business news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB user David Livingston had some thoughts about the possibility of Winn-Dixie selling its New Orleans stores:

If you have ever been to New Orleans you will see it is surrounded by rivers, lakes, and swamps. The only way you can grow retail is to buy something that is already there. It’s not unusual to see a cotton warehouse or bus barn being recycled into a supermarket. For several years New Orleans was dominated by the Three Stooges of supermarket retail - Winn Dixie, A&P, and Albertsons. Now Wal-Mart is about to come from last to first as Albertsons has dropped out, A&P is in limbo, and Winn Dixie is tiring at the top of the stretch.

One thing about Winn Dixie, their stores have adequate parking and good locations. They just don't achieve the sales per square foot needed in today's marketplace. Since Winn Dixie really isn't so sharp at running stores, I think their best bet would be to sell their stores. They will make a heck of a lot more money selling the real estate than they could ever hope to make operating stores. Since A&P has not ever been known to put up much of a competitive fight in our lifetimes, this would be the perfect opportunity for a well run, highly motivated grocery chain to acquire the New Orleans Winn-Dixies. So who does well in New Orleans? Wal-Mart for sure and there are plenty of well run sharp independents in that city that have a nationwide reputation.

Regarding the testing of the Redbox DVD vending machines, MNB user Paul Schlossberg wrote:

This is about repeat return a DVD, to rent another movie, and, more importantly, to convert the DVD shopper to be a buyer of food and beverage. This is about building on a continuing stream of purchases - DVD rentals and increasing same store sales in the restaurants.

We continue to be criticized for what some people thought was a too-cavalier attitude toward the new restaurant concept created by Nolan Bushnell, MNB user Lynda Gutierrez wrote:

I have to admit I too took exception at your “dumber” comment about uWink. I figured you were entitled to your opinion and left it at that. But, could it be that, as an almost AARP member, you are not the target audience? Or is it just that you don’t get gaming? I, personally, would be at uWink in a flash. (I’m just a few years younger than you but since I live in a family of gamers, I can perhaps see the appeal better.) A whole generation of young adults has grown up enjoying the challenge of technology – they prefer to participate in their fun, to make things happen, rather than just watching other people do things on TV (the entertainment in most sports bars.) The uWink concept gives them a chance to get out in a fun, lively environment –m and do something they enjoy.

The founder of uWink is no fool. He’s the man who launched Atari, Pong and Chuck E. Cheese’s. (Incidentally, as an adult, I don’t enjoy Chuck E. Cheese’s, but that doesn’t make it dumb. The kids he created it for adore it.) He founded Chuck E. Cheese’s because, as a parent, he saw a real dearth of places for families to go together to have fun. Now he sees a need in the adult marketplace. That’s not dumb. That’s good business.

While we take exception to the “almost an AARP member” crack, we concede that we are not a gamer and therefore are not part of the target audience. And we really didn’t mean to suggest that it was a dumb idea…just that it wasn’t a place we’d be patronizing.

But maybe in our turn of phrase, we actually were being patronizing. We should be more careful.

Reacting to our story about Duane Reade partnering with a company to offer health clinics in some of its stores, MNB user Stuart Silverman wrote:

Duane Reade for my flu shots? Have you ever seen a downtown Duane Reade? Not the cleanest places around.

And the people who staff them are not the people that I would want to trust my health to.

If Interfit wants to succeed here, they will have to set up an environment that appears like a hermetically sealed doctor's office within the Duane Reade store.

We wrote about a Paul Krugman-New York Times column about Toyota deciding to build a new factory in Canada rather than the US because of labor concerns. To which MNB user Tom Kroupa responded:

A significant point that Paul Krugman made in his column about why Toyota chose to place its plant in Canada rather than our country is the cost of health care. Since Canada already has a health care system
Toyota would not have to pay for employee health care. Now that our health care system is more expensive than ever and continues to escalate in costs, what are the chances that any foreign company would want to
locate here? The fact that our government is focusing on Social Security where there is no crisis and not focusing on healthcare costs where there really is a crisis is unbelievable!

Regarding mad cow disease, MNB user John Tatum wrote:

It has been mentioned here before, but the best course of action would be for the USDA to open testing to private enterprise. I am convinced most meat packers would go to full testing to ensure their marketing image and, for the most part, the US consumer would be glad to pay the bill to ensure the quality of the meat supply.

Probably missing some technical details, but I have great faith in open competition meeting all the hurdles.

We got a number of nice emails yesterday about our piece comparing what we viewed as the lying, self-serving comments of Rafael Palmeiro with the wonderful Hall of Fame induction speech made by Ryne Sandberg.

MNB user Andy Couch wrote:

Kevin, regarding Sandberg Acceptance Speech, outstanding, thank you for sharing this. As a little league coach, those are the values that I try to instill: respect; playing to win; playing as a team; everyone contributes; and no one matters more than someone else.

One MNB user wrote:

Kevin, thanks for putting the Palmeiro words (lies) in perspective and sharing the speech from Ryne Sandberg. You can draw a direct analogy to Sandberg's respect for the game and the attitude everyone should strive to have in life toward all endeavors. But in life, just like baseball, there are a few "Palmeiros" who seek the wrong ways to become successful and I am glad there are a lot more "Sandbergs" who strive to be the best, work as a team and respect the competition.

MNB user Jerry Sheldon wrote:

I agree with you 100%. Without waxing too philosophically I wonder why performance with the assistance of a needle and at the expense of America's pastime because more important than integrity. Good to see Ryne send a message. I just hope that it is heeded.

Another member of the MNB community wrote:

What a great tribute to "Ryno" Kevin!

He has been, and is a great role model for all of us, the game of baseball, and all sports.

His speech ought to be required reading.

One MNB user observed:

And therein lies the magic of Lance Armstrong, a man who respects himself, his teammates, his sport and perhaps most of all, his competitors. Who can forget his stopping the peleton to wait for a competitor who had crashed and then, just a few days later, looking that same competitor in the eye challenging him to keep up on a grueling climb, which he couldn't. Yes, Armstrong won seven Tours de France. America took to Armstrong because, for this champion, it was never about "me".

Another MNB user wrote:

Thank you for the tribute to baseball.

As someone that umpires levels from Little League to adults, my favorite is the Little League playoffs. The enthusiasm shown by these youngsters reminds me every year why I love baseball…This is how it is supposed to be.

Now if only the athletes would agree...

MNB user Steve Lutz wrote:

In a few years the sports writers will get their chance at "respect" for the game by not voting Palmeiro into the Hall of Fame, despite his career numbers. That's respect for the players who came before him (like Sandberg) who did it clean. Personally, I think the writers will blow it and vote him in anyway.

Maybe. But much as we hate to admit it, writers aren’t infallible, either.

MNB user Jeremy L. Sacker clearly has been pushed further than he’s willing to go:

It’s not a sport anymore, it’s entertainment. Baseball and football are turning into professional wrestling. Pretty soon everyone will be arguing about whether it’s real or not. I mean, how could the Twins make a run for the Series the last 3 yrs with a bunch of “under paid” no names? I put “under paid” in quotes for a reason, it is all about what you, the public are willing to pay for a ticket and the merchandise, and Major League Baseball and the NFL will do everything they can to keep you paying.

Frankly, I find myself more interested in Division 2 and 3 college ball. At least that is still real.

In the old series “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” one of the most endearing characteristics of Captain Benjamin Sisko (the magnificent Avery Brooks) was that he loved baseball – even though the sport hadn’t been played professionally since 2042, when a poorly attended World Series damaged the sport forever. But he kept a baseball on his desk, and played catch with his son, understanding that the game is pure, even if the players and the professional aspects of it are not.

That may happen for real some day. But we will always love the game and the best things that it represents, and will never compare it to professional wrestling. We will be outraged by the behavior of some between the lines, but will love the possibilities. In baseball, there are always possibilities.

Which is why tomorrow, when the Mets play the Brewers at Shea Stadium in the sunshine of a summer afternoon, we will be there with our kids and Mrs. Content Guy.

Celebrating the possibilities. Play ball.
KC's View: