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    Published on: November 12, 2020

    It was a small story, but when KC saw the piece it struck him as an example of adapting a retail experience to changed realities as opposed to doing things the same old, same old way.

    Published on: November 12, 2020

    by Kevin Coupe

    Only in Orlando.

    The central Florida city, home to the likes of Disney World, EPCOT and Universal Studios, said yesterday that it plans to build a 56,000 square foot transportation hub for flying cars.

    The hub is being built in partnership with Lilium, a German aviation company.

    According to a New York Times story, "The so-called vertiport is scheduled to be completed in 2025 and will enable passengers to bypass Florida’s notoriously congested highways, the city and the hub’s developers contend.

    "The electric-powered aircraft will be capable of taking off vertically from the ground-based hub and reaching a top speed of 186 miles per hour."

    Now, the Times points out that there are a couple of problems with this vertiport.

    One is that Lilium's flying car technology is still being developed.  It is entirely possible that the vertiport could be ready before the cars are.

    Another is that the use of flying cars has to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which may be a little concerned about flying cars careening around Orlando airspace at 186 freakin' miles per hour.

    I'd suggest that there are a couple of other issues that I'd be thinking about.  Like, who or what will license the individuals piloting these flying cars.  

    And, where the hell are they going to park?

    All that said, I think we've learned that sometimes these sorts of innovations happen faster than we expect.  There was a lot of skepticism about drones just a few years ago, and now they've become almost a fact of daily life.

    So maybe, indeed. we'll see flying cars in the skies over Orlando, and it'll be an Eye-Opener.

    Hopefully, just not at 186 freakin' miles per hour.

    Published on: November 12, 2020

    Fast Company has a fascinating piece about the excess physical retail space in the US, and how "this oversupply will require some consideration about how much retail space is actually needed and what we should do with all the rest."

    It asks the question, Is it a good thing that so many stores will close?

    You can read the story here.

    Published on: November 12, 2020

    Actors Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) and Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) have gone into business with Walmart-owned Sam's Club.

    Or, at least, their products have.

    Reynolds is an owner of Aviation Gin, and Jackman is an owner of Laughing Man Coffee.  They've also had a long fake feud on social media, which they now are putting to the service of this new business deal.

    According to The Drum, "Between 10 November and 20 December, all purchases of the competing products will be tallied as an indirect vote for Team Ryan or Team Hugh, while those not in need of a liquid pick-me-up can vote directly via a dedicated campaign website.

    "The confrontation is all for a good cause with the winner not only earning priceless bragging rights but Sam's Club will donate equal amounts to each actor's foundation when the campaign ends."

    The actors also will put their considerable charms and high profiles to work promoting the contest, the brands … and, by extension, Sam's, which ends up looking pretty cool by the company it keeps.

    Here's a teaser video:

    Published on: November 12, 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 10,708,728 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus … 247,398 resulting deaths … and 6,648,705 reported recoveries.

    Globally, there have been 52,529,547 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 1,291,135 fatalities and 36,749,363 reported recoveries.  (Source.)

    •  From Axios:

    "New coronavirus infections jumped by 40% over the past week. The U.S. is now averaging roughly 119,000 new cases per day — by far the highest daily average of any point in the pandemic … Cases rose over the past week in 45 states, and held steady in the other five. Not a single state saw an improvement.

    "Nearly 62,000 Americans are in the hospital for coronavirus infections."

    •  From Fox News:

    "The last time hospitalizations rates nearly reached the 60,000 mark was on July 23, when some 59,718 people were hospitalized, or during the so-called “second peak” that occurred over the summer.

    "Hospitalizations have been trending upward over the past weeks, with medical professionals treating COVID patients feeling the effects first hand. The Midwest and Texas, in particular, are driving the hospitalization surge."

    Some examples of how bad things are getting:  In Minnesota, "state director of infectious disease Kris Ehresmann said last week that 92% of beds in intensive care units (ICUs) were full. In Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced another $28 million in relief for the state’s hospitals and county health departments to address staffing needs, per a news release. And in North Dakota, health officials pointed to staffing strains as a key issue in treating the recent influx of coronavirus patients.

    "In Texas, the city of El Paso has more people currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 than 29 states, Bloomberg reported. As of Tuesday, some 1,076 people were hospitalized in the border city, according to official estimates."

    •  From the Washington Post:

    "The coronavirus pandemic is rolling across America like a great crimson wave.

    In Illinois, the rate of new infections is so high that a group of doctors sent an urgent letter to the governor. 'We’re having to almost decide who gets treatment and who doesn’t,' said one of its leaders.

    "In Ohio, the rapid spread of the virus has pushed the state health-care system to the brink. Expressing deep concern, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) vowed to enforce his statewide mask mandate and issued new restrictions on social gatherings. 'We can’t surrender to this virus. We can’t let it run wild,' he said.

    "And in Iowa, where a record number of new infections in a day coincided with a record number of deaths, the White House coronavirus task force issued a dire warning about 'the unyielding covid spread' throughout the state.

    •  And from the Wall Street Journal:

    "Indiana’s single day number was above 5,000 for the first time, according to Johns Hopkins. Other states recording all-time highs included Illinois, North Carolina, Colorado, Kentucky, Arkansas, Idaho, New Mexico and West Virginia."

    The Journal writes that "a range of factors has contributed to the recent surge in infections, hospitalizations and deaths, say epidemiologists and public-health officials. Inconsistent messaging on masks and other preventive measures has hindered their effectiveness, they say, and pandemic fatigue has increased some people’s willingness to take risks."

    •  The New York Times adds, "The list of deeply troubled locations — each with its own, different gauge of the problem — goes on and on. If anything, the sheer number of hot spots comes as a reminder of how widespread this outbreak has grown … Here are some of the places in the country that might be considered the most trouble-prone when it comes to Covid-19, including Minot, N.D.; Sioux City, Iowa; New York City; Los Angeles County; the Navajo Nation; and Texas, among others."

    •  The New York Times also has this portrait of the situation in El Paso, Texas:

    " Coronavirus patients filled beds on one floor. Then two. Then the University Medical Center, a teaching hospital in El Paso, set up tents to care for patients in a parking lot. A downtown convention center became a field hospital. To free up even more space, the state began airlifting dozens of intensive care patients to other cities.

    "Local leaders clashed over what to do to quell the spiraling coronavirus crisis. The top county official ordered a lockdown and curfew. But the mayor disagreed, and the police said they would not enforce it. Then the state attorney general weighed in — a lockdown was unnecessary and illegal, he said.

    "And the patients kept coming … El Paso, a border city of 680,000, now has more people hospitalized with Covid-19 than most states — 1,076 as of Tuesday — and is more than doubling its supply of mobile morgues, to 10 from four."

    Is there anyone who does not find the term "mobile morgues" to be quite literally chilling?

    •  The Los Angeles Times reports that "San Francisco health officials announced Tuesday that they would be rolling back several coronavirus reopenings, meaning that indoor dining will be suspended, capacity at gyms and theaters will be reduced and the city’s high schools will have to wait to reopen.

    "The city has one of the state’s lowest rates of coronavirus cases and deaths and was not forced by state health officials to implement the new restrictions. But health authorities have noticed a recent uptick in cases and decided to act to prevent another surge of infections.

    "The new restrictions, which go into effect Friday at 11:59 p.m., represent another blow to the city’s famed restaurant industry."

    •  From the Associated Press:

    " In Italy, lines of ambulances park outside hospitals awaiting beds for incoming patients. In France, the government’s coronavirus tracking app prominently displays the intensive-care capacity taken up by COVID-19 patients: 92.5% and rising. In the ICU in Barcelona, Spain, there is no end in sight for the doctors and nurses who endured this once already.

    "Intensive care is the last line of defense for severely ill COVID-19 patients. Europe is now running out of beds and the doctors and nurses to staff them.

    "In country after country, the intensive-care burden of those sickened by the coronavirus is nearing and sometimes surpassing levels seen at last spring’s peak. Health officials, many advocating a return to stricter lockdowns, warn that adding beds will do no good because there aren’t enough doctors and nurses trained to staff them."

    •  NBC News  has a story about how, at least in Southern California, retail execs are saying that consumers do not have to stockpile because of concerns about shortages.

    According to the piece, "Representatives of Ralph’s and Food 4 Less say they are confident that the supply chain is strong and will hold steady and again.

    "Because it’s the holiday season, Food 4 Less officials say they are working to keep everything stocked in the store. Sometimes you might notice empty shelves, but that can mean shipments are late or they haven’t gotten around to get out and stock everything that’s needed in the store."

    •  The Columbus Dispatch reports that "Ohio State's game at Maryland on Saturday has been canceled due to a coronavirus outbreak within the Terrapins' program. It will not be rescheduled.

    "Maryland announced eight players have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past seven days, prompting the matchup to be called off … It is the first Buckeyes game to be impacted this season, which began last month and has seen them play in three games."

    •  From the Department of Things You Didn't Think You Had To Think About…

    The Wall Street Journal reports that there one unexpected pandemic-related issue likely to occur this winter.

    Y'know how when you're flying in northern climes during the colder months, and sometimes they have to de-ice the plane before it takes off?

    It ends up that when airport personnel spray the de-icing liquid on planes, it is important that the flight crew turns off the ventilation systems that circulate outside air.

    And it is those same ventilation systems that the airlines have touted as being one of the main factors in preventing the spread of the coronavirus on airplanes.

    Airlines say they are studying the issue, and may make changes in some procedures.  Which makes me wonder which ones they'll change.  The de-icing?  The ventilation?  I'm trying to see where the passenger win is here…

    •  From the Associated Press:

    "Hong Kong’s first socially distanced outdoor entertainment park opened its doors to the public on Tuesday in an attempt by the entertainment industry to adjust to the coronavirus pandemic.

    "The park, called The Grounds, has a hundred socially distanced enclosed areas spaced 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) apart that seat two to four people.

    "Visitors can enjoy a variety of entertainment programs, including live performances and an outdoor cinema … The outdoor park, which is scheduled to operate for just two months, has implemented health measures including online pre-registration, health declarations, temperature checks, mandatory face masks, and hand sanitizers at each entry and exit point."

    I do love that one of the first events held at The Grounds was a screening of Jaws … which, appropriately enough, is about the dangers of denial.

    Published on: November 12, 2020

    One of the best things about this time of year is that we get to run holiday commercials from around the globe, advertising that seems to get to the next level when it comes to creativity and either provoking a laugh or tugging at one's heartstrings (sometimes both).

    This one is from Ireland's Supervalu:

    Published on: November 12, 2020

    Yesterday I told you about a Zoom interview that I did for the Organic Produce Network with Stew Leonard's CEO  Stew Leonard Jr., in which we engaged in a far-reaching discussion of the impact of the pandemic, the unique advantages of his stores' business model in challenging times, and his perspective on where the food business is going in the future.  I thought he was a great person to talk to, since Stew Leonard's absolutely killed it during the early days of the pandemic, and continued to be a model of essential retailing.

    Unfortunately, at some point people seemed to have a hard time accessing the interview, so here is the link again … hopefully today it'll be a little less crowded and more accessible.

    Or, if you want to just watch it directly on YouTube, you can watch it below.

    Just FYI:  My conversation with Stew starts about 46 minutes into the program.

    Published on: November 12, 2020

    •  Reuters reports that "Lyft Inc said on Tuesday it was working on a new service to take a slice of the burgeoning food-delivery market as it works to make up for a 48% drop in quarterly revenue and a slow recovery of ride-hail demand.

    "Unlike larger ride-hail rival Uber Technologies Inc , Lyft has no food-delivery business to fall back on amid the pandemic. That means that while Lyft is largely unable to offset the decline in trips, it also avoids Uber’s added costs in scaling its Eats business.

    "But Lyft President John Zimmer on Tuesday said the company was looking to enter what it considered an untapped market by offering delivery services for restaurants without launching a full-fledged consumer-facing platform for food delivery."

    Published on: November 12, 2020

    •  CVS Health announced that it has promoted Daniel Finke, who has been running CVS-owned Aetna's Commercial Business and Markets organization, to be its new  Executive Vice President, CVS Health and President, Health Care Benefits Segment (HCB).

     Finke succeeds Karen S. Lynch, who is becoming president./CEO of CVS Health.

    •  Krasdale Foods has named Gus Lebiak as its new president and COO, succeeding he  company's longtime leader, Steve Silver.  Lebiak joined Krasdale eight years ago, and most recently was of COO of Alpha 1 Marketing, a Krasdale affiliate.

    Published on: November 12, 2020

    Regarding Amazon One contactless technology, one MNB reader wrote:

    Technology is progress and can not be stopped.  But sometimes it goes too far.  By using the term of the times “contactless” as a reason to promote their new way of cutting labor costs. More people out of work.

    I would rather see them not have to pay people $15/hr and hire more employees.  That to me, is more frictionless and more enjoyable.  You can talk with an actual person while checking out. Plus it provides greater tax dollars and job growth opportunities for more people.

    A shame that I continually see more jobs being lost to tech. with no other options becoming available for the younger or non-skilled worker.

    There is a lesson in this, which may sound hard-hearted but is true:  Nobody can afford to be non-skilled in a 21st century economy.

    Got the following email from an MNB reader about the growth of grocerants and what I like to call restaurmarkets:

    100% agree and love to see this. Just like HEB’s setup, these food hall type setups are going to be popular. A massive amount of consumers have become more engaged with the food they’re preparing at home due to the pandemic. I think this is a slam dunk for the consumer and everyone in the supply chain going back to the grower (this is from a produce person's point of view btw).

    The food culture in Lafayette, Louisiana, came up the other day, and prompted this email from MNB reader Mike Freese:

    I had never been to Lafayette, Louisiana but oddly enough, stayed there one night last week on the way to a vacation in Texas. In looking at Yelp for a place to eat the Olde Tyme Grocery came up came up #2 of all restaurants in Lafayette. It’s actually a grocery/restaurant which has been around since 1982. At any rate, can’t tell you how good the shrimp Poor Boy (that’s how they spell it on their web site) was.

    Mike also sent a picture, which instantly made me hungry.

    This email touched on another subject:

    I enjoy reading the Your Views segment of MNB.   You post the positive and negative commentary.   In a world where we have a tendency to complain more than compliment, I wanted to pay compliments to Home Depot which hasn't always been best at customer service.

    Recently I purchased a TV stand on their website.   It was shipped to me free of charge in 8 days.   When it arrived one of the shelves was broken.   I went on to Home Depot's web page and was able to chat online with customer support.   A replacement piece was ordered with the manufacturer immediately.   Unfortunately the manufacturer sent an email to me a day later saying they were "researching my issue" and when I asked why I received no response.  After a week I went back to the Home Depot site to see if their online support could help with my issue.   They arranged for the item to be picked up at my house and ordered a new TV stand at a reduced price for my inconvenience.   Great service and this was done within 15 minutes.   

    This stuff matters.

    Thanks to all of you who wrote in about the "Good Morning" video that my daughter uses in her classroom and that I shared last week.  (Apologies to those of you who still can't get the tune out of their heads.)

    Here's a typical email, from MNB reader Maurine King:

    What an awesome way to start the weekend even though there is an area of disturbance (bad weather) that may make its way into the Gulf of Mexico.  I live in Louisiana and seven hurricanes in one season is more than enough!  I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to ask you to please thank your daughter for sharing the Good Morning Song!!  She did very well!!  I’m sharing with others as well!!

    For those of you who missed it….