business news in context, analysis with attitude

On the subject of stores banning open carry of guns, MNB reader Kelly Dean Wiseman wrote:

In our gun-respecting state we sometimes have folks come in with a pistol on the hip.

When (gently) confronted they generally talk about their second amendment rights. We train our managers to then ask “I bet you are one of those people who defend private property rights too, huh?”

They always vehemently concur.

They we say “Well, you’re standing on private property. And our private property rights overrule your second amendment rights.”

This generally ends the discussion as it is absolutely rock solid: private property comes first, carrying a gun onto someone else’s property falls below that.

It is that simple?


From another reader:

Stores have the right to decide how much liability they'd like to take on by their shoppers. No shoes, no shirt, no open-carry, or no service. I don't think I'm alone in this - as a customer, if I see someone walking around the store with a long gun strapped to their person, I'm calling the police and I'm leaving. I'm not sticking around to shop and taking the time to find out if they intend to shoot up the place or just make a point. Do stores benefit whatsoever from this activity interrupting daily shopping? It seems like a no-brainer for general customer service. As soon as Wal-mart made the leap this week, now other retailers feel they have the cover to make that same decision.

And another:

Your view is the correct view, and you are not an outlier...apparently 89% of those polled agree that we should have universal background checks.  What more can you say, our government is once again on the wrong side of the debate.

Responding to last week’s piece about the high human costs of fast shipping, MNB reader Philip Herr wrote:

This is an interesting and important issue. And in my opinion, reflective of the place we have gotten to where the value to shareholders has become the be all and end all, of business — despite recent statements to the contrary. The issue is that indeed, consumers have no idea of the price of anything — that $5 t-shirt at Walmart? What about the energy and pollution required to grow and process the cotton — the labor of the person sewing it at $1 per day — and the cost to ship it to stores. The “externalities” are the price we pay in pollution, exploitation, carbon contribution and depletion of resources.

Similarly, the entire “gig” economy is a cover for business to exploit labor without absorbing the risks or additional cost of benefits. After more than four decades in business I feel stained.

And, from MNB reader Michael Kanter:

Suggest you check out the book, “In the Absence of the Sacred” by Jerry Mander (yes, that’s his real name!). Written twenty-five years, or so, ago it made that point that all of these technologies are put out there in such a way that they are innocent until proven guilty. By the time we collectively realize how dangerous they are we lack the imagination and will to fix the messes they cause.

I, for one, am rarely caught up in the must need ASAP delivery mind-set.

Last week MNB took note of a Fox Business interview with Stew Leonard Jr., in which he said that the low unemployment rate is creating problems as his eponymous company hires for a new store scheduled to open in New Jersey.

The story went on to say that “the higher costs complicate a broader challenge, one facing bricks-and-mortar retailers nationwide: fending off fierce competition from online rivals, such as e-commerce giant Amazon, which now owns grocer Whole Foods.”

“You know it’s tough,” Leonard said, “We’re a family business here, and they’re really masters at, you know, data mining.”

I commented:

With all due respect to my friend Stew, being a family business doesn’t mean you can’t data mine. You just have to make a commitment to doing so … and I think that data is the ultimate weapon without which any retailer is at a significant disadvantage. I know smaller retailers than Stew Leonard’s that do a wonderful job of accumulating and using consumer data. As someone who has shopped at Stew Leonard’s for 35+ years - I once calculated that I’ve spent well over $200,000 there over the years - I can tell you that I don’t think I have ever received a targeted communication from the store that suggested any use of data or any understanding of my value as a customer. Now, I think that’s a choice. I think Stew’s decided at some point that a loyalty marketing program - usually the best way to gather data - was the antithesis of how it wanted to go to market. Which is fine. Or at least was fine. But it may not be fine anymore, and it certainly isn’t just the province of online giants.

Prompting one MNB reader to respond:

While you may not have received a communication from Stew’s based on your total spend  calculation you did earn about 2000 free Ice Cream cones and that’s pretty sweet.

For those who don’t know, Stew Leonard’s traditionally has given you a free ice cream cone every time you spend $100.

This point is a good one … but the problem is that the ice cream cones would have given me about 20-30 extra pounds and diabetes, but wouldn’t have given Stew’s one iota of data.
KC's View: