retail news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB reader Steve Workman wrote in about the proposed legislation in Seattle that would make certain misdemeanors - like shoplifting - non-prosecutable, which I thought was "completely nuts," since it would make doing business there impossible for many retailers:

Regarding your FaceTime with the Content Guy on Tuesday.

My Sister works in a Rite-Aid (Walgreens) store in NJ.  She is told by management that if they see someone stealing, to just let them go, DO NOT CONFRONT THEM.

Someone can literally come in the store and wipe an entire shelf of OTC drugs into a bag and walk right out the door.

They do this to avoid conflict and I think it also has to do with Covid, since that is when the policy was implemented.

Thieves have No Fear.  The only caveat is that they probably don’t want to  come back to the same store too often since the cameras have most likely identified him stealing and they might have the ability to stop them when they walk back into the store.

Crazy world….

Another MNB reader wrote:

A couple of thoughts…

There are two kinds of thieves and they can be identified by the items they are stealing.

Both are thieves though – crime and punishment should be commensurate with each other.

Has anyone given any thought to what happens on the other side when $4/hour is pulled away from someone that may have adjusted their budget?

Or is the underlying goal to increase minimum wage one way or another?

And from another MNB reader:

In my 20 years of working in grocery, I have been involved in dozens of situations of catching shoplifters. Not one has ever said they did it because they had to feed their family. And unless they only feed their family steak and crab meat, I’m pretty sure they’re stealing for other reasons. 


Michael Sansolo's column this week was about how the people who don't wear masks are putting people at risk, and how a new term - “Fauci-ing" - has been created for breaking up, cutting off or ghosting a romantic partner who isn’t taking covid seriously enough.  The same thing can happen between customers and retailers when one or the other isn't taking the pandemic seriously enough.

One MNB reader wrote:

I’m with you, CEO Steve Smith and especially Dr. Fauci.  I used to go buy water most mornings from a gas station/convenience store after walking my dogs.  I could easily wait until I got home to have water, but I really liked the staff and the daily interactions I would have with them.

They have a sign that says you must wear a face mask when entering the store, but I’ve never saw it enforced.  I totally understand the predicament they put staff in.  The staff does wear face masks.  I quit going there because of all the “boneheads” who don’t take C-19 seriously and walk in without masks.  A bottle of water in not worth the potential health repercussions.  We seek out stores like Costco and Nugget (a local grocery chain in the Sacramento area) because they enforce wearing of masks.  We been Fauci-ing for a long time now and breaking up with the retailers who won’t enforce mask wearing. 

But MNB reader Dave Parker wrote:

Shouldn’t “Fauci-ing the business” mean 100% face mask, social distance, and hand-washing compliance? It shouldn’t stand for the resisters. Flouting is the term for that.


Responding to the John Oliver piece about poor treatment of people working in meat-packing plants, one MNB reader wrote:

Doesn't make me feel any better knowing Smithfield is a wholly owned subsidiary of WH group of China.

MNB reader John Rand chimed in:

Sometimes history rhymes.  The 1906 novel “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair comes to mind. 

At the turn of the before-last century there was a lot of journalism and exploration of dreadful industry behavior, dangerous work conditions, terrible product ingredients, abuse of immigrant labor, outright illegal behavior in some cases but mostly because there were no laws, no oversight, and no consequences. 

At that point in time Republicans were often proudly progressive, and Teddy Roosevelt was a leader in establishing laws and standards. Things like the FDA.  The premise was that companies needed standards to prevent them from sinking to the bottom level of behavior , to level the playing field because pure competition had no method to value public good. 

Funny how some things just echo. At some point we always need to go back and see what we learned before. 

And MNB reader Joe Ciccarelli wrote:

I watched this video and it is really eye-opening. Where are our Federal and State Legislature’s?  Probably on a golf vacation with some lobbyist from the meat industry.


And, regarding the growth of e-commerce in 2020, and speculation about how it continue post-pandemic, one MNB reader wrote:

Walmart isn't putting most of it's record 15+ billion in cap ex this year into e-commerce because it thinks things will return back to normal...

Fair point.


Continued discussion of the McDonald's decision to tie executive bonuses to the company's ability to execute on diversity goals…

One MNB reader wrote:

Attaching bonus goals to racial diversity in management … The term White Supremacy is being bantered around like it is ok.  Well, it is not.  Here is the Oxford definition of White Supremacy “White supremacy or white supremacism is the belief that white people are superior to those of other races and thus should dominate them. The belief favors the maintenance and defense of white power and privilege.”

The use of that label to make a general statement is quite frankly offensive.  I have a serious issue with anyone, that feels using that statement as an argument to promote equality in the workforce is a justifiable position. 

Let me ask a question:  How many times have you seen a minority get a job over a non-minority, and they were not as qualified???  In my time, I have. And no this is not a personal experience; it has been observed.  That is to me minority supremacy.  Which in my opinion is just as bad.

I guess then if you have requirements for the number of minority positions in management shouldn’t that apply to all companies?  Even minority owned companies?  Hey, aren’t “whites” a minority in that company as well?  Let’s only mandate to give every chance we can to the poor minorities since we, the global, evil, White Supremist population won’t.

Come on man. This is just another example of left HR practices trying to make everyone feel good and never truly addressing the issue.  Kumbaya.

'Just to be clear, I was the person who used the term "white supremacist," but only in the context of a comment made about a Coca-Cola diversity program in which the phrase "try to be less white" was used.

I wrote:

I'm a little unclear, based on my reading, the degree to which the stuff posted by the whistleblower reflects the totality of the Coke training program.  I gather that some of the criticisms are coming from quarters that are opposed to what's called "critical race theory," which among other things posits that one has to acknowledge that white supremacy exists and that existing law often serves to reinforce it.  (I don't think there's much question that white supremacy exists, and it certainly seems to me that white supremacists are being more public about it than ever.  But then there are some folks that argue that white supremacy doesn't exist.  I'm confused.)

So, I wasn't just dropping the term in a general statement.  I would also suggest that the perspective described in the dictionary definition seems fairly accurate in terms of how some people in this country are talking and acting these days.

MNB reader Tim McGuire has a good response to some of your observations:

Two thoughts for the reader who worries that “if there are no qualified (diverse) applicants for a role” companies that tie management performance reviews/bonuses to diversity and inclusion goals will force their leaders to hire unqualified diverse candidates to “fill in the numbers”:

Assuming that the D&I goals are part of the overall bonus program, not 100% of it, those leaders would be shooting themselves in the foot by hiring unqualified candidates, so it’s unlikely to happen.

The bigger issue in the question is why there are no qualified and diverse applicants for the role - that’s a failure of recruiting, attraction and support of diverse candidates.  If you find diverse candidates don’t apply for, get hired for, or succeed in roles in your company, figure out why not and fix it - not because you need to hit your D&I numbers, but because you’re missing out on an enormous and qualified pool of talent.

Strong boards and management teams don’t create D&I goals to “check boxes” - they do so to make sure the organization casts a wide net to find the best people.

Thank you.  That's what I wanted to say.

One other thing.  Just out of curiosity, I googled the word "kumbaya," just because I wanted to get an accurate sense of a word that was used so flippantly in the earlier email.

In the original African-American spiritual, the word was meant to be "an appeal to God to come and help those in need."  But, the dictionary says, it often is used "disparagingly, to moments of or efforts at harmony and unity."

Leading me to ask, who would anyone be disparaging at actual efforts at harmony and unity?