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    Published on: April 21, 2020

    In a new series of weekly Retail Tomorrow podcasts, Sterling Hawkins, co-CEO and co-founder of CART-The Center for Advancing Retail & Technology, and MNB "Content Guy" Kevin Coupe team up to speculate, prognosticate, and formulate visions of what tomorrow's retail landscape will look like post-coronavirus.

    Episode 3.  One study suggests that the social distancing practices mandated by the Covid-19 coronavirus could be necessary until 2022, which could have an enormous impact on retailing specifically and business in general, not to mention the culture at large.  But at the same time, there may be an app out there that will facilitate contact tracing … and changes to in-store technology may be necessary in order to compensate for all the shifts in priorities taking place.  And that's just the beginning of the conversation, as we explore the world of Retail Tomorrow.

    You can listen to it here.

    Published on: April 21, 2020

    by Michael Sansolo

    Uncertainty seems to be the way of things these days even when we move beyond the immediate questions of how much longer these lockdowns will last and whether a vaccine or other important medications are on the horizon.

    We all are focused on the same thing:  what happens after all of this? It goes well beyond whether handshaking, high fives and hugs are a thing of the past.

    One article I read was about the movie industry (a topic near and dear to us at MNB). The industry has long thrived financially on summer blockbusters, a scenario that is incredibly unlikely this year. Already the movie industry is wondering what happens to the many film festivals that serve as a testing ground for award-ready movies, not to mention what happens to all those awards themselves.

    But far more substantially, the industry is wondering if audiences will return to theaters any time soon or if people are finding the comfort of at home viewing will outweigh the communal experience of a crowded theater.

    Similar questions are being raised about sports and whether fans will go flocking back to massive arenas. That is, when and if we are able to go back.

    Even the election systems used globally will return or will people question why voting in person is necessary in a time of advanced technology that permits such a range of activity from home.

    Retail certainly isn’t immune in any regard to what-if questions. If the past weeks have shown anything it’s that we clearly face questions on supply chains, product variety, and nearly every part of the shopping experience finishing at the checkout. Surely you have noticed the countless articles talking about the rising popularity of touchless pay systems.

    And to Kevin’s credit (not that I am required to credit him for anything), doesn’t frictionless shopping a la Amazon Go suddenly look like a far more powerful competitive advantage?  (I think Kevin was on that issue early.)

    For good reason, Kevin also is fond of quoting the wisdom of Jack Welch, late of General Electric, who always warned companies of any time change outside the company is moving faster than inside. Suddenly, the change outside is at light speed and almost none of us are keeping up.

    In the middle of a storm like this, it’s near impossible to divert any of our attention to thinking about what ifs or contemplating how to speed up any plan of continuous improvement. But somehow, that’s exactly what we must do. If anything is certain it is that someday soon, lockdowns will end, and life will begin again.

    Only we won’t be going back to normal because that normal will be a memory. To quote Elsa from Frozen 2, we’re going into the unknown … and I don’t think we’ll be singing.

    Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at msansolo@morningnewsbeat.com.

    His book, “THE BIG PICTURE:  Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available here.

    And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon here.

    Published on: April 21, 2020

    Have you found lately that you are getting a lot less mail?  MNB Content Guy Kevin Coupe has ... and he thinks it is a trend that started even before the pandemic.  Some companies have stopped mailing out ads, promotions and coupons for the time being, and KC thinks it is a policy that ought to live on in a post-pandemic world:  Get off the paper, do it all online, be a lot more trackable and targeted, and modernize a system that badly needs it.

    Published on: April 21, 2020

    Yesterday was Patriots Day, and in any normal year, would have been notable for the annual running of the Boston Marathon.

    But, of course, that didn't happen yesterday.

    The Boston Globe, however, put together a short video entitled "Boston Is Still Running" that puts the non-events of yesterday in a kind of context … in surveying the empty streets of Boston, narrator John Krasinski says, "This is patriotism in its purist form.  Fighting for something bigger than ourselves."

    It is a one-minute video, but it is a lovely and Eye-Opening piece of work, and speaks volumes.

    Published on: April 21, 2020

    MarketWatch reports that a new UBS analysis suggests that "100,000 stores will close by fiscal 2025, with apparel retailers the hardest hit at 24,000 closures.

    "Most categories will be impacted, with consumer electronics expected to see 12,000 closures, and home furnishings and grocery retailers at 11,000 closures each.

    "The most insulated names are the ones that have fared best during the coronavirus pandemic, including Walmart Inc. , Target Corp. and Costco Wholesale Corp.  Home Depot Inc. and Lowe’s Cos., dollar stores like Dollar General Inc., and off-price retailers like Ross Stores Inc.,  and TJ Maxx parent TJX Cos. are also well-positioned, UBS said."

    KC's View:
     

    Even if this estimate/prognostication is only half right, that's still an enormous number of stores.   What ought to be just as concerning, especially to independent retailers in every segment, is the implication that the bigger you are, the better off you are likely to be.  That seems likely, because the big companies have the resources to weather the storms.  But it isn't good news to people with smaller boats less able to stand up to high economic winds and crashing financial waves.

    Published on: April 21, 2020

    Random and illustrative stories about the global pandemic, with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  In the US, we are closing in on 800,000 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus - the number stands this morning at 792,938, with 42,518 deaths and 72,389 reported recoveries.

    Globally, there have been just shy of 2.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases, with 171,334 deaths and 657,895 reported recoveries.


    •  From the New York Times:

    "South Carolina allowed retail shops ranging from department stores to flea markets to reopen Monday afternoon, shortly after its governor, Henry McMaster, signed an executive order reversing some of the closings he ordered earlier this month.

    "On Friday, residents of Georgia will be allowed to return to the gym and get haircuts, pedicures, massages and tattoos, Gov. Brian Kemp said. Next Monday, they can dine in restaurants and go to the movies. Tennessee’s stay-at-home order will expire April 30, allowing most businesses there to reopen on May 1, Gov. Bill Lee said.

    "The moves by three Republican governors of Southern states to let some businesses reopen came as the outbreak continued to spread in parts of the nation, and as some other governors and public health experts have warned in recent days that testing remained inadequate to quickly identify and contain new outbreaks."


    •  From CNBC:

    "Younger Americans are eager to eat and drink out in public again.  They will, however, likely shy away in large numbers from festivals, sports venues and international trips for a while once coronavirus lockdowns are lifted across the U.S., perhaps preferring to shop online from home while waiting to see how vaccine trials pan out."

    The story quotes a study from research firm TruePublic saying that there is "a greater willingness now among young people to consider gathering in smaller numbers closer to home once stay-at-home orders expire — and a definite reluctance to immediately resume former leisure activities that involve distance and large crowds.

    "TruePublic found, for example, that 55% of those polled will return to restaurants 'as soon as isolation ends,' compared to 16% who wait for a few months more before eating out, 13% who will wait until a vaccine is developed and 16% who will wait until 'long after a vaccine is out' … Eating out was the only activity a majority of young Americans surveyed were willing to resume immediately, TruePublic found. Most said they’d wait months, or for a vaccine, before returning to movie theaters, travel, gyms, concerts, sporting events or gatherings such as Coachella, Comic-Con or Burning Man (postponed, canceled and going virtual, respectively, this year)."

    I continue to believe that the so-called "re-opening" of the economy and the culture is going to depend a lot more on what businesses do and what consumers are willing to accept than on politicians' pronouncements and pontifications.  For example, I'm more interested in when DisneyWord reopens than when Florida's beaches are opened.


    •  Variety reports that "Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp will allow movie theaters to reopen starting April 27, but exhibition insiders stress that it would be nearly impossible for most major chains to start business back up by next week.

    "Movie theater circuits believe that it reopening won’t just be like flicking a switch. AMC Theaters, Regal Cinemas, Cinemark and other chains have furloughed or laid off almost all employees, and locations across the U.S. have been entirely shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. It would take longer than a week, insiders say, to re-hire staff and then train them in proper safety procedures."

    The story notes that "even if employees were able to return to work swiftly and without the virus, there’s also a question of liability. Theater owners are still exploring legal issues they could face, should audiences get infected with COVID-19 from going to their movie theater. It’s uncertain whether the burden would fall on the exhibitor or the state."

    I love movies as much as anyone, but it'll be a long time before I go back to a theater.  It breaks my heart a little, but there it is.


    •  The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports that UNFI-owned Cub Foods "is adding 24-hour service at 11 stores to expand social distancing options and provide flexibility to first responders and front-line medical staff who work varied shifts,  The extended hour openings will be staggered, but once complete 24 Cub locations will be open all day and night."

    "Consumers expect grocery stores to be there for them and in times of a natural disaster, we're the last to close and the first to open. That's a responsibility we take seriously and that's why our work is essential now," says Cub CEO Mike Stigers.

    The story notes that "to facilitate the expansion Cub is hiring 1,000 employees by the end of April. Full and part-time position opportunities include assistant store directors, pharmacy technicians, staff for the deli, meat, and bakery departments, cashiers, stockers and clean team."


    •  WTOP News reports that "gasoline and convenience store chain Sheetz is providing free food to help children and families in need as a result of the coronavirus pandemic at its locations around the D.C.-area.  Its 'Kidz Meal Bagz' program is now available at all 600 of Sheetz locations," and includes a turkey sandwich, chips and a drink.

    According to the story, "The meal can be requested at the register or drive-through.  An adult does not need to be present. The meals are available daily, while supplies last."

    WTOP says that "Sheetz estimated it will be giving away about 80,000 meals per week.  The free meals will be available for the next two weeks; the program will be reevaluated at the end of that period."


    •  WTOP News also reports that "a Maryland chef is urging customers to call restaurants instead of using delivery apps that take a commission while local businesses struggle during the coronavirus outbreak.

    "'Delete every food delivery app that you have on your phone whether it’s Uber Eats, Postmates, Grubhub, whatever it is, they’re killing restaurants,'  said chef Ashish Alfred, owner of Duck Duck Goose and George’s Chophouse in Bethesda and Duck Duck Goose in Baltimore.

    "“This is a huge way that you can help restaurants out right now. The tip goes directly to the restaurant. All of the money goes directly to the restaurant,' Alfred said."


    •  Yesterday, MNB took note of the fact that the owners of Shake Shack return a $10 million small-business loan it got to help weather the coronavirus crisis, saying that it had managed to find funding elsewhere and wanted the money to be available to smaller restaurant companies.

    All of which was true.

    But it was only the beginning of the story.

    CNN  reports on how "in fewer than two weeks, the funds in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a $349 billion stimulus effort heralded as a means to help the nation's small businesses pay their workers and keep their operations running, were exhausted."  But, "in recent days, it's been revealed how large chunks of the funds were gobbled up by chain restaurants, hoteliers and publicly traded corporations."  Many smaller companies were shut out.

    Fast Company reports that Shake Shack founder and chairman Danny Meyer and CEO Randy Garutti posted an open letter on LinkedIn saying that PPP requirements were “extremely confusing":

    "The onus was placed on each business to figure out how, when, or even if to apply. The “PPP” came with no user manual and it was extremely confusing. Both Shake Shack (a company with 189 restaurants in the U.S., employing nearly 8,000 team members) and Union Square Hospitality Group (with over 2,000 employees) arrived at a similar conclusion. The best chance of keeping our teams working, off the unemployment line and hiring back our furloughed and laid off employees, would be to apply now and hope things would be clarified in time."

    UPDATE, 10:16 AM EDT … The Associated Press this morning reports that Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said that "agreement has been reached on major elements of a nearly $500 billion coronavirus aid package for small businesses, including additional help for hospitals and virus testing.

    "Schumer said post-midnight talks among Democratic and Republican leaders, along with Trump administration officials, including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, produced a breakthrough agreement on the package … Most of the funding, more than $300 billion, would go to boost a small-business payroll loan program that ran out of money last week. Additional help would be given to hospitals, and billions more would be spent to boost testing for the virus, a key step in building the confidence required to reopen state economies."


    •  The Washington Post reports that "a Yahoo News/YouGov poll found that most Americans disagree with U.S. protesters who are demanding an end to stay-at-home orders. The poll showed that 71 percent of respondents were more concerned about lifting lockdowns too quickly."


    •  The Washington Post also writes that "the World Health Organization warned that even once a coronavirus vaccine is developed, distributing it to billions of people around the world will be a monumental task."


    •  The city of Munich reportedly has cancelled this year's Oktoberfest celebration, with traditionally brings in six million visitors.


    •  The Associated Press reports that European authorities "are pushing back against conspiracy theories linking new 5G mobile networks and the coronavirus pandemic are fueling arson attacks on cell towers … Some 50 fires targeting cell towers and other equipment have been reported in Britain this month, leading to three arrests. Telecom engineers have been abused on the job 80 times, according to trade group Mobile UK, making the U.K. the nucleus of the attacks. Photos and videos documenting the attacks are often overlaid with false commentary about COVID-19. Some 16 have been torched in the Netherlands, with attacks also reported in Ireland, Cyprus, and Belgium."

    The story notes that "popular beliefs and conspiracy theories that wireless communications pose a threat have long been around, but the global spread of the virus at the same time that countries were rolling out fifth generation wireless technology has seen some of those false narratives amplified."  Officials are concerned that rampant attacks could undermine global communications at a time when a pandemic makes them more necessary than ever.

    It is not reassuring to know that there are as many morons on the other side of the Atlantic as there are here.  It's just that here, they go to the beach and congregate in public parks.  There, the idiots burn down cell towers … though it seems a fair assumption that European forms of asininity could easily be exported to the US.

    Published on: April 21, 2020

    USA Today reports this morning that "scores of Amazon workers are planning to not show up for their jobs this week in an effort to bring attention to their safety concerns and put pressure on the company to improve workplace conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic, say organizations supporting the workers.  It is being billed as the biggest mass action yet in an ongoing dispute between the e-commerce behemoth and its workers."

    Athena, described as "a coalition of local and national organizations representing workers," says that different walkouts are scheduled to take place today and Friday.  "The Athena coalition says there are more than 130 warehouses where Amazon workers have contracted COVID-19, including some warehouses with more than 30 confirmed cases," the story says.

    While Amazon has confirmed some of the cases, it has emphasized that it has made moves to protect workers, including the use of masks and taking of temperatures.  It also has increased wages by $2 per hour in the US, and is hiring a total of 175,000 new employees to handle the crunch.

    KC's View:

    Seems to me that Amazon has lost control over this narrative, and needs to make moves to re-establish itself as a leader in this area … do what needs to be done to protect your workers, and do it fast.  

    Published on: April 21, 2020

    A Note from the Content Guy:  Last year, MNB did an interview with Jennifer Johnson, founder of Trestle, a Portland,Oregon-based company that has a unique business model - it essentially vets brands to determine their values - and how they deliver on value promises - in a variety of areas (like the environment, worker treatment. etc…).  Then, it allows consumers using its app to determine how companies vetted by Trestle fit in to their own personal social consciousness priorities, which they can rank on the site.  It is all done by algorithm, in the same way that Rakuten knows when you go on a site for which it has a cash-back arrangement.  To me, this seemed ingenious … and the very model of 21st century consumer empowerment, which ought to be of interest to brands and retailers.

    At a time of pandemic, however, when the simple availability of toilet paper and hand sanitizer is a lot more important to most people than how "woke" the company making them happens to be, I wondered what became of Trestle, and whether Jennifer and her team were able to maintain traction.  And so, I reached out to her via Skype to have a chat about how Trestle is doing in these tough times, and how it might be seeing shifts in shopper concerns; I think the conversation also provides a window on how some millennials are thinking and acting (which, to be honest, gives me hope for this generation).

    Spoiler alert:  One thing Trestle has added to its service is what is called a "Small Business Override," which makes the identification of small businesses offering needed products and services - which can be the most vulnerable in a time of pandemic - a new option.

    Smart stuff.  I hope you enjoy my conversation with Jennifer Johnson (who, if you'd like to reach out to her for more information, can be contacted at jennifer@mytrestle.com).

    Published on: April 21, 2020

    The Los Angeles Times reports that NBCUniversal-owned Fandango is acquiring Vudu, Walmart's video-on-demand service.  Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    According to the Times, Fandango "plans to use Vudu to increase its presence in the growing digital entertainment space. The company already has a service called FandangoNow, which lets users buy and rent films, similar to Apple’s iTunes and Google Play."

    This comes as "NBCUniversal is also rolling out its new streaming service, Peacock, which is looking to stand out in an increasingly crowded landscape of direct-to-consumer outlets. The media giant will make the low-cost Peacock service widely available on July 15. Last week, it offered a preview to customers of parent company Comcast."

    KC's View:
     

    I've said here for a long time that the main difference between Amazon and Walmart is that Walmart is a retailer, and Amazon has larger ambitions … which is not to say that Amazon is right and Walmart is wrong, but just to point out that they have fundamentally different visions of their roles in the culture.  Selling off Vudu … which could've competed with Amazon Prime Video at some level, but ultimately was a distraction to the folks in Bentonville … is just an illustration of this fact.

    Published on: April 21, 2020

    •  BizReport  has a story about how new DISQO research shows that "nearly half of purchases (40%) are now being made online but even online retailers may be feeling a revenue pinch. That is because … half of consumers (50.4%) polled for their new study spent less money week over week. According to researchers 47% of consumers are buying fewer 'household essentials' and just over half (56%) are buying fewer health/beauty items."

    Published on: April 21, 2020

    •  From BizReport:

    "A new Harris Poll finds that the bulk of Americans are worried about paying bills as they await stimulus checks from the government and a return to work. According to researchers 57% of those polled say they worry about their ability to pay bills between now and when the first stimulus checks are sent out. That number is slightly higher (61%) in the Northeast where people have been hit harder by the virus and business closures."

    According to the story, "27% of those over age 65 worry about their ability to pay bills before stimulus checks arrive … 63% of those between ages 55 and 64 worry about their ability to pay bills … 59% of Gen Xers between ages 45-54 are worried about bill paying … 76% of Gen Xers between ages 35 and 44 worry about bill paying abilities … (and) 64% of those between ages 18 and 34 worry about their ability to pay bills.


    •  The Wall Street Journal reports that fake meat purveyor Beyond Meat "said products incorporating its 'plant-based minced beef' will be sold at more than 3,300 Starbucks stores across China, marking the Los Angeles-based food producer’s market entry into the world’s second-largest economy. Items on Starbucks’s menu will include lasagna with cheese, pasta with pesto, and a spicy and sour tortilla wrap that all contain Beyond Beef, which is designed to mimic the taste, texture and smell of ground beef."

    While the coronavirus pandemic at one point forced Starbucks to close virtually all its stores in China - its second-largest market after the US - 95 percent of its stores there now have been reopened as the country has experienced "a sharp drop in the numbers of new infections."

    Published on: April 21, 2020

    Got the following email from MNB reader Ken Wagar:

    I’m getting sick of seeing and hearing ads built around the phrase “we are all in this together!”

    It's not that I don’t wish it were true but my observation is that many of us are in this together and then there are many others who are not. A lowering tide may lower all boats but we aren’t all in the same type of boats and while many may have to downsize their boat, some will be climbing out of their canoes and Kayaks and end up in the mud and muck along the shoreline if they don’t get capsized in deep water while others will bitch about leaving their 100 foot yacht for a 60 footer. I understand that life is not fair and I am not a socialist, in fact I think some of the wealthy have been very supportive of others in this time while many middle class and lower are some of those creating problems.

    It’s just that in these fractured political times we can’t seem to really come together even in the face of a pandemic.  Well I’m rambling but it concerns me that we won’t come out of this collectively stronger and more together than when it started, we may be even more fractured by economic, racial, political and religious differences that we were some 6 to 8 weeks ago. I sure hope I am wrong!


    On another subject, from an MNB reader:

    With respect to the notion of closing all stores and making it pickup or drive thru – Certainly as you have noted, several chains including Giant Eagle (I live in Pittsburgh) have closed “1” store to make it a pickup only location.  Just so you know the store that GE closed is in a location that is part of a mall that was torn down and was suffering from extreme sales loss, so there is more to it than meets the eye.  But that said, although the suggestion of closing stores sounds like a correct thing to do to protect food workers, of which I am one, I believe it fails into the category of speak first and use your brain second. 

    As others have no doubt noted that first of all everyone does not have access to online capabilities.  Sooo… use the drive up/thru to place your order.  Do you see a pinch point there?  Secondly, as others have noted, in order to process EVERY customer’s order there would be an army of shoppers inside the store effectively negating  the issue of regular customers social distancing in the first place.  Who’s life is more important?  I could go on and on with things like traffic control, customer satisfaction with the selections, retailer system abilities to handle the orders (they are being overwhelmed as we speak) and so on.  

    Lastly, I certainly believe that we should be doing everything we can to work with each other to stay safe during the current situation.  But a person that would even float an idea like this is in my opinion someone akin to the famous analogy of the person who screams “FIRE” in a crowded theatre, not now of course but someday.  Unfortunately we do not have a unified, coordinated program that each state could use to the degree that makes sense for them.  Changes will no doubt be happening to the grocery business but this particular one is nothing more than nonsense.

    I don't think we're there yet … but I'm not sure that two months I could have envisioned a world like the one in which we are living now.  So I don't rule anything out, because I do not know how bad things might get.

    One thing, though.  Sometimes you have to yell "fire."  Like, when there is a fire.

    MNB reader Andy Casey wrote:

    There is simply no way the current infrastructure can accommodate anything even similar to closing most stores. Walmart is a case in point, I set up a pickup yesterday for the earliest time available – Tuesday afternoon.  If history is any guide, when I go Tuesday the pickup area (8-10 slots) will be full and the parking lot will have 200 or more cars on it with the shoppers inside. Every other Walmart in the area, not to mention the supermarkets, features more or less the same scenario.


    MNB reader Mark Heckman had some observations:

    Compared to weeks past, my experience in the supermarket (and Walmart) a few days ago,  has changed dramatically.  There is no panic buying or crowded aisles.  In fact, on a Saturday afternoon, the stores were  less crowded than they would normally be pre-COVID.  I realize this observation is highly anecdotal. However, it tells me that supermarkets,  at least in some areas, are becoming more safe for associates, not less.   In addition and to Kevin’s point about some areas now opening other non-essential retail up for at least curbside orders, I am not sure I see a practical way for food stores to go dark and do the same.  

    I also firmly believe that we should all be wearing masks when we go into the store and carry hand sanitizer if we have it. That includes store associates as well.   We should also stay as far away from store associates and other shoppers as possible.  I would also encourage stores to bring associates in to stock the stores during the time the stores are closed and free of customers.  I am sure most are doing that as much as possible, but still worth mentioning. I would also encourage older associates with those with pre-existing conditions not to come to work, if economically possible. 

    While it is tragic that we have lost brothers and sisters in the food industry, we don’t really know if they contracted the virus while working…but we must assume that at least some of they did.  

    As shoppers, we must do all we can to protect these brave people.  Order curbside if you can, wear a mask if in the store and stay away from people as much as possible.   When you do speak to store associates, thank them profusely for bravely coming to work to serve your needs!  


    Yesterday I wrote about seeing people not respecting the basic  guidelines when shopping, including at Whole Foods, "where some people just ignore the highly visible signs about one-way aisles.  (They mostly seem to be Fairfield County, Connecticut, women who drive Range Rovers, don't wear face masks, and have hair that seems suspiciously coiffed at a time when the salons are all closed.  But I may be painting with a broad and cynical brush here.)"

    One MNB reader agreed with that last sentence:

    Surprised by your comments.

    i'm a Fairfield County resident .....that comment about us is a little nasty wouldn't you say? Maybe we just care about how we look and don't go out without washing our hair and and putting on makeup? (Unlike some women who are using this as an excuse to stay in sweats all day and not wash their hair). Do you think they are opening up salons for us and no one knows? Do you think we are paying people to come to our homes and do our hair? What exactly are you implying?

    Is it a crime to try and look good? 

    As far as the Range Rovers go, you are stereotyping, too.

    No, it isn't a crime to look good.  I'm a big fan of showering and shampooing one's hair.  And wearing clothes other than sweatpants.  And you're right, the Range Rover crack was stereotyping … I admitted that I was using a broad brush.

    But to answer one of your questions … yes, I do know of people who are paying professionals to come to their homes and do their hair while salons are closed.

    Published on: April 21, 2020

    Jenny may be from a block in the Bronx, but, ain't it funny, she's hoping to do it well, live it  up and get loud in Queens.

    Translation:    Recording artist and actor Jennifer Lopez, along with her fiancé, retired baseball player Alex Rodriguez, have retained JPMorgan Chase to line up financing that would allow them to make a bid for the New York Mets.

    A majority stake in the Mets has been on the sales block since late last year, when a deal to sell 80 percent of the team to hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen fell apart.  (The Wilpon family, which owns the team, wanted to keep its control of team management even while selling most of their shares, and various attempts to renegotiate the deal reportedly scotched it.)  The Wilpons have said they still want to sell a majority of the team, and hired Allen & Co. to facilitate a deal.

    The Mets are worth well north of $2 billion, which means that, as Variety notes, "A-Rod and J-Lo, would … require deep-pocketed partners in order to pull off the purchase. Their combined net worth is about $700 million."  Love may not cost a thing, but that's not the case with a major league team.

    KC's View:
     

    in a baseball market long dominated by the Yankees, A-Rod and J-Lo would bring the Mets an interesting level of glamour … and frankly, I'm so tired of the Wilpons that I'd be happy to see this sale get made.  I just hope they are for "Real" … that they "Get Right" … and that in the end, they have Mets fans "Feelin' So Good."