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We had a story yesterday about how The Container Store has announced that it is contributing $100,000 to the launch of an Employee First Fund, described as "an employee assistance fund that will provide grants to employees experiencing unforeseen emergencies, a major medical situation, are suffering from a catastrophic event, or facing other challenges in life which they are not financially prepared to handle."

My comment, in part:

This sort of thing might not be for every company, but it does speak volumes about a corporate culture that says that the people on the front lines are the most important people in the organization.

One MNB reader from Walmart responded:

Just for the record, Walmart started a program called Associate in Critical Need Trust (ACNT) in 2001. All associates have the opportunity to donate, but management associates are encouraged to as a payroll deduction and Walmart will match contributions up to a certain amount.

There are instances where associates sometimes run short on money, or have something catastrophic happen, like a house fire or a car accident that effects their ability to work again.  I have seen these happen, and have seen the people around them in the store and office rally to their side and make sure they were taken care of.

From another reader:

The Kroger Co. has offered a similar program for probably a decade or more, called “Helping Hands.” Like Costco’s fund, we help our associates during catastrophic events that are financially burdensome. The company provides some corporate funds, but the majority of the money is raised by each of us during Helping Hands fund drives, such as bake sales and raffles. Simple stuff that’s a win at the moment (who doesn’t love a yummy cupcake!) and a win when we may REALLY need a “helping hand.” What’s also great is we keep money local within each of our divisions, so when we donate (or receive), we feel particularly connected to the people who will receive the assistance. I’m extremely proud to work for a truly generous company – not just from a big corporate perspective, but from a generous group of associates. We may be big in numbers, but we also have big hearts. Kudos to Container Store for catching on to Kroger’s best practices. ;o)

And from MNB reader Jim McConnell:

This is a good move and one that more companies should make.  Here at Whole Foods Market we have had a Team Member Emergency Fund for years.  It’s one of the many things we do to promote team member happiness.  We also have an annual Team Member Appreciation Week every April to celebrate our great team members.  Whole Foods Market has also been on the Fortune Best Places to Work list since its inception.

Responding to the passing of Bill Davila, MNB reader Bob Anderson wrote:

As someone who worked for Bill, I would agree that Vons under his leadership was the first retailer in the US to recognized the growth of the Hispanic population in California. Bill did a lot to help and lead Vons and the industry in this area.

Vons was blessed to have so many great leaders, Dick London, Les Lorge, Dick Risher, Sonny King just to mention a few.

Bill will be missed by all of us.

MNB reader Wayne Redfearn wrote:

Bill Davila was one of the finest people in the food industry. In 1980 I had just started my private label food brokerage business. I made a presentation on generics to Vons and was fortunate to work closely with Bill and his team in developing the Vons generic program, Slim Price. Bill went beyond the call of duty to support the program and make sure I was treated fairly for my efforts.

He never forgot his modest roots and was loved by all that knew him.

RIP my friend.

MNB reader Nancy Zeidenberg wrote:

I am saddened to read of the passing of Bill Davila of Vons.

In the 80's I worked in Sales in So Cal and I fondly remember seeing him in the Vons TV commercials and appreciated his earnestness and sincerity.

I also enjoyed taking several visitors from my Co HQ who would come to LA as part of an effort to create Hispanic Marketing programs, and take them into a Tianguis - which as you note, catered to a predominantly Hispanic clientele.  These stores were bright, and bustling and as result of Mr Davila's influence, knew exactly what their Shoppers wanted - from the in-store tortilla making to the more unusual cuts of meat available at the Butcher shop.  The latter was always an eye opener for those unaccustomed to anything not saran wrapped...

As you suggested, a man ahead of his time.

Chiming in on the question of how Amazon could best position a price increase for Prime memberships, one MNB reader wrote:

Just a thought ... in line with the free movie streaming for Prime members, what would happen if, as part of a Prime price increase, AMZ offered a free on-line subscription to the Washington Post? High perceived value. Low marginal cost. Increased readership. Higher ad rates. Powerful competitive positioning against other subscription-based newspapers (NYT, Times, Telegraph, etc). Such would add to the strengthening of the AMZ Prime "Club" just like, as you say, Costco is doing. Result: Strengthening the "tribe".

And, on another subject, MNB reader Bob Lewis offered:

While Netflix has done a great job positioning itself for the future, I think their business model is at serious risk without legislative assistance. Netflix requires cooperation from their competitors to deliver content. It would not be surprising if, in the near future, Comcast and other internet providers choke off delivery of Netflix to force consumers to use their cable services. Netflix has the potential to disrupt the cable business like nobody else. I really hope Congress steps in to keep Netflix in business before the cable companies choke off the Internet pipeline.

And finally, in what may be one of my favorite emails in the history of MNB, Mark Boyer had a thought about the first two stories that ran on MNB yesterday:

From MNB today I learned that a guy can use an app to find a willing mate to join the Mile High Club, and then stuff her panties into his blazer pocket as a fashion statement. I am not getting this kind of insight anywhere else. Keep up the good work.
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