business news in context, analysis with attitude

We spent almost all of yesterday on a variety of airplanes, traveling from Dublin to London to Chicago and finally to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where today we’ll spend time with D&W Food Stores and its estimable CEO, Jeff Gietzen, as we continue working on our Japanese video documentary.

More on our impressions of D&W tomorrow. For the moment, some quick observations on our trip so far:

  • Have been flying United Airlines almost exclusively, and have seen no discernable evidence of its troubles in terms of the service or the people. In fact, all the flights we’ve been on have been pretty full. It must be all the other flights that are empty.

  • In fact, we saw a new service on our united flight from London to Chicago – lattes being served in First and Business Class. Y’know why? One of the light attendants bought a hand “milk frothing” machine, and took it upon himself to make up lattes. They were good, and the effort was appreciated. (We all should have employees with this kind of initiative.)

  • We’ve always found that entities like United’s Red Carpet club are incredibly valuable to us, since we do so much of our work on the fly. We know that such obvious distinctions been great customers and regular customers always have been considered problematic in general retailing, but we think that, if we were a retailer, that might be a top priority. Can’t the great retailing minds in this country come up with a way to create a “club atmosphere” for the best shoppers…or, at least, the shoppers willing to pay for the privilege? Wouldn’t this be a valuable point of differentiation?

  • When we got off the plane in Grand Rapids and checked our email, we found the following note from MNB user Doug Karel:

    Well, Krispy Kreme opened yesterday here in Grand Rapids, MI, with great success. I went last night to buy my first one and with the free samples they hand out, I enjoyed it and ended up buying 2 dozen to share with family and friends. I now am seriously considering filing a lawsuit
    against the Content Guy because his recommendations are going to lead me to becoming obese!

    “Just joking…”

    Well, we now have something else to do here in Grand Rapids…

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