business news in context, analysis with attitude

Just a few emails this morning as we end the 2021 years here at MNB…

Regarding Hy-Vee's decision to expand To Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky, MNB reader Tom Murphy wrote:

This move should be very interesting and a revealing study of how an aggressive, innovative and consumer-focused (super) regional can compete against a national chain like Kroger…who has very deep pockets and a long history in these new markets.  Not to exclude Publix, who is also a solid, super-regional player…but they don’t have the same deep pockets.  Sounds like Hy-Vee struggled in Minnesota with the larger chains, making this even more exciting to watch.

I wish Hy-Vee luck, but since it is employee-owned, I hope everyone is ready for a long, likely uncomfortable, battle ahead.

On an other subject, MNB reader Steve Ritchey wrote:

With the closure of the last K Mart in CA, and Sears looking to redevelop it's corporate offices, I would think this would serve as a cautionary tale for the likes of Wal Mart and Amazon.  Sears was once the biggest retailer on the planet, look how the mighty have fallen.  It can happen to Wal Mart and Amazon tool  I used to deal with WM and found it very unsatisfactory, at least at the time they didn't see vendors as partners in their success, the vendor relationship was adversarial, at best.  I'm not saying that what happened at Sears would happen at WM and Amazon, but there are lessons to be learned.

He also had another thought about a different subject:

Starbucks, how's this for an idea, let's make our company the best place to work that we can.  Let's be open and honest with our employees, treat them as being crucial to our success, because they are.  Let's listen to what our employees have to say.  Maybe then, when a union comes knocking, our employees won't be fertile ground for them to recruit.  I know it may sound Pollyannish, but, maybe it really is that simple.  Employees want to be paid fairly and treated like people, go figure.

I'm with you.

BTW … more than a few people have suggested to me that if Jim Donald were still CEO of Starbucks, this never would've been an issue.  I agree.

Yesterday we posted an email from an MNB reader that read:

I read your report everyday and prior to the pandemic quite liked you. It is views like this and opinions that you publish that make me never want to comply with anything. Your attitude is the problem. I would get vaccinated and boosted if you came at it from a point of kindness but you don’t. So reading things like this make me want to do the exact opposite of what you want. You are polarizing the country , you are part of the problem not the solution. Remember old school journalism where you just report the facts ? Maybe try that for a bit and remove your biased and incredibly condescending and rude opinions and you may see the people come together for the common good. 

I commented:

I'm sorry if you don't like me anymore.  MNB never has been about just "reporting the facts."  From day one, it has been about "news in context and analysis with attitude," and lots of opinion.  (Not just mine.  Your opinions are included, too.)

I don't think I was being unkind.  Not even condescending, though I can understand if you feel that way.  But if it is attitudes like mine - and, to be fair, virtually every public health expert out there - that are keeping you from being vaccinated … well, I do not even know how to respond.

Except to say, ignore me.  Stop reading MNB, if it makes you feel better.  But please, please, please … get vaccinated.  Get boosted.  Please.

This prompted another email from an MNB reader:

FWIW, I still like you and MNB. More, even.  Retail workers are one of the groups of people bearing the brunt of exposure, illness, and death in this pandemic, and they *need* everyone to do everything they can to protect them - mask up, keep their distance, and GET VACCINATED.   You have been in their corner from the beginning.

I've tried to be.  Thanks for noticing.

And finally …

Yesterday we reported that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who turns 81 on Christmas Eve, said that he had no intention of leaving government and public service until Covid-19 is under control and his job is done.  (For which I applaud him.  Enthusiastically.  Gratefully.)

I noted that Fauci's comments reminded me of a scene from the James Bond film  Skyfall, in which M says, "I know I can't do this job forever, but I'll be damned if I'm going to leave the department in worse shape than I found it …  I'll leave when the job's done."  (I included a link to the scene.)

Another MNB reader chimed in:

Another great scene from Skyfall … 

I hope she's right when she quotes Tennyson … that even in these trying times, we can be "heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."