business news in context, analysis with attitude

Regarding the possible sale of Ukrop’s, one MNB user wrote:

When I moved to Richmond in the early 90’s the first thing I needed to do was stock my pantry. Not knowing where anything was yet I found myself at this grocery store that I had never heard of with an odd name. The first thing that impressed me when I went in were the freshly made food offerings, even made to order pizza . I loaded up my cart with groceries and when I got to the checkout I realized that I had left my checkbook at home and only had a few dollars in cash with me. I asked if I could leave the items and come back with my checkbook. The store manager came over to the checkout and told me that it was okay, take the groceries and come back with the check next time you are in the store. I was stunned, they had never seen me before and they were going to let me leave with a cart full of groceries trusting that I would be back to pay on my next visit. And you know what, I was back every week for the 7 years that I lived in the Richmond area.

That’s a rare thing, and increasingly so in the modern environment.

It is hard to imagine that this kind of culture will endure if Ukrop’s is sold, no matter who or what the buyer may be.

Of course, the problem is that in this environment, it is tough to survive if you are a small company…and the cold reality is that Ukrop’s has to some extent been abandoned by at least some of the customers to which it extended such courtesies and loyalties.

MNB reported the other day about how Nestlé, in the wake of the recall of its Nestlé Toll House Refrigerated Cookie Dough because of concerns about E. coli contamination, plans “an education program that will target tween’ and teen girls, to provide more information about why raw refrigerated cookie dough should not be consumed.”

MNB user Connie Montgomery wrote:

We can't eat raw cookie dough? What about Cookie Dough Ice Cream by Blue Bell? It's the best ever. It's not just teens that eat raw cookie dough. I have been doing so for as many of my 56 years can remember. I haven't died yet!

I wish they would quit telling us what we can't eat.......I don't believe any of it!

I've eaten much dandelions washed in a rusty red wagon filled with water out of the hose and stuffed in an old Miracle Whip jar that was in the garage after it was emptied of the old nails that were in it. My brother said it was Spinach and I would get strong like Popeye! Didn't work, but I never got sick.

I believe in the 5-second rule, and many other things we did back in the 60's. LOL

MNB user Jim Swoboda wrote:

I can tell you where eating raw cookie dough falls on a 50 year olds risky doesn’t, much to my wife's dismay 🙂

MNB user Carolyn Flathers wrote:

Is Nestle under the impression that teen boys do not eat the cookie dough? Based on my personal observations, I'm pretty sure both teen boys and girls should be targeted for education.

Another MNB user chimed in:

I can show you a photo right now my own 15-year-old took of herself and her friends sitting around eating Nestle Tollhouse Refrigerated Cookie dough -- and wasaba peas. Luckily, that is the extent of their experimentation so far.

So far as you know.

MNB user Sally Malchow had the following thoughts about Michael Sansolo’s weekly column:

After reading your article on Learning to Fall, I was reminded that a wise man once told me this is an “S and J” industry. For those of you not familiar with MBTI personality typing, people who have an S preference prefer to take in information using their senses (verses their intuition(N) ) and J’s prefer to come to closure quickly, relating to their external word in an orderly way. People with preferences for N and P are more comfortable taking risks and brainstorming.

In my experience, the request to stop the brainstorming discussion in favor of being spoon-fed the “sure thing” is not uncommon. It sounds like a man (and an industry) that has spent decades unpacking boxes and lining up cans “just so” on a shelf. The last thing a grocer wants to hear from a speaker or consultant is “it depends” and yet that is the very thing that they need to hear. Our industry lacks vision and innovation because we are inbred with doers who see things in black and white who continue to people just like us. To succeed in today’s competitive and evolving market we need to not only tolerate the gifts of others different from ourselves, but actively seek out people who can engage us in conversations that make us uncomfortable. You know, conversations about soft, intangible things like diversity, team effectiveness, creative problem solving, marketing (not to be confused with merchandising)and strategic planning. When the industry can combine these gifts with the “tell me what to do and I will get it done quickly” mentality, we will truly be a force to be reckoned with!

On the subject of what I view as the inevitable shift to downloading movies as opposed to renting DVDs, which I believe puts an expiration date on companies in the DVD business, one MNB user wrote:

Short version is that I agree completely on the inevitability.

It will be a slow transition. Downloading will replace renting movies much sooner than it will replace buying them. And the timing will depend a lot on how soon remote parts of the country get broadband access. But it's happening. Our household streams Netflix films to the television via the Xbox. Fantastic service.

Regarding music, there was an interview on the local news today with the owners of a recording studio. Business is sliding steadily not because of the economy (this is North Dakota -- one of only two states with a budget surplus and the lowest unemployment) but because new local bands don't see the point to cutting physical albums. They're just going straight for the MP3s and MySpace. This is a town of 60,000 people and two colleges but there are no dedicated music stores left.

There's definitely a shift happening.

Continued discussion of the reusable bag issue, as one MNB user wrote:

In response to getting consumers across the board to adopt reusable bags, the retailers that sell them need to create more of an environment for their shoppers to use them. They don't make it easy at all. I absolutely love using my canvas bags. At Kroger, I always go through the self-scan lane so I can easily and freely use my bags. Cashiers just don't ask your preference as they used to back in the day, you know "paper or plastic". They automatically just start bagging everything up faster than you can hand over your bags. I'm usually digging mine out from underneath all my goodies. Target sells little trendy red bags but they make it very difficult to use them and my experience is that cashiers often seem irritated because it slows the line. I'm all about canvas bags and will use them no matter what, but retailers need to make some effort to have their checkout lanes far more BYOB Friendly, "Bring Your Own Bag".

MNB user Tim Heyman wrote:

Going back to my grandparents’ days, as a young kid shopping with them, as I recall most all supermarkets put their empty boxes up front for customers to use for packing their groceries. Much like Costco or Sam’s Club does. This is at virtually no cost and environmentally safe. Stores eliminated this practice somewhat due to the potential shoplifting it created as will bringing your own bags to the store is going to create this shoplifting problem.

Finally, we got a number of responses to comments posted yesterday about the All-Star Game:

It is time to end the silliness of allowing the outcome of the All-Star Game to determine which league will have home team advantage in the World Series. This isn’t just me talking as a National League fan (which anyone who appreciates real baseball would be, since the senior circuit doesn’t have that designated hitter nonsense); I’d say the same thing if the National League dominated the game.

The All-Star Game isn’t populated by the best players, but by the most popular players. Letting this system have any influence over the championships seems patently unfair.

Go back to the old rotation system. It was fairer.

MNB user Dan Jones wrote:

The team with the best record should be home team for the World Series. The Series is the culmination of the entire season – why don’t we let season performance dictate home-field advantage?

And as far as the DH goes, watching the shortstop that bats .225 get pitched around so the pitcher that bats .090 can make the final out of the inning is not always great theater. And I know Tony LaRussa thinks the double switch is rocket science, but come on, it is not that hard. It did not seem to kill the NFL when football players stopped playing on both sides of the ball.

MNB user Joe Lawell wrote:

I say MLB needs to let the outcome of the Home Run Derby decide who gets home field advantage in the world series! Now that would be more fair…

I hope you’re kidding.

Another MNB user wrote:

No worries, your World Champion Philadelphia Phillies will take care of this minor speed bump.

The AL securing home field advantage merely allows them to take the title again in front of their fans. Win 1 of the first 2 on the road and then win 3 at home. Case closed.

My Phillies? Don't think so. I hate the Phillies. Hate ‘em. I’m a Mets fan, hard as they make it for anyone to root for them these days.

MNB user JJ Bepko wrote:

It is very true that the Home Field advantage in the World Series should be determined by something more substantial than an exhibition game.

If the team with the best record gets to host more games in the Series, then teams will compete to the end of the season for this right. When a League earns the edge at the midway point, it has the potential to make many more games unimportant at the end of the regular season.

I hope MLB makes an adjustment on this issue.

Hope so, too. Makes sense here. Not that MNB has much juice with MLB.

MNB user Steven Ritchey wrote:

I thought it was a pretty good, fairly solid game last night. Except for the one error by Albert Pujols, it was pretty solid defensively, which it should have been.

Remember, some players were chosen by the fans, some players though were chosen by their peers, other players, Michael Young of the Texas Rangers was one. Some were chosen by the managers on either side, this would include Carlos Pena and Nelson Cruz.

I have conflicting opinions on the Designated Hitter rule. I can understand why some don’t like it, I can also understand the reason for it. Doesn’t make much difference to me either way. I like both brands of baseball, and no, I don’t think it makes me any less of a fan than any other person. The attitude that says the only real fans are those who don’t like the DH Rule is both arrogant and elitist, you know, kind of like people who are still fighting the battle over wine corks.


I think that was a not-so-oblique criticism of the Content Guy.

I would point out that I’ve never said that the only real fans are those who don't like the designated hitter rule…just that the game played without the DH is a purer form of the game.

If that makes me arrogant and elitist…c’est la vie.

And finally, from MNB user Tim Davis:

Kevin, when I think of what I pay to see a MLB game – especially in NY – I think I should have a say in every single aspect of the game, from who plays in the All Star game to home field advantage in the WS to the batting orders and pitching rotations.

Fair point.
KC's View: