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    Published on: August 6, 2020

    Two things are on KC's mind this morning.

    First, the roving underground parties reportedly taking place all over New York City (and, undoubtedly, in a lot of other places) where people can congregate in tight spaces without social distancing and without wearing masks, giving in to a desire to socialize and deluding themselves that the pandemic's threats are in the history books.  It proves, he says, that Forrest Gump's mother was right.

    Second, KC addresses some criticisms that he has received lately from readers who feel that MNB's coronavirus coverage is a) off-mission, and b) too political.

    Published on: August 6, 2020

    by Kevin Coupe

    During the past quarter, the New York Times generated more revenue from its various digital products than it did from its core print operations.

    It is the first time that has happened.

    Leading to this Eye-Opening question…

    Can it really be said that print products are at the core of what the newspaper is?

    Because this development suggests to me that there is nothing core about the dead-tree version of the Times anymore.  It is the foundation of what has come afterwards, but the core?

    I don't think so.

    And this is the kind of reckoning that almost every business is going to have.

    Published on: August 6, 2020

    From this morning's New York Post:

    "The supermarket chain that bought Fairway Market out of bankruptcy in March says the former owners of the Big Apple grocer have been engaging in shady tactics to steal its customers for a new business.

    "Village Super Market, which operates the ShopRite chain of groceries, claims in a new lawsuit that the former owners of Fairway are mooching off assets they sold in bankruptcy - including the beloved Fairway name - to lure unsuspecting shoppers to spend money on a grocery startup called Fresh and Beyond Specialty Grocery."

    Village Super Market spent " $76.2 million in March for Fairway’s name, its books and records and five of its most valuable stores," the story says, "including the Fairway flagship on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, which started off as a fruit-and-vegetable stand in 1933."

    The Post goes on:   "The former owners - an entity controlled by Wall Street’s Goldman Sachs and run by CEO Abel Porter since 2017- have even been hanging banners for their new grocery right next to Fairway signs at the handful of stores they still operate, including in Red Hook, Brooklyn, according to the Manhattan federal lawsuit filed on July 30.

    "And they have refused to turn over the valuable customer data sold to Village Super Market in March, including telephone numbers and email addresses, the lawsuit claims."

    Retail consultant and MNB fave Burt Flickinger seems to be lining up on Village Super Market's side.  He tells the Post that "the new brand seems to be created to convert existing Fairway customers to the new brand, which appears in direct conflict to the purchase agreement that Fairway signed with Village Supermarkets … It seems both absurd and outrageous that this brand is trading off the goodwill and power of the Fairway trademark to shift shoppers to new stores."

    The Post writes that the evidence suggests that the old Fairway owners seem to be setting up a new business that appears to be positioning itself to compete against - and use assets owned by - the new ownership.

    KC's View:

    If the reporting is accurate and the lawsuit is on target - and my general policy is to believe Burt Flickinger on this kind of stuff - then this is an absolute crock.

    There's only one thing that should be reassuring to the folks at Village Super Market.  The old ownership demonstrated very little talent for running any sort of food retail operation, so it isn't like this new entity is going to be real competition.

    But … if the old owners' goal is to achieve some sort of dramatic transformation of the old business into a leaner, more digitally focused enterprise - something they probably should've started doing with Fairway years ago - and still cash the $76.2 million check, that suggests something else … that they may be as unfamiliar with the notion of ethical behavior as they are with the fundamentals of food retailing.

    Published on: August 6, 2020

    Axios has a story suggesting that the "wave of defaults, bankruptcies and evictions expected in cities across the US" that is likely to "remake the retail landscape across the country" is not necessarily a bad thing.

    "Rather than an overnight descent into a collection of urban wastelands full of Starbucks, Amazon fulfillment centers, Chase bank branches and nothing else, the coronavirus pandemic and resulting retail apocalypse may just mean that, in major U.S. cities, less is more," Axios writes, quoting some experts as saying that "the world after the COVID apocalypse will likely include fewer malls and the end of some American business mainstays. But experts also expect it to bring lower rents, cleaner buildings and the opportunity for companies that have invested in quality to outperform."

    KC's View:

    It is, I think, a fascinating hypothesis.

    If we start from the premise that America is way, way overstored - and I'm not sure that there are many who would disagree with that - then the cleaning out of the weeds is, in fact, a good thing.  The stores that don't bring anything of value to the table, that are undifferentiated, and that can easily be replaced by online operations, are overdue for extinction.  But the bricks-and-mortar retailers that do have unique and differentiated value propositions, and that cannot be easily replaced by an online retailer … well, they'll have a much better chance of survival.

