retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The debate continues, prompted by an offhand remark I made the other day about a story looking at the conversion of malls into senior citizen housing.  I argued for a more eclectic approach, by including things like health care facilities and community colleges.  And maybe, I suggested, housing for young people just out of college and carrying big educational loans - low rates could be negotiated based on a) how much they make in their jobs and b) how high their monthly loan payments are.  My thought was that such an approach would help them pay off those loans and become citizens who spend money on houses and cars and food and, yes, even taxes.

One MNB reader suggested that this was simply a giveaway program to a generation that did not deserve it, a perception shared by another MNB reader, who reacted to my pointing out that when an entire generation came back from World War II, the nation saw the wisdom of providing low-cost housing that would enable them to get on their feet in a civilian world:

Unfortunately, comparing the young people of today to my parents' generation who fought a world war and many Korea also is unfair. The greatest generation understood hard work and preferred not to take handouts.  For some reason today young people feel they ‘deserve’ to be given what my parent’s generation understood needed to be worked for.

I'm not sure this generation thinks it "deserves" this … it was just my idea for addressing a problem that, I think, inhibits the nation's economic growth.  I just think of it as an investment.

Another MNB reader wrote:

Not to run this in the ground, but I was a little guy in the aftermath of WWII when I saw “Quonset Huts” all over the University of Wisconsin (Madison) campus built for returning veteran students, available at dirt cheap prices. Not only that, those same students were offered other GI Bill benefits which included house loans for their future. No one should question that those benefits resulted in one of the country’s most prosperous and successful economies.

The circumstances today may be different, but maybe we can learn something from yesterday's solutions.

On an other subject, from MNB reader Laura Siegfried:

You’re right to point out that ‘Fair on 4’ at the Mall of America seems a bit off in times when people are discouraged from being in crowds. But what really caught my eye is that it will feature ‘cocktails, wine and more than 40 beers on tap ‘ … and AXE-THROWING. Sounds like a bad combination to me!

MNB readerAdam Dill had a comment about Michael Sansolo's column yesterday about Burger King using predictive technology in its stores:

As you and Michael are big movie fans, I was surprised a reference was not made to the 2002 Spielberg film Minority Report staring Tom Cruise.  The Burger King technology reminds me of the scenes in the movie when Cruise’s character would past a billboard and a personalized ad would run calling him by name.  I thought it was a little creepy.  It brings up the question of how do you let shoppers/consumers opt into these ‘personalized’ technology.  Sometimes I want to be anonymous.  The next step will be sending updates on my behalf on what I ordered from BK….not sure I need my doctor seeing that.

Finally, this email from MNB reader Jerome Schindler:

So I get this Walmart Circular, "Black Friday Deals Wed 11/4  7 pm ET Online."  A minute or so after 7 pm ET I go to the Walmart Website and attempt to purchase a featured Special Buy shop vacuum for $30, plus a package of LED light bulbs to reach $35 to qualify for free shipping.  At about 7:15 after entering all my info including credit card info I click to complete my order only to get the message "out of stock" on both items.  Well, Walmart covered their sorry ass with the disclaimer "quantities limited" but overall this was a total "got you again" message delivered to this consumer.  What a waste of my time.

Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice…