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    Published on: May 27, 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.

    When the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic recedes, it will leave behind a retailing landscape that is likely to be vastly changed.  What retailers need to decide is whether their stores will be better for the experience - more in touch with consumers' needs and desires, more focused on providing differential advantages.  Or will they be diminished, which is what happens when retailers simply hope that things will get back to normal.

    That's the focus of the conversation with this week's guest - Andrew McQuilkin, the Retail Market Leader as well as a Partner with BHDP Architecture, which you can check out at www.bhdp.com.   Andrew, Sterling and Kevin examine what retailers can do to make their customers both feel safe and actually be safer, and the challenges of retrofitting existing stores and building new stores that reflect changed realities.

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

    Published on: May 27, 2020

    The pandemic forced a young couple to delay their wedding reception, but it also forced KC to think about what he calls "the exposed generation" - in some ways exposed for better and for worse to far more than he was at their age, and grappling with a multitude of conflicting influences likely to affect their buying decisions.

    Published on: May 27, 2020

    Reuters reports that "The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index edged up to a reading of 86.6 this month from a downwardly revised 85.7 in April. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the index rising to 87.5 in May from the previously reported reading of 86.9 in April."

    The improvement comes as "businesses across the country are opening doors after shuttering in mid-March as states and local governments took drastic measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, almost grounding the country to a halt."

    The story notes that "the economy contracted at its deepest pace in the first quarter since the Great Recession and lost at least 21.4 million jobs in March and April."

    KC's View:

    I must admit to being gobsmacked by this.  Then again, I'm operating on the premise that we're probably in for a slow recovery that will take place in fits and starts, so I'm not wildly confident.  That said, that's more of a guess than a prognostication, and I actually hope I'm wrong.

    Published on: May 27, 2020

    The Associated Press reports that "Walmart is teaming up with online resale site ThredUP.com to offer nearly 750,000 items of used women's and children's clothing and accessories items on its website.

    "The move, announced Wednesday, marks Walmart's entry into the used clothing business, which has been a retailing bright spot … The deal was in the works for the past year and represents ThredUP's first online shop with a major retailer. It signed partnerships last year with Macy’s and J.C. Penney to carve out areas in their brick-and-mortar stores."

    KC's View:

    It may have been a retail bright spot in the recent past, but it is likely to shine even brighter as we slide from pandemic to recession.  This is a good place for Walmart is plant a flag.

    Published on: May 27, 2020

    The Wall Street Journal has a story about the continuing rise of private label in the US.

    An excerpt:

    "American consumers have traditionally shown more loyalty to big food brands than their British counterparts, but there are signs of change. During the first quarter of the year, sales of store brands in U.S. retail outlets increased by 14.6% compared with the same period last year, according to Nielsen data—beating the lower, if still impressive, 11.5% gain for top brands. Supermarket products of all stripes got a big lift in the early weeks of the coronavirus lockdowns as panicked shoppers grabbed whatever was on the shelves.

    "The growth of private label should accelerate as unemployment ticks up and consumers look for ways to cut their food bills. Store brands have boomed in previous downturns and supermarkets have big incentives to push them. As these products don’t need to be marketed - placing them beside a well-known brand on the shelf is enough to drive sales - the grocer makes a higher margin on store brands despite their lower sticker prices."

    KC's View:

    Somewhere, Brian Sharoff is smiling…

    Published on: May 27, 2020

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

    •  In the US, as of this morning there have been 1,725,278 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 100,572 deaths and 479,973 reported recoveries.

    Globally, there have been 5,701,498 confirmed coronavirus cases, 352,604 fatalities and 2,445,444 reported recoveries.


    •  From Fox News:

    "Consumers amid the coronavirus crisis named retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Costco and Publix among the best in pandemic response.

    "According to Magid Food and Beverage Insights Tracker, polling 1,000 shoppers for May 2020, 30 percent more shoppers feel favorable about Amazon's efforts than not, leading all retailers. Costco followed with a differential of 25 percent, Walmart at 22 percent, and Publix and Kroger at 21 percent."

    More from the survey:

    "Forty-four percent of shoppers agreed that retailers adapted to the pandemic 'fairly well,' while an average 41 percent responded positively overall. 28 percent polled said they've started shopping at new retailers with the top reason being product availability.

    "Eighteen percent of respondents said they switched retailers based on efforts to support small businesses, while 45 percent said they're shopping online now more than ever before."


    •  USA Today writes that "unprecedented demand, the shutdown of some food manufacturing facilities and a shift to more workers having to assemble orders for pickup and delivery - all caused by the coronavirus pandemic - are adding costs into the grocery business, and some of those costs will eventually make their way to the checkout lane, industry-watchers say."

    One of the things that the USA Today story talks about, while addressing how "the grocery business will never be the same," is how, "in addition to higher prices, look for an increase in automation, touchless checkout systems and a continuing increase in pickup and delivery options."  Again, all of this stuff costs money - and retailers will be forced to figure out how to raise prices - never easy as recession hits - without alienating shoppers.

    Some retailers, I would guess, actually will embrace the moment, saying something along the lines of, "We have such great products, we offer such great service, and we employ such great people that we're going to make them worth paying for."  Because value isn't always about cutting costs.


    •  Bloomberg reports on how some restaurants, facing dramatic changes to their business models because of pandemic concerns after months of bering virtually shuttered because of shelter-at-home orders, are embracing a new role as food markets.

    To use the word we've been embracing here - restaurmarkets.  (As opposed to "grocerants," which has supermarkets becoming restaurants.)

    According to Bloomberg, one example of the trend is Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria, in New York City's Greenwich Village, which actually is going back to the future as it carves out this role.

    An excerpt:

    "Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria is bringing back their beloved chef Justin Smillie to take over the kitchen and oversee its market. Smilie is leaving Upland, Stephen Starr’s Cal-Italian dining room in Manhattan’s Flatiron District to take the job. His return to a neighborhood restaurant reflects the sense of uncertainty that hangs over destination dining rooms that depended on business expense accounts and tourism.

    "At Alimentari, Smillie isn’t looking to reinvent the menu, as many chefs do when they take over a kitchen. Instead, he’ll continue to serve the spit-roasted, peppercorn-rubbed short ribs and bucatini cacio e pepe that put the place on the map, focusing his time with owner Donna Lennard on expanding the market at the restaurant’s entrance that most people ignored."

    The story goes on:  "The deli display and shelves take up about one-fifth of the restaurant space; prior to the pandemic, these accounted for only 10% to 15% of sales, says Lennard. Market sales now make up 50% to 60% of business at the restaurant, which reopened a week ago. 'And then, if it settles at 25 to 30% of our business, that will be amazing,' she says.

    "Il Buco has a built-in grocery store to take advantage of. But the hybrid restaurant-grocery store (and wine and liquor, too) has become such a viable model for struggling places that several are planning to keep it going, even when restrictions start lifting."

    I've been to Il Buco several times (it is amazing), and if I lived in that neighborhood I'd definitely take advantage of its market offerings.  I do think that there will be a lot of restaurants that, feeling vulnerable because of the pandemic and unsure of their prospects going forward, that will embrace this model to varying degrees.  I can even imagine them doing cooking lessons, wine tastings, and all sorts of experiential programs that will entice customers.  Ultimately, it is about feeding people, and defining that role in a broader sense that makes sense.


    •  The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) is out with new research saying that "more than half (58%) of all consumers say their communities will reopen more non-essential businesses within the next two weeks and they expect to be commuting, but at a lower level … Overall, two in five adult Americans (38%) say they are currently commuting, down from 57% who said they were commuting before the COVID-19 pandemic. That means fully one-third of all commuters are off the roads, even after some recent increases."


    •  The Financial Times reports that "Zipline, the world's largest drone delivery service, has launched the US's first emergency unmanned aircraft system in a pandemic to distribute medical supplies to healthcare workers battling coronavirus. The US Federal Aviation Administration has given a waiver to Novant Health, a partner of Zipline, to use its drones to deliver personal protective equipment and supplies to frontline teams in Charlotte, North Carolina."

    Another example of how the pandemic has not so much changed the game but accelerated it, moving the culture and technology into an inevitable future faster than almost anyone expected.


    •  The National Grocers Association (NGA) announced today that it will host its annual leadership meeting virtually, September 22nd – 25th, 2020.  The announcement comes in what NGA called "an effort to prioritize the health, safety, and resources of our members as they continue to help their communities navigate the COVID-19 pandemic."


    •  Brookshire Grocery Co.said that it " is donating $1.2 million to make a difference in the communities it serves.   The $1.2 million donation will provide more than 9.6 million meals for families in East Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. Of the total donation, $1 million is from BGC’s giving back program and the additional $200,000 is as a result of the customer match program."


    •  The Associated Press reports that "Walt Disney World is presenting its plans for reopening after being shuttered along with Florida’s other theme parks since mid-March because of the new coronavirus.

    "Disney World and SeaWorld Orlando will present their proposals for phased reopenings before an Orange County task force on Wednesday, said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings. If Demings signs off on them, the plans will be sent to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for approval."

    The story notes that "Universal Orlando presented its reopening proposal last week to county officials, saying it was aiming to reopen June 5. Officials approved those plans and sent them to the governor."


    •  Apple plans to open 100 of its US stores this week, USA Today reports.

    "In most of the stores, customers won't be allowed to enter the premises, and instead will only be able to pick up products in front of the store or via a dedicated curbside location. Apple will be setting up Genius Bar appointments in front of the stores as well.

    "The Genius Bar is where customers go to get free tech support, or to have data moved from Apple devices. 

    "However, some stores will allow customers to come in and shop, including locations in the San Diego and Santa Barbara areas in California, Las Vegas, Houston, Texas and Boca Raton, Florida … customers and employees will all be required to wear face coverings, and in the stores that will allow patrons to enter, they will need to have a temperature check first and to stand a good distance apart from others."


    •  From the Detroit Free Press:

    "Automakers and suppliers around the world are investigating ways to virus-proof their vehicles to win customers in a post-COVID-19 market.

    "Ideas under consideration include blasting car interiors with ultraviolet light, using foggers to spray disinfectants, upgraded air filtration systems and antimicrobial materials."

    One example:  "A Michigan tech company has begun making UVC lights to sterilize the inside of ambulances, police cars and other emergency vehicles. UVA light is a component of the natural sunlight we’re exposed to daily. Shorter wavelength UVC is more toxic, but normally screened out by the Earth’s atmosphere. It can be produced by artificial lights and arc welders."

    The reason:  "In a sweeping five-country survey, 80% of respondents in the U.S., China, Japan, Germany and Italy told consultant IHS Markit they’d be willing to pay for systems to disinfect their vehicles."


    •  Axios Sports reports that the National Hockey League may be back in business., 10 weeks after it shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.

    According to the story, "NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced yesterday that 24 teams would return, if and when medically cleared, for a unique playoff tournament in two hub cities."  Those cities are still to be determined, but include Chicago, Columbus (Ohio), Dallas, Las Vegas, Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver.

    Axios  writes that "training camps will resume no earlier than July 1.  The season will conclude with the presentation of the Stanley Cup in early autumn."

    Published on: May 27, 2020

    From Fox News:

    "Target is now the first mass retailer to make its products available for purchase directly via Instagram.

    "In an effort to expand online sales growth, Target is ensuring its customers can shop for products easily online, with Instagram expediting the process to just a few simple taps. The process allows guests to tap on desired products, customize applicable items and check out without leaving the app."

    Published on: May 27, 2020

    Interesting story in Politico that starts this way:

    " For a while, it looked like 2020 would be a turning point in the war against single-use plastics, with California and New York adopting new bans and federal legislation being introduced. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. Single-use plastics became associated with safety from sickness, and industry lobbyists saw an opportunity to gain ground in the policy debate."

    The question is whether the plastics industry's gains are temporary or  longer-lasting, and the degree to which they can have an impact on public policy.  

    You can read the entire story here.

    Published on: May 27, 2020

    Content Guy's Note:  The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic is having an enormous impact on people of all ages, backgrounds, and places around the globe;  some are having shared experiences, and some are individual to specific people and circumstances.

    Among the people I've been thinking about are the young people who have just started or are about to start their careers, and who now may be facing enormous uncertainty and questions about what comes next.

    I decided to reach out to some young people I know - some of them former students of mine at Portland State University in Oregon, as well as at other schools with which I have developed relationships - to ask them to answer a pair of questions:

    •  How has the pandemic has affected you personally or professionally?

    •  How do you think the world - including but not just the business world - should be different whenever and however we come out of this.

    This series of occasional guest columns continues this morning with a contribution by Samantha McGrath, a senior studying Food and Consumer Package Goods Marketing and a first-year MBA student at Western Michigan University.

    by Samantha McGrath

    How has the pandemic has affected you personally or professionally?

    Personally:

    This pandemic has highlighted what's really important to me in my life. I have friends and family members serving on the front lines, whether it be in the grocery stores or in the health field helping to battle this disease head-on with patients. I am helping to take care of my elderly grandparents during this time. It has been amazing to see how people are caring for others in my local community. A couple of examples of this are: a former teacher of mine is making plastic shield face masks on his 3D printer for those on the front lines, a parent messaged the community board about how her daughter's 4th-grade field trip to the zoo got canceled due to the virus and requested people to stick stuff animals in their windows, and my mom works for the local school district and is helping to serve families in the community by packaging meals. Those are a few of the many things that I have encouraged me while respecting the stay at the home mandate. 

    School:

    I would say the major shift is the precautions taken and making sure to stay motivated as I continue long-distance learning for the remainder of my senior year.

    This past semester I served as the president of the Food Marketing Association and we have done our best to shift to the virtual world. When the pandemic was rolling out there were tough calls on what was the best path to take to moving forward was. We ended up hosting a virtual happy hour, ice cream social, and an employer night to maintain a sense of normalcy and to keep everyone connected. 

    Within the next two weeks, I was supposed to be in Lisbon, Portugal for an MBA course studying Business and Culture. Due to the increasing concern about health safety and traveling that was canceled as well. In addition, I am taking a course with a focus on technology and innovation and our team of 12 was supposed to fly out to Seattle to have a meeting with Alumni at both Amazon's and Microsoft's Headquarters. However, due to the governor declaring that Seattle was a hotspot for the virus with the outbreak in the nursing home being so close to the locations that we were going to visit our trip out there was canceled. 

    Professionally:

    I earned an offer from E & J Gallo Winery, upon graduation, and it's been inspiring to see how they have reacted by donating $300,000 to CORE, which helps children of restaurant employees. An industry that was heavily impacted during this pandemic. As well as transitioning some product lines to creating hand sanitizer for the local community. Companies' efforts during these times, such as what E & J Gallo Winery is going really show their true values. 

    That being said, finding internships and job offers is becoming increasingly hard to find, for my colleagues, during this time. Our program was supposed to host the 55th Annual Food Marketing Conference up in Grand Rapids, this year and all of the years that WMU has put on this program, this is the first year we had to cancel it. There are 800+ employers from various fields in the consumer goods world that would have attended. This is a valuable networking opportunity that our 150+ students weren't able to attend. Currently, the students are doing the best they can to secure internships and job offers in the meantime. 

    How do you think the world - including but not just the business world - should be different whenever and however we come out of this?

    The expectation, especially from a college graduate's perspective, will be that more companies should be flexible about the typical work model, by incorporating the virtual aspects, such as online conference calls, and working from home will become more prevalent.

    I think there will be a shift in industries, such as the hospitality, and travel industry and a shift in the consumer mindset. With the grocery industry prior to the pandemic we have been seeing a shift in the way consumers shop, I believe it will be interesting to see what pieces of the innovation such as take out at restaurants, curbside pick up, and grocery delivery will stay.

    More to come…

    Published on: May 27, 2020

    •  The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon is in talks to acquire autonomous car company Zoox in a deal that, if completed, would value the company at less than the $3.2 billion valuation it had during its last funding round in 2018.

    According to the story, "Zoox, founded in 2014, has been working to develop the hardware and software needed to create electric-powered, robot taxis that would be summoned by smartphone app starting this year.

    "A successful deal could give new life to a once-high-profile startup that has seen its fortunes dim as it struggled to raise money.

    "Amazon a few years ago created a team devoted to driverless-vehicle technology, motivated in part by a push to transport more of its goods itself. It has made several investments in the area, including last year when it participated in autonomous-technology firm Aurora Innovation Inc.’s $530 million funding round."


    •  Axios reports that "Amazon is looking to invest in localized podcast content, like news and sports, sources tell Axios. Sports content is top of mind as the company plans to buy up more TV rights and have adjacent audio content for users … It wants to explore short-form audio content that can be surfaced when users ask Alexa for information about topics like news and sports."

    The reason:  "Amazon sees a strategic advantage in podcasts by leveraging Alexa voice tech to help users discover personalized content."  Plus, the story says, this would allow Amazon "to possibly tap into a more localized ad market by serving local ads adjacent to that hyper-personalized audio content."

    Local advertising, Axios notes, "is a roughly $150 billion market in the U.S."


    •  From USA Today:

    "FedEx and Microsoft's new alliance will bolster FedEx's technological capabilities, but that alone won't be enough to edge out rival Amazon, experts say.

    "FedEx and Microsoft announced their multiyear collaboration on May 18, focused on combining the two’s strengths in logistics and computing to give customers better insight on their supply chains."

    According to the story, "FedEx's Microsoft team-up allows it to compete technology-wise with Amazon without having to spend years developing its own cloud capabilities in-house, he said.

    "The first piece of the two's collaboration is FedEx Surround, giving businesses information on any logistical slowdowns, such as severe weather or clearance issues, and how their inventory is selling in different areas. The release said it will provide an 'unprecedented level of data-driven insight' for customers."

    The piece makes the point that "Amazon has the advantage of being both a technology and a supply chain company, giving it the advantage over those more focused on one or the other … "

    Published on: May 27, 2020

    With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  Reuters reports that Hertz paid out more than $16 million in executive bonuses even as it filed for bankruptcy protection.

    According to the story, "The company paid President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Stone $700,000, and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Jamere Jackson $600,000 as retention bonuses, Hertz said in a filing to the U.S. regulators."  Other bonuses were paid out to "a range of key executives at the director level and above."

    The story notes that Hertz "is reeling under travel bans and lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. Since the virus outbreak, a large portion of Hertz's revenue, which comes from car rentals at airports, have evaporated.

    With nearly $19 billion of debt and roughly 38,000 employees worldwide as of the end of 2019, Hertz is among the largest companies to be undone by the COVID-19 pandemic."

    Really?  Beyond the fact that the optics are terrible, this essentially gives a good driving reward to the folks who helped to drive the company into a ditch.  Alas, it is typical of many companies, that even as they get into financially troubled territory find it necessary to give bonuses to executives who, under the circumstances, are lucky to have jobs.

    Published on: May 27, 2020

    •  Ahold Delhaize USA announced Ira Kress has been appointed President, Giant Food, effective immediately. 

    The announcement notes that "Kress currently serves as interim president of Giant Food. He joined Giant Food, an Ahold Delhaize USA company, in 1984 and has more than 36 years of retail experience, having started in store operations management and served in a variety of leadership roles in retail operations, human resources, training and labor relations."

    Published on: May 27, 2020

    Responding to the various stories about how even Amazon has struggled through the pandemic, one MNB reader wrote:

    I am not surprised  - too many times in the past several months Amazon more than under delivered.

    The things they classified as non essential  (printer toner) and would take a month to get I went to Staples online and got it the next day with no shipping charge.

    I think most people can understand if they are out of a particular item but not the delay in shipping.

    I received 2 shipments form Amazon within 15 minutes of each other and I asked if it came out of the same warehouse and was told yes and the driver went on to say they screwed up right now for what it is worth.

    I will still look at Amazon but I will now look at other options which I did not do in the past.

    I am pretty sure they will get their mojo back but in my circles they have a long way to go.

