business news in context, analysis with attitude

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."


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.