business news in context, analysis with attitude

…with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

MLive has a story about the new Gordon Food Service store in Grand Rapids, described as being focused on “creating a unique customer experience … Customers can watch an employee whip up a batch of guacamole, seasoned whichever way they like. They can pick up a bottle of fresh squeezed juice in a multitude of flavors, ranging from beet and celery to orange and grapefruit … And there's a meat and seafood counter, where shoppers can grab a piece of mahi-mahi fish, caught in Hawaii, that company officials say has been out of the water for less than 48 hours.”

The story notes that the 16,000-square-foot store is “modeled after urban grocery stores found in large cities, and while it includes unique flourishes, such as a craft ice cream bar, it also includes staples, such as milk, eggs, cereal, bread and fresh produce.”

Bloomberg reports that “the Toys R Us Inc. lenders that took control of the retailer during its liquidation -- and have faced criticism for their role in the shutdown -- are now working on resuscitating the brand, according to new court documents.

“In a bankruptcy court filing Monday, the funds said they had canceled a plan to auction off the company’s intellectual property. Instead, they are seeking to reorganize the assets into a new company that will maintain the current license agreements and can invest in new retail operating businesses.”

However, the story notes that “it may prove difficult to ramp up U.S. operations again given the fallout from the protracted bankruptcy process. Major suppliers including Mattel Inc. and Hasbro Inc. have found new distributors, and customers have largely moved on.”

• PCC Community Markets, the Seattle-based co-op, yesterday announced a $1 million gift to PCC Farmland Trust, described as “the only statewide land trust in Washington State focused exclusively on farmland preservation, and one of the few with programs centered on sustainable practices, community engagement and farmland access. The organization uses conservation tools to remove development potential from farmland, making it more affordable for future farmers and preserving its agricultural value forever.”

The money, according to the announcement, “will further protect some of the most fertile land in the nation and a significant source of local healthy food.”

• The Chicago Sun Times reports that just days after announcing that it is going out of business, Treasure Island Foods is being sued by a produce supplier for unpaid bills in the amount of $453,062.30.

• The New York Times reports this morning that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “conducted a surprise inspection of the headquarters of the e-cigarette maker Juul Labs last Friday, carting away more than a thousand documents it said were related to the company’s sales and marketing practices.

“The move, announced on Tuesday, was seen as an attempt to ratchet up pressure on the company, which controls 72 percent of the e-cigarette market in the United States and whose products have become popular in high schools. The F.D.A. said it was particularly interested in whether Juul deliberately targeted minors as consumers.”

Juul has said it wants to be part of the solution to use of its products by minors, not part of the problem. Which sounds to me like the biggest crock I’ve ever heard.
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