business news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to my criticism of Blockbuster, one MNB user sent me the following email, which is already my favorite of the week (even though it is only Tuesday):

Kevin, I am going to make a wild guess that most of your bricks and mortar retail experiences are not favorable for you, as neither are any of your experiences one-on-one with the put it probably come across in person as a bigger ass than you do sitting behind your computer screen blogging away.

Enjoy reading your blog anyway as you do your job well.

So I think what this means is that this fellow thinks that I’m good at being an ass, which is good since it is my job.

I can live with that.

I won’t defend myself against the “you’re an ass” accusation since I’m probably not the most objective person to speak on the subject. (I like to think I’m not all that bad, but then again, it wasn’t that long ago that I’d actually convinced myself that I was 5’10”, until Mrs. Content Guy put her foot down and said I was fooling myself. So who knows?)

However, I will defend myself against the charge that I hate going to bricks-and-mortar stores. I can name any number of stores that I like going into: The Apple Store, Sur La Table, Nordstrom, and Costco are just some of them. As for supermarkets, there are plenty that I enjoy visiting and shopping: Stew Leonard’s, Fairway, Dorothy Lane Market, Publix, HEB, Central Market, Lunds/Byerly’s, PCC Natural Markets, Haggen, and Metropolitan Markets are just some of them. And hopefully when I walk into any of those stores, I’m not behaving like an ass.

MNB user Greg Kozminske had another thought about the Blockbuster discussion:

First time, long time…  I am a longtime NetFlix hold out, no real reason other than the feeling that I get walking into a brick and mortar… but to the point,  I was recently in a Blockbuster Video and was pleasantly surprised at what I found; as I walked into the store I was greeted the instant I stepped in by two friendly employees, then as I walked the outer walls of the store looking at the “New Releases”  I was approached again by an associate asking if I was able to find everything I was looking for, he went as far as asking me if I had questions on the particular movies in the section I was looking at and offered reviews on movies if I was to have a difficult choice selecting one.

As a customer service vet. It was nice to see that someone still cares, I go day in, and day out, getting rude responses, short tempers and ever famous “it’s not my job”.  Blockbuster is making improvements (at least in West Michigan) but I stay weary as it may be too little too late.

Thank you for wonderful, thought provoking articles and opinions each day, don’t stop!

I think it’s great if Blockbuster is making a change in its culture.

On a different issue, MNB user Ken Wagar wrote about the MNB coverage of the story in the New York Times about Rhonda Kallman, founder of the New Century Brewing Co. and one of the co-founders of the company that makes Samuel Adams, who developed a caffeinated beer called Moonshot ’69, which has been positioned as an upscale, gourmet beer sold in small batches.

But now, Kallman’s company is one of those being targeted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is calling on companies making caffeine-and-alcohol drinks - such as Four Loko and Joose - to reformulate them or face regulation.

I found it interesting that after taking such a vocal and visible position against Four Loco and similar beverages that you had no editorial comment on Moonshot 69. It’s being targeted obviously smacks of unintended consequences but is it really or should parents also be concerned about a caffeine infused 5% alcohol beer?  I am a beer drinker and enjoy craft beers and I tend to be anti over regulation, however if Four Loco is bad and should be banned I have a hard time accepting that Moonshot 69 should be an exception. This is what makes regulation so damned difficult, things don’t often fit in the neat little boxes we would like them to be in. I was disappointed that after your position on Four Loco you shared no thoughts regarding Moonshot.

Fair enough.

The reason I didn’t comment yesterday, to be honest, is that I wasn’t sure what I thought. I needed a little more time to think about it.

Having had some time, and being pushed against the wall, I now would suggest that while it seems clear that Moonshot is a different animal, its makeup probably means that it will be a victim of this regulation. That may be unfortunate, but addressing the Four Loko problem seems a bigger priority.

Regarding the Starbucks-Kraft contretemps, one MNB user wrote:

My first thought (as a former  long time veteran of the sales agency aka food broker world) is that Kraft is now feeling what every broker or sales force feels – no matter what the reason, nothing is good enough and the supplier blames the sales force first.

My second thought is laughter at Kraft expecting a premium for getting fired.  I imagine everyone wishes that.

My third thought is that almost certainly this is a result of the total lack of effort that filters down to actual retail these days – trade dollars are spent but no one makes sure the mission gets accomplished.

Another MNB user wrote:

The report on Starbucks shows they haven’t lost their arrogance.  Isn’t it interesting that Starbucks moved their earnings call up ahead of Kraft’s quarterly earnings call - then announced they were terminating the agreement without warning?   Kraft, in fact, should be complimented on taking the PR high road in what they have said publicly about this “situation”.
KC's View: