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    Published on: July 1, 2020

    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 Furphy and Kevin discuss the consolidation taking place in the food delivery business and what it might mean for customers and retailers.  And, when looking at the advertiser boycott of Facebook,  they talk about how businesses are being forced to stake out cultural and societal positions (that often end up having political implications) because of innovative technologies that make it impossible to hide or stay neutral.

    Published on: July 1, 2020

    Another example of a business managing to adapt to radically different, pandemic-imposed realities ... a restaurant in Ottawa that used to specialize in 12-course meals and molecular gastronomy.  KC talks about how it did something unique, differentiated and yet maintained its value proposition.

    Published on: July 1, 2020

    The annual BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands ranking is out, and once again Amazon is atop the list.

    CNBC reports that "Amazon has maintained its position as the world’s most valuable brand, increasing its worth by almost a third to $415.9 billion compared to last year … Apple came in at second on the list, valued at $352.2 billion followed by Microsoft at $326.5 billion, which this year overtook Google to become the world’s third-most-valuable brand. This rise is due in part to the increased use of its Microsoft Teams collaboration software as employees worked from home during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the report."

    The balance of the top 10 brands is made up of Visa, Alibaba, Tencent, Facebook, McDonald's and MasterCard.

    One interesting note:  "Chinese video-sharing app TikTok is the highest new entry in the top 100 list, with a valuation of $16.9 billion and ranking higher than brands such as KFC, Uber and Adidas."

    The BrandZ ranking, commissioned by advertising group WPP and is conducted by Kantar, looks at more than 17,000 brands in 51 countries.

    Published on: July 1, 2020

    The Washington Post reports that the Business Roundtable, made up of CEOs of some of the nation's largest companies, is projecting that the negative impact of the coronavirus will be seen through 2021.  Almost a third of members suggest that it will last even longer.

    The survey indicates that the executives have relatively low expectations for rebounds in hiring, sales and even capital investment.

    According to the Post, "The CEO Economic Outlook Survey fell to 34.3 in the second quarter, the lowest reading for the composite index since the same three months of 2009, according to a report released Monday."  The silver lining:  "It’s well above the all-time low of -5.0, set during the first quarter of 2009 at the height of the Great Recession."

    The Post also notes that the Business Roundtable "is wading into the debate over policing reform, calling on Congress to pass bipartisan policing restructuring before the August recess and endorsing a ban on chokeholds except when deadly force is warranted, a national police misconduct registry, and other changes."

    AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, who leads the BRT’s racial equity and justice subcommittee, drew a direct line between economic recovery and social justice issues.

    "We recognize that we’re outside of our traditional area of expertise," he said.  "But this is a big deal. It’s affecting our communities. It’s affecting our economy. It’s affecting our employees in a really, really big way."

    KC's View:

    None of this stuff can be dealt with individually, because they're not taking place in a vacuum.  It'll be interesting to see the degree to which the CEO members of the Business Roundtable are able to bring this thinking to how they run their individual companies.

    Published on: July 1, 2020

    The Democrat & Chronicle reports that Wegmans has decided to close its dozen Pub by Wegmans locations, which had table service, full bars, and foodservice focusing on burgers, sandwiches, salads and snacks.

    According to the story, "Initially, the company discontinued service at the Pubs — in New York state, Pennsylvania and Virginia — in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but late Monday afternoon it confirmed the closures are permanent."

    The company cited a sea change in what customers want as the motivating factor.

    “We know those who love our Pub restaurants will be disappointed to learn that we have made the decision not to reopen our 12 Pubs across the company,” said Wegmans spokesperson Deana Percassi. “We are focused on applying our culinary expertise to the increasing demand for fast, casual meal solutions available in our stores, for pickup, and through delivery.”

    KC's View:

    This is an example of what we talked about a few weeks ago in the "De-invest to Reinvest" online conference … that it is almost more important to understand what businesses, categories and initiatives to walk away than it is to decide where to place your bets in the future.  Not surprised that Wegmans read the tea leaves and made the decision, however hard it might have been.

    Published on: July 1, 2020

    The New Yorker has a deep dive into the world of ghost kitchens and how they may be the future - and in many ways are the present - of the restaurant business.

    An excerpt:

    "In major American cities that continue to shelter in place or that are only inching toward reopening, every restaurant kitchen is now, in one way or another, a ghost kitchen. Across the country, restaurateurs have gotten creative. Some have converted overnight into greenmarkets or grocery stores. Some offer bottled mixed cocktails, or the contents of their pantries and wine cellars, or they host cocktail courses and wine-tasting classes on Zoom. Some are pivoting permanently, redesigning their interiors and menus to better fit into a future of fast-casual, carry-away fare. Some have partnered with local nonprofits to feed first responders. Reem’s California, a restaurant with locations in Oakland and San Francisco, has converted one location into a commissary kitchen to serve vulnerable community members during the pandemic. Flexibility is the order of the day."

    While the model is impressive, not to mention "an increasingly crowded space" and a reflection of "the logic of the digital marketplace," writer Anna Wiener says that "it is also a little sad. Decentralized, delivery-only restaurants - to say nothing of the WeWork-ification of restaurant kitchens - point to greater problems and complexities, like widening inequality, the high cost of living in coastal cities, the tenuous financial model of restaurants, and a culture in which, whether by preference or necessity, people prioritize convenience even in their leisure activities."

    In other words, one of our potential futures.

    The piece is totally worth reading here.

    Published on: July 1, 2020

    Random and illustrative stories about the global pandemic and how businesses and various business sectors are trying to recover from it, with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  In the United States, there now have been 2,727,996 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 130,123 deaths and 1,143,490 reported recoveries.

    Globally, there have been 10,609,666 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 514,449 fatalities and 5,817,890 reported recoveries.


    •  Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a US Senate committee yesterday that "new coronavirus cases 'could go up to 100,000 a day' if people continue to flout advice on social distancing and face masks," the Wall Street Journal reports.

    The Journal goes on:

    "'It could get very bad,' Dr. Fauci said. The U.S. is now recording about 40,000 new cases a day of the new coronavirus. The surge of new infections and rising hospitalization rates in states such as California and Texas have jeopardized reopening plans throughout the U.S., threatening a nascent economic recovery."

    And, the Journal writes, "Health experts say mass adherence to basic guidelines such as distancing and mask wearing, in addition to rolling back some reopenings, is sorely needed to combat the rising number of new coronavirus cases and hospitalization rates across the U.S., which has taken a patchwork approach to fighting the virus.

    "'As a country, we need a coordinated federal response because viruses do not care about state borders,' said Lisa M. Lee, a public-health expert specializing in infectious-disease epidemiology and public-health ethics at Virginia Tech.

    "Containing the spread of the virus is increasingly unlikely if people continue to shun mask wearing or practice social distancing, she said."

    Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, makes the point that Fauci is referring to "100,000 diagnosed cases a day," an emphasizes that we're already at 100,000 cases a day - we just don't have the numbers.

    Yikes.


    •  Another quote from Fauci's testimony:

    "I can't make an accurate prediction, but it is going to be very disturbing, I will guarantee you that, because when you have an outbreak in one part of the country even though in other parts of the country they're doing well, they are vulnerable … We can't just focus on those areas that are having the surge. It puts the entire country at risk."


    •  USA Today reports on a new Goldman Sachs survey saying that wearing a mask during the pandemic could directly affect the ability of the economy to recover.

    Here's how USA Today frames the story:

    "Wearing a face mask has become a politically-charged issue in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, but a national mask mandate could lower infections and help the economic recovery, according to a new report from Goldman Sachs.

    "As outbreaks flare up across the Sun Belt in states like Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, a national mask mandate could partially substitute for more lockdowns that threaten to depress economic activity even further, Goldman Sachs says. 

    "A face mask mandate could raise the percentage of people who wear masks by 15 percentage points and cut the daily growth rate of cases by 1 percentage point to 0.6%, Jan Hatzius, chief economist at Goldman, and a team of analysts said in the report.  'If a face mask mandate meaningfully lowers coronavirus infections, it could be valuable not only from a public health perspective but also from an economic perspective because it could substitute for renewed lockdowns that would otherwise hit GDP,' Hatzius said in a note to clients."

    The study goes on to say that a mask mandate could be an effective replacement for lockdowns and shelter-at-home orders that have a negative impact on the economy.

    Y'think this will influence the thinking of the powers that be?  I hope so … the argument here has long been that wearing a mask isn't just selfless and intelligent, but patriotic.


    •  H-E-B has announced that it will require all customers in its stores to wear masks, even in stores located in communities that do not require them.

    The only exception - children and people with health-related issues that make mask-wearing difficult.

    Less than 15 percent of its stores are located in areas that do not require masks, the company noted.


    •  The Boston Globe reports that Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday said that he "is relaxing the state’s self-quarantine guidance for potentially millions of out-of-state visitors, exempting people arriving from seven Northeast states that are making progress in the battle against the coronavirus.

    "The decision to ease guidance came as Massachusetts officials hit a new milestone in the pandemic, reporting zero new COVID-19 deaths for the first time since March. State health officials also reduced by 41 the state’s total number of confirmed and probable deaths to 8,054, citing the removal of duplicate death reports."

    However, "even as Baker eases the guidance for people traveling from New York, New Jersey, and the five other New England states, many are tightening their own travel guidelines. New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday expanded to 16 the number of states from which travelers are required to quarantine for 14 days if they come to New York. New Jersey and Connecticut officials are also advising travelers from 16 states to do so."

    Those states are: Alabama, Arkansa, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.

    Doesn't seem that long ago that there were states that didn't want people from my part of the country to visit, believing that this was a coastal problem that wouldn't affect them.  That said, nobody in my neck of the woods should get complacent, because the evidence to this point seems to be that when things start to get better, it is almost a sure sign that things are about to get worse.


    •  From the Wall Street Journal:

    "Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state was “not going back” on reopening, adding that the increase in cases was caused by young people out socializing, rather than people visiting businesses. The Florida Department of Health reported more than 6,000 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, high for the last 30 days but lower than the record of more than 9,500 cases reported Saturday.

    "The state did move to restrict alcohol sales in bars Friday and several Florida counties plan to close beaches ahead of the July 4 holiday weekend. Los Angeles officials also closed beaches for the holiday weekend and banned all July 4 fireworks displays, as cases throughout the county continued to rise.

    "The hospitalization rate, as well as the number of patients in intensive-care units, has continued to increase in California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom said 6,367 more people had tested positive for the virus."


    •  Willamette Week reports that "Oregon will require masks in all indoor public spaces, effective Wednesday, July 1.

    "Gov. Kate Brown announced the expansion of her mask requirement this afternoon. Oregon had previously required masks in eight counties, including the three largest counties in the Portland metro area.

    "She cited modeling that showed a looming spike in COVID-19 cases, and warned that if spread of the novel coronavirus doesn't slow, 'our hospitals could be overwhelmed by new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations within weeks'."


    •  From Bloomberg:

    "Colorado Governor Jared Polis said the state will order bars and night clubs to suspend indoor service, two weeks after allowing limited capacity. Establishments that serve food and alcohol will be allowed to remain open.

    "'With neighboring states now closing bars, we don’t want Colorado to become a mecca of night life in the pandemic,' Polis said at a news conference in Denver."


    •  Reuters reports that "the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Tuesday it would extend its partnership with private pharmacies and grocery chains to provide better access to COVID-19 testing.

    "The partnership with CVS Health Corp, Rite Aid Corp, Walgreens boots Alliance Inc, Kroger and Walmart Inc has been scaled up to more than 600 COVID-19 testing sites across the country.  About 70% of the testing sites under the program are located in areas that have moderate-to-high vulnerability to the virus."


    •  The Seattle Times reports that Alaska Airlines is getting aggressive in how it deals with passengers that don't wear masks on its flights.

    According to the story, "Starting in early July, the airline will hand yellow cards to noncompliant passengers, advising them that it is their 'final notice' and that a written post-flight report about them will be made. From there, if a passenger continues to refuse, it will be noted in the report and a decision could be made to ban the offending passenger from future flights."

    In a prepared statement, the airline said:  "Overwhelmingly, those who fly with us understand and appreciate the importance of wearing masks and face coverings during this time of COVID-19.  We also rely heavily on our guests to do the right thing for the greater good of everyone onboard our flights.

    "Our flight crews encounter moments when some travelers disregard or disobey our mask requirement. It creates tension and anxiety for many of our passengers who do have their face coverings on. So, a change is needed."

    Good for them.

    Almost certainly the best they can do, since tossing them off the plane at 30,000 feet probably isn't an option.  (Though they'd only have to do that once…)

    I saw a doctor on television the other night who expressed bewilderment that, as he put it, people seem to be more concerned about wearing masks than they are concerned about wearing ventilators.  I totally agree with that, and will say, on the record for everyone to see, that I'm pretty much terrified of ending up in the hospital and on a ventilator with this disease.  


    •  This report, from Bloomberg, just what we needed:

    "A strain of flu virus spreading in Chinese pigs has shown it can also infect humans, suggesting that another pathogen with pandemic potential waits in the wings behind Covid-19, according to a team of researchers."

    Oy.

    Published on: July 1, 2020

    The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) said yesterday that its annual Fresh Summit, scheduled for October 13-15 in Dallas, now will be run as a virtual event.

    PMA CEO Cathy Burns explained:  “Out of our utmost concern for the personal health, safety, and wellbeing of our guests, event partners, and staff – as well as after thoroughly reviewing responses from Fresh Summit attendees, exhibitors, and buyers regarding their comfort, willingness, and ability to travel this fall, and analyzing trends from state, federal and global health authorities.  It became abundantly clear that we could not hold a conference in Dallas as planned.”

    “The world has correctly deemed our products and industry as essential,” she added. “Fresh Summit will continue, and like every year, provides an opportunity for our global members to grow their businesses, celebrate the industry, and look to the future.”

    KC's View:

    No surprise here.

    I've actually had some experience with this stuff over the past few months, and am in the process of getting more.  One thing I think I have learned is that you cannot simply take a physical format and run it online … you have to fundamentally reshape it, with lots of short segments that give people the ability to drop in and out, because that's what they're going to do anyway.

    And make it fun.  One of the best things about the "De-invest to Reinvest" online conference was that it had a musical act - the Struts, who were terrific, and even offered a business message about adapting to pandemic realities.

    Published on: July 1, 2020

    The Seattle Times reports this morning that "Nordstrom is laying off thousands of workers, including a large number from its corporate operations in Seattle, as it copes with pandemic-related losses."  The job cuts could be as high as 20-25 percent nationally, which would be somewhere between 13,000 and 17,000 people, the story says.

    The Times says that "a Nordstrom spokesperson acknowledged Monday that the Seattle-based retailer is 'realigning and reducing our workforce to support our market strategy,' without giving any specifics."

    KC's View:

    Tough times, but my sense of Nordstrom is that more than any other department store company, they seem to have an understanding of how consumers are changing and being enabled and empowered by technology.  Which is why they've made so many investments over the years, developing an internal expertise that allows them to adapt to a new reality.

    Of course, the pandemic has accelerated things, and so it has to make adjustments faster than expected.  But I tend to think that at some point, Nordstrom will be held up as an example of making it work.

    Published on: July 1, 2020

    With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  From this morning's Washington Post:

    "Amazon announced Tuesday that it has hired more than 1,000 employees in the past year for its Arlington-based headquarters, putting it on schedule to create 25,000 new jobs in the decade.

    The Seattle-based company, which opened its first office in Arlington a year ago, has hired systems engineers, data scientists, designers, lawyers, technology support personnel and human resource employees … The average pay for those employees is above $150,000, the level required for the company to get $750 million in subsidies from Virginia."

    The story notes that "the new employees will work on several Amazon businesses, including Fire TV, Amazon Web Services, Amazon Prime and Alexa."

    This is an interesting story, especially considering how many of Amazon's employees currently are working from home because of the pandemic.  I've wondered the extent to which Amazon - and a lot of other companies - may be re-evaluating real estate needs, having learned that productivity doesn't necessarily suffer when people work from home, or at least less in the office.

    Published on: July 1, 2020

    •  Having said earlier this week that it will no longer sell "All Lives Matter" t-shirts on its website, Walmart said yesterday that it "will continue to sell other variations, including ‘Blue Lives Matter'."

    “We fundamentally believe all lives do matter and every individual deserves respect,” the company said in a prepared statement.  “However, as we listened, we came to understand that some, but not all, people using the phrase ‘All Lives Matter’ in the current environment intentionally minimized the focus on the painful reality of racial inequity.”

    NJ.com writes that "'All Lives Matter' is widely panned as a way of trying to obscure the Black Lives Matter movement, which is focused on systemic racism and police brutality. Many have pointed out using 'all lives matter' as a response to Black Lives Matter dismisses white privilege and the devaluing of Black lives."

    Published on: July 1, 2020

    •  From the Grand Rapids Business Journal:

    "Meijer is offering free support to blind and low-vision customers by partnering with the Aira app to increase accessibility and ease in their shopping trip.

    "Aira is a service that connects blind and low-vision people to highly trained, remotely located agents through the cameras of their smartphones. At the touch of a button, Aira will connect customers who need immediate visual assistance with anything from reading in-store signage to product labels."


    •  CNBC reports that Alibaba’s Freshippo grocery store chain in mainland China will begin carrying Beyond Meat's meatless burger patties.

    According to the story, "The maker of meat alternatives first entered mainland China in April through a partnership with Starbucks. Yum China’s KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut also sell Beyond Meat products in several Chinese cities."


    •  From the Pittsburgh Business Times:

    "In a franchise first, a kiosk-only Moe's Southwest Grill has launched here in Pittsburgh … The new restaurant, which uses touchscreen kiosk-terminals to place and pay for orders, is part of a larger pilot program that the restaurant group is currently experimenting with."

    Published on: July 1, 2020

    2020 just got worse.  We lost Carl Reiner.

    Reiner, the author-playwright-director-producer-actor-comedian and national treasure best known for creating "The Dick Van Dyke Show," has passed away of natural causes.  He was 98.

    Reiner first became prominent as a writer and cast member on Sid Caesar's "Your Show of Shows" in the mid-fifties, where he worked in a writer's room that was staffed by the likes of Woody Allen, Neil Simon and Mel Brooks.  With Brooks, who became his lifelong friend, he created a long-running and ever-evolving skit about "The 2000 Year Old Man," which remains a model of laugh-out-loud funny.  He also directed a number of hit films, such as The Jerk, All Of Me, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, The Man With Two Brains, and Oh, God, and acted in films ranging from It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World  to The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming to all three of the recent Ocean's Eleven films.

    KC's View:

    This one hurts.

    Want to watch something hysterical?  Check out the episode of "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee" in which Jerry Seinfeld hangs out with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks.  It is priceless.

    My daughter, Allison, is just 26 years old, but she will tell you without hesitation that "The Dick Van Dyke Show" is her favorite TV series.  Ever.  It is her definition of comfort food, and she's seen every episode multiple times.  It is a testimony to the timelessness of Reiner's creation that she knows not just who he is, but can tell you every time he appeared on the show as Alan Brady.

    Here's one:

    Published on: July 1, 2020

    Regarding the advertiser boycott of Facebook, MNB reader Nick Steinbach wrote:

    It would seem the ‘social media’ companies are coming to a point where the business model will need to be reviewed.  They have really backed themselves into a corner and soon will become a regulated industry – for whatever that is worth anymore in the media world.


    Responding to yesterday's story noting that "the Consumer Brands Association (CBA) has announced that it has 'brought together 23 consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies and retailers to launch a new task force that will study the impact of a contactless pick-up and delivery protocol to create greater efficiencies and reduce employee risk during deliveries'," MNB reader Tom Murphy wrote:

    Please!  Snicker, snicker, snicker!  I was on an ECR committee back in 1995 that made similar recommendations…and have been discussed annually (to no avail) at the FMI MidWinter Conference.  The technology, while not perfect in 1995, existed, but the willpower and leadership by manufacturers and retailers was nearly non-existent…or at least isolated to a few smart ones like P&G and Wegmans.

    Does the house have to burn to the ground before a fire extinguisher is placed in the kitchen?


    MNB reader Lisa Malmarowski had a thought about the replacing of symbols - as reflected by the decision by Walmart to no longer fly a Mississippi state flag that included the Confederate battle flag.  (Mississippi now is changing its flag.)

    The current pace is breathtaking for simple, symbolic things that people focus on - like merchandise and statues. The real systemic change takes time and commitment. 

    But getting rid of the symbols feels righteous, doesn’t it? My concern is that all of us well feel like we did something important and forget what the real change needs to be. 


    Some more notes about the MNB coverage, from the perspective of their impact on business, of the race and social justice issues confronting the country…

    One MNB reader wrote:

    Daily reader who personally believes that ‘All lives matter’. Walmart is being reactionary and the CEO’s thinking is myopic. 

    And MNB reader Tom Hahn wrote:

    Are you kidding me Kevin? Please stop with the virtue signaling – you found a way to link WalMart’s knee-jerk reaction of removing ‘All Lives Matter’ merchandise with our nation’s 400 years of crimes against humanity? Which would be roughly 156 years before we became a nation. How much guilt would you suggest we heap upon our collective shoulders?

    Personally, I’ve only been carrying 244 years worth; now you suggest I should add another 156 years? Maybe less time reading the NY Times and their support behind the bogus and dangerous 1619 Project would better connect you to reality.

    If nothing else Kevin, you are consistent. But this is a s-t-r-e-t-c-h – even for you.

    Virtue signaling?  Is that what I was doing?

    Yikes.  I thought I was just stating my opinion, which is sort of what I do for a living.

    The nation may have been founded 156 years after slaves were first brought to this continent, but that doesn't change the fact that slavery was intrinsic to the nation's existence for a long time, and that the descendants of slaves still carry that reality with them - many still actually carry the surnames of their ancestors' owners, which must be a terrible reminder.

    I'm not sure this is about guilt, though.  I think it is a lot more about understanding and opportunity … especially the opportunity to make our country a more perfect union.

    MNB reader Ryan Murphy reminds us all:

    Your reference to the Civil War in your comments about Wal-Mart yesterday reminded me of a quote by a famous Mississippian, William Faulkner:

    "The past is never dead.  It's not even past."

    Exactly.


    A note from an MNB reader about the New Yorker piece (which was written in conjunction with Pro Publica)about the dollar store segment…

    As the father of a recent journalism graduate, my son turned me on to ProPublica several years ago and this article is yet another powerful example of its excellent contributions to the type of investigative reporting that has been disappearing from our society as daily newspapers shrink and close.   I cringed as I read the story, knowing very well what the impact of these stores has been by virtue of their creation of fresh food deserts in small towns in the Midwest, but I did not previously comprehend how the same dollar store companies have affected inner city neighborhoods.    

    A good friend of mine who worked under me in the grocery business accepted a district manager position with one of the dollar store companies in the Upper Midwest.   In the time since we were employed together, he has worked for a number of grocery chains both in the Midwest and on the East Coast, developing a reputation as a “turnaround specialist” who had been hired to improve stores that had poor track records and he regularly demonstrated success in doing so.   His most recent decision to change employers was not anticipated, so he spent time interviewing with food retailing companies all over the country, eventually landing his current job.   His territory includes two stores that were destroyed in the rioting that occurred after the murder of George Floyd.  I forwarded this story to him, not to intimate that he had made a poor decision by choosing to work for them, but to help him create an awareness that he will need to be constantly aware of the need to protect himself and his employees.   As I think about the number of times (as much younger men) that he and I fearlessly ran out into the parking lot to chase down and retrieve shoplifters, I pray that he never finds himself in a situation like any of those reported in this story.  

    If dollar store corporations are aware of these circumstances within their stores and cavalierly continue to disregard them in the name of padding their bottom lines, then I don’t know from where the catalyst for change will come.  No other entity mentioned in the story (governments, police forces, civic organizations) seems to have the authority and/or desire to put a stop to this.   In terms of the consideration for and treatment of its employees, I would have to put the dollar store companies on a par with US meat processing facilities. 

    Published on: July 1, 2020

    Sad news, though hardly unexpected, from the Associated Press:

    "Baseball’s minor leagues canceled their seasons Tuesday because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the head of their governing body said more than half of the 160 teams were in danger of failing without government assistance or private equity injections.

    "The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor league governing body founded in September 1901, made the long-expected announcement. The minors had never missed a season."

    Pat O'Conner, the association's president, explained the decision this way:

    "We are a fans-in-the-stands business. We don’t have national TV revenues … There was a conversation at one point: Well, can we play without fans? And that was one of the shortest conversations in the last six months. It just doesn’t make any sense."

    Major League Baseball will resume in late July, with teams scheduled to play an abbreviated 60-game season.  While there will be no fans in the stands, the tams make a majority of their money through broadcast contracts.

    KC's View:

    I still think that it is unlikely that the major league season will be played in the way that they hope … all they need is a few infections, and it'll be over.

    The players seem to know this … which is why we're seeing some players declining to play.