business news in context, analysis with attitude

We wrote enthusiastically yesterday about a new fruit we’d tasted at the private Label show called the Peppadew, which is sort of a spicy cross between a tomato and a pepper. Our opinion was seconded by one MNB user:

“Would have to agree that the Peppadew is a taste sensation. There is a South African pizza restaurant called "Panarottis" ( that has stores in South Africa, Zimbabwe & Australia that adds these to pizza toppings. If you got any to bring home, give it a try on top of a chicken (satay is the best) or bacon based pizza.....

Next time we get to Africa or Australia, we’re there…

Regarding our ongoing coverage of the Hershey Trust situation, which most recently had a number of board members leaving the trust because of their vote to sell Hershey Foods, one MNB user wrote:

“This situation is very unique in that this trust, and this trust only, has a unique structure and historical relationship with the company and town. To say that the situation is even remotely similar to that of other trusts is to misunderstand the fact that Milton Hershey endowed nearly every civic structure in the whole town. He structured a mildly socialistic town based on a free market economy. It created an odd relationship between the community and the trust.

“Quite seriously, this case should not be extrapolated to the masses of charities in the nation. The controversy is convoluted and complex.”

We mentioned yesterday that the Segway Human Transporter is now for sale on, prompting this mildly cranky note from MNB user John Lightfoot:

“Segway on sidewalks! Just what America needs(?) Five grand for what amounts to an adult scooter (more than the cost of a mini-bike by the way) seems expensive for today's times. Ask yourself how it will benefit food distributors. Personally, I can't see any benefit to retailer stores. Where do you park the thing? Will the next step be letting shoppers take the 'seg' in store? How will you get your purchases home?

“ I've seen the 'seg' in operation. Amazingly it works. But where can it be best used. The warehouse? Sure. The sidewalk? I'm not convinced. My sense is that local communities will soon enact ordnances limiting the one-wheelers to the bike lines ( if they exist) in urban areas. Think about it! If the 'seg' gets sidewalk approval, what will happen when power driven wheel chair or a blind walker with a cane meets up with segway? Traffic Jam? Accident? At the very least, it probably will scare the hell out of senior citizens and those with halting mobility. In the hands of juveniles, it could cause disaster. I vote for keeping this potentially useful 'commercial' invention off the sidewalks and away from parking lots and out of stores. Lastly, since the 'seg' is motorized, will it require an operator’s license? At what age? Thumbs down on this idea.”

We have no idea if the Segway will take off or not…though coincidentally, we saw one being used by a Chicago policeman at O’Hare Airport yesterday, and he said he loved it.

And it is entirely possible that municipalities will ban it from sidewalks, because government has a long and honored tradition of being suspicious of innovation.

But if I’m a retailer, I’m not going to ban them without giving serious thought as to whether these things could become popular among certain segments of the population…and if it makes sense for me to figure out how to deal with them from a business perspective.

They seem like remarkable vehicles. Maybe traditional thinking ought to be dispensed with for a change…

Responding to yesterday’s story about Wal-Mart building 20 Neighborhood Market concepts in Florida next year, one member of the MNB community who asked to remain anonymous wrote:

“Grocers should be very concerned about this store concept. Last week I did some reconnaissance work for a client of mine and was asked to check out one of these stores for equipment. The concept and layout is typical of a neighborhood grocery store and pricing is very competitive. They are basic stores offering top selling items in each product category. You won't find specialty items in these stores, however a typical family could find everything they need for weekly shopping trips. What impressed me, though, was that I bought a couple of items for lunch at the store. When I returned to the parking lot, I found one of the items had been previously opened and was obviously spoiled. I took the item back into the store for an exchange. Not only did they exchange the item, they gave it to me for free by crediting the item on my original receipt and allowing me to take the item without having to pay because of the incontinence of purchasing a damaged product.

“In this era of customer service reflecting a strategy of customer disservice, I left the store feeling like I had won the lottery over my $1.19 free item. Needless to say, this type of service goes a long ways in telling customers, you have nothing to loss by shopping at these stores. Low prices and risk free shopping, seems like a winning combination to me. And I despise Wal-Mart because they potentially could put a lot of people out of business.”

Thanks for the first-hand account.
KC's View: