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Got the following email from MNB user Jim Keller:

Thank you for your article on the Silver Fox Club. As you indicated, the club was started fifteen years ago by Paul Corliss both to have fun as well as to recognize the senior talent in our industry.

However, while the club does celebrate wisdom and longevity, I’d suggest that few, if any of the participants act like old folks. They are all vital and active leaders in the food industry and continue to play an active leadership role in their companies. This is especially true of leaders like Neil Golub, Ed Crenshaw, Bill MacAloney, Ed Kuehnle, Tom Haggai, Tom Blischok, Mike Gorshe, Joe Sheridan and virtually everyone in the group. In addition, most of these ‘Silver Haired’ executives have brought a host of young talent into the industry, both through their companies and their families. Paul’s daughter and four of my children are all active participants in the industry.

To be honest Kevin, I think you and a lot of the FMI attendees are a little envious of the Silver Fox Club and just can’t wait until you can join this elite group of industry leaders.

First of all, I can’t believe that Mike Gorshe is a member of the Silver Fox Club - his hair is less gray than mine.

Second of all, I’m not envious. No aspersions being cast here, but I’m with Groucho Marx on this sort of thing: I don’t want to be part of any club that would have someone like me as a member.

Finally, I want to be clear. I wasn’t attacking the Silver Fox Club. Just gently suggesting that gray and white hair is less worthy of celebration than a youthful outlook.

We kid because we love.

And, MNB user John Rand sent us the following email about Tops deciding to stop its test of in-store hand-held scanners:

As you know, Kevin, I am constantly in and out of grocery stores all over the country, and the decision by Tops to discontinue the test of hand held scanners may say more about Tops than about the technology.

In every case of which I am aware (Giant Eagle, Stop & Shop, Bloom just to name a few) the initial uptake on hand held scanners was similar to the 2 % level mentioned in your note.

But the retailers who stuck with it accomplished a couple of things:

The 2% of early adopters were invariably strong advocates and happy with the system – and if you pull it, you are taking something away from those who liked it, almost never a good thing for retailers.

In time (a year or even two) the numbers turn up, in some case getting to as much as 10% or so of shoppers – showing that patience with rate of adoption of the new technology is a requirement.

Such devices are almost invariably used at a higher level by younger shoppers and in particular by mothers shopping with “medium-size” children. How is that not a target audience?

I personally feel that such scanners will disappear shortly, as they are replaced by mobile hand held technologies that relieve the retailer of the burden of device cost and maintenance – but the retailers offering hand- held scanners will be somewhat  better positioned for the change, not only with shoppers but with internal systems as well.

In the meantime – how many perfectly successful items are purchased by  “only” 2% of the shoppers in a given store?

All good points.

I’m not talking about Tops here, but I would suggest that overall, the US food industry (and, I could argue, US culture in general) is obsessed with short-results and immediate gratification. There are a lot of industry initiatives that have been dismissed after a year or two because they did not did not double sales, traffic and profits, revolutionize the business, and grow hair on senior executives and make them appear 20 years younger.

How many people said that “meal solutions” did not work as an initiative ... ignoring the possibility that the concept made sense, but that they had done it wrong, opting for short-cuts rather than long-term and considered investments.
KC's View: