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    Published on: September 8, 2020

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

    What separates the winners and losers in the current pandemic-centric retail environment?  Why are some retailers able to establish themselves as sustainably essential, while others are just momentarily relevant because people had to buy toilet paper somewhere?

    On today's podcast, Sterling Hawkins and Kevin Coupe re-engage with Steve Dennis, president and founder of Sageberry Consulting and the author of  "Remarkable Retail:  How to Win & Keep Customers in the Age of Digital Disruption," to continue their conversation about predictions and prescriptions for a post-pandemic future.

    You can listen to the podcast here.

    …or on The Retail Tomorrow website, iTunes or Google Play.

    Published on: September 8, 2020

    September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and it comes at a time when suicide rates, because of stresses created by the pandemic, are the highest they have been since World War II

    KC takes note of a Fast Company piece by CVS's Karen S. Lynch, in which she writes that it is critical to take care of ourselves and of each other, and to "create a culture - even if it’s primarily through virtual communication - that gives people permission to be vulnerable. No matter where you sit in an organization, we’re all human beings, and knowing we’re not alone in our feelings and experiences, and that there is no shame attached to them, can help us feel less isolated.

    "In addition, being open and open-minded about these issues can help organizations develop supportive policies that benefit employees who live with mental health problems, as well as those who don’t."

    You can read her piece here.

    Published on: September 8, 2020

    by Kevin Coupe

    The news can be pretty depressing these days, which is why I'd like to start the week with a good news story … from NBC News, a piece about Lashenda Williams, who after a lifetime of addiction, abandonment and abuse, spent months sleeping in her car, parked in a slept in a Kroger parking lot in Nashville.  Now, the story says, "the same supermarket has welcomed her with a job and a fresh start."

    It is an Eye-Opener about compassion and community at a time when both can seem in short supply.

    Published on: September 8, 2020

    The New York Times this morning writes that "the 'dark miracle' of the modern American grocery store is the subject of Benjamin Lorr’s new book, 'The Secret Life of Groceries,' which would have cleared the fascination bar even before the panic shopping of early Covid reminded us not to take these spectacular behemoths for granted.

    "The subject is sprawling, and Lorr spent five years filling up his reportorial cart: debriefing grocerymen, eating his way through specialty food expos, riding shotgun with a long-haul trucker, even working undercover in the seafood department of a downtown Whole Foods … The process left Lorr horrified and awed, often at the same time."

    You can read the review of Lorr's book here.

    The book, out today, is available on Amazon.

    Or, if you want to order it from a great independent bookseller, visit Powell's site and give them the business.

    MNB will shortly feature an interview with author Benjamin Lorr.  Stay tuned.

    Published on: September 8, 2020

    Fox Business reports that delivery company Instacart will team with convenience store chain 7-Eleven to offer same-day delivery.

    According to the announcement, "7-Eleven delivery via Instacart is available today from more than 750 stores across Florida, Texas, Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. From pantry staples like milk, bread and eggs, alcohol, snacks, over-the-counter medicine, energy shots and drinks, and more, customers in Dallas, Miami, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and the surrounding areas now have access to thousands of 7-Eleven convenience and grocery items via the Instacart marketplace. The multi-phased launch will expand nationwide in the coming months, bringing same-day delivery from 7-Eleven via Instacart from over 7,000 7-Eleven stores to customers across the U.S."

    "7-Eleven got its start 93 years ago because of its forward-thinking innovation that forever changed the way people shop," said Chris Tanco, COO at 7-Eleven, in a prepared statement. "Our success then, and today, is built on continued innovation that ensures we continue offering our customers exceptional products and services when and where they want them. Adding 7-Eleven to Instacart's platform was a logical step – we are able to offer even more customers the 7-Eleven conveniences they know and love."

    KC's View:

    One of the most revealing lines from the press release is how "Instacart partners with more than 400 beloved national, regional and local retailers," cementing the notion that it is explicitly subverting any differentiation strategies and tactics employed by those businesses.

    It was just weeks ago that DoorDash announced that, in addition to providing delivery services to c-store clients, it now will also compete with them with its own DashMart retail business.  I think it is a fair bet that Instacart has precisely the same endgame in mind - DoorDash just said the quiet part out loud - and so all of these businesses are in essence putting a competitor in business with access to their customer lists and sales data.

    Good luck with that.

    Published on: September 8, 2020

    The Milwaukee Business Journal reports that Amazon and Kohl's appear to be in the process of expanding on their relationship, which to this point has centered on the department store chain accepting Amazon returns in its units.

    According to the story, "In La Verne, California, Kohl’s appears to be testing the right-sizing, side-by-side concept with an Amazon grocery store. According to city records, Kohl’s owns the property, which is more than 88,000 square feet. The retailer proposed dividing its space so that Kohl’s would occupy about 50,900 square feet, and the grocery store would fill the remainder."

    The move is part of Kohl's broader move to streamline its physical footprint while testing partnerships designed to generate traffic for its stores.  It already has announced tests with Aldi and Planet Fitness.

    KC's View:

    Kohl's has said that the partnerships work in some places, but not others.  It would be my guess that they probably work better in places where Kohl's has a stronger customer base, if only because I can't imagine the presence of an Amazon physical store making me more interested in shopping there.

    On the other hand, if Amazon is paying rent … well, at least there will be some money coming in.

    Published on: September 8, 2020

    Variety has an interview with Reed Hastings, co-founder and co-CEO of Netflix, in which he talks about some of the issues that he writes about in his new book, co-athored with Erin Meyer, "No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention."

    Some excerpts:

    •  "Our big media competitors are not going to be able to take advantage of [the lessons in the book] because they’re too well established… It’s not like some great trade secret and then they’re all going to adapt to it. It’s the younger firms that will."

    •  "The Keeper Test is super simple. It’s 'Would you keep the person if they wanted to leave?' I realized maybe three years ago with our CFO, David Wells, who was very competent but not hungry for entertainment. He was a generalist… He had done great work for us for a decade. I realized, if he resigned, I would look at it as an opportunity to get an entertainment CFO, who loves entertainment. That’s a tough one, because your heart cares for the person and they’re great. But your head is like, 'We could be a better company if we had an entertainment CFO.' Which indeed, six months after that, is what we did…"

    •  "If someone mostly cares about job security — maybe they’re supporting relatives, there are a lot of reasonable reasons — we try to be clear: We’re not a good place to come. We don’t want people to feel debilitating fear; obviously that’s not productive. But again, it’s kind of like athletics. We’re looking for a special kind of person who can ignore that fear and play light and know if they do one to 10 years at Netflix, it’s going to help their career. They don’t have to be at Netflix forever."

    •  Maureen Dowd had a piece about Hastings in the Sunday New York Times, writing, "One fired Netflix executive told me, 'When Reed views somebody’s contribution as less than the problems they’re causing or potential risk, he gets rid of them. He’s an extraordinary guy, but he’s coldly rational and calculating. But the trade-off is, you get to go on this amazing fun ride, make a lot of dough, and when your number’s up, your number’s up'."

    •  Another quote from the Variety interview:

    "You know, Amazon, Hulu, Netflix and YouTube all launched in the 2005-2007 period. So those four have been competing for 14 years now. We compete through focus. Amazon, you can get anything you want at Amazon — they’re trying to be Walmart. We’re more a passion brand; we’re more like online Starbucks or something. We’re a real entertainment brand, much more like HBO. The old fear used to be Amazon buys HBO — because it’s then Amazon-powered but entertainment-focused. But that never happened. We compete with them by doing great content. You know, pleasing people, but really it’s the focus of the brand — that’s what people talk about."

    •  And, from the Dowd piece in the Times:

    "Mr. Hastings writes that all the rules apply to him: 'I tell my bosses, the board of directors, that I should be treated no differently. They shouldn’t have to wait for me to fail to replace me … I find it motivating that I have to play for my position every quarter, and I try to keep improving myself to stay ahead'."

    KC's View:
      It is a little hard to conceive of a business culture that is simultaneously cutthroat and nurturing … but maybe when it is baked in from the beginning, it is easier to achieve.

    Can't wait to read the book.  Reed Hastings when he started Netflix already was looking around the corner … he was renting DVDs, but saw a world in which streaming would dominate and where he'd be competing with HBO, not Blockbuster.  Every retailer should have that kind of vision.

    Published on: September 8, 2020

    While it is store closings that get all the attention -  more than 7,000 have closed this year - there are in fact companies that are still opening stores, with expansion largely being seen in categories that include beauty, home goods, discount and grocery.

    Among the retailers in growth mode that are cited in the story:

    •  "BJ’s Wholesale is using the boost it’s gotten from the pandemic to venture into uncharted markets with new stores. The company is aiming to open two clubs in New York before the fiscal year is over, followed by six new ones next year.

    “Our hope is that next year we’ll be able to open significantly more than we have in the past,” says CEO Lee Delaney.  “We are moving aggressively to make those numbers or even larger ones a reality … We expect this landscape ... will increase our relevance to members and prospective members alike.  Almost regardless of the level of economic uncertainty, we should be well-positioned versus competitors given our low-price positioning and the fact that we have grown our membership."

    •  "The German-based grocery chain Lidl is plotting opening 50 new stores by the end of 2021, rivaling the likes of Aldi, Trader Joe’s and Walmart.  The company, which currently has a little more than 100 locations in the U.S., said it will allocate about $500 million to open the new stores. It said it plans to expand the most in New Jersey and Maryland.

    "Lidl entered the U.S. about two years ago, opening its first store in the Southeast. Its initial, aggressive growth plans were stalled. But its pace of expansion looks to be picking back up, as a number of regional grocery chains like Lucky’s and Fairway have filed for bankruptcy in recent years and shut down."

    •  "Five Below is planning to open 110 to 120 net new stores this year alone. CEO Joel Anderson said it has the potential to grow to more than 2,500 stores nationwide up from roughly 1,000 today … The company, which competes with the likes of Dollar General and Dollar Tree, said people have been visiting its stores during the pandemic to stock up on hand sanitizers, wipes and masks, as well as kitchen and bath products, clothes and items for pets. Five Below has carved out somewhat of a niche audience by catering more to teens than some of its rivals in the discount sector."

    Published on: September 8, 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 as of this morning, there have been 6,485,708 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 193,536 deaths and 3,758,629 reported recoveries.

    Globally, there have been 27,509,910 confirmed coronavirus cases, 897,217 fatalities, and 19,604,885 reported recoveries.

    •  The Washington Post reports that Operation Warp Speed co-chief Moncef Slaoui, who is in charge of the federal government's efforts to accelerate the production of a coronavirus vaccine "said it was 'possible but very unlikely' that a coronavirus vaccine will be ready to distribute by the end of October or early November."

    "“There is a very, very low chance that the trials that are running as we speak could [be completed] before the end of October and therefore there could be - if all other conditions required for an Emergency Use Authorization are met - an approval,” Slaoui said. “I think it’s extremely unlikely but not impossible, and therefore it’s the right thing to do to be prepared, in case."

    Referring to concerns that presidential politics would play into the approval timeline, he added, "I would immediately resign if there is undue interference in this process."

    •  From the New York Times:

    "A group of drug companies competing with one another to be among the first to develop coronavirus vaccines are planning to pledge early next week that they will not release any vaccines that do not follow rigorous efficacy and safety standards, according to representatives of three of the companies … The manufacturers that are said to have signed the letter include Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi."

    The Times goes on:  "Even as companies are competing to be the first to bring a coronavirus vaccine to market, they must navigate perilous political terrain. If they are among the first to bring a successful vaccine to market, they could earn major profits and help rehabilitate the image of an industry battered by rising drug prices.

    "But if a vaccine turns out to have dangerous side effects for some people, the fallout could be catastrophic, damaging their corporate reputations, putting their broader portfolio of products at risk and broadly undermining trust in vaccines, one of the great public health advances in human history."

    •  The Washington Post reports that "New York’s infection rate has been below 1 percent for 30 straight days, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Sunday, marking a turning point for the state that once was the epicenter of the novel coronavirus.

    "Cuomo encouraged New Yorkers to continue mask-wearing, social distancing and hand-washing."

    The Post notes that "New York once reported startling numbers of new infections and deaths at the outset of the virus; it reported more than 11,500 new cases in a single day in May and more than 1,200 deaths in a day in April."

    •  The Daily Beast has a story quoting employees at the Downtown Disney shopping district as saying that subsequent to its opening, "Disney has kept the total number of positive cases at the district under wraps, alerting unions only to the positive test results of their members - often days after the fact, risking further exposure - and leaving workers to guess for themselves why colleagues disappeared for days at a time, or why 11 people from the 12-person Horticulture Irrigation team didn’t show up to work for a full week."

    According to the story, "The Downtown Disney district had no on-site testing …  the district did not contain its visitors, but allowed streams of thousands to pass in and out of the area with little more than a temperature check. But the most alarming difference, cast members told The Daily Beast, involved the district’s shadowy contact tracing."

    This is the kind of story, depending on how it unfolds, ends up claiming a bunch of victims - the people who end up getting sick, and the reputation of any company that is cavalier about dealing with the coronavirus.  

    •  The New York Times has a story about Oaki, a company that makes outdoor clothing for children, and how its wares have suddenly become in-demand because of a pandemic-created trend - holding class outdoors.

    At the Center School on Greenfield, Massachusetts, the story says, the administration "has committed to an all-outdoor curriculum this fall to guard against the spread of the coronavirus among its students and staff. Tents and outdoor desks have been procured to create al fresco classrooms. The school has also recommended that parents buy their children Oaki rainsuits, priced at $60 to $70.

    "They are not the only ones.

    "With a number of schools in the United States opting for outdoor education over the potentially germier confines of their traditional indoor spaces, demand for Oaki’s rainsuits and related gear 'has been overwhelming,' said Sam Taylor, the chief executive of the company, which is based in the Salt Lake City area. It’s a sentiment echoed by other outdoor-oriented companies, some of which are launching new product lines or repurposing existing ones to capitalize on how the pandemic has changed the education experience."

    •  The Los Angeles Times reports that more than 700 people have been banned from flying on the nation's largest airlines because of their refusal to comply with mask mandates.

    According to the Times, "Delta Air Lines leads all carriers, having placed 270 passengers on its 'no fly' list for flouting its mask policy. It’s followed by United Airlines, with 150; Spirit Airlines, 128; Frontier Airlines, 106; Alaska Airlines, 78; and Hawaiian Airlines, six … In addition to the bans it has doled out, Seattle-based Alaska Airlines has issued 92 warnings, or 'yellow cards,' to passengers who had to be admonished more than once on a flight for ignoring the mask policy."

    The story notes that airlines are unable to fine passengers for violating the mask mandates, leaving them with no option other than banning them.

    What is unknown is how many people have been banned by more than one airline, because the companies apparently don't share their lists with each other.

    •  Bloomberg reports that "Peloton Interactive Inc. is preparing to launch a cheaper treadmill and a new high-end bike, while cutting the price of its existing bike to stoke demand as many gyms remain closed, according to people familiar with the matter.

    "The new treadmill, called Tread, will cost less than $3,000, compared with $4,295 for the current model. It will also be smaller and have a cheaper belt design like most other treadmills on the market versus the current model’s slat design … The new stationary bike will be a premium offering called Bike+, and will likely cost more than the current $2,245 version. Peloton will then drop the price of the existing machine to less than $1,900, the people said."

    The story points out that "the Covid-19 pandemic has boosted demand for Peloton’s products and services as consumers look for new ways to work out at home. Many gyms across the U.S. remain closed, giving the company a rare opportunity to lure new customers and subscribers. The stock has surged 178% this year."

    •  The Las Vegas Monorail has rolled snake eyes.  Blame the pandemic.

    Fox News reports that the company that owns and operates it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will look to sell itself to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

    “The Las Vegas Monorail has served a critical mobility need in the resort corridor for over 16 years, carrying over 85 million riders during that time. Like many other companies, we were forced to shut down on March 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are not yet able to reopen,” said CEO Curtis Myles. “As a result, it is in the Las Vegas Monorail Company’s best interest to file for bankruptcy and effectuate a sale of the system assets to a party who intends to keep the system in operation and help ensure that the mobility benefits the Monorail provides continue during conventions, events and throughout the year.”

    •  From the Associated Press:

    "Theme park operators who spent months installing hand sanitizing stations, figuring out how to disinfect roller coasters seats and checking the temperatures of guests at their gates so they’d come back in the midst of the pandemic are finding many reluctant to return.

    "Some parks have reduced operating days, slashed ticket prices, and closed early for the year because of lower-than-hoped attendance — expectations weren’t high to begin with — along with the uncertainty of what’s to come with the coronavirus. A few parks have been unable to open their gates at all because of state and local health restrictions.

    "Disney this week will begin cutting an hour or two out of each day at its four Florida theme parks. It already called off its annual after-hours Halloween party at the Magic Kingdom. Neighboring Universal Orlando also nixed its Halloween Horror Nights.

    "Amusement parks across the South that had their seasons delayed by virus outbreaks in the spring deal with a second punch with the summer flareups across the Sun Belt. Some, including Kings Dominion in Virginia and Carowinds in North Carolina, never opened and won’t this year."

    •  Batman has Covid-19.

    The Los Angeles Times reports that production on The Batman, a new version of the comic book legend, has been halted because Robin Pattinson, who is playing Bruce Wayne and his crimefighting alter-ego, has been infected by the coronavirus.

    The Batman had been shooting when the pandemic shut down production in mid-March, and had just resumed when Pattinson was diagnosed.

    The Times writes that "the new hiatus shows the difficulties Hollywood faces in trying to resume filming as the pandemic persists. Studios, which have major movie productions not only to complete but to launch, have been delaying release dates for films … The Batman had been set for release on June 25, 2021, but that has since been pushed back to Oct. 1, 2021."

    Published on: September 8, 2020

    The Los Angeles Times has a story about how climate change is affecting the US wine business.

    "Climate change is not some abstract, distant worry," the Times writes.  "It’s creeping into their vineyards right now.

    "And that’s a big deal. The United States is the world’s fourth-largest wine producer behind Italy, France and Spain, and California produces 80% of the nation’s vino. Retail sales top $40 billion, and the industry employs more than 30,000 Californians directly in growing grapes and producing wine and many more in related jobs. Here, as in other wine-growing regions of the world affected by climate change, there won’t necessarily be less production in coming years. But growers are switching varieties, tinkering with techniques and moving to higher elevations."

    As far back as 2011, the story says, "a Stanford University study predicted that the amount of Northern California land suitable for growing premium grapes could shrink by half as early as 2040, due to increased heat.

    "That’s bad news for the cabernet grape. Too much heat can mean the berry develops sugar before it has developed its full character, throwing off balance and coloring."

    You can read the entire story here.

    Published on: September 8, 2020

    •  From DC Velocity:

    "Transportation and logistics provider FedEx Corp. is expanding the coverage area of its Sunday residential delivery service ahead of the holiday shipping season, saying the move would give it a 'significant weekend competitive advantage' over other carriers delivering e-commerce parcels.

    "Saying it was preparing for an 'unprecedented' peak holiday shipping season, Memphis-based FedEx said its FedEx Ground year-round Sunday residential coverage will now cover nearly 95% of the U.S. population beginning September 13, up from just over 60% at present."

    •  From CBS News:

    "Amazon has banned foreign sales of seeds in the U.S. after Americans across the country received suspicious packages of seeds, many originating in China, earlier this summer.

    "Under the online retailer's new policy, as of September 3 overseas seed vendors are prohibited from importing plant or seed products into the U.S., according to Amazon. Non-residents of the U.S. are also banned from bringing seeds into the country.

    The story notes that "Americans in all 50 states have reported getting the seeds in the mail. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has advised recipients against planting them, warning that the seeds could be invasive species.  So far, however, more than a dozen of the seed types identified by the agency have turned out to be innocuous species such as mustard, cabbage and morning glory as well as herbs like mint, sage, rosemary and lavender."

    This is how it starts.  And then, pretty soon, you have Invasion of the Body Snatchers, with pods everywhere and people being replaced and Kevin McCarthy running around the city saying, "They're coming…"

    •  Simple Flying  reports that "Amazon Air finally outright owns a Boeing 767 aircraft. Until now, the company had been flying the widebody under leasing agreements. However, the cargo outfit received its first independent unit this month … This jet joins 36 other Boeing 767s in Amazon Air’s fleet. Additionally, the firm holds 15 737 aircraft. Altogether, these two types give the company a well-rounded offering for short, medium, and long-distance operations. Furthermore, it has aligned with other carriers to help take on services under its name."

    Published on: September 8, 2020

    •  Fox Business reports that Walmart announced that "it would be installing breastfeeding pods for customers and employees at 100 of its locations throughout the United States.  The pods 'are freestanding spaces that provide a clean, comfortable and private option to breastfeed or pump,' the announcement said."

    The pods can be accessed for free through the use of the Walmart app.

    Published on: September 8, 2020

    •  From CNBC:

    "Target has benefited from Americans turning into chefs and bakers during the coronavirus pandemic.

    "The big-box retailer wants those consumers to see it as a grocery destination now and in the future. This month, it is adding hundreds of new food and beverage items that shoppers can only find at its stores and website. It’s also launching a new premium line, Good & Gather Signature, with about 60 small-batch Italian sauces, gourmet pastas and pizzas and specialty coffees that cost $2.99 to $9.99.

    "They are all part of Good & Gather, its private label that debuted a year ago and recently reached $1 billion in sales. With the expansion, the brand will have about 2,000 items, making it Target’s largest in-house brand by assortment … All Good & Gather items are made without artificial flavors and sweeteners, synthetic colors and high-fructose corn syrup. Target is phasing out two other private labels: Archer Farms and Simply Balanced. It will keep Market Pantry, another food and beverage brand, but slim it down and limit it to basic items like baking supplies.

    "Along with launching Good & Gather and expanding its assortment, Target announced in June that it’s adding fresh and frozen items to its same-day order pickup and drive up services at hundreds of stores. By the holidays, the company plans to offer them at more than 1,500 stores.That’s roughly 80% of its 1,871 stores nationwide."

    •  From Axios:

    "The collision of three unprecedented events — the pandemic, its economic toll and an uprising against racial injustice — is causing an extraordinary level of angst among workers.

    "Why it matters: High anxiety levels are touching employees in nearly every industry — as measured by the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index and other polls — and labor unrest could be bubbling beneath the surface.

    "For example, 43% of Americans in last week's Axios-Ipsos coronavirus survey reported that they were concerned about their job security, and 44% said they were worried about their ability to pay their bills."

    •  From USA Today, a report that beginning today, Kohl's is rolling out a new loyalty program.  The new Kohl's Rewards program will replace "previous loyalty program Yes2You Rewards in which members earned points on purchases that were then converted into rewards.

    "Now, with the free program, members earn 5% Kohl’s Cash daily on every purchase and will get personalized deals and perks like a birthday gift."

    The story says that "the 30 million members of Yes2You Rewards program, which launched nationwide in 2014, will be automatically transitioned into Kohl’s Rewards and existing Yes2You Rewards points will be converted into the new program."

    Published on: September 8, 2020

    •  The Fresh Market announced that it has named Jim Heaney, most recently the CFO for  Carnival Cruise Lines, to be its new CFO, replacing the recently resigned Oded Shein.

    •  Target Corp. announced that it has named Maurice Cooper, previously the  executive vice president and chief growth & experience officer at Wingstop Restaurants, to be its new senior vice president of marketing.  Most recently, Cooper founded Forward Vision Strategies, a marketing consulting firm.

    Published on: September 8, 2020

    Two baseball greats passed away over the weekend.

    •  Tom Seaver, the Hall of Fame pitcher who won 311 games for four different teams and as "The Franchise" drove the 1969 New York Mets to a surprise World Series Championship, died at age 75.  The cause was said to be complications of Lewy body dementia and Covid-19.

    There are two wonderful columns about Seaver that are worth reading.  One by Mike Lupica, and the other by John Feinstein.  Check them out.

    •  And Lou Brock, the hall of Famer who was one of the best hitters and base stealers in the history of the game, passed away on Sunday.  He was 81.

    The St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that Brock "was the National League’s all-time leader in stolen bases with 938. He had 3,023 hits. He was a first-ballot electee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. He was the 'Base Burglar,' who came to the Cardinals in 1964 via a trade in which the Cardinals ripped off the Chicago Cubs.

    "But he also was known as one of the toughest baseball players that his former teammates had ever seen and that was before he encountered diabetes which caused him to have his left leg amputated. Before he suffered multiple myeloma (bone marrow cancer), before he suffered a stroke, before he suffered a heart ailment."

    The story recalls Brock "playing with a broken shoulder after being hit by a pitch from Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax when the Los Angeles Dodgers lefthander had taken exception to Brock bunting on him."

    Published on: September 8, 2020

    Last week Michael Sansolo wrote about his son's wedding, during which a group of millennials - oft maligned as a generation - came through with flying colors to overcome all the challenges presented by the pandemic.

    MNB reader Dave Bennett responded:

    Millennials………with all of their unique attributes will always be resourceful and creative.  Congratulations Michael!

    And from another reader:

    Congratulations Michael Sansolo and family!

    My brother who is a Rabbi was just honored by his temple for 10 years of service. The event was supposed to be in May and was going to be held at the Vanderbilt Hotel in NYC.  My brother’s Temple is in Staten Island NY.  Of course, with Covid-19 they tried rescheduling to August 30.  Since Covid-19 is still with us they decided to hold it online using Zoom.  They asked his congregants and immediate family to submit 30 second to 1 minute videos of a message to my brother.  They had people appearing live too and who performed music.

    The organizing committee had sent a gift box in advance of the celebration out to everyone who had registered to attend the event.  In the box was 2 individual size bottles of champagne, some plastic glasses and a bunch of snacks.  The snacks were for us to enjoy while viewing the ceremony, and the champagne was for a special toast to my brother’s service to his Temple.

    We live in California and were so elated that we could be part of it.  It would have been great to be there in-person, but we felt we were right there from the safety of our family room. 

    My brother has not had any in-person services since mid-March.  He converted quickly to using Zoom and his congregation has adapted very well too.