    On the subject of more people working from home, one MNB reader wrote:

    Have worked in a home office off and on in various position for years. Distractions have always been real. There are many studies which show getting up and moving in an office are stimulating to one’s body, and thus productivity.  Allow yourself 5-10 minutes per hour to “step away."

    Just another good reason to have a dog.

    On another subject, from MNB reader Mark Boyer:

    I bought a car earlier this month and needed to get it registered, which I was only able to do online after taking about a dozen pictures (VIN plate, a sticker inside the door, odometer, motor, etc.). And I need to get my driver’s license renewed (but can’t do it online because I’m older than 51) and it can only be done by appointment only.

    In both cases I’m delighted (although it would have been nice to renew the driver’s license online). Maybe some things like this can become part of a new normal.

    You'd think.

    And finally, regarding the passing of PLMA's Brian Sharoff …

    MNB reader Tom Ewing wrote:

    Brian Sharoff was one of the most influential people in the Grocery Business over the past 40 years.  He not only built the worldwide trade association for the private label industry, he was maybe the original thought  influencer supporting the growth of the private label business.

    In the 80's, Brian was astute enough to know that the private label industry had to be known for quality for it to survive,  therefore he sought out and touted recognized branded companies that made private label to be involved in the PLMA in addition to the pioneer private brand manufacturers to gain credibility.  He worked with the trade press to ensure that recognized companies got mentioned in trade coverage to boost the image of the entire industry.  He did much the same with Premium Private Label products in the 90's to ensure trade press coverage spread the word that private label was much more than the black & white generics of the 70's, it was made  up of  high quality, unique  premium private brand products at retailers such as Loblaw, Safeway, Ralph's HEB & Wegmans and more.

    With his vision for managing the private label message, he lead the PLMA to be a factor in Europe and Asia in addition to North and South America with industry leading trade shows in Chicago and Amsterdam and a full calendar of educational events all over the globe.  As Brian built the reach of the PLMA  he grew the organization leading not only the growing staff in New York and Amsterdam but in touching the careers of countless managers from member companies that he recruited for service on the Board of Directors over 4 decades, he was truly a  master of his craft.

    And from another MNB reader:

    I was saddened to hear of Brian Sharoff’s passing. He was a kind, compassionate man who provided great leadership for the PLMA since the early 1980’s. He grew a fledging trade organization into an international presence. His wit and intellect will be missed but his legacy as a great advocate for the private label industry will remain for many years to come.

    Published on: May 27, 2020

    Members of the MNB community are cordially invited to join us today for "De-Invest to Re-Invest: A Leadership Summit," a lively and dynamic event designed to engage with industry leaders and visionaries who will share strategies and insights necessary to survive in a time of dramatic charge.

    This Leadership Summit will go beyond the immediate challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic to look at the broader opportunities that exist as industry moves into the future.

    I am thrilled to be part of the event - I'll be doing an interview with Albertsons co-chairman Jim Donald on the subject of "Leading Through Turbulence," as well as moderating two panel discussions.  One will be about how the in-store customer experience will change, and the other will be about how suppliers will have to adapt their approach and products to new realities.

    Ideoclick, Replenium, and Accenture Interactive have joined forces to bring you straight to the source of information on how leaders from multiple industries are addressing both risk and opportunity during this changing landscape.

    Access to this online event is complimentary, and you can find out more about it and register here.

    "De-Invest to Re-Invest: A Leadership Summit" will take place today - Wednesday, May 27, beginning at 2 pm EDT/11 am PDT.  Join us for all or just part of it … but you do have to register to gain access.  Hope to see you tomorrow.

    Published on: May 27, 2020

    I'm happy to announce that on Friday, at 5:30 pm EDT / 2:30 pm PDT, we're going to do it again … our fourth MNB Virtual Happy Hour.

    The folks at GMDC have once again agreed to sponsor and host it, and I'll have a link and instructions for you later this week.

    Hopefully, you can put it on your calendar … choose a libation for Happy Hour … and then prop up your laptop or warm up your computer on Friday, May 29, for a conversation and a drink.  (You don't have to let me know you're coming, but it would be nice to know.)

    To join us, click here.