeled packages or bring in unboxed items for shipping anywhere in the US. Automated kiosks enable shoppers to print or purchase shipping labels as well."

    "Kroger Package Services is one of several ongoing tests we have in market to further develop our portfolio of seamless customer experiences," a Kroger spokesperson tells Business Insider. "The pilot allows us to test and learn in a retail setting, gaining useful insights from both customers and associates."
    KC's View:
    A theme that I've been writing about lately here has been the need for retailers to reduce friction in the shopping experience. It seems to me that it makes a lot of sense for Kroger to test the idea that it also may be able to reduce friction beyond its shopping environment, which could be relevant to its shoppers.

    The irony, of course, is that it could end up facilitating Amazon's shipments … but it is hard to get into this segment without intersecting with Amazon at some point. If you have confidence in your own value proposition and are willing and able to continue innovating, that's okay.

    Published on: October 30, 2019

    Bloomberg reports that Walmart yesterday replaced Jenny Fleiss, who has run its New York City-based Jetblack concierge service since its launch a year ago, with Nate Faust, a senior vice president of logistics for the company’s online business.

    The story says that the move "could presage a spinoff of the unprofitable venture … The shuffle was an open secret for weeks inside Walmart and could precede a sale or spinoff of Jetblack, which was a pet project of U.S. online chief Marc Lore and the first business to emerge from Walmart’s internal incubation arm. Jetblack promised to deliver just about anything to busy city dwellers for $50 a month, but it has proved costly to operate and never expanded beyond doormen-serviced buildings in New York City."

    The story says that Fleiss "is taking a new advisory role reporting to Janey Whiteside, Walmart’s chief customer officer."
    KC's View:
    It would appear that what we are seeing is a slow but inexorable shedding of non-core businesses by Walmart. It may not be total, and it may try to keep its toes in the water wherever possible. But it may be that Marc Lore's vision of what Walmart should look like is losing to more traditional views of the company's future.

    Published on: October 30, 2019

    Forbes has a good piece about how a variety of urban areas are attracting business investment, including larger and better grocery stores than generally have opened in the big city.

    The opening of a Wegmans in Brooklyn (reported on here) is just the latest and most high profile example. Forbes offers some others:

    "Last week, Phoenix, which is in the midst of a transformation, finally got a downtown grocery store when Fry’s opened a branch on Washington Street … In Boston, Trader Joe’s opened a branch in the Seaport neighborhood, bringing groceries to a fast-growing office and residential area … Residents of Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood also got a Trader Joe’s earlier this month, replacing a branch of the beloved Treasure Island chain, which went out of business last year … In Worcester, Massachusetts, Maker to Main, a hub for local produce, plans to open a downtown grocery in 2020 … These grocery stores are in addition to the branches of Whole Foods and other stores that have opened in other parts of the same cities."

    The story notes that "in a number of places, residents have waited years to be able to access good-quality groceries without having to drive, take public transportation or ride sharing." While food deserts still exist in a lot of urban markets, a change seems to be taking place.
    KC's View:
    One of the things driving this trend is the growth of food culture in so many places - better food, better information, better cooks and better stores and restaurants in areas that didn't have such things just a few years ago. If you're in the food business, it would be foolish to ignore such opportunities.

    Published on: October 30, 2019

    Eater New York reports that salad chain Sweetgreen has opened an experimental format that eliminates the front-of-the-house assembly line where patrons' salads are put together.

    According to the story, "The outpost at 2 Park Avenue at 32nd Street, the first of so-called 'Sweetgreen 3.0,' instead has staffers standing at wooden podiums to take orders via tablet, which then sends the orders to a kitchen. Sweetgreen’s calling it 'concierge ordering,' though really, it’s not that different from the way that people order food at McDonald’s and other mainstream fast food chains.

    "Once a salad or bowl is ready, diners’ names pop up on a screen, and they can then pick up their salad. There’s also a store portion that sells cookbooks and hot sauce, plus an upstairs portion with lots of seating. Expect some new menu items specific to this location in the future, too."

    The company says the goal is to create a unit that is a cross between an Apple store and a farmers’ market.
    KC's View:
    I'm very impressed by Sweetgreen … and enjoyed spending some time with its director of culinary, Michael Stebner, who was on a Retail Tomorrow podcast that I recorded earlier this year. You can listen to it here.

    Published on: October 30, 2019

    A new study from Healthline Media suggests that "baby product brands and advertisers will need to tailor their retail and marketing strategies for the new generation of Gen Z parents whose spending habits differ significantly from Millennial new parents."

    The study found that "new and expecting Gen Z parents (ages 18-22) are more likely to continue spending on themselves than their younger Millennial (23-30) and older Millennial (31-39) counterparts. Fifty-seven percent of Gen-Z survey respondents said that they did not reduce spending on items for themselves, compared with 49 percent of younger and older Millennials."

    Some other conclusions from the study:
    • "Across all three age groups, respondents are more likely to shop regularly at child-focused stores and less at stores that primarily sell items for adults since becoming a parent or soon-to-be parent. Two out of five new and expecting parents say that they shop online more since a baby came into the picture. However, there are sharp differences by generation when it comes to where they regularly shop. For example, the survey showed a small drop (4%) in Gen-Z new and expecting parents that regularly shopping in clothing stores (ex. Gap or J. Crew), in contrast to a 28 percent decrease among both younger and older Millennials. Gen-Z new and soon-to-be moms and dads also reported."

    • "Additionally, the survey found that shopping regularly at big box stores such as Buy Buy Baby and Babies 'R' Us increases among younger and older Millennials since becoming a parent or soon-to-be parent (57% and 76% respectively), while the rise in shopping was smaller for their Gen-Z counterparts (48%). The trend was similar when it comes to toy stores as well."
    • Eco-related considerations unquestionably rise to the top for Gen-Z new or expectant parents: 70% cited eco-related factors among things they consider important when deciding what products to buy, compared to 66% of younger Millennials and 65% of older Millennials. When asked what the most important factors were in deciding what to buy, the primacy of eco-related factors became even more pronounced, with 42% of Gen-Z citing eco-factors as the most important in deciding what to buy, vs. 33% among younger Millennials and 34% among older Millennials."
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 30, 2019

    • The Associated Press reports that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to finalize a rule this week "that allows farmers to legally grow hemp … It establishes requirements for licensing, maintaining records on the land where hemp will be grown, testing the levels of THC — the active ingredient in marijuana that causes a high — and disposing plants that don’t meet the requirements.

    "In addition, a national hemp-growing program that Congress authorized in the 2018 farm bill will be launched by the rule."

    The AP points out that states have been waiting for the rule to be published so they can authorize widespread hemp production: "At least 47 states have passed laws to establish hemp production programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Exceptions include South Dakota, Idaho and Mississippi."

    According to the story, "Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis plants but have different levels of THC. Industrial hemp can be used in food, fiber, paper, beauty products and other products, and the industry estimates it could grow nationally to be a $1.9 billion market by 2022."

    The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) responded:

    “The CPG industry commends the USDA for releasing this interim rule to bring some uniformity to hemp production and testing. Our research shows that Americans are already using hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD), but a majority (76%) are under the assumption that CBD products are regulated at the federal level. USDA’s interim rule is certainly a good first step, but more is needed to protect consumers. Our current patchwork system of state regulations is simply not enough. We urge the USDA and FDA to provide uniform, smart regulation informed by risk-based science on hemp-derived CBD quickly.”

    And, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) said:

    "USDA’s proposed regulations provide more clarity in the regulatory environment surrounding hemp, which continues to generate much enthusiasm among FMI's members' customers in the U.S.  Having said that, the lack of federal standards for the use of CBD in manufactured products, coupled with the current patchwork of state laws regulating CBD products, has created mass confusion for the public, for suppliers and retailers and for state regulators. FMI highly values the role FDA plays in promoting public health and safety, but the absence of a clear pathway to market for these products means consumers currently face a variety of risks, including unsubstantiated health and benefit claims, a lack of standardization in product labeling and packaging, and even products that do not contain the ingredients they purport to contain. The safety concerns and marketplace confusion surrounding CBD products will continue until FDA provides additional clarity and guidance governing the production, sale, quality and marketing of these products. We hope FDA will move quickly to provide clarity."
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 30, 2019

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

    • The Associated Press reports that US consumer confidence was down for the third month in a row, "as optimism about job prospects and business conditions down the road grow weaker."

    The Conference Board, which tracks these things, says that "its consumer confidence index edged down to 125.9 in October, compared with 126.3 in September."

    However, the Conference Board also projected that declining consumer confidence is unlikely to impact holiday spending.

    I wouldn't be so confident about holiday spending. We seem to be in hell-in-a-hand-basket territory these days, which could have a dampening effect on people's willingness to spend on presents.

    Crain's Chicago Business reports that "ahead of its Reserve Roastery opening on the Mag Mile, Starbucks today announced that it will pour $10 million in local community development lenders to spur economic development and entrepreneurship in Chicago’s underserved neighborhoods.

    "The investment will be split between four community lenders: Accion Chicago, Chicago Community Loan Fund, Local Initiative Support Corporation and IFF. The organizations are community development financial institutions that provide loans to nonprofits and other projects in low-income communities. The $10 million from Starbucks is expected to finance more 500 loans, according to a statement from the coffee giant." 
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 30, 2019

    • Kroger yesterday announced the the retirement of Jerry Clontz – president of the Mid-Atlantic division – after more than 48 years of service with the Kroger family of companies. Paula Ginnett will assume the role, effective November 1.

    Ginnett joined Kroger after more than 25 years with Walmart Inc. For the past five years, she served as vice president, regional general manager for Walmart U.S.

    • The National Grocers Association (NGA) announced yesterday that David Mitchell, President of Mitchell Grocery Corporation of Albertville, Alabama, has been presented with this year's Spirit of America Award, which recognizes a lifetime commitment to the independent supermarket industry.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 30, 2019

    • From The Hill: "The fight over the Pentagon’s $10 billion “war cloud” contract is entering a new phase after the Department of Defense (DOD) awarded the lucrative contract to Microsoft over rival Amazon in a shocking move.

    "All eyes are now on Amazon, which is seen as likely to take the fight over the Pentagon’s decision to court or before the government’s top auditing office.

    "Democrats and industry watchers are raising the possibility that the process was swayed by President Trump, who publicly called on the DOD to investigate the contract over the summer. Trump questioned if the process unfairly favored Amazon, long seen as the front-runner.

    "A challenge from Amazon’s cloud-computing arm, Amazon Web Services (AWS), involving allegations that the president improperly intervened in the contract process would be unprecedented. Some of the top federal contracting experts in the country told The Hill they can’t think of any similar case in recent history … Amazon is the No. 1 player in the cloud-computing space with an approximately 48 percent market share. The military has given AWS, which provides cloud-computing for the CIA, its highest data management certification. Microsoft, which has a slightly lower data certification, is a close second in the cloud computing wars and has been stepping up its outreach to government agencies."
    KC's View:
    Politics aside, I think this is going to be a fascinating and ongoing debate, because it is about more than a single contract. It also can be seen as a legitimate discussion of the degree to which Amazon's ecosystem pervades our lives.

    Not that Microsoft is some upstart player; it wasn't that long ago that the worries were about the degree to which it was embedded in our lives.

    This is about technology, but it also is a philosophical discussion that deserves nuance and sophistication.

    Published on: October 30, 2019

    Yesterday, in my piece about the new Brooklyn Wegmans, I described parking as being a nightmare, prompting MNB reader Mary Ellen Burris to write:

    Kevin, nice story on our opening.  There is a parking for 700 cars, and I’m told that even on opening day, there was still room for more.

    I stand corrected. But I'm not entirely sure how clear that is to people pulling into the lot … I had a hard time finding a spot for the Mustang. But I'll take your word for it.

    Last week, we reported on Amazon's quarterly results, prompted MNB reader Joe Axford
    to write:

    Great point KC, profits were just over $2 billion, nothing to sneeze at.

    As an aside do you see Amazon buying a large chain (Albertsons/Safeway) or one of their banners to roll out it's store footprint quicker, or would that present more problems than it's worth?

    My bet would be that this would load them up with legacy problems that they just don't need.

    Another reader had a different take on Amazon's results:

    Lower profits at Amazon and connections to foreign manufacturers that other retailers don't allow, two of your stories this week that might have a direct correlation . The transaction business at Amazon has been under profit pressures for several years and they have a reputation of sourcing products in unscrupulous ways to cut corners on costs. Sooner or later those practices come to light, they are not always connected into a single narrative.

    Another comment on Amazon's sourcing issues from MNB reader PJ Stafford wrote:

    Kevin, you have been highlighting recently the vulnerability of Amazon with regard to counterfeit and expired product.  Consider this about Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA), which is the third party logistics service (3PL) Amazon offers its sellers as a fulfillment option. In a prior job with an authorized distributor of products, we sold a lot of personal care and food product to Amazon third party sellers who directed us to ship the product directly to Amazon FBA facilities on their behalf. On occasion, those sellers would be hit with counterfeit and expired complaints from the consumer for items shipped from Amazon warehouses (for items shipped to FBA facilities that were not expired or counterfeit).

    One option for sellers is for Amazon to co-mingle identical products from multiple Amazon sellers in their distribution centers. “Stickerless, commingled inventory” is the term that Amazon uses to refer to the products that are stored within their fulfillment centers that do not have a specific Merchant ID associated with them. So if 500 sellers are selling Caramel Almond Pumpkin Spice Kind bars, those specific Kind bars from each seller are not in separate locations by seller, but co-mingled.  That means that legitimate, authorized sellers who sell product with co-mingled inventory may get hit with a claim though the product they shipped to the Amazon FBA facility was perfect.    Certainly a risk FBA sellers need to consider.  As a consumer, I make a point to buy products “Sold and Shipped by Walmart” at to reduce the chance of getting expired or counterfeit products as they don’t have a “stickerless, commingled” inventory or an equivalent to Amazon FBA.

    And on another Amazon issue, from another reader:

    Even if you don’t buy clothing from Amazon, if you shop Amazon you are supporting these types of working conditions and global inhumanity. It isn’t always easy and sometimes, but not always, costs a bit more, but I choose other places to spend the majority of my money. And yes, I’m not perfect and sometimes give in to buying something from Amazon. They’re ubiquitous, and there are times or situations where I just don’t have the chops to keep searching for an alternative.

    MNB reader Bob Thomas wrote:

    Amazon is beginning to look like Alibaba more and more.  In a bad way.

    Responding to a recent Michael Sansolo column about business lessons learned from his son's music career, MNB reader Howard Schneider wrote:

    No, ragtime won’t replace rap. But quality music of all genres seems to endure. This isn’t the first time classic ragtime has had a renaissance. Back in the 1970s there was a ragtime revival, as people re-discovered Scott Joplin and his turn of the 20th Century contemporaries. Glad we’re having another revival; thanks for sharing that news!

    Regarding a new anti-social media campaign being used by MillerCoors, MNB reader Ron Rash wrote:

    First, as it is said, for every trend there is a counter trend. I think Miller is tapping into that counter trend (which seems to be growing rapidly as people reject FB, Twitter, etc.) as best they know how as a beer producer/seller.

    There is little doubt in my mind, though anecdotally, that a strong counter trend has begun, and folks either feel the need to reconnect personally, or are just fed up with living their lives on FB. That being said, the enormous numbers involved in social activity far outweigh the counter trend… for now.

    On our continuing coverage of environmental issues, one MNB reader wrote:

    Having started my retail career working the backroom baler at a Skagg’s Albertsons, my son and I have often discussed the need for creating a home version of a cardboard baler.   Luckily, I have a large back porch to pitch the numerous boxes that seem to arrive daily at our house.  I do constantly think about the waste of home delivery, and believe that the right angle to address this problem could be a winning proposition.

    One MNB reader had a comment about the New Yorker story suggesting that independent bookstores could charge an entry fee as one way of supporting their businesses:

    The suggestion of monetizing the experience is a great insight; that’s exactly the kind of thing brick-and-mortar retailers need to do to remain relevant. I want to share one other point re: the morality and sustainability of buying stuff today. I recently got a library card (first time in thirty years), and have begun reading the latest books without buying them. I have a large home library which I love, but I am beginning to get over some of my desire to own every book. Books aren’t cheap; they take up space; they use scarce resources. (And I still prefer to read anything of length via print on paper, rather than pixels on a screen. My wife prefers audio books, another reduced-resource consumption option.) I LOVE books and booksellers, and will never stop buying books. But I am limiting my lifelong drive to build my  own physical collection.

    On the same subject, from MNB reader Lisa Malmarowski:

    Just yesterday, I took an extra 15 minutes out of my day to stop at local independent bookstore to pick up the next book my bookclub is reading (and then spend a few more bucks on two other books I didn’t plan on). Fifteen minutes. But it’s worth it to know that my local spending recirculates through my community and supports jobs in my neighborhood.

    Consumers have power and choice - sliding into the easy Amazon trap for most things is a cop out because the vast amount of Amazon shoppers don’t need half the crap they buy and have the resources to shop other places. But gosh, it’s so darn easy to "one-click” isn’t it?

    On the subject of my aquaponics-themed video commentary, MNB reader Carl Jorgensen wrote:

    Terrific FaceTime segment today! I do a lot of work for investors evaluating sustainability propositions, and I agree that aquaponics is one of the most sustainable forms of vertical farming. Using fish effluent greatly reduces the need for external inputs and substantially reduces water usage. Organic certification of growing operations that do not grow plants in soil is still controversial in the organic community. Many certifiers will not certify vertical farms. However, I admire Volcano Veggies’ commitment to sustainability, and I hope that this issue will eventually be resolved. I like this quote from their website: “When we first started our farm, if we couldn’t do it organically, we were not going to do it at all.”

    On another subject from an MNB reader:

    Walmart’s use of robots to scan cases coming off trucks has a hidden benefit of increasing case count accuracy. Have you ever seen a cashier ring up different items of a family of products of the same size and price as a multiple of only one of the items? Now think of a truck with multiple pallets of a similar family of products being unloaded and counted as the item on the last pallet. This causes massive inventory issues throughout the supply chain as the wrong items get sent to the store because once received and put away, the location is coded as having the received product instead of the actual product. By correcting the initial receiving data, the entire system is more efficient. I watched the impact of this phenomenon for years and thought it was the real culprit for out of stocks and bloated back room inventories.

    And, regarding Sears' continuing travails, MNB reader Andy Casey wrote:

    Ok, enough already. It is long past time for pretending anyone has any intentions of doing anything but sucking all value out of Sears. This whole saga reminds me of the Sopranos episode where Tony and company bust out his buddy’s sporting goods store to cover gambling debts.

    And, responding to Michael Sansolo's column yesterday about the “Ewing Theory,” which he described as "an idea created by a sportswriter," MNB reader Jesse Ehlen wrote:

    So I have to ask, KC, are you and Michael unaware of the sportswriter who came up with the theory (Bill Simmons) or was this a conscious effort by two New York guys to deny credit to a Boston guy?

    Well, I didn't know that, so we can eliminate the conspiracy notion. But … I asked Michael, and he did know it, and just decided not to mention it.

    So you decide if it was a conscious effort by a New York born-and-bred columnist.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 30, 2019

    In an amazing Game Six of the World Series, the Washington Nationals defeated the Houston Astros 7-2, setting up a seventh and deciding game tonight in the best-of-seven series.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 30, 2019

    Emerging technologies in the health and wellness segment are empowering consumers who more and more are invested in self-care … which can best be defined as a cultural trend keyed to people who want to feel good, look good, live longer and live better. In this new Retail Tomorrow podcast, recorded in front of a live audience at the recent GMDC Selfcare Summit, we talk about the technologies and trends that we heard about there, provide insights into how consumers will interact with them, and offer guidance to companies looking to invest in this burgeoning segment.

    Our guests for this podcast are members of the regular Retail Tomorrow podcast family:

    • Tom Furphy, CEO and Managing Director of Consumer Equity Partners.

    • Nancy Giordano, a strategic futurist who specializes in the post-digital world.

    • Sterling Hawkins, co-founder of the Center for Advancing Retail & Technology.

    The host: Kevin Coupe, MorningNewsBeat’s “Content Guy.”

    You can listen to the podcast here, or on iTunes and GooglePlay.

    This edition of the Retail Tomorrow podcast is brought to you by GMDC, the Global Market Development Center.

    Pictured, below, from left: Kevin Coupe, Nancy Giordano, Tom Furphy, Sterling Hawkins

    KC's View: