business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following correspondence from MNB user Bob Vereen:

“I had read about Meijer's $30 million remodeling of their 6 stores in Dayton, OH, so drove over from Indy today to see them. It will be a most interesting experiment to watch. The center area is indeed handsome and spacious, with a lot of money invested in a most attractive floor and department-store type fixtures. The rest of the store seemed like most other Meijer stores, although the electronics, CDs, DVDs, videos, etc., are up front in a separate area, obviously designed to control pilferage since you enter and leave in one area only.

“Frankly, we didn't notice too many people shopping in the apparel

“Was it worth $5 million? They'll know the answer, but it seems to me, as a retail observer for several decades, that much of the same feel could have been done, almost as well, for a lot less money.

“Will wait now to see if they do the same to the Meijer store closest
to us in Indianapolis.”

And we’ll wait to hear from you. Thanks, Bob, for the update.

A not-unexpected response from an MNB user to yesterday’s news that Safeway is putting Dominick’s on the market:

“That sound you hear is consumers across Chicago cheering...’

And MNB user Dan Raftery of Prime Consulting Group wrote:

“The union contract negotiations at Dominick's have done a lot to focus attention on the importance of localized marketing to the long term viability of supermarket operators. Lots of great comments coming into MNB. One point that deserves more attention involves the role of local management in making localized marketing happen. Those of us in the area have been sadly watching the piece-by-piece dismantling of a street-smart, well-educated, aggressive and creative team of professionals. You don't build such a team overnight just as you don't build a world-class operation overnight. So, buyer beware, I guess.”

The question now is, we think, whether Humpty Dumpty can be put back together again?

We reported yesterday that the high-fat, low-carbohydrate Atkins diet is beginning to get new endorsements, as a controlled study at Duke University suggests that it is a better approach to weight loss that a low-fat diet, and commented that “the only thing that makes us suspicious of this study is that it was financed by the Robert C. Atkins Foundation…, which may suggest a bias. If we underwrote a diet study, you can bet a lot of money that it would support the careful use of beer and Krispy Kremes as a mechanism for weight loss… “

In response, MNB user Jem Welsh, of Nutritional Sciences, wrote:

“A diet of donuts and beer can be advantageous, indeed. What it lacks in one food group, it makes up in social enjoyment, mood elevation and taste. (Though I dislike hangovers from both beer and donuts.) I think many of us have survived a donut and beer diet during our most strenuous and stressful! The beauty of the KK&B diet is that it provides quick energy (glucose) and even quicker intelligence! (though the professors might beg to differ.) Let me know when you plan to conduct your clinical trial. I will be happy to participate as I have already generously funded the study!

“The Atkins Group wants us to wake up and smell the bacon and they feel this study proves their point, but I smell something less appetizing. The Atkins Diet has been around for decades and this is the first study in which they can claim benefit from the diet. The fact that they financed the diet creates a dubious endorsement, but other considerations are also important. What was the general health of the test subjects? (Which can sway results.) What is the duration of the trial (which can indicate the most dangerous aspect of health-related concerns based on the diet.) A long-term study of a high protein, high-fat diet is needed before anyone can claim the diet has merit.

“Weight loss is a good indicator of health in some instances, but so are long-term dangers of chronic diet habits. It begs the question; Am I willing to sacrifice my longevity and long-term vitality for the sake of weight management? Is bacon now to be a panacea for health? Does the truth of nutritional wisdom lie in our "caveman" diet, or does it predate that genetically? And finally, what risk do we create by considering what we eat from one diet study, funded by those that stand to gain the most from the reporting? In one sense, what Atkins did in funding this study is no different than studies funded by pharmaceutical companies to receive approval for a billion dollar drug. But the controls of the trial may be very different. Before I reverse my opinion on diet (or drugs), after years of belief built on education of the subject, I need a shade more proof than a commercially funded study. I need to see long-term results of dangers.

“We always seem to want to justify the easy roads in health and can't wait until a study proves that the foods we like may actually be healthy for us. It makes those espousing a high fiber, high dicot diet seem like bad guys in their concern for aging and nutritional benefit. Hopefully, in time to come, we will have a compendium of evidence that will tell us how to eat for a healthy life, (and where to fit in the donuts and beer!)”

We can’t wait.

Regarding our enthusiastic response to our first taste of peppadew, MNB user Bob Gremley wrote:

“I've always wondered why someone hasn't done this before - a friend of mine once served some tomatoes which had cross-pollinated with a jalapeno pepper plant from their home garden. What they got was a spicy tomato – a great benefit I thought, for creative chefs everywhere. Hope the vendor makes big bucks off a good idea.

“Personally, I managed to accidentally cross pollinate some Anaheim peppers (the mild-hot long flattened pepper) with some Caribbean Red Habeneros (the hottest pepper in the world). What resulted was some incredibly hot Anaheim peppers that sent several people running for the milk jug. Such cross-pollination is regarded by most gardeners as something to be avoided, but it can really result in some interesting results for one who wants to experiment at home.”

Wait a minute. Are we talking about D-I-Y genetically modified products here?

We wrote yesterday that we believe that “online services will be a core offering for every major retailer in the not-too-distant future,” prompting MNB user Herb Sorenson to write:

“What's the evidence of this, other than a lot of grocers are’ experimenting’ with it? As an online grocery customer myself, I'm pretty skeptical.”

No evidence yet, we’re afraid…just our utter conviction that this is all going to be figured out…and when it happens, somebody is going to make a lot of money.

Hope it’s us.

And on that note, we’ll see you tomorrow.
KC's View: