business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got a number of emails responding to Michael Sansolo’s “Eye Opener” piece about the sounds of silence at the beach these days, and what this tells us about mass marketing.

MNB user Dave Tuchler wrote:

I thought your using the beach experience as a metaphor for the death of the mass market was very apt.

And as someone who spent part of most summers as a kid in Ocean City (the original 'OC'), I hope you were able to have some Thrasher's fries - fresh cut, vinegar and salt - still the best anywhere.

MNB user Greg Trelease wrote:

I noticed the same thing this year at the beach in Rhode Island. You are spot on in your recollection of music heard at the beach in the ‘60’s. It was very cool to have all the radios tuned to the one station that came in good at your particular beach. But be careful what you wish for. Imagine the noise if everyone had boom boxes again playing 100 different rap and 100 different country songs at once! With the state of popular music today it’s better people keep it to themselves.

Regarding the test of no-cash stores in the Netherlands, MNB user Ron Pizur wrote:

I really don't understand the push back about the no-cash stores.  Doesn't everyone first get their cash from a machine using their debit card?  So what's all the fuss about cutting out a step and just buying your groceries with a debit card?

Another MNB user wrote:

I have a couple of observations to contribute from the Netherlands (where I live). There already is at least one supermarket I am aware of, that only takes cards (not even 1 lane for cash). The store is called Marqt ( (sorry, only in Dutch, but they do have a tab about 'no cash')  (Think farmers market meets Whole Foods).   Another interesting observation (at least it was for me when I first moved here), is that there are NO cheques in Holland. There are no cheque books, and if you happen to be given one (only would happen from someone outside the country), you have to go to your banks central branch, submit it in person, and will be deposited to your account within 8-10 weeks! If you need to send money to an individual, you use web banking to transfer funds straight to their account.

Having said that, it would be VERY interested to see what Albert Heijn does, especially since they currently only take cash and PIN (a Dutch-only debit card), and no international credit cards. Does that mean that they will finally have to give in to Mastercard/Visa/etc, or is this going to be a store that you can only shop in if you have a Dutch bank account?

MNB user Geoff Harper wrote:

You would vote for a cash-only line, in order to not disenfranchise a group of customers.  But that is exactly what has made Trader Joe, Aldi and Stew Leonard’s successful.  Many years ago I was part of a group that toured Stew’s then-only store.  Stew Jr. was our host.  I asked him how they could rationalize not having small meat packages for the elderly.  He said “My father says ‘F- them, we don’t need them’”.  Unexpectedly blunt, but point taken.  Stew decided early to have a limited, and very desirable, selection.  I think the same may apply to not having a cash lane.

As a 25-year shopper at Stew Leonard’s, that response surprises simply does not jibe with the company’s popular image.

In general, I am a big fan of the notion that stores need to stand for something specific, speak with a specific voice, and appeal to a specific customer.

My only concern about a no-cash store is that last time I checked, cash was legal tender...and I’m not sure I’m completely comfortable with not accepting it at all. But, hey, maybe I’m being too old world about this, too rooted in traditional ways of doing business. If so, then maybe my perspective is best ignored.
KC's View: