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    Published on: February 2, 2021

    Amazon announced this afternoon that its founder, Jeff Bezos, will step down from the CEO role and become executive chairman.    He will be succeeded by Andy Jassy, the CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS).

    The transition will take place in the third quarter of this year.

    In his letter to Amazon's employees, Bezos wrote:

    Fellow Amazonians:

    I’m excited to announce that this Q3 I’ll transition to Executive Chair of the Amazon Board and Andy Jassy will become CEO. In the Exec Chair role, I intend to focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives. Andy is well known inside the company and has been at Amazon almost as long as I have. He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence.

    This journey began some 27 years ago. Amazon was only an idea, and it had no name. The question I was asked most frequently at that time was, “What’s the internet?” Blessedly, I haven’t had to explain that in a long while.

    Today, we employ 1.3 million talented, dedicated people, serve hundreds of millions of customers and businesses, and are widely recognized as one of the most successful companies in the world.

    How did that happen? Invention. Invention is the root of our success. We’ve done crazy things together, and then made them normal. We pioneered customer reviews, 1-Click, personalized recommendations, Prime’s insanely-fast shipping, Just Walk Out shopping, the Climate Pledge, Kindle, Alexa, marketplace, infrastructure cloud computing, Career Choice, and much more. If you get it right, a few years after a surprising invention, the new thing has become normal. People yawn. And that yawn is the greatest compliment an inventor can receive.

    I don’t know of another company with an invention track record as good as Amazon’s, and I believe we are at our most inventive right now. I hope you are as proud of our inventiveness as I am. I think you should be.

    As Amazon became large, we decided to use our scale and scope to lead on important social issues. Two high-impact examples: our $15 minimum wage and the Climate Pledge. In both cases, we staked out leadership positions and then asked others to come along with us. In both cases, it’s working. Other large companies are coming our way. I hope you’re proud of that as well.

    I find my work meaningful and fun. I get to work with the smartest, most talented, most ingenious teammates. When times have been good, you’ve been humble. When times have been tough, you’ve been strong and supportive, and we’ve made each other laugh. It is a joy to work on this team.

    As much as I still tap dance into the office, I’m excited about this transition. Millions of customers depend on us for our services, and more than a million employees depend on us for their livelihoods. Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming. When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else. As Exec Chair I will stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives but also have the time and energy I need to focus on the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and my other passions. I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring. I’m super passionate about the impact I think these organizations can have.

    Amazon couldn’t be better positioned for the future. We are firing on all cylinders, just as the world needs us to. We have things in the pipeline that will continue to astonish. We serve individuals and enterprises, and we’ve pioneered two complete industries and a whole new class of devices. We are leaders in areas as varied as machine learning and logistics, and if an Amazonian’s idea requires yet another new institutional skill, we’re flexible enough and patient enough to learn it.

    Keep inventing, and don’t despair when at first the idea looks crazy. Remember to wander. Let curiosity be your compass. It remains Day 1.


    KC's View:

    This could go several ways.

    It could go like the first time that Howard Schultz stepped down as Starbucks CEO, became the company's chairman, and then, at the first sign of trouble (the economy was tanking), he took back the reins;  I've always argued that Schultz has a bit of a Messiah complex, and circumstances played to that impulse.

    Or, it could go like the second time Schultz stepped away from the company, in part because he wanted to run for president in 2020.  The campaign tanked, but because he stepped away completely, it appears that his successor, Kevin Johnson, hasn't had that particular shadow to deal with.

    Or, it could go like Tim Cook's continuing tenure at Apple, where he's had to deal with Steve Jobs' legend but, even if the innovation wasn't happening at the same pace, the financials have been pretty much outstanding.  (Cook, of course, didn't have to worry about Jobs returning.)

    One thing that Amazon and Jassy have going for them, it seems to me, is that Jeff Bezos has a lot of other interests.  A lot of other interests.  Even if he is Amazon-obsessive, and there's no reason to think that'll change, there are lot of other things to occupy his time.  And' he's doing this on his terms, not being forced by circumstances, and certainly not hanging past his expiration date.

    Plus, if things go badly - and there's no reason to think they will - he's there as a resource and inspiration.

    Andy Jassy just has to find the room - indeed, make the room - in which he can continue to build a company that reflects his style and priorities to the degree one can do that with a behemoth like Amazon.

    Just one bit of advice to Jassy (like he needs advice from me):  If you ever wake up in the morning think to yourself, "Maybe, just maybe, today is day two" … it will be time to go.

    Content Guy's Note:  I'm sure we'll have more on this tomorrow.

    Published on: February 2, 2021

    by Michael Sansolo

    Through all my years of writing here at MNB I’ve argued that we can find useful business lessons from nearly everything with two main exceptions: politics and United Airlines.

    The former is probably self-explanatory, whereas the latter is simply thanks to years of lousy experiences on the main airline serving the market where I live. Like it or not, I’m stuck with United Airlines, the uncomfortable seats, the strange delays, the random charges and more through well more than one million miles.

    But, thanks to the pandemic, I’m actually missing United. Go figure.  Even more remarkably, United seems to care.  (It may have something to do with a $7.1 billion loss in 2020.)

    Last week United sent me a video to remind me that they miss me, care about me,  and demonstrate the commitment they have to cleaning airplanes and getting me back into the skies.  Now honestly, I’ve been on too many dirty United planes to fully believe this, but I was still taken aback.

    The message actually resonated. Despite my skepticism over United, I finished the video believing that the airline actually cares about me, or at least cares enough to try to build my confidence in them. 

    The short video got me thinking about why others aren’t doing the exact same thing. Every shopping trip I take these days (it isn’t often) is so different than in the past. At a supermarket this past weekend, I got my shopping cart right next to a dispenser of cleaning wipes. The entire store floor was marked with decals reminding me to move in certain directions and to always allow social distance.

    I haven’t been in many stores in the past year, but I’ve seen these steps everywhere I have gone. They’re all simple, but incredibly important efforts to create consumer confidence and to get things returning to something resembling normal. 

    So as I watched the United video I wondered why I’m not seeing a stream of similar efforts from the myriad retailers from whom my wife and I have frequent shopper cards. It seems like such a simple step to make a connection and to build confidence or a sense of caring, much as United did.

    Now obviously, I can’t possibly follow what every retailer is or is not doing and I know some have taken these steps. Early in the pandemic I would daily watch Wisconsin independent Tim Metcalfe walk around his store armed with (I assume) an iPhone and showing clearly which highly sought after products were in stock.

    In the videos he’d interact with staffers, making sure to show how they were cleaning the store and he always ended by thanking them. 

    I hate to take away any advantage a small businessperson like Tim has built, but his example should be followed in stores everywhere. Even the largest chains can encourage managers to walk through stores with a smartphone, filming those things that matter most to local consumers. It demonstrates caring and drives home how stores are filled with local people who have the same concerns and issues as local shoppers.

    We talk repeatedly here about how table stakes are constantly rising, how competition is constantly forcing all of us to raise our game to keep us relevant.

    These videos - whether from United Airlines or Tim Metcalfe - demonstrate another way that’s happening. It’s actually a fairly simple process that has never been more important to try than in the current environment.

    Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at

    His book, “THE BIG PICTURE:  Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available here.

    And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon here.

    Published on: February 2, 2021

    There's nothing like the truth, even when it is inconvenient, when it comes to creating as relationship with the customers.  KC cites an example - a Chinese restaurant in Montreal where the owner cops to it when the food isn't very good.

    Published on: February 2, 2021

    The Los Angeles Times reports that Kroger will close two stores in Long Beach, Southern California - a Ralphs and a Food 4 Less - because of the city's new mandate that supermarkets have to pay their employees an extra $4/hour in "hazard pay" during the pandemic.

    Kroger's position is that the stores were underperforming before the mandate, and that the forced increase in labor costs made them untenable.

    “This misguided action by the Long Beach City Council oversteps the traditional bargaining process and applies to some, but not all, grocery workers in the city,” Kroger said in a statement. “The irreparable harm that will come to employees and local citizens as a direct result of the City of Long Beach’s attempt to pick winners and losers, is deeply unfortunate. We are truly saddened that our associates and customers will ultimately be the real victims of the city council’s actions.”

    The Long Beach mandate is part of a growing trend, the Times writes:  "The announcement comes just as the Los Angeles City Council plans to vote Tuesday on whether to pursue a similar ordinance requiring a $5 an hour boost for workers at grocery stores.

    "Long Beach has served as a sort of test case for hazard pay, as several cities in California, including San Jose and Oakland, consider boosts for front-line workers as well. Santa Monica’s City Council voted last month to require 'hero pay' for grocery workers, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has moved forward with a similar proposal."

    Seattle also has implemented hazard pay for grocery employees.

    Long Beach Councilwoman Mary Zendejas, who sponsored the ordinance, said she was “incredibly disappointed” by the move, and said it was “especially jarring" because of Kroger's third-quarter revenue, which was up nearly $2 billion from 2019 to 2020.

    “Kroger’s decision is unfortunate for workers, shoppers and the company,” Long Beach spokesman Kevin Lee said in a statement.

    KC's View:

    What's really unfortunate is that some 200 employees who used to have jobs now will be unemployed - the real hazard that these workers had to deal with is an overreaching local government that, in my view, was improperly selective in how it legislated.

    I'm all for workers being protected.  But to be clear, Kroger provided hazard pay to its employees during the pandemic, and was perfectly free to continue to do so going forward.  I'm happy to argue that it should … but I draw the line at saying that it must.

    Why Kroger and its supermarket brethren should be forced to increase wages, but Home Depot, Staples and CVS are not … well the answer to that question escapes me.

    Bad public policy.  Now, Long Beach is going to have two empty stores … 200 locals unemployed … and I'm not sure anybody is safer as a result.

    I hope the other lawmakers considering such mandates will look at Kroger's move as a warning shot of what could happen if they move forward.  Because mandates of this sort are a crock.

    The Wall Street Journal has a piece this morning in which it interviews employees described as being essential, following up on conversations it had with these same employees last March.

    "The workers expressed a mix of frustration, exhaustion and determination," the Journal writes.  "Most still see the importance of what they do, and some have seized on the demand for services like home deliveries to boost their incomes.

    "Others have stopped working, partly out of fear of getting infected. Others have no choice but to keep going and feel lucky they still have jobs.

    "Despite their exposure, some states are just starting to roll out vaccines for them, after prioritizing the elderly and medical workers."

    Let's be clear.  Essential workers are no less essential today than they were last March and April.  Some feel like they're still being treated that way, but a lot don't.  Retailers need to think hard about this, and ask themselves what it says about their culture.

    Here's the real irony.  These workers were essential before the pandemic, and will be again when it is but a memory.  Maybe retailers ought to think about how to build that into their business models and corporate cultures.

    Published on: February 2, 2021

    Amazon said yesterday that its Amazon One technology - which allows people to enter Amazon Go stores and pay for their purchases with just a handprint, not the app - is being expanded to additional stores in Seattle.

    According to the story, "Amazon One will be added as an entry option at the Amazon Go location at Madison & Minor beginning today, February 1. In the coming weeks, we will also add Amazon One as an entry option to two more Amazon Go stores in Seattle at 5th & Marion and Terry & Stewart. With this expansion, a total of 8 Amazon physical retail stores in the Seattle area will offer Amazon One as an option - including select Amazon Go, Amazon Go Grocery, Amazon Books, and Amazon 4-star stores."

    In the past, entry to an Amazon Go store depended on having the Amazon Go app installed on your smart phone.  But by linking the account to an individual's handprint, Amazon is making the process that much simpler.

    You can find out more about the technology here.

    Published on: February 2, 2021

    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 26,911,375 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 454,213 deaths and 16,629,530 reported recoveries.

    Globally, there have been 104,008,098 confirmed coronavirus cases … 2,249,841 resultant fatalities … and 75,853,924 reported recoveries.  (Source.)

    •  The Washington Post reports that "at least 26.2 million people have received one or both doses of the vaccine in the U.S.  This includes more than 6.1 million people who have been fully vaccinated … 49.9 million doses have been distributed."

    The Wall Street Journal writes that "data coming out after the first month of vaccine distribution offered a picture of who was receiving the shots. Women and people over the age of 50 made up the majority of early U.S. Covid-19 vaccinations, according to a report released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    "Of the nearly 13 million people who received at least one dose between Dec. 14 and Jan. 14, 63% were women and 37% were men, according to the CDC report. It noted that women account for approximately three-quarters of those employed in the health-care industry, giving them priority."

    •  Also from the Wall Street Journal:

    "Newly reported Covid-19 cases in the U.S. were up from a day earlier, as were deaths, but hospitalizations declined again … There were 93,536 people hospitalized in the U.S. on Monday, according to the Covid Tracking Project, the 20th consecutive day of declines."

    •  The US government has reached a $230 million agreement with Australian diagnostics company Ellume USA LLC "to produce at-home, over-the-counter Covid-19 tests," the Wall Street Journal reports.

    According to the story, "The company is expected to produce 19 million tests a month by the end of the year, Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to the White House Covid-19 response team, said Monday. Based on the agreement, 8.5 million tests will be guaranteed to the U.S. government.

    "For months, public health authorities have been calling for rapid, easy-to-use tests for Covid-19 that can be performed anywhere, both to enable people to quickly determine whether or not they have Covid-19 and to allow for wider screening. At-home tests are expected to be less precise than those done in a lab and will likely require a follow-up test in certain situations."

    •  The New York Times reports that a new study suggests that people who have had Covid-19 may not need to get two vaccinations:

    "In a study posted online on Monday, researchers found that people who had previously been infected with the virus reported fatigue, headache, chills, fever, and muscle and joint pain after the first shot compared more frequently than did those who had never been infected. Covid survivors also had far higher antibody levels after both the first and second doses of the vaccine.

    "Based on these results, the researchers say, people who have had Covid-19 may need only one shot."

    •  The Los Angeles Times reports that while LA County has relaxed the rules for outdoor dining, the law says that TVs must stay off - public health officials want to make sure that folks who go to public places won't find themselves shouting at TV screens during the Super Bowl (or Lakers games, for that matter), since that is one of the ways that Covid-19 is spread.

    •  Here's a sobering note from the New York Times:  "The pandemic has led businesses all over New York and New Jersey to close up shop, and by one estimate permanently shuttered nearly 100,000 businesses nationally."

    But there's a bright side:  "In the New York City suburbs, some small-business owners say they are finding a way forward, through customers who are suddenly spending a lot more time - and money - in the communities where they live."

    The Times goes on:  "Roughly 40 percent of Westchester residents work outside the county, according to 2017 data from the U.S. Census Bureau; more than half of those work in Manhattan. But 2020 was not 2017: Some 90 percent of Manhattan’s office employees have not returned to work, a survey by the Partnership for New York City found in October.

    "In Westchester, home to nearly a million people, tens of thousands are no longer commuting into the city every day. For suburban businesses that has meant new customers.

    "Repeat business is particularly important for small businesses in the suburbs, and some are finding that customers who came in for the first time during the pandemic are coming back. At the same time, many longtime customers are being extra supportive during this difficult time."

    This is opportunity knocking, I think.  I happen to live in one of those New York suburbs - a place where it seems like half the town traveled to ther city via train each morning, but now the train station parking lots stand largely empty, as people continue to work from home because of the pandemic.  And I know there are folks who have moved out here from the city because of the pandemic.

    I continue to believe that these people may be spending more time in the suburbs, but they continue to want the advantages that cities offer - culture, shopping, restaurants.  (At least, they'll want them when those kinds of places are able to open to full capacity.)  Which presents all sort of opportunities, especially in the food-and-beverage segment - to raise the bar on what is offered in the 'burbs.

    •  From the Seattle Times:

    "As vaccine misinformation has prompted some to say they will refuse to be inoculated against the coronavirus, the world’s largest online retailer remains a hotbed for anti-vaccination conspiracy theories, according to a new study by University of Washington researchers.

    "Amazon’s search algorithm boosts books promoting false claims about vaccines over those that debunk health misinformation, the researchers found — and as customers engage with products espousing bogus science, Amazon’s recommendation algorithms point them to additional health misinformation."

    The Times writes that "the top eight search results Thursday afternoon for the phrase 'vaccine' in Amazon’s online bookstore, for instance, were vaccine denialist tomes — including books like 'Anyone Who Tells You Vaccines Are Safe and Effective is Lying,' by the British conspiracy theorist Vernon Coleman, and 'The Vaccine-Friendly Plan,' a book purporting to show a nonexistent causal relationship between vaccination and autism co-authored by Oregon physician Paul Thomas … The Oregon Medical Board last year suspended Thomas’ license for misleading parents about vaccine safety and failing to adequately vaccinate patients, including a child who later contracted tetanus and was hospitalized for 57 days."

    •  Good story from ABC News about the community of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, where local officials were having trouble with the drive-through vaccination clinic - the computer system went down, the lines were long, and frustration was mounting.

    So local officials turned to someone they knew how to make a drive-through work -  Jerry Walkowiak, the manager of the local Chick-fil-A.

    "With the help of a few additional volunteers, Walkowiak transformed the messy traffic jam into a smooth operation, reducing the hours-long wait to just 15 minutes.  More than 1,000 people received the vaccine that day," and, "when everyone returns for their second dose on Feb. 12, Walkowiak will be back to help manage the drive-thru."

    Published on: February 2, 2021

    A Note from the Content Guy…

    Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate in a Retail Roundtable presented by MarketScale, in which we talked about Brick & Mortar Strategies for 2021.   It was an interesting exchange, I thought, and the other panelists brought unique perspectives to the conversation.

    They were:

    •  Carol Spieckerman, CEO, Spieckerman Retail

    •  Adrian Thomas, President & CEO, Datascan

    •  Kyle Freeman, VP of Customer Success, Vixxo

    If you are interested in checking it out, you can do so here.

    Published on: February 2, 2021

    With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  The New York Post has an interview with sports media guru Nick Khan, who predicts that "Amazon could end up with 'Thursday Night Football' while the incumbent networks (Fox and CBS on Sunday afternoons, NBC on Sunday nights and ESPN on Mondays) keep their current TV packages.  'It feels like that is going to be the first time that a digital player gets an entire season package exclusively,' Khan said. 'That is how it feels like it is playing out…'"

    That's been the prediction here for several years … that at some point, Amazon Prime members would have exclusive access to some major sports franchise or game package.

    I didn't know when it was going to happen, but it felt inevitable.  Sports leagues go where the money is, and Amazon has buckets of it.  (Amazon will issue its newest financial report later today … we'll find out exactly how much money.)

    Published on: February 2, 2021

    •  From the Wall Street Journal:

    "The U.S. economy is expected to expand more rapidly in 2021 than officials projected in July, but it will take several years for output to reach its full potential and for the number of employed workers to return to its pre-pandemic peak, according to new economic projections released Monday.

    "The Congressional Budget Office said it expects gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic output, to return to its pre-pandemic level by the middle of this year, thanks in part to a surge of relief spending Congress authorized in 2020, including aid for households and businesses."

    •  Ahold Delhaize-owned The Giant Company announced "the launch of its latest ready to eat meal solution for today’s busy families, All Set in a Box, described as "a hot meal option which includes a main course and sides for a family of four. Most varieties are less than $5 per serving."

    “While families are spending more time gathered around the table enjoying meals together, many are also facing meal fatigue when it comes to what they should prepare,” said John MacDonald, director of meal solutions and marketing operations for the Carlisle, Pennsylvania-based company.  “The GIANT Company regularly inspires our customers with various quick, easy and affordable meals for busy families from ready to eat, ready to heat and ready to cook. Everything we do is For Today’s Table, and our new All Set in a Box takes it to the next level, offering an entire family meal that is all set to eat at prices that won’t break the budget.”

    Published on: February 2, 2021

    •  United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) announced that Dorn Wenninger, most recently the vice president of Perishables for Walmart Mexico, has been named the company's Senior Vice President of Produce.

    Published on: February 2, 2021

    Hal Holbrook, who most famously played Mark Twain in a one-man show that he also wrote and directed for a more-than-2,000 performance run that started in 1954 and ended in 2017, has passed away.  He was 95.

    Despite his association with Twain, Holbrook had an extraordinary career, acting in film, television and on stage, and running the gamut from drama to comedy and even to a musical.   (One little known fact cited in the various obituaries that he succeeded Richard Kiley in the original Broadway production of "Man of La Mancha.")

    Here's a bit of his Mark Twain:

    Here's one of Holbrook's most iconic movie performances:

    Published on: February 2, 2021

    Fast feeder Subway has hired a licensing company to help it sell its products through, among other places, supermarkets.  Yesterday I used my FaceTime commentary to suggest that this is a lousy idea  for supermarkets - I argued that if supermarkets actually are in the food business, they ought to be able to make a better sandwich than Subway.  (And if not, maybe it is time to get out of the food business.)

    Well, you can't please all the people all the time, as one MNB reader wrote:

    Your diatribe on Subway stuck me as mean-spirited and elitist. While I personally prefer Jersey Mike’s products, I’ve had Subway’s many times over the the years (including many tuna subs) and have never had a bad eating experience. I’ve also had subs in other venues including supermarket service delis that were not nearly as good as Subway’s product. I’ve also observed that supermarket service delis fall short on value, service and convenience.  As of July 2020, Subway  had over 40,000 locations in 111 countries as the largest restaurant operator in the world. They have adapted their menu over the years to changing consumer needs … sodium reduction, gluten-free breads, healthier options, etc. and deliver on value, service and convenience.

    Walmart, Target, etc have successfully operated Subways, McDonalds, Taco Bell’s and Pizza Huts in their stores over the years. There is also a little company named Starbucks that has successfully placed their units in thousands of other retail outlets.

    Let’s let the customer decide if they feel an established brand name meets their culinary needs.

    "Mean-spirited and elitist."  Really?

    That's not even the worst thing I was called … yesterday.

    (I told Mrs. Content Guy about this exchange, and she replied, "Sure, you can be mean-spirited and elitist.  You're also a snob.  But not about this.")

    In some ways you make my broader point for me when you say that you've had supermarket-made sandwiches that were not as good as what Subway makes.

    My response:  Shame on those supermarkets!

    There is absolutely no excuse for a supermarket not making a better sandwich than Subway does.  There's also no excuse for not making a better hamburger than McDonald's, a better pizza than Pizza Hut, or a better cup of coffee than Starbucks.  Most fast feeders specialize in lowest common denominator food, and I would argue that if supermarkets want to differentiate themselves from all the competition for share of stomach, they damn well ought to do better.

    One other thing.  The supermarket ought to be an established brand name that stands for something, and not just abdicate that opportunity and serve as a house for other people's brands.  And the supermarket's job is not to let the customer decide, but to persuade the customer that it ought to be the first, best choice.

    Dammit.  Why is this such a radical notion?

    By the way … at one point over the last couple of days I was scanning social media to check on reactions to the Publix heiress story, and one of the things that made me chuckle was the tweet that basically said, "I'd like to boycott Publix but their sub sandwiches are just too damned good."

    Now that's having a brand identity.

    Some MNB readers seemed to understand what I was saying.

    Jim DeJohn responded:

    So true on your Facetime regarding a supermarket better make a better sandwich than Subway!  Easy example – just visit a Wegmans and grab a sandwich.  The only Subway you’ll think about is the one underground.  Thanks as always for your insights!

    Perfect example.

    From another reader:

    This story made me laugh out loud….back in 90’s a manufacturer, who will remain nameless, introduced a cross ruff coupon event on packages of their products, that offered a savings on Subway sandwiches, if the consumer bought the manufacturers products….the look on the buyers face at Publix was priceless, asking the regional representative, who was attending the call with me “why in the world would I encourage one of my customers to leave my store and go across the street to buy a sandwich, when the Publix Deli has the best subs in the whole state?” It was a fair question and at the time caused quite a stir, because the manufacturer then had to prepare to ship their products without said coupons to Publix and eventually abandoned the whole idea, as they feared other retailers would feel the same way, not that they did, Publix was well ahead on issues like this, back at that time.


    Another MNB reader wrote:

    Bravo! “You’re in the food business, dammit, start acting like it.” Them’s fightin’ words, Kevin, and I’m happy to join that fight. Even at the bottom of the market, food shopping must be an adventure of discovery and great taste. Doesn’t have to be high-falutin’ or “gourmet,” just good food.

    And another:

    Loved this video and your passion KC, I mean this is such a no brainer!

    I've never eaten there in my life, never even gave it a thought. I never felt like I would get a better sub there than anywhere else, especially a hot sub - I don't even want to think about it!

    Why any supermarket would sell a very sub-standard sub, pun intended, is beyond me, when you're already selling your own what should be great subs! Unless of course they are making money on the buy, not the sell - and shame on them if they are.


    Regarding Southeastern Grocers' decision to abandon their proposed IPO, one MNB reader wrote:

    The PE guys want $14-16 per share, which is the strike point of their exit strategy. SEG owns primarily distressed assets in competitive markets with less than stellar run stores. These share prices are beyond optimistic, they are ridiculous.

    As you might expect, I got a lot of email yesterday about our coverage of the controversy surrounding Julie Jenkins Fancelli, described in news stories as "a prominent donor to the Trump campaign and heiress to the Publix Super Markets Inc. chain," contributed $300,000 to fund the January 6 rally on the Elipse in Washington, DC, which led to the march on the Capitol, widespread vandalism and, in some cases, threats on the lives of some members of the US Senate and House of Representatives.

    I'm not going to run the emails, though I have tried to respond personally to some of them.  But if I start running these emails and the inevitable responses, it'll take MNB down a rabbit hole from which we'll never return.

    I just want to make a broader point.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - companies have every right to take whatever political positions they want and write checks to whoever they want … but they have to understand that when they do - especially today, when there is so much transparency via social media - it is going to become public and they will have to deal with it.  At a time when our politics are so polarizing, this carries risks for the retailers taking positions.  And yet, we live in a time when surveys tell us that consumers want the companies with which they do business to be engaged on social issues.  This is a conundrum.

    I'd prefer never to bring up politics on this blog.  Trust me.  The problem is that politics keeps impinging on my turf … not the other way around.

    The big issue that must be considered, in my view, is this:  What should a company's role be in a diverse, disagreeable and tumultuous culture?  Where should lines be drawn?  At what point must companies speak up and act, because not to do so would be irresponsible?  And how should/will consumers think about and act toward retailers with which they disagree?

    I think that the answer to the last question is a personal one - I make my own decisions about such things, and don't really give a damn about what social media says or does.

    But companies don't have that luxury.  They have to think bigger than that, and they need to consider all the repercussions.

    I do not envy them.  After all, we occupy a world in which wearing masks during a pandemic became a political issue.  So good luck with that.

    Published on: February 2, 2021

    The Associated Press reports this morning that "Major League Baseball will proceed with an on-time start to spring training and the season after players rejected a plan Monday night to delay reporting by a more than a month."

    According to the story, "MLB proposed to the players’ association on Friday that the start of spring training be pushed back from Feb. 17 to March 22, that opening day be delayed from April 1 to April 28 and that each team’s schedule be cut from 162 games to 154. MLB believed the virus situation would improve during the month delay.

    "Under the proposal, each team would have been allowed to be scheduled up to 12 split doubleheaders. Experimental rules for seven-inning doubleheaders and beginning extra innings with a runner on second base would have continued for a second season."

    The players' union rejected the proposal and did not make a counter-proposal, which experts suggest reflects significant tension between management and labor that could result in a stoppage in 2022, when the current collective bargaining agreement ends.