retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Longo's said last week that it was the first North American retailer to exclusively sell fair trade bananas, an assertion that MNB reader Cindee Lolik wanted to challenge:

Food Cooperatives across the country, including our own here in Corvallis, OR, have been selling only fair trade bananas for year.  What this chain is doing is nothing new, their marketers are taking credit where no credit is due for being the first, but I applaud them for their belated efforts.

Regarding consumer shopping trends, one MNB reader wrote:

I guess my question on this is: Will this remote type of shopping continue at the level it has over the past year +?  It would seem to me that supermarkets are building a barn after the horse has already left.  Would it not be a more long-term direction to make the in-store shopping experience better, instead of the other way around?  That could create a greater point of difference.  Plus, to those retailers and manufacturers that rely on the “impulse buy” to drive sales; See Ya!  You cant tell the professional shopper “ hey, if you see something interesting grab it for me.” 


BTW…we've been arguing here for making in-store experiences better for a long time.

Regarding the current employment situation, one MNB reader wrote:

One anecdote on Jobs.

Met a fellow the other day.  He and his wife worked hospitality and were pulling down close to $15/hour each, prior to the pandemic.   Both lost their jobs.

Both receive both regular unemployment and the supplemental unemployment, which totals out to $15/hour each, and that will continue through September, for NOT working.

AND, he IS working on construction (booming here, and elsewhere) for cash WHILE learning a new skill (electrician).

And his wife is watching over their kids and their schooling since they go to a school district which has a pretty  spotty record of providing a quality education during the pandemic.

Making the same dough as before PLUS putting away some cash based money while watching over their kids education and learning a new trade that pays pretty well.  I kinda think that people are pretty smart and are doing their best at taking care of their families.

Responding to the piece about the growth of dollar stores, one MNB reader wrote:

In my area there have been 2 new ground up Dollar Generals open in the past 2 years.  They have a small footprint, provide same like or like variety on items, and have gone into areas with low population density.  So the only comp is a convenience store.  I have also seen them pop up in other areas right across the street from supermarkets.  Their low cost of entry and minimal cost of operation, make them a formidable competitor. I would be curious to see the basket size and the shopping frequency numbers for these guys.

MNB reader Rich Heiland chimed in:

We are road-trippers, off the interstates. In my opinion  Dollar-type stores go where others won’t. For many rural isolated areas, Dollar is all they have without a long drive. 

I've seen the same thing while on my cross-country drives.

Yesterday we had two stories - one about regulation of diesel trucks in California because of the pollution they create in poor communities where giant distribution centers often are built, and another about Marc Lore's new upscale food truck venture.

Prompting one MNB reader to write:

Wait, 2 stories up, trucks were “bad” – but you’re a big fan of the food truck model? Let me see if I have this straight – trucks are evil in e-commerce but good if they sell more food, serve more people, and bring their brands to areas they’re not currently serving. C’mon Kevin, this is a textbook example of “cognitive dissonance”.

I'm not sure I agree, though I take your point.

I think there is a difference between giant tractor trailers and small food trucks … and even the smaller, increasingly electrified vehicles that can serve smaller MFCs.

I'm not saying we should get rid of trucks.  I am saying that we need to make a major investment in technologies that don't use fossil fuels.

Another MNB reader responded to the diesel ruck piece:

After his 20 year stint maintaining a squadron of fighter jets for the US Air Force, my son is now in charge of maintaining a fleet of tractor trailers for Wegmans. He’s been involved with some R&D on hybrid electric/natural gas powered vehicles with Volvo, Cummins, American Natural Gas, and Hyliion. Good stuff.

We'll get there.  But the clock is ticking.