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Got the following email regarding how Walmart was dropping the Wild Oats and Price First brands for different reasons:

Like other industry professionals, I was surprised that this brand at Walmart lasted as long as it did. It was doomed from the start. When this brand debuted, I was managing a $100 million dollar "entry level price brand" for a Walmart competitor. That brand had been in place for over 5 years and continued to grow year after year. One thing we clearly understood is that while packaging sometimes plays a minor role, you don't need to beat someone over the head with a cheap looking design that screams "I can't afford to buy anything else." No one wants to be seen with a cart of products that tells everyone you're strapped for money.

In addition to the basic, simple unappetizing package design, Walmart went one step further and sold this under a brand "Price First" that reinforced that nothing else mattered but the price.  Not the quality, not the nutrition, not the functionality, nothing mattered but the price. As part of our competitive review, we tested a number of "Price First" products against our own in blind consumer panels. It was hard to believe how low the quality of the "Price First" products were. Consumers aren't stupid. Regardless of the selling price, if the product fails to meet expectations, low though they may be, it's very hard to sell it a second time. I am very happy to see that other retailers did not follow Walmart down the slippery slope of declining product quality.

Given Walmart's resources, they could have launched a line with a better design, a better brand name and modest quality that would have effectively competed with the discount channel and other grocery retailers. But they chose the cheap and easy road with "Price First." Consumers responded with a resounding "I'll buy this last."

Chiming in on the debate about the North Carolina bathroom law, MNB reader Mike Moon wrote:

So, if a man identifies as a woman and wants to use a woman's restroom, he must go into a stall. That's the only choice. The other stalls in use have the doors shut. Everyone has privacy.

If a woman identifies as a man and wants to use a men's restroom, she must use a stall, as she cannot use a urinal without acrobatics. Everyone has privacy.

If we are worried about the perverts spying on little girls in the women's restroom, what about the perverts who have been sneaking looks at little boys forever in the men's restroom? Where is that outrage?

Sexual predators are all around us. They spy on our children at the beach and at the pool, and hang around playgrounds and shopping malls getting their jollies. I'm not convinced that cross use of restrooms will result in a spike in this kind of activity. Most of these folks don't want to be seen or noticed. A restroom would not give the kind of anonymity they want. Let's keep criminal acts defined as illegal sexual activity, regardless of where it takes place, and not make it a crime to simply use a bathroom, regardless of how it is labeled.

So, go use the bathroom that you identify with. Go in, close the stall door, do your business, wash your hands, then go back to life. And keep your eye out for the perverts wherever you go, not just in the restrooms.

Regarding the culture clash taking place at Lands' End, in part created by an imperious, English-as-a-second-language CEO, one MNB user wrote:

I had to literally laugh out loud reading this piece. As a lifelong Wisconsinite, I’m not surprised at a ‘culture clash’ going on. It has nothing to do with English as a second language and everything to do with being ‘too good’ to live in our state or really understand the culture of the company.

Good luck, Lands End. It’s a shame this once solid local company is no longer either.

We had a story yesterday that led me to wonder whether mainstream retail companies would embrace the legal marijuana trend (which I expressed some misgivings about). One MNB user wrote:

I agree with you that aroma of greater profits  may be too great to stop companies from being attracted.  But then socially acceptable norms are being constantly challenged and are changing (ie the LGBT bathroom debate.)  Likewise I see Marijuana becoming more socially acceptable and for companies to follow similar business practices in how they treat this issue.  But if you are talking ethics vs legality?  Look no further than the tax code and how numerous companies use foreign shell companies and offices to circumvent paying higher taxes.  While it may be legal it doesn’t set the bar very high on morals or ethics, and I would expect the first in line to inhale the profits.  And is it just me or has this thing ramped up so fast it looks like a modern day gold rush?

Another MN user wrote:

So you’re completely fine with a Man using a Ladies restroom but unsure about something illegal? I’ll bet you would support it if Walgreens adopted the same restroom policy as Target but only if you entered with a joint in your mouth.

No, I'm okay with people who are transgender using bathrooms consistent with their gender identities as opposed to their birth genders ... a practice that, by the way, seems to have led to absolutely no cases of sexual assault.

And I'm simply not sure about marijuana legalization.

This is all about nuance and trying to be a thinking person about these issues, as opposed to being an ideologue.

On a broader issue, one MNB user criticized how the "Your Views" section has been handled lately:

This column is becoming more and more often a column of you defending your viewpoints and not accepting or acknowledging contrary opinions.  Not good Kevin.  Disagreement on your part or on the part of readers is good but don’t take up all the space in defense of your personal opinions.

Point taken.
KC's View: