retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday we ran an excerpt from a Gothamist piece in which some New Yorkers talked about why they were staying in the city.  One comment, from a woman named Andrea Skowronek, really touched me:

"I love New York and I live in New York because, for the most part, this is not just a city where people randomly end up. This is a city where many people have chosen to live. We choose to live amongst each other even though we are all so different. We choose the dirt and the grime and the expense and the inconvenience because we know that New York is the real American Dream. The American Dream isn't a vision of white utopia where everyone has a yard and 'freedom' and barbecues on the weekends. The American Dream is people streaming in from all over the world for hundreds of years onto this one tiny island because they wanted to make a better life for themselves and their kids and their families back home. Covid didn't scare me out of New York because my great grandfather busted his ass to get here at 14 without a dime in his pocket and just a few generations later every single person in the family has a college degree and a good job and health insurance and a home (...and most of them still have their New York accents!). If he could come here as a little kid alone, help build the Holland Tunnel, and build a life and a family, then I can suck it up and wear a mask on the train."

One MNB reader responded:

Thank you for sharing the excerpt from Andrea Skowronek.  I have been feeling unmoored since coming back from 2 weeks in Provincetown (part work/part vacation), which was a much needed break from the previous 5 ½ months of largely staying in our apartment and within a 5-block radius.  However, I think that as with any change in venue, when you return you expect things to be different and it has slowly (?) sunk in since Saturday, that things are very much the same here and look to be for the near future.  I am working from home until at least January, we have not physically seen most of our friends in over 6 months, and our much loved cultural & personal interest forays (shows, museums, exhibits, birdwatching in Central Park, to say nothing about dining out) effectively put on hold – it starts to feel a bit like a “lost year” and can make the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel seem very dim.

I, too, have been reading non-stop headlines about how everyone is moving out of the city, or any city for that matter.  We even have one example from our small (40-unit) building, and in full disclosure, I will admit to having wondered if our own short chapter here in the city is coming to a close and we would join the exodus.  This excerpt provided a much needed boost and a shot in the arm of positivity….  THANK YOU!

My pleasure.  I think we're all a little unmoored at the moment, no matter what our circumstances … and her comment about sucking it up and wearing a mask just struck me as absolutely on-key.

We've all lost touch over the past months with many of the things that made life interesting and fun, and that can be disorienting.  But we have to suck it up.

Another email, from MNB Jack Flanagan:

I’ve been a long time user of, and investor in, Amazon. That said, I thought you might find my very recent experience of interest.

Was in need of an external storage device for my MacBook Pro for a project I’m working on that involves lots and lots of photos.

Was in a brick and mortar store and found the offerings stale. While in store I checked Amazon’s assortment and chose a good item at a good price. At checkout I was asked if I wanted overnight delivery (I.e. it would arrive between 4:00am-8:00am today).

Now I don’t know how long that option has been available. However I chose it figuring “Great. Amazon has upped their game. Instead of losing a day by not purchasing a marginally acceptable product in a competitor’s B&M facility I’ll have the Amazon item sitting on my doorsteps when I come down the stairs in the morning:”

If only.

No box on the doorsteps. Go back and check my emails and o/a 2:30 am they told me there’s a problem with my shipment. However, no worries since they assure me my cc won’t be charged until the item actually ships.

Around 10:30 I get the outline “Track your package” email fm Amazon informing me that I can expect my item to arrive between 5:00-10:00pm today. No indication whatsoever that this was a “busted” transaction.

Bottom line - I did actually lose that working day after all unless I do some workarounds - which I’ll do.

Now if this overnight delivery is a new, experimental initiative I can well imagine there might be some initial disconnects. Indeed I’d pre-forgive them for a delay since they would have given me a heads up. In this case they dropped a ball several times - a ball they didn’t even have to be holding.

I get it - first world problem. That said, didn’t have to be a problem at all.

And finally, responding to yesterday Innovation Conversation in which I used a specific analogy - saying that improving logistics without effectively using data is like making spaghetti carbonara without pancetta - MNB reader Philip Bradley wrote:

Kevin—just to let you know— 🙂 — real Italians use Speck and not Pancetta for Carbonara!  But it is still a good analogy…


What can I tell you?  I'm an Irish American kid from New York.  (At least, that's how I think of myself.  The "kid" part probably could be challenged…)

One of my dreams is to someday go to Italy and take a couple of weeks of cooking classes … I'm just a rank amateur who is pretty good at getting supper on the table.