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    Published on: February 28, 2023

    Today, Michael Sansolo joins me for a conversation about two separate sessions about marketing that we facilitated at the National Grocers Association (NGA) Show in Las Vegas, which offered examples about measurable marketing efforts that can be an enormous advantage to retailers.  And, we talk about the challenges inherent in such efforts - cultural, demographic, and operational - that, while they can be significant, are worth overcoming.  Though, Erik Weihenmayer (the first blind man to summit Mount Everest), said in his keynote address, adversity is best faced as a community of retailers, wholesalers, suppliers and service providers that can make 2+2=5.  Or 6.  Or even 7.

    If you would like to listen to this segment as an audio podcast, click below:

    Also from the NGA Show…

    •  The National Grocers Association (NGA) honored New Orleans-area grocery retailer Ideal Market with this year’s Peter J. Larkin Community Service Award, recognizing Ideal Market's efforts "to administer COVID-19 vaccinations as well as its community outreach in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida."

    Published on: February 28, 2023

    by Kevin Coupe

    Talk about inflation.

    Axios reports that "the Tooth Fairy's payout for a single lost tooth is at a record high, with the average gift reaching $6.23, up from $5.36 in 2022.

    "That's a 379% increase from 1998 when a lost tooth fetched $1.30 on average.

    "The numbers come from Delta Dental’s 2023 annual poll which surveyed 1,000 parents of kids 6–12.  The company predicts that it's possible that by 2048 the Tooth Fairy could be leaving as much as $30 under the pillow for a single tooth."


    Makes me glad I don't have a little kids.  On the off chance that someday I may have grandchildren, it makes me think that in addition to a college fund, I may need to start a tooth fairy fund.

    I'm glad the story was only about inflation, not recession.  Because when I think about teeth and recession, at my age I start to worry about my gums receding.

    Published on: February 28, 2023

    Wired has a story an ingredient in some supplements called “gelatina nigra" or “ejiao," which actually is gelatin made from donkey hide.

    Every year, the story says, "millions of donkeys are slaughtered and skinned to make the so-called gelatina nigra … It’s in such high demand due to its alleged health benefits that it’s decimating the global donkey population and has led to increasingly brutal treatment of the animals, according to a 2019 report by the Donkey Sanctuary, an advocacy organization … While some retailers like Walmart and eBay have committed to drop products that contain ejiao, edible items containing this ingredient are widely for sale on Amazon in spite of multiple petitions asking that it stop selling them. A legal complaint filed in California last week by the law firm Evans & Page on behalf of the Center for Contemporary Equine Studies, a nonprofit, claims Amazon’s continued sale of these donkey-based products is more than distasteful—it may be illegal.

    "The Center alleges that Amazon’s distribution and sale of ejiao violates an obscure California animal welfare law called the Prohibition of Horse Slaughter and Sale of Horsemeat for Human Consumption Act. The 1998 ballot initiative, known at the time of its passage as Proposition Six, makes the sale of horsemeat for human consumption a crime on the grounds that horses, like dogs and cats, are not food animals and deserve similar protections. The Center is arguing that, under the statute, horsemeat is defined to mean any part of any equine, including donkeys."

    Wired notes that "Amazon’s website typically alerts users who attempt to purchase items banned in their state and blocks their sale. We filled an Amazon shopping cart with these edible products and went through the checkout process to see whether Amazon would deliver them to a California address. At no point did we encounter any notifications that the items couldn’t be shipped to California. However, when we added a lightbulb to our cart that is not compliant with California state regulations, Amazon prevented us from completing our purchase. We were ultimately able to purchase several ejiao products and successfully ship them to a California address."

    The story says that neither Amazon nor NSD Herbal, one of the companies selling the relevant supplements on Amazon, would comment on the charges.

    KC's View:

    It may be an obscure California law, but it still is the law.  I hope that Amazon wouldn't comment because it was busy making the programming changes necessary to bring it into compliance.

    This is an easy one.  Amazon has enough issues to deal with that are a lot harder to address that it ought to quickly fix the ones that it can.

    Published on: February 28, 2023

    Bloomberg reports that "Amazon, which churns through hourly workers at a brisk pace, has long expected to one day run out of warm bodies for its US fulfillment centers - an existential problem for an enterprise that made its name providing quick, reliable delivery. While the warehouses are partly automated, Amazon still relies on hundreds of thousands of people working in concert with the machines."

    But to some extent, the time has come.

    "Amazon appears to have solved the problem with a highly automated system featuring a yellow robotic arm that the company says can pick up millions of types of products without crushing or dropping them. The new bot’s name is Sparrow.

    "Amazon hasn’t said precisely how Sparrow and its machine cousins will revolutionize its operations. But patent filings, corporate blog posts and executive comments reveal a roadmap of the company’s ambitions (see diagram, below). Robots will stow and retrieve individual items, move packaged boxes into carts for shipment and pilot those carts to waiting trucks—labor now handled mostly by people.

    "The technology is still buggy, and full deployment will likely take years. But the automated system promises to fundamentally reshape Amazon, which has grown into the second-largest private US employer behind Walmart Inc., and in many towns is both the biggest employer and the default option for workers who have few marketable skills or were laid off from another job."

    You can read the entire story here.

    Published on: February 28, 2023

    •  Adsta, the retail media network for independent grocers (launched in 2020) announced what it calls "its next offering: a white-labeled, user-friendly retail media management platform that enables grocery retailers and wholesalers to maximize their digital media monetization.The Adsta Enablement Platform (AEP) equips the over 4,000 grocery stores currently participating in the Adsta Retail Media Network to offer their own branded retail media networks to secure more of the estimated $50+ billion of 2023 retail media spending."

    The announcement notes that 85 percent of CPG companies plan to ramp up their spending on retail media networks, but that most of that spend is targeted on the largest chains, which makes it critical for independent retailers to find ways to level the playing field and access those dollars to the greatest extent possible.

    Among the companies using Adsta:  C&S Wholesale Grocers (CSWG), United Natural Foods Inc (UNFI), Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG), Bozzuto’s and SpartanNash.

    Full disclosure:  Shawn Tuckett is a co-founder of Adsta and CEO of Webstop, which powers MNB on a daily basis.

    Published on: February 28, 2023

    •  Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. announced "a binding agreement for the acquisition of 45 fuel and convenience retail sites from Big Red Stores," based in Arkansas.  "All 45 sites are company-owned, company-operated sites of which real estate is owned for 44 sites and leased for 1 site. Furthermore, the network predominately features large format stores that have ample space for enhanced foodservice and product offerings.

    "The transaction is expected to close in the first half of calendar year 2023, subject to standard regulatory approvals and closing conditions."

    Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    •  From the New York Daily News:

    "A Starbucks barista fired after voting to unionize a Long Island City cafe has been rehired by the coffee company, which will also have to cough up $21,000 in backpay and penalties as part of a settlement for violating the city’s Fair Workweek Law.

    "Austin Locke, a six-year Starbucks employee, was fired on July 5, 2022 after the Seattle-based company charged that he violated the company’s COVID protocols and made a false workplace violence claim.

    "The termination came less than a month after the staff won a National Labor Relations Board vote to unionize the 22-28 31st St. coffee shop.

    "The city Department of Consumer and Worker Protection sued Starbucks after Locke filed a Fair Workweek Law complaint, claiming retaliation and violations of the law’s 'just cause' protections.

    "On Monday, the company reinstated Locke and agreed to pay him for the lost wages and penalties under the law."

    •  Biz Women reports that Claire's, the hair accessories, jewelry and cosmetics retailer, "plans to add another 230 grocery store locations to the more than 2,200 it already has across 10 grocery partners, including the country’s two largest chains, Kroger and Albertsons.

    "Claire’s develops custom programs to accommodate spaces in each grocery store, offering a curated selection."

    Other retailers offering curated Claire's merchandise include Food City, WinCo, Giant Eagle, Smart & Final, Schnucks, CVS, DSW, Walmart and Macy’s.

    Published on: February 28, 2023

    …will return.