business news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB reader Tom Murphy weighed in on yesterday's predictions segment of The Innovation Conversation:

Great predictions…well thought-out and reasonably likely!  Especially agree with the continued and accelerated movement to subscription services.  I wonder if any grocery has thought to use subscription services to drive store-brand growth.  For example, “Select a subscription to save 10% on your Ritz Crackers purchase or substitute our award winning crackers for 20% off?”  This would be a great way to highlight store brands and to capture value/cost sensitive customers in 2023 and beyond.

Another MNB reader wrote:

Absolutely agree with Tom that 2023 will be a tighter year for most households.  For us, the return to hybrid in-office work in mid 2022 quickly dissipated any gains from 2020 and 2021.  An additional $200 a month for gas, new work clothes in post-pandemic sizes (ugh, real pants), more expensive lunches and breakfasts, a hefty rent increase (Austin housing is a BEAST, man), higher grocery costs - all of this rapidly depleted our reserves.  2023 looks like less eating out, less discretionary spending, fewer luxuries, and fewer conveniences.  

On another subject, from MNB reader Glenn Cantor:

Although the Kroger-Albertsons merger appears inevitable, I disagree that the new, larger company won’t want to work with smaller brands.  The people managing local markets are smarter than that.  They know that small, unique, and local brands bring shoppers into their stores.  Grocery stores cannot be like National chain drug stores.  Shoppers expect them to offer unique products and ideas. Albertsons maintains the Acme brand in Philadelphia because it is locally relevant.

One MNB reader had a question prompted by a Wegmans story earlier this week:

I am curious what your view is on the Wegman’s calculus of keeping stores open?  Closing 27 sores over the years on a total store base of 109 current stores seems like a lot of turnover. Any concern there? 

Nope.  That's over a lot of years … and just think about how neighborhoods, store formats and customers have evolved since Wegmans started.

I got another email, this one from MNB reader Steven Ritchey, about my FaceTime from Arlington National Cemetery:

Your commentary at the National Cemetery for a fallen friend was moving, poignant, and thought provoking.

I came along too late for the draft having turned 18 in November of 1976, my senior year in high school.  

I learned later I most likely would not have been taken. I was born blind in my right eye,  I am also partially deaf in my right ear.  The cause was my mother was exposed to the measles in her first month of pregnancy.  I'm very lucky the damage was not worse.

I've often wondered how my life might have been different if I had served

That's just one of several things I wonder about.  What if I'd gone off to college instead of commuting.  I never had the experience of going off and living in a dorm, living on campus and bonding with other people living away from home for the first time.

I wonder how my life would have been different if I had served in the military.  Would I even have survived?

I see people who brag about how much they love their country, when they've never served.  I don't brag about love of country, or boast about my patriotism, since I never put it to the test as others have.  I look at those who have, who put their lives on hold for several years, and how it's changed them.  Some changed for the better, some not so much.

I go about my business and support the military in small, quiet ways.  We have a PX at church which supports a military base overseas, we send snacks, toiletries, and the like.  I used to send homemade beef jerky which was always at the top of the list of things they wanted and needed, at least I did until a new rule was made that we couldn't send homemade foodstuff anymore.  I understand that, one never knows what conditions those things were made in.  It's not much, but it's what I can do, hopefully I've helped make things a bit better for some of our service people.

Yes,  your commentary from the National Cemetery was moving, poignant, and thought provoking.  It made me think of all these things, and much, much more.

And, from another reader:

A great reminder of the sacrifice of others so we can enjoy our lives. 

I too did not serve in the military.  My father did a two year stint in the US Air Force before I was born, but he left after two years because he wanted to be a pilot.  Back then if you wore glasses, like he did, they would not select you for flight training so he went on to a very successful career as a petroleum engineer.

In 2004 my wife and I were visiting France and being a history buff we went to Normandy to see where D-Day took place.  It was like visiting a cathedral.  We walked through the American cemetery above Omaha Beach.  The tombstones perfectly level and in perfect rows.  It is the only land in France that is deeded to the US Gov’t.  I saw a man in the near distance who looked old enough to be a WWII veteran and quite possibly a soldier who landed on the beach that day.  He had his head in his hands and was crying.  I wanted to go up to console him, thank him for his service,  but I too was crying profusely seeing in-person the results of war.  It is one of my biggest regrets that I couldn’t overcome my own emotions to help this veteran.  It still brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it.

About 15 years ago, Mrs. Content Guy, one of our sons and I visited Normandy, accompanied by a good friend (the smartest person I know) named Fiach O'Broin.  It was a remarkable visit, and exactly what I was thinking about last week at Arlington.

Another MNB reader had some thoughts about another subject:

I understand your concern for supermarkets sharing market space with the competition as in restaurants.  but, honestly, that ship sailed many decades ago.

I remember over 40 years ago seeing Night Hawk frozen dinners, which was a division of Night Hawk Steak Houses in Texas.

Long before that, a restaurant owner named Stouffer figured out a way to quick freeze his Mac and Cheese, then Lasagna for people to reheat at home.  We all know who that is now.

Today we see Whataburger and Chick Fil A ketchup, Mustard and sauces on grocery shelves.  The other day I saw Whataburger Pancake Mix.  We have  Marie Callenders Frozen Meals.  

I understand the concern, but it started before I was born, honestly, and I've been around more than 6 decades now.

However, one thing in my hometown that gave me pause years ago.  We have a chain of Barbecue Restaurants name Dickey's Barbecue, been around a long time.

We also have a Dickey's Funeral home that started as a different name and morphed over the years.  It used to be owned by one of the cities first furniture store owners who was also an embalmer. He sold furniture on the first floor of his store, did embalming on the second floor. In later years he built an actual funeral home  down the street from where I grew up.

It is two different Dickey's family's, they are not related.  But, anyone who's seen the movie, "Fried Green Tomatoes" will know exactly what I'm talking about.

If they were somehow related, it would be one hell of a brand extension, and I wouldn't eat in their restaurants.

I got several emails about my attendance earlier this week at a "boot camp" for public speakers, which I did to tune up my skills and get new perspectives on how to deliver value when speaking to audiences.  One MNB reader wrote:

My greatest fear is not being relevant, admire your desire for "lifelong learning" never know when in life you hit your stride or create your masterpiece! 

And, from MNB reader Tom Jackson:

GOOD FOR YOU !  Like you I am still doing some speaking and facilitating, but my goal every day is to learn something new or get updated on new approaches or information regarding the retail food industry.  I applaud you for investing in yourself and wanting to get better and that demonstrates notable humility . I read your stuff pretty much every day and look forward to your next venture, but the good part is you will CONTINUE to write and speak well because  of your  positive approach to what you do so well ! 

Thanks, Tom.  I appreciate it.