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    Published on: November 3, 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.

    At this point, it seems inevitable - the next few months (at least) will bring major spikes in the number of Covid-19 coronavirus cases around the country and the world.  That's what medical professionals and public health experts have been warning us about for months and now - with the number of daily cases in the US closer to 100,000 than the 10,000 target that was set at the beginning of summer - retailers have to grapple with how this will affect their business operations going forward.

    Co-hosts Sterling Hawkins and Kevin Coupe looks at the numbers and analyze the implications, including the new/revisited adjustments that retailers will have to make, how to best implement these changes and communicate with shoppers, and how to maximize the opportunities created by a highly unstable environment.

    One conclusion:  "Instability is highly underrated."

    You can listen to the podcast here…

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

    Published on: November 3, 2020

    KC has a recommendation - a new podcast, "Mr. 80 Percent," that he says is one of the best he's heard.  The subject isn't business, but "Mr. 80 Percent" is, he says, must-listening, about a subject with which too many people are unfamiliar.

    Published on: November 3, 2020

    The Wall Street Journal reports that Walmart "has ended its effort to use roving robots in store aisles to keep track of its inventory, reversing a yearslong push to automate the task with the hulking machines after finding during the coronavirus pandemic that humans can help get similar results."

    The move means the cancellation of Walmart's contract with robotics company  Bossa Nova Robotics Inc., with which it has had a five-year relationship.

    According to the story, "Walmart ended the partnership because it found different, sometimes simpler solutions that proved just as useful, said people familiar with the situation. As more shoppers flock to online delivery and pickup because of Covid-19 concerns, Walmart has more workers walking the aisles frequently to collect online orders, gleaning new data on inventory problems, said some of these people. The retailer is pursuing ways to use those workers to monitor product amounts and locations, as well as other automation technology, according to the people familiar with the situation."

    KC's View:

    Those same people who are walking the aisles ought to be empowered and encouraged to be Walmart's ambassadors to the customer base, able and eager to answer questions and provide a personal connection.  

    Can we all sing together….?

    People who need people,

    Are the luckiest people in the world…

    Published on: November 3, 2020

    DC Velocity reports that Amazon's in-house delivery business "is on track to be roughly the same size as FedEx Corp. in the U.S. by 2020 and as big as UPS Inc. by 2022, an executive at the investment bank Morgan Stanley said in a conference on Wednesday.

    "The Amazon Logistics division is riding a wave of huge parcel sector growth that was already simmering before the pandemic, and has since boiled over as coronavirus factors have compressed three years of predicted growth into a six-month period, Ravi Shanker, executive director at Morgan Stanley, said in remarks at the virtual Parcel Forum trade show.

    "Seattle-based Amazon is currently stocking that swelling network purely with its own packages, handling increasing volumes of deliveries through its in-house capabilities as opposed to paying FedEx, UPS, or the U.S. Postal Service to carry them. But as its internal logistics capabilities grow, Morgan Stanley is predicting that Amazon will likely launch a third-party delivery service as soon as 2021, Shanker said."

    KC's View:

    My daughter was mentioning the other day that we seem to see as many or more gray Amazon Prime trucks on our street as FedEx, UPS or USPS trucks … and I suggested to her that I'd guess that it won't be long before those gray vans will be delivering a lot more than Amazon orders.   

    I love it on those rare occasions that other people come out and make observations that make me look to my kids like I might actually know something.

    Published on: November 3, 2020

    Kroger-owned QFC has added a second store to its "grocerant" experiment in Seattle, partnering with local  chain Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria to install a wood-burning oven with counter service and Take-and-Bake pizza, in its University Village location.  The setup is similar to one opened in a Kirkland, Washington, QFC, the Daily Journal of Commerce reports.

    QFC also is offering Tutta Bella grab-and-go/take-home items at more than 30 of its area stores.  The Take-and-Bake pizza offering is said to be unique to the University Village location, however.

    KC's View:

    Just a few hours south, in Portland, Oregon, one of the city's most interesting restaurants, Beast - a kind of communal dining room that was closed down because of the pandemic, is going to reopen - as a gourmet market.

    Willamette Week reports that Beast, to be renamed Ripe Cooperative, "will offer shoppers 'a selection of things we consider essential,' according to an email sent to Beast subscribers today. Those items include fine wines, custard-based ice cream, freshly baked bread, handmade pasta and other specialty pantry ingredients.

    "The market will also allow customers to experience the James Beard Award-winning chef's dinners through a series called Dining In. The four-course set menus will change monthly and feature themes (land, air, sea and field). You can purchase those à la carte or order a regular subscription."

    I mention this because there will be "grocerants" and there will be "restaurmarkets," and the different won't mean much to consumers, who simply will want good food and will patronize whoever and whatever can provide it.

    What they won't patronize is stores that seem out of touch with consumer needs and desires.

    Published on: November 3, 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, we've now had 9,568,275 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 237,009 deaths and 6,172,842 reported recoveries.

    Globally, there have been 47,392,484 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 1,212,524 fatalities and 34,075,807 reported recoveries.  (Source.)

    I find it both sobering - and alarming - that this morning's number of total coronavirus cases in the US is more than 400,000 higher than it was last Thursday, the last day on which I took note of them.  The global case number is about 2.5 million higher.  The good news, if it can be called that, is that the death rate is lower than it was earlier this year … but the long-term implications on people's lives, on the economy, and maybe even the national psyche, is unknowable.


    •  The New York Times reports that Dr. Deborah Birx, who has been helping to lead the White House response to the coronavirus pandemic, has warned in an internal memo that "we are entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic," and she urged "an aggressive balanced approach" to dealing with the pandemic.

    The memo, according to the Times, "predicted that the United States would continue to see days when the number of new cases exceeded 100,000."


    •   The Washington Post has an interview with Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in which he says, "We’re in for a whole lot of hurt … It’s not a good situation.  All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly.”

    It is important to remember that Fauci was saying months ago that the US needed to get to the point where there were 10,000 new cases a day - that if we achieved that number by the dawn of winter, the nation would be better positioned to effectively fight off the pandemic.  The reality is that we're in the 100,000 cases-per-day neighborhood.  In other words, "in for a whole lot of hurt."


    •  From the New York Times:

    "The Mountain West region, in the throes of a coronavirus surge, appears to be headed for a long winter.

    "In Colorado, hospitalizations of Covid-19 patients have tripled since early September and could overwhelm the state’s intensive care units this winter, as new coronavirus cases set daily records.

    "On Monday in Utah, intensive care units were at over 71 percent capacity.

    "Idaho, where Gov. Brad Little has restored restrictions on large gatherings, is averaging about 850 new cases each day, more than triple the numbers seen just six weeks ago. In eastern Idaho, the Rexburg metro area has one of the highest rates of new cases per capita in the nation. In the north, Kootenai Health hospital has warned that the facility could exceed capacity and be forced to send patients to Seattle or Portland, Ore.

    "Hospitalizations in Wyoming have more than doubled in the past two weeks. Gov. Mark Gordon said on Monday that he was under a 14-day quarantine after attending a meeting with someone who tested positive for the virus."

    More from the Times about Colorado's situation:

    "The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is now warning that hospitalizations in the state are likely to blast through the peaks of last April and could overwhelm the state’s intensive care units by January … Health officials said there was no single reason or particular hot spot fueling the increase in the state this time, unlike earlier spikes that were driven by outbreaks in long-term care homes and meatpacking plants or by students partying at the University of Colorado.

    "The state health department estimated that one in every 219 people in Colorado is infectious, making it likelier now than it was in the summer for uninfected people to catch the virus."


    •  The Boston Globe reports that in Massachusetts, "Restaurant table service will have to stop at 9:30 p.m., and facilities such as gyms, theaters, and casinos will have to close by the same time, while the limit on indoor gatherings will be reduced to 10 people under a slate of “targeted measures” Governor Charlie Baker is ordering in response to sharp increases in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations.

    "Baker, who announced the measures at a State House news conference, also tightened the state’s face-covering mandate, requiring that people wear masks in public regardless of their distance from other people.

    "The Department of Public Health is also instituting a new stay-at-home advisory that urges the public to be at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., except for necessary activities, such as going to work or school."


    •  The Gothamist reports on New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo's announcement of a new policy that "asks travelers to take a COVID-19 test within three days before traveling to the state, followed by quarantine for another three days after entering New York. Travelers must then take a COVID-19 test on the fourth day. If the test is positive, the person needs to continue self-isolating for the remainder of the usual 14-day period.

    "This policy also applies to people flying into New York, and Cuomo said fliers need to take a test within a four-day window before their flight as well as when they get to the state. Only travelers who leave New York for less than 24 hours can avoid taking the first test to board a flight back to the state, but will still need to take a test within four days of their return."


    •  From the New York Times:

    "The British prime minister announced expansive new restrictions on Saturday that effectively establish a national lockdown, and Greece and Austria increased coronavirus measures, joining France, Germany, Belgium and Ireland in shutting down large parts of their societies to try to keep their hospitals from being overwhelmed amid vast second-wave surges in coronavirus infections.

    "The surges, which have turned the Europe virus map almost a solid bright red, come as the United States has repeatedly set a record for daily infections.  That combination is largely responsible for driving the global caseload to once unimaginable highs."

    The Times writes that "Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new restrictions for England at a hastily called news conference after an emergency meeting of his cabinet. After weeks of resisting calls for a lockdown, he is shutting pubs, restaurants and most retail stores in England, starting Thursday until Dec. 2. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had already instituted such restrictions.

    "Under the plans, people would be required to stay home unless their workplaces, such as factories or construction sites, need them. They would be allowed to go to school or college and leave home for a few other essential reasons, like buying food or seeking medical attention. But nonessential shops would be closed, people would be urged not to travel, except for business, and pubs and restaurants would only be allowed to serve take out food."


    •  Publix Super Markets announced that its "sales for the three months ended Sept. 26, 2020 were $11.1 billion, an 18.3% increase from $9.3 billion in 2019. Comparable store sales for the three months ended Sept. 26, 2020 increased 16.5% … Net earnings for the three months ended Sept. 26, 2020 were $917.6 million, compared to $574 million in 2019, an increase of 59.9%."

    The company said that it estimates that the bulk of the increase can be traced to customer demand created by the pandemic.


    •  KRIS-TV News reports that "H-E-B is once again putting purchasing limits on certain household goods.  Customers will be limited to two packages of paper towels and two packages of toilet paper."

    These limits, the story says, "only apply to H-E-B stores in the Border, Central Texas, Gulf Coast and San Antonio regions."


    •  The Associated Press reports that Massachusetts-based Friendly's is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and that it "will sell substantially all of its assets to the restaurant company, Amici Partners Group."

    The company expects its 130 locations to remain open.

    This is Friendly's second time through bankruptcy, having filed in 2011.

    They can blame the pandemic, but the question is whether Friendly's - which, the last time I was in one seemed like it was a remnant of the Eisenhower years - had done anything to seem like a 21st century restaurant.


    •  The New York Times ponders the future of cities in a world where so many restaurants have gone out of business.

    "By Aug. 31, over 32,000 restaurants and 6,400 bars and nightspots that had been open on March 1 were marked closed on Yelp. In New York City — perhaps the nation’s dining-out capital — a survey by the Hospitality Alliance found that 87 percent of restaurants were not able to pay all of their August rent.

    "In September, the New York state comptroller estimated that one-third to one-half of the 24,000 restaurants in the city could close permanently over the next six months. Forty-three percent of bars were closed on Oct. 5, and spending at those still open was down 80 percent from the same day in 2019, according to Womply, a company that provides technological platforms to small businesses.

    "In a desperate call for help, the Independent Restaurant Coalition, newly formed to lobby for the survival of restaurants not affiliated with large chains, argued in a letter to Congress in June that 'this country risks permanently losing as many as 85 percent of independent restaurants by the end of the year.'

    "Downtown restaurants in big cities are suffering the most. And it is urban America — the big cities and their downtowns that rely on restaurants as a fundamental social glue — that will feel the shock of their demise most intensely."

    An example of how restaurants influence urban development:  "In 2019, restaurants, bars, food trucks and other dining outlets took at least 47 percent of the food budget of consumers in cities with populations above 2.5 million, according to government data. That compares with 38 percent for people outside urban areas. In the early 1970s, by contrast, urban consumers devoted 28 percent of their food budget to dining out.

    "Restaurants have been a key element of America’s urban transformation, helping draw the young and highly educated to city centers. This has often turned industrial and warehouse districts into residential areas. It has also overhauled many low-income neighborhoods, sometimes forcing longtime residents out of town."


    •  The Washington Post reports on the impact of the pandemic on London's theater district:

    "At the gilded playhouses in the world’s most popular theater district, most of the marquee lights are still dark.

    "Since the government ordered London’s stages closed seven months ago, only a handful of theaters have dared to announce reopening plans — with limited runs, limited casts and socially distanced audiences scattered in the seats. Producers say ticket sales will barely cover the electricity bill.

    "The impact of enduring restrictions has been catastrophic for London’s creative class. An estimated 290,000 people work in the theater here — onstage and behind the scenes — and many have had to seek paychecks where they can. Furloughed actors are stocking shelves in grocery stores. Musicians are hammering nails at construction sites."

    The story goes on:  "Emma De Souza, a spokeswoman for the Society of London Theatre, said that at one Sainsbury grocery story in east London, there are so many West End performers working 'you can hear singing in the aisles'."

    There may be some folks who think that urban restaurants and the London theatre district may not be the most important things to worry about, but I would disagree.  Not only do these two segments create a lot of jobs, but they represent the soul of their communities, places where people come together and actually form community.


    •  Variety reports that AMC Theatres "suffered a brutal 90.9% drop in revenues during the most recent earnings period with sales clocking in at $119.5 million. Losses hit $905.8 million … In the prior-year quarter, a time when cinemas were open around the globe and world-altering pandemics were largely the stuff of Hollywood thrillers, AMC logged revenues of $1.3 billion on a net loss of $54.8 million."

    Anyone who thinks that this situation will be resolved anytime soon or quickly is deluding themselves.

    Published on: November 3, 2020

    With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  Amazon said last week that its Q3  revenue was $96.1 billion, up 37.4% from a year earlier, as profit surged 197% to $6.3 billion.

    The Seattle Times writes that "the company sees no slowdown in the current quarter, which this year included its Prime Day sale, previously held in the third quarter, along with the holiday shopping that typically drives Amazon’s annual peak of activity. Amazon executives expect sales in the current quarter of between $112 billion and $121 billion, up 28% to 38%."


    •  CNBC reports that DoorDash "is launching a partnership with Sam’s Club to provide same-day prescription delivery service to patients across the U.S.

    "The deal involves 500 Sam’s Club locations in 41 states, and is implemented through Drive, the platform DoorDash offers to businesses looking to integrate delivery into their own platforms. In this case, customers who want to access the service will have to request it through the wholesale club directly, and both members and non-members of Sam’s Club can take advantage of same-day delivery."

    DoorDash got into the business of partnering with c-stores and then created DashMart, an online c-store concept that competes directly with those clients.  I wonder if they've now got a "DrugDash" format on the drawing board…?


    •  In Pennsylvania, the Patriot-News reports that "BJ’s Wholesale Club has announced an expansion of its buy online, pickup curbside or in store to include fresh and frozen food.

    Customers can order their groceries online then choose curbside or in-store pickup."

    Jeff Desroches, executive vice president, club operations officer, said in a prepared statement, “With the expansion of our buy online, pick up in-club service, BJ’s members can do their weekly grocery shopping – and check off anything else on their list – in an easy, one-stop shop.”


    •  CNN reports that a US District Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to hold Amazon accountable for what the plaintiffs said were a lack of Covid-19 protections at an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island - not because the claims were specious, but because dealing with them was the job of the US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

    Judge Brian Cogan wrote in his opinion that the workers' claims and proposed injunctive relief "go to the heart of OSHA's expertise and discretion."

    "The Court's decision to grant Amazon's motion to dismiss the claims of workers at the company's JFK8 facility is devastating for the health and safety of Amazon workers nationwide," the plaintiffs' lawyers aid in their response.  "The Court's deference to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration should be very concerning to anyone who cares about the health of American workers, given that OSHA has been virtually AWOL throughout this crisis."


    •  The Wall Street Journal reports that Netflix is raising its prices for "its most popular plan for the first time since early 2019, a move that comes as the streaming service competes with a growing number of cheaper alternatives."

    According to the story, Netflix's "standard streaming plan will now cost $13.99 a month, up from $12.99. Its $8.99-a-month basic plan will remain unchanged, while the cost of its premium plan will rise to $17.99 from $15.99. The changes go into effect for new subscribers immediately, and current subscribers will see their fees go up within the next two months.

    "The price increase comes in the wake of Netflix missing its third-quarter subscriber projections amid growing competition and the continuing effects of the coronavirus on the economy. While Netflix enjoyed strong growth in the first and second quarters of this year as people stayed at home, new subscriptions slowed in the third quarter."

    Published on: November 3, 2020

    With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  The Washington Post this morning reports that "after a year marked by unrest and upheaval, retailers around the country are taking sweeping measures — and spending millions — to protect their stores during a high-stakes presidential election that could quickly turn contentious. Saks Fifth Avenue and CVS are boarding up store windows and adding extra security at some locations, while Neiman Marcus is closing all stores at 5 p.m. on Election Day. Others are closing altogether on Tuesday, or providing paid time off for employees to vote or volunteer at the polls."

    The Post goes on:  "The election is the latest wild card for retailers, which have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and a summer of civil unrest. The May 25 killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in police custody in Minneapolis sparked protests across the country, including some that turned violent. Stores across the country were vandalized, leading some retailers such as Target and Nordstrom to abruptly shutter locations, and others to board up windows and step up security.

    "Retailers have already sustained an estimated $1 billion in insured losses from property damage and theft this year, according to early estimates from the Insurance Information Institute, making this year’s protests 'the costliest civil disorder in U.S. history'."


    •  Dunkin' Brands, parent company to Dunkin' and Baskin-Robbins, has sold itself to Inspire Brands, parent company to Arby's and Sonic, for $11.3 billion.

    The Boston Globe reports that "the acquisition, expected to close by the end of the year, will end nine years that Dunkin' spent on the public market and will mark a return to the world of private equity. Private equity firms Carlyle Group, Bain Capital, and Thomas H. Lee Partners bought Dunkin' in 2006 and took it public in 2011."


    •  In Minnesota, KSTP-News reports that "a fair-inspired food and entertainment concept is coming to the Mall of America in early December.

    "'The Fair on 4' will open on the mall's fourth level and will feature fair-inspired foods such as cheese curds and corn dogs. There will also be a pizza kitchen and a bar, featuring signature cocktails, wine and more than 40 beers on tap.  Visitors will also be able to participate in axe throwing, go cart rides, hammerschlagen and arcade games.

    "The 35,000-square-foot concept also includes a stage for live music and private event space for rent."

    My first thought was that considering all the bad stuff happening to the mall business these days, it probably makes sense to look for another way to use space and attract customers.  But my second thought was that the Mall of America folks must not have gotten the memo about the pandemic, and how fairs and live music venues are a little problematic at the moment.

    Published on: November 3, 2020

    •  Ahold Delhaize-owned Giant Food announced that it has hired Irfan Badibanga, most recently SVP of operations at Family Dollar, to be its new SVP of operations.


    •  CNBC reports that "McDonald’s is hiring a new chief diversity officer as it struggles with charges of harassment and racism at all levels of the company.

    "Reginald Miller will become the company’s global chief diversity equity and inclusion officer on Nov. 9. Miller was previously the chief diversity officer at VF Corp., the owner of brands such as The North Face, Timberland and Vans."

    The story notes that "Miller, who is Black, served in the U.S. Army from 1997 to 2005. He has also led diversity efforts at Walmart. His first job, in high school, was at McDonald’s."

    Published on: November 3, 2020

    Sean Connery, who personified James Bond in the first five films of the long-running series and then played him twice more, and also had a respected and highly successful career as both leading man and character actor, passed away on Saturday at his home in the Bahamas after a long illness and struggle with dementia.  He was 90.

    KC's View:

    In our book, "The BIG Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies," I wrote a chapter about several Connery movies from the seventies that I thought represented a distinctive and iconic view of masculinity and heroism.  In thinking about Connery's career and these specific films, I'd expand on that a little bit to say that each of these films - plus The Untouchables, which came out a decade later - also portray someone who is flawed in some fundamental way … which is to say that the actor was both capable and interested in exploring characters far more human than 007.

    The movies are these:  The Wind and the Lion, The Man Who Would Be King, and probably my favorite Connery film - and one of my favorite movies ever - Robin & Marian, a charming, romantic movie about Robin Hood (Connery) and Maid Marian (Audrey Hepburn) in late middle age, after Robin has returned from the Crusades, dissatisfied with the notion that his best days are behind him.This aging and balding Robin Hood keeps looking for the next big adventure, the next battle, the next act of heroism that can define his life and manhood. It’s a lovely film, with resonant performances, especially by Nicol Williamson as Little John, and Robert Shaw as the Sheriff of Nottingham, who is far more accepting than Robin Hood that time may have passed both him and his old enemy by. 

    Published on: November 3, 2020

    Got an email from an MNB reader weighing in on several subjects:

    Just had to chime in on two stories—and the responses you’ve received:

    •  Diversity efforts: I find a lot of folks who say that businesses should ignore race, gender and sexual orientation as they build their management teams are the same folks who will say they value the learnings from “the school of hard knocks” as opposed to “book smarts” (or formal, often deemed “elitist,” education). Of course, one has to be given access to both, really.  I don’t agree with your reader who assumed these diversity efforts consistently promote people of lesser qualifications.  However, even if that happens occasionally, I am confident that once given the chance to learn in a real-world, hands-on environment, he, she or they will come up-to-speed quickly and bring his, her or their perspectives, ideas and ideals to the workplace—and that workplace will be better for it.

    •  Loblaw’s efforts to raise funds through others to cover business upgrades: I don’t know about Loblaw’s exactly.  But, I do know other businesses are using similar approaches to solve their self-inflicted problems.  I honestly want to know: How do companies continue to pay ever-higher executive salaries/bonuses (including to those who leave when they fail), offer stock dividends and fight the idea of a decent minimum wage AND THEN CHARGE OTHERS WHEN THEY HAVEN’T SAVED FOR THE FUTURE?

    Seriously, while it may be impossible to know what the essentials might be—especially during unforeseeable market scenarios—companies have to know they will need to plan for such obvious needs as facility improvements. Even if they are in response to new requirements or standards, it is ridiculous to think such things wouldn’t be part of the “cost of doing business.” And, e-commerce has been around for more than a year or two or 20, if one was paying attention. Sure wish I could have charged someone else for the flooring, furniture and appliances we (finally!) replaced in our home over the past two years.  Who knew all of those things wear out?  Oh wait.  We did.  So, we saved to ensure we could afford it.

    All excellent points.


    The diversity issue came up because of an email I got that questioned the wisdom of Kroger's new diversity and inclusion initiatives.  It prompted another MNB reader to write:

    I am shocked that a reader wrote what he or she did about Kroger’s diversity initiative.    It saddens me to this that in 2020 we still have people among us with this view. 

    Talk about someone who is in need of getting woke!  I certainly hope he or she is embarrassed by his/her quote in your blog.  Seriously! 


    Regarding expected consumer stockpiling, one MNB reader wrote:

    I have been a stockpiler long before Covid19.  This practice even predated the famous response of an investment advisor who when asked during a seminar by a person attending "what should I invest in if I have only $1,000."  The answer was "groceries".  Paper towels and toilet paper have no "best if used by date".  As a former pharmacist who at one time worked for a drug manufacturer, except for aspirin and antibiotics most prescription and OTC drugs retain their potency almost indefinitely.  A good stockpiling agenda works best when buying items on promotion, aka cherry picking.  Many items that say "refrigerate after opening" are excellent long after their use by date if refrigerated.  

    MNB reader Monte Stowell also had thoughts on stockpiling:

    I used to work for a large company that manufactured all kinds of tissue products. I witnessed the effect Johnny Carson joked about a toilet paper shortage in the 1970’s. The shelves were immediately emptied, and order files of tissue manufacturers went through the roof. It took several weeks to get the demand and supply back into balance. Same thing happened again earlier this year with bath tissue and towels. Slowly but surely, the shelves are starting to fill up.  Currently, there is plenty of capacity for making enough product for the demand from the consumer at normal levels. Plain and simple answer is to stop listening to the media and surveys about juicing up the demand and buy just what you need, and creating another panic buying by the consumer, and lastly, the retailers have to limit the sales to one or two packages per customer! History does repeat itself.

    Just to be clear … as a member of the media, I don't think that people should ignore us.  At least, not all of us.


    Last week, Michael Sansolo wrote about the dangers of becoming a relic, and he used the Corvair as an example.  Prompting this email from MNB reader George Denman:

    Be careful on your comments degrading Corvair lovers for there are thousands of members in Corvair Clubs with chapters in almost every major city. The Cincinnati chapter has 256 photos posted and have attended my annual car show hosted by the St. Susanna Knights of Columbus many times.  Myself I am both a Corvette and Malibu fan and own models of both Chevrolets. By the way, I once owned a 1965 Ermine white Corvair and it was far from being gas guzzling or a death trap.

    In the 47 years since the last one rolled off the line, the Chevrolet Corvair still has a reputation. Even the most casual gearhead knows about it: the air-cool, rear-engined, weird Chevy. The big failure, the black-eye for America’s favorite brand, the deathtrap! Unsafe at Any Speed! The car that was so dangerous, so horrible, it single-handedly launched Ralph Nader’s crusade against the entire industry, and brought the wrath of the federal government crashing down upon the American automobile. “Sure,” you might be thinking, “I know all about the Corvair.”

    But chances are, you don’t. Because the Corvair myth is largely that: a myth. In reality, it was the right car at the wrong time: a groundbreaking model that could’ve set Detroit on a completely different path had it caught on, which it almost did. Besides, at the end of the day, it wasn’t Nader that did it in, it was something much closer to home. Half a century on, the Corvair is still the biggest gamble General Motors ever took on a single car, and for that alone, it deserves its due.


    Got the following email from an MNB reader who clearly is a fan of songwriter Guy Clark:

    I’m just catching up through your archives and see you enjoyed “Emigrant Eyes”.  Sometimes I think I’m a little anal thinking  others will like what I like, so you made my day.

    As an aside, when I was the G.M. of the Newark St.Patrick’s Day Parade, I honored my grandparents with a dedication in the souvenir journal with the full lyrics of this beautiful song. Thank you so much for the recognition you give lesser known artists. 

    Published on: November 3, 2020

    In Monday Night Football action, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the New York Giants 25-23.

    Published on: November 3, 2020

    I just wanted to say thank you for allowing me the luxury of taking Friday and Monday off so I could help Mrs. Content Guy as she began the recuperation from her knee replacement surgery on Thursday.  It all went really well - it was over in less than 90 minutes, she was home in about 24 hours, and now she's going through a barrage of stretches and ice and stretches and ice and physical therapy and stretches and ice …. and, well, you get the picture.

    Michael Sansolo likes to point out to me that this may be the only moment at which I'd be able to beat her in tennis, and he's right about that.  Sooner rather than later, though, she'll be back in fine fettle, and I look forward to it.