    This applies to every segment of retailing, I think.  Even supermarkets.  While a lot of undifferentiated stores and chains have had some strong quarters recently because of the pandemic, that isn't a long-term strategy.  It is just being in the right place at the right time, with toilet paper.  Long-term, many of these retailers won't do the hard work to maintain and expand their relevance and value proposition, and they'll be as endangered a year from now as they were a year ago.  (Yes, I know.  This also means jobs could go away.  But those jobs were endangered before any of this happened.  People were just in denial.  Now, they'll be forced tio reposition themselves for the parts of the economy that are thriving, not headed for obsolescence.)

    The Axios piece notes:  "As stores close, at least some square footage will likely be repurposed for industrial uses, e-commerce last-mile facilities (think Amazon logistics centers) or self-storage companies.  Vacant retail sites are already being converted to e-commerce warehouses and fulfillment centers, per commercial real estate giant CBRE — and the pandemic is accelerating that trend."

    At the same time, "More living space should be created as people move from big urban city centers to suburban settings and smaller, less expensive cities … Urban buildings will change. More housing could also open up as big box stores and strip malls inhabited by national retailers are razed and rezoned for community use."

    Maybe, just maybe, we'll all learn from this.  Maybe it'll actually be a brighter future, because we'll have learned from the sins of the past and built a more sustainable economic foundation in which retail is rejuvenated.

    Published on: August 6, 2020

    Delivery company DoorDash has announced the launch of DashMart, which it describes as "a new type of convenience store, offering both household essentials and local restaurant favorites to our customers’ doorsteps," often in 30 minutes.

    The company's bog says that "on DashMart, you’ll find thousands of convenience, grocery, and restaurant items, from ice cream and chips, to cough medicine and dog food, to spice rubs and packaged desserts from the local restaurants you love on DoorDash. DashMart stores are owned, operated, and curated by DoorDash."

    DashMart is available in eight cities at the moment:  Chicago; Minneapolis; Dallas; Salt Lake City; the greater Phoenix area; Redwood City, California; and Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio.  The company says that "over the coming months, we’ll be launching in many more cities across the country including San Diego, Baltimore, Denver, Sacramento, and Concord, CA.

    CNBC writes that "the channel marks the first time the SoftBank-backed unicorn is expanding its infrastructure to include distribution centers, which will carry household essentials, ready-made meals, and restaurant retail items like specialty spices or sauces. Each DashMart location will carry roughly 2,000 items … The undertaking appears to challenge online marketplaces like Instacart and Amazon, and more traditional brick-and-mortar retailers like Walmart and Target."

    KC's View:

    If I am reading this right, DashMart also potentially puts DoorDash directly in competition with convenience stores - which is sort of ironic since, as TechCrunch notes, "the move into the virtual storefront comes a few months after DoorDash partnered with more than 1,800 convenience stores throughout the country to better respond to the needs of customers during the COVID-19 pandemic."

    If this is an accurate reading of the stories and DoorDash's own blog, then I am wondering how those c-store companies may be feeling about this.  (Maybe the way that Instacart's retail clients should be feeling about that company's ability to weaponize their data and compete directly against them?)

    DoorDash isn't just serving as a delivery service here.  It is creating its own online marketplace, cutting out the retail middleman in some cases, and competing against the very clients it has been servicing.  It is like the c-store version of a ghost kitchen.

    One wonders if there will be a backlash.  And if there isn't, one wonders, why the hell not?

    Published on: August 6, 2020

    Re/code reports that while Walmart had planned to launch its Walmart+ program, which is designed to compete with Amazon Prime with a $98-a-year subscription service, in July, the start date has been delayed.

    According to the story, "It’s unclear whether there’s a new internal launch date and whether the program will launch nationally or first on a regional level when the company finally unveils it. Walmart originally planned to launch Walmart+ in late March or April … but the retailer first pushed back the date to July after the Covid-19 pandemic began sweeping across the US in March."

    KC's View:

    In the words of the great Jimmy Duggan, "If it weren't hard, everyone would do it."

    Published on: August 6, 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 4,973,741 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 161,608 fatalities and 2,540,880 reported recoveries.

    Globally, there have been 19,005,285 confirmed coronavirus cases, 711,853 fatalities, and 12,192,387 reported recoveries.


    •  From the Wall Street Journal:

    "The U.S. reported more than 50,000 new coronavirus cases for the second day in a row as parts of the country took further measures to curb the spread.

    "New cases topped 52,000, bringing the U.S. total to more than 4.8 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The national death toll from the pandemic surpassed 158,000.

    "Florida’s total cases passed 500,000 as the state added 5,495, according to the state Department of Health. The rate of new cases there has eased somewhat after surging in July."


    •  From the New York Times this morning:

    "For months, the call for coronavirus testing has been led by one resounding refrain: To keep outbreaks under control, doctors and researchers need to deploy the most accurate tests available — ones reliable enough to root out as many infections as possible, even in the absence of symptoms.

    "That’s long been the dogma of infectious disease diagnostics, experts say, since it helps ensure that cases won’t be missed. During this pandemic, that has meant relying heavily on PCR testing, an extremely accurate but time- and labor-intensive method that requires samples to be processed at laboratories.

    "But as the virus continues its rampage across the country and tests remain in short supply in many regions, researchers and public health experts have grown increasingly vocal about revising this long-held credo. The best chance to rein in the sprawling outbreaks in the United States now, experts say, requires widespread adoption of less accurate tests, as long as they’re administered quickly and often enough."

    The Times goes on:  "This quantity-over-quality strategy has its downsides, and is contingent on an enormous supply of testing kits. But many experts believe more rapid, frequent testing would identify those who need immediate medical care — and perhaps even pinpoint those at greatest risk of spreading the disease."


    •  The Gothamist reports that "in an aggressive attempt to prevent new coronavirus infections, New York City will begin sending law enforcement officers to check for travelers at Penn Station as well as major bridge and tunnel crossings who are driving in from states with high levels of confirmed cases, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday … the mayor said that all air travelers would now be required to fill out the state health form when they purchase their ticket online."

    People who fail to quarantine could get hit with a $10,000 fine.

    The story goes on:  "One in five confirmed infections in New York City have been linked to an individual from outside the state, according to Dr. Ted Long, the head of the city's Test and Trace Corps.

    "The mayor announced the new policy during his morning press briefing, calling it a necessary step as New York increasingly becomes an island among a sea of states with high infection rates. The state's positivity rate has been below 1.5% for more than a month. New York City has been below 3% since June 10, a period of 8 weeks."


    •  In Washington State, Gov. Jay Inslee announced recommendations for the criteria that should be used by local school districts when deciding whether to reopen their physical classrooms this fall or adopt an e-learning model, or some sort of hybrid.

    According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, "For counties where there are more than 75 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents, state health and education officials strongly recommend keeping classrooms closed and keeping students learning from home. The recommendations leave open the option for 'limited in-person instruction in small groups' for high-need students, such as those with disabilities, Inslee said.

    "Counties with 25 to 75 cases per 100,000 residents should keep high school and middle school classrooms closed. Elementary schools could open in those counties, according to the recommendations. Students with special needs could also attend classes."

    At this point, the story notes, "Inslee pointed out that 25 counties - 'the vast majority of the population of Washington' - currently have at least 25 cases per 100,000 residents."

    Inslee pointed out that "Covid-19 is still spreading at an alarming rate in the state and pointed out that schools in other states and countries that have reopened during the summer have seen infection numbers surge.  'If every school district brought all of their students back for in-person instruction today, I believe we will see an increase in Covid activity,' Inslee said."

    For those who wonder why I do these education-related pandemic stories, it is simple.  A world in which kids are doing e-learning for any period of time will impact consumer behavior.  And a world in which they're not, resulting in lots of people getting sick, also affects consumer behavior.  These stories have to be seen in the broader context of how they affect the economy and the retailers trying to figure out what to do next.


    •  The Boston Globe reports that "Boston public school officials have decided against taking a one-size-fits-all strategy in reopening classrooms this fall — if they choose a hybrid model — which could result in some schools opening with only remote learning while many others would alternate between in-person and remote learning, school officials announced Wednesday.

    "The variation reflects the inherent difficulties of crafting a reopening plan in a district with 125 schools. Some middle and high schools are woefully under-enrolled, while many elementary schools and the city’s three exam schools don’t have much space to spare, which could make it difficult to guarantee 6 feet of social distancing if they split classes in half for alternating days of in-person instruction."


    •  From the Washington Post:

    "Last week, schools in Corinth, Miss., welcomed back hundreds of students. By Friday, one high-schooler tested positive. By early this week, the count rose to six students and one staffer infected. Now, 116 students have been sent home to quarantine."

    That doesn't mean any change in plans for the school district,  Superintendent Lee Childress said in a FaceBook posting, "Just because you begin to have positive cases, that is not a reason for closing school."

    If I were a teacher in that district with any sort of high risk, I might have some questions about how valued I am by the superintendent and the board of education.


    •  From the Wall Street Journal:

    "Chicago officials said they would begin the school year with online-only classes, as coronavirus cases rise in the city. Chicago health officials said the seven-day rolling average had reached 277 a day, up from under 200 four to five weeks ago. The rate of positive tests has risen to 4.8%, from 3.8% less than a month ago.

    "Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the schools decision was based on the evolving public-health situation and feedback from parents."


    •  Also from the Washington Post:

    "After photos of crowded waterfront bars and pool parties in Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks went viral over Memorial Day weekend, scorn and condemnation poured in from all over the world.

    "But the publicity actually ended up boosting tourism, Gerry Murawski, the mayor of the town of Lake Ozark, claimed this week as yet another jam-packed gathering made headlines.  'You just think about what this has done for our economy and you just go, ‘Thank you folks,’ ” Murawski told WDAF, adding that Lake Ozark has seen more out-of-town visitors this summer than in the past two years combined. 'I look at that and go, ‘Well, maybe we’ve done something right,’ he said."

    Maybe.  I wonder how he'll feel about it if there is a surge in infections.  I wonder how he'll feel about it if this surge affects him or his family.

    This clown reminds me of another mayor - Larry Vaughn, who once refused to close the beaches of Amity, Massachusetts, because it was the tourist season and he didn't want to hurt business.  Of course, there was this shark that also was open for business.

    I keep thinking of the line uttered by Richard Dreyfuss as Matt Hooper:  "I think I am familiar with the fact that you are going to ignore this problem until it swims up and bites you in the ass.”


    •  Reuters reports that " Virginia on Wednesday launched the first contact tracing app for the novel coronavirus in the United States that uses new technology from Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc’s Google.

    "The state is betting that the app, COVIDWISE, can help it catch new cases faster, though long delays in getting test results must be overcome in order for it to be effective.

    "Phones with the app exchange Bluetooth signals to keep an anonymous list of close encounters. The app then allows people who catch the virus to notify those contacts without anyone revealing their identity."

    The story notes that "the United States remains far behind Europe, where millions of people across 11 territories over the last two months have downloaded smartphone tracker apps using the specialized Apple-Google Bluetooth technology."


    •  Forbes reports that Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic airlines has filed for bankruptcy protection, laying off thousands of people and following the path taken by sister airline Virgin Australia.   The blame was laid squarely at the feet of the coronavirus, which caused people to stop traveling because of concerns they would contract the disease.


    •  From the New York Times:

    "Federal health authorities issued a formal warning on Wednesday about the dangers of drinking hand sanitizer and alerted poison control centers across the nation to be on the lookout for cases of methanol toxicity after four people died and nearly a dozen became ill.

    "From May 1 to June 30, 15 people in Arizona and New Mexico were treated for poisoning after they swallowed alcohol-based hand sanitizer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said … Health officials warned that drinking hand sanitizer made with either methanol or ethanol could cause a headache, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of coordination and decreased level of consciousness. Methanol poisoning can additionally result in metabolic acidosis, seizures, blindness and death, they said."


    •  The Wall Street Journal reports that "the University of Connecticut announced Wednesday that it will not play football in 2020, becoming the first major Division I program to forgo competition due to health concerns related to the coronavirus.

    "The move comes as Connecticut, which is an independent, was also having trouble shoring up its schedule. The Huskies have had three games canceled and two others were in jeopardy because major conferences have called off non-conference games."

    Published on: August 6, 2020

    •  From some companies, at least, the pandemic has been a gift….

    The Wall Street Journal this morning points out that the "coronavirus pandemic brought enormous challenges" to Amazon, "tripping it up in a way rarely seen in its history.  Delivery times and customer reviews slipped, essential items were unavailable in some areas, and worker absences created extended challenges. For the first time in years, the company’s share of e-commerce in the U.S. actually fell."

    But … " as the virus raged on, Amazon spent billions of dollars on its response, hiring workers, increasing pay, improving delivery times, conducting medical tests for employees and stabilizing its supply chain. Its share of online sales has already begun to rebound.

    "Investors are confident that the consumer habits brought about by the coronavirus will endure and ultimately make Amazon more powerful. The e-commerce juggernaut has added more than $700 billion to its market value since its March lows, or about the size of Facebook Inc. Its market capitalization now exceeds $1.5 trillion, behind only Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. among public companies."

