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This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either ... they are similar, but not exactly the same. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.Hi, Kevin Coupe here and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.

One of the things we talk about a lot here on MNB is what physical stores need to do to compete with online merchants. It is a simple fact that nobody in retail is just in competition with the store across the street or down the road ... you're competing with virtually everybody, everywhere ... and in this case, I'm using the word "virtually" quite literally.

Well, I'm reporting today from the Northgate Gonzales Market in Norwalk, California, just southwest of Los Angeles, and this is a store that could give any retailer a master class in how to compete. This is a big, wonderful, sublime food store that - even at 11 am on a Monday - is absolutely humming with business. That's because the food is great, there is tons of theater, and at every turn the store has differentiating characteristics that set it apart from pretty much every competitor you can imagine.

Walk in the front door, and there's a service guacamole bar where they're making guacamole to order ... customizing it with more onion, more tomatoes, whatever you wants. There is a foodservice bar with tons of tacos, sandwiches and other specialties; I can tell you that I had the best breakfast burrito of my life, packed with flavor and ingredients that included - believe it or not - cactus.

I'm posting some photos below the video box that'll give you a better sense of what's going on at the store, but they can only hint at the energy here - this is a story that makes big, bold statements - in the food, in the graphics, in the attitudes of the people who work there - about quality, and the importance of highest common denominator products.

Now, this is an ethnically themed store with a strong Hispanic accent, but there are plenty of non-Hispanics walking the aisles, enticed by an approach to food and marketing that is anything but routine or middle-of-the-road.

This kind of retailing has a universal appeal, and it offers a compelling lesson in how bricks-and-mortar retailing can compete with online merchants. You have to have a little magic, you have to have a secret sauce ... and this store has tons of both.

My friend Norman Mayne once told me that he thought this is one of the best stores in the country. I think he's absolutely right - it is certainly one of the best stores I've ever seen, and I've been doing this for 30 years.

Anyway, that's what is on my mind this morning ... and as always, I want to hear what is on your mind.

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