business news in context, analysis with attitude

Last week it was announced that Dollar General’s former CEO,  Todd Vasos, was coming out of retirement to run the company, which has been suffering from slowing growth and allegations of unsafe working conditions.

I commented:

Dollar General seems to be taking a page from Starbucks' book.  I'd argue that it has a lot of issues to deal with - like concerns about worker safety and various investigations - that actually go back to Vasos' original tenure.  Is he the right person to fix the problems?  Or is he just better at wallpapering over the problems so they're less visible?

One MNB reader responded:

Back in 2019 I was talking with a local DG store manager whom, at the time, was ringing up my items since he was the only person in the store.  I was asking about their shrink issues and getting input on anti-theft solutions.  During this brief exchange, another “customer” walked out the door with a full cart of merchandise.  The manager said “Ma'am , you can’t leave the store with that!” The person kept going, loaded up her car and left.  At this point the manager looked at me and said, “I’m the only one here and it’s like that a lot, the only anti-theft solution that will work in my store is more staffing.”

Ted Vasos was at the helm of DG at the time and the issues DG is under scrutiny for now were pervasive during his tenure as CEO.  Eventually the build more stores growth model was going to slow down.  I wish him luck making something out of the 19,000+ cinder block disasters currently in market. 

We took note the other day of a Long Beach Post report in California that "Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have given grocery store workers who are laid off as a result of a merger or acquisition a week of severance pay for every year of their service.

"The veto … comes after the governor signed two other grocery worker protection bills. Advocates have been pushing for the measures since last fall when Kroger and Albertsons announced plans for a massive merger. The $24.6 billion deal involving two of the largest grocery chains in the United States faces antitrust scrutiny but, if approved, it could happen in early 2024.

"Newsom said he vetoed the bill—Senate Bill 725—because other laws already protect these workers.  He cited the state’s Grocery Worker Retention law, which since 2016 has required companies that merge or buy another grocer to retain existing workers at least 90 days, and the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act,  which requires companies with 100 or more workers to give them 60 days notice before mass layoffs.

"He also noted that affected workers could tap unemployment insurance."

I commented:

Sounds like the right decision to me.  Safety nets already exist, and there's no reason to replace them with a Vispring Masterpiece mattress made from Shetland wool, cashmere, silk, alpaca fleece, and horsetail.

One MNB reader responded:

Sorry but I respectfully disagree with your agreement with the Governor vetoing this law.   The 2 other laws that protect grocery workers during a merger or acquisition are inadequate.   If you are an employee lets say with 20 years of service 90 days of continued employment and 60 days notice is paltry in comparison to years of contribution to the company this person made.  I'm not a resident of California but as someone with 35 years with a supermarket chain its a slap in the face.  Just my 2 cents.

Responding to the story about how Walmart will again this year keep its bricks-and-mortar stores closed on Thanksgiving Day, one MNB reader wrote:

It sure seems like a kick in the head to people who like to shop on Thanksgiving - kind of like giving them the bird.

I think that's a huge overreaction.  First of all, anybody who wants to shop Walmart on Thanksgiving can do so online.  Second, the company demonstrates a culture of caring to its employees by allowing them to stay home and eat the bird.

Heaven knows what you think about REI staying closed on Black Friday as well.  (It encourages its employees to go outside on that day and enjoy actual live birds.)

In my FaceTime video on Friday I asked if what some people call the "Ozempic economy" will make it more likely that people will say that they will "pass on the risotto," as opposed to "please pass the risotto?"  What will be the cultural and business impact of a world in which weight loss drugs diminish food's role as one of life’s great pleasures?

MNB reader Tom Devlin responded:

I could not agree with you more. Besides the Risotto and all the foods we love with  the wine or beverage of your choice, we forget it is the company and conversation with family and friends. There has to be a medicinal benefit in that which is not calculated. 

Never mind the side effects that is the unknown. Every drug commercial has fifteen seconds  of the benefit followed by forty-five seconds of ‘Potential” side effects. I will never trade the great meals and memories I have had in the past and in the future.  Maybe some portion control is the best advice !!!!  

Heck, you could take all the drugs to get you thin and still get hit by a bus!!!    In the world we are living in today.... you have to ENJOY EVERY MOMENT !!! 

Totally concur.

I thought about this on Saturday night.  Mrs. Content Guy and I bought three dozen clams, steamed them and then served them with just a touch of butter and some garlic bread.  The wine was a 2022 Martin Codax Albariño.  The meal was simple, tasty, filling - and a perfect example of how food can nourish the soul as well as the body.