    And, it is important to remember, increased market value makes it easier for Amazon to borrow at rates lower than most countries, and easier to invest in initiatives that will put other companies at a disadvantage.  

    Published on: August 6, 2020

    •  From USA Today:

    "Walmart parking lots across the country are being transformed into drive-in theaters.

    From Aug. 14 through Oct. 21, the retailer will have 320 movie showings at 160 of its stores, including E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, The Wizard of Oz, Black Panther as well as animated movies like Cars and The Iron Giant.

    The story notes that "Walmart in early July announced plans to show free movies, which are being curated by the Tribeca Film Festival, and on Wednesday released the list of the movies with dates and cities where the movies would be shown … consumers can sign up to reserve a parking space for a viewing at thewalmartdrivein.com.

    Published on: August 6, 2020

    •  Kroger announced that "now through Sept. 9, teachers, school administrators and parents who shop at Kroger Family of Stores on Wednesdays will save an extra 10% on general merchandise, including school and craft supplies, toys, games, sporting goods, housewares, apparel and electronics."

    "There's always an exciting energy in our stores during the back-to-school season—and this year is no exception," said Valerie Jabbar, Kroger's group vice president of merchandising. "During these challenging and uncertain times, the enthusiasm for education that we've experienced from teachers, school administrators and parents alike has been uplifting. We're thrilled to offer this exclusive discount to teachers and 'honorary teachers' across our family of stores as a way to show our gratitude for all they're doing for their students and our communities."


    •  Publix Supermarkets announced that it is closing all its South Carolina GreenWise markets, which offer organic, natural and specialty groceries, effective the end of the month.

    Maria Brous, Director of Communications for GreenWise, said in a statement, “We have made the difficult decision to close both GreenWise Market locations in South Carolina. Both locations were acquisitions that fit our needs at the time of opening. As our concept has evolved, the locations have space constraints that will not fit our current vision for GreenWise Markets.”


    •  From CNBC:

    "Beyond Meat last quarter shifted its focus from the food service sector and doubled down on the retail business to drive record sales in the face of a pandemic, CEO Ethan Brown told CNBC’s Jim Cramer Wednesday.

    "Brown said the alternative meat producer’s business was split half-and-half between grocery stores and food preparation businesses, but the company made drastic changes to its end markets as restaurants, college campuses and office cafeterias closed lost customers due to lockdown and shelter-in-place orders."

    As Beyond Meat went to a model that has 88 percent of its sales in retail stores, retail revenues went up 192 percent.

    Published on: August 6, 2020

    Pete Hamill, the legendary New York City newspaperman, has passed away of kidney and heart failure.  He was 85.

    KC's View:

    Calling Pete Hamill a "legendary newspaperman" is understatement of the first order.  Because he was so much more.

    He was a reporter.  An essayist.  Columnist.  Newspaper editor.  Feature writer.  Novelist.  Screenwriter. Storyteller.

    The recent HBO documentary, "Breslin & Hamill:  Deadline Artists," chronicled the degree to which Hamill and his brother-in-ink, Jimmy Breslin, chronicled the streets of New York City for the city's then-respectable tabloid newspapers in the sixties and seventies, finding not just grist for their stories but also staying connected to the humanity of the people about whom they were writing.

    Hamill had the rich and varied life that he sometimes said was one of the best things about being a newspaperman.  He could cover grisly murders, prize fights and politics, but he also dated the likes of Shirley MacLaine and Jacqueline Onassis.   He wrote about and knew Frank Sinatra (read his "Why Sinatra Matters") and Cus D'Amato and Keith Hernandez and Franz Kline.  He was not just at the Ambassador Hotel the night that Sirhan Sirhan shot Bobby Kennedy, but he was one of the people who wrestled the assassin to the ground.  He covered wars in Vietnam and Nicaragua, Lebanon and Northern Ireland, and he lived at various times in places ranging from Dublin to Mexico City.

    His memoir, "A Drinking Life," was about his growing up in Brooklyn, and his evolution into becoming a newspaperman, in love with, as he wrote, the "organized chaos of editors shouting from desks, copy boys dashing through doors into the composing room, men and women typing at big manual typewriters, telephones ringing, the wire service tickers clattering, everyone smoking and putting butts out on the floor.”  It was also about his addiction to alcohol, and his decision to stop drinking in 1972.  It is as fine a memoir as you will ever read, muscular in its prose style, minute in its observations, and elegiac in its tone.  I have a hardcover copy that Hamill autographed for me a number of years ago, and it is a prized possession.

    Want to know how to write?  Read his "Piecework," a collection of columns that he published in 1996.  Hamill begins the book this way:  "For 35 years now, I have worked at the writing trade.  Writing has fed me, housed me, educated my children.   Writing has allowed me to travel the world and has provided me with a ringside seat at some of America's biggest, most awful shows.  Writing has permitted me to celebrate and embrace many public glories and to explore the darkest side of my own personality.  Writing is so entwined with my being that I can't imagine a life without it."

    One of Hamill's lesser known efforts was the fast rewrite he gave French Connection II when director John Frankenheimer realized that the script he was working with just wasn't working.  There's a line in the movie uttered by Gene Hackman's police detective, Popeye Doyle, that I just assume was Hamill's work:  "I'd rather be a lamppost in New York than the president of France."

    Everything you need to know about the character in just 13 words.  Economical.  Evocative.   Perfect.

    Hamill was the person who once said that a writer's voice "can’t be taught and certainly can’t be manufactured.”  I think about that all the time.

    It is Hamill that I often have quoted here when addressing critical issues:  "Ideology is a substitute for thought."

    I've always described myself as a writer, though obviously one of far fewer accomplishments and of far less nobility than Hamill.  But guys like Hamill made being a writer a noble profession.  What could be better?  Why would I want to be anything else?

    For me, Hamill was one of the north stars -  the guy I thought about when I thought about writers, producing prose that I loved and interpreting the world that he saw in ways that moved me.  I only met him once, and briefly, but I know I'm going to miss the clarity and insight he brought to the subjects about which he wrote his stories.

    -30-

    Published on: August 6, 2020

    Regarding my coverage of the pandemic, one MNB reader wrote:

    As a former resident and fortunately now a retiree who visits extended family every year I follow the Honolulu StarAdvertiser online. Hawaii has one of the lowest infection and death rates, but at the cost of the tourist business the State depend upon. They've had a 14-day quarantine on trans-Pacific arrivals set to end the end of August for those visitors with proof of a negative test prior to arrival. The recent spikes around the country and rising cases in the Islands are leading the governor to decide on an extension of restrictions that will further hurt the economy and the workers.

    I joked yesterday that Clorox's considerable increases during the recent quarter weren't as high as I might've expected, prompting one MNB reader to write:

    Most likely their sales could have been up higher than 24% and 10% annually but supply got in the way.  Or lack thereof.  It was almost impossible to find Clorox cleaning products or wipes for several months and only now are you finding them sporadically in “regular” retail channels.  I believe I read much of their product was held to sell or donate to health care workers, etc. Not sure if that channel pricing makes a difference in the sales $ increases. 

    I was joking.  A little.

    On another subject, one MNB reader wrote:

    I would have to agree with you that Trader Joe’s should probably just quietly change the names of their products that seem to offend some folks.  From a business perspective it would be the prudent thing to do.

    I am a little confused though by one of your readers comments concerning offending companies.  I re-read the comment several times, but can’t figure out what is being conveyed.  The reader made the following statement without explanation:

    I’m actually offended by Apple since it’s a statement about the way  of the Devil and how he continually baits us into sin.

    Wait…..What?

    I think it was a Garden of Eden joke/reference.

    And finally, … yesterday we took note of a Variety report that actress/producer Amy Adams and writer/director Adam McKay (The Big Short, Vice, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby) are planning a new project for Netflix that will focus on a historic class action lawsuit against Walmart.

    I commented, in part:

    I can see it now.  Christian Bale as Sam Walton.  Steve Carell as David Glass.  Ryan Gosling as Lee Scott.  Tracy Letts as Mike Duke.  John C, Reilly at Tom Coughlin.  And Will Ferrell as Doug McMillon.

    (If you have alternative suggestions, the MNB casting office is open for business…)

    Prompting one MNB reader to write:

    You could cast Seth Rogen as a East Coast, know-it-all retail analyst who has an orgasm every time an Amazon package arrives.. just sayin…

    First of all, I cannot imagine who you're referring to.

    But whoever it is, I'm sure he'd be thrilled to be played by Seth Rogen.

    But thanks for making me laugh out loud.

    Published on: August 6, 2020

    I'm going to take a long weekend, and so am going to put MNB on a bit of a hiatus … we'll return with all-new hand-crafted news and commentary next Tuesday, August 11.

    See you then.  Have a great weekend … stay safe … be healthy.