business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday we had a story about Fred Franzia, the maker of Two-Buck Chuck, which prompted the following email from an MNB user:

My wife and I received several bottles of Two Buck Chuck (Charles Shaw wines, both red and white) as holiday ‘bring-alongs’ to a party we threw just before Christmas. We sat them aside until after the holidays, and recently tried both of them. They were dreadful. Two-Buck Chuck is a “box-wine in a bottle”. That’s certainly a legitimate marketing approach and I have no complaint about a vintner like Bronco deciding to approach their market segment that way. I’ve refrigerated the wines and will use them for cooking purposes, and I think they will serve excellently in that capacity. As Mr. Franzia says, it’s all a matter of taste, and though I don’t find Two Buck Chuck to be worth drinking, I’m sure others disagree. I’m just not their market.

More importantly, Mr. Franzia’s point about other retailers buying similar wines and selling them for considerably more than $2 is troubling, and points to a real ‘short term’ mentality on the part of these retailers. Simply put, if a customer pays $5 or more for a bottle of wine of similar quality to Two Buck Chuck, and has a similar experience to mine, I think they will be most likely be reluctant to buy wine in general from that retailer. Even though the winery is producing ‘box-wine in a bottle’, the consumer’s perception will be that the retailer is either a poor judge of wine value, or is mishandling the wine in storage, or is overcharging them, or something negative.

For better or worse, consumers see retailers as their advocates in these matters, and expect the retailer to buy smartly, and pass along appropriate value. Retailers like Wal-Mart, Trader Joe’s and Costco seem to understand this very well. Kudos to Trader Joe’s for selling a $2 bottle of wine at the appropriate price, and shame on others who are gouging consumers. Is it any wonder TJ’s is growing so fast?

The story that Franzia told about other retailers getting more margin on wines of identical quality was indeed troubling…for lots of reasons.

Regarding the decision by supervisors in Alameda County in California to prevent stores larger than 100,000 square feet from dedicating 10 percent of shelf space to nontaxable items, such as groceries, in the county's unincorporated areas - a decision aimed at Wal-Mart, even if the Bentonville Behemoth is not mentioned in the legislation - one MNB user wrote:

This is total B.S.-Why should Wal Mart or anyone be banned from building the size store they want ? Give us consumers a choice where we want to shop!!

That's one point of view…though we're not sure that communities shouldn't have the ability to rule on development issues.

In response to our story about Kmart's decision to close a number of stores in California, MNB user David Livingston wrote:

Odd, if you look at the sales volumes for the stores they are closing in California, they are actually doing quite well compared to their other stores. Since 1998 they have showed steady growth. At least Kohl's is taking over some decent performing locations rather than some distressed pieces of real estate.

We went on the following rant yesterday:

    Y'know what really annoys us? Over the years, when Mrs. Content Guy has gone out somewhere and we've stayed home with the kids, people say we're "babysitting." But we're not…we're just taking care of our kids, which is different. (You hire babysitters, and babysitters aren't responsible for college educations.)

    The same goes for the whole "working mom" thing. If mom works full time and has kids, she's gets called a "working mom" because the assumption is that in reality she is holding down two jobs. Which she is.

    But so, very often, are dads.

    And it is about time that they get a little credit.

Which prompted a number of emails, generally split along gender lines.

One typical response, from MNB user Lynda Gutierrez:

Certainly the men in this society who carry as much weight of the day to day running of a household and childrearing (in addition to contributing to the family income) do deserve a little credit. However, as a rule, men tend to over-estimate their actual workload: throwing a few loads of laundry into the washer a week is not "doing the laundry," running to Trader Joe's or Stew Leonard's to pick up some things is not grocery shopping (unless these trips do, in fact, consistently and steadily provide the bulk of food and necessities coming into the household -- not just some fun extras or special occasion meals.) And there are a million and a half little jobs involved in even basic housekeeping, maintenance and childcare that simply fly right under most men's radar -- but which women typically cram into their day through power multi-tasking.

And you're 100 percent right -- people should not refer to a man's taking care of his own children as "babysitting" but this almost a universal perception exists for a reason. Certainly men today do far more than their fathers did in relation to running the household -- and that's good. No one can take that away from you and no one should undervalue that progress. But women are doing more as well and until I see the same number of men as women picking up and dropping off children at daycare and activities, trudging supermarket aisles week after week, or even doing as great a percentage of family holiday shopping -- I can't honestly believe we've reached parity.

To coin a phrase: You've come a long way baby...but in the scheme of things, there's a very, very long way to go yet. And, the sad truth is, even when you get there, there's no parades and precious few pats on the back. Ask any woman.

In other words, the message to the Content Guy is: "Get over yourself." (Hardly the first time we've been given that particular advice…)

However, MNB user Bob Lewis offered the other perspective:

You made my morning with your comment about "working dads!" I've been a (sole custody) single dad since 1992 and have always chuckled at the idea that "working dad" was a redundant term while "working mom" implied a very busy person. 🙂

Good job!


And about Pete Rose, one MNB user wrote:

While I believe Pete Rose should be held up as a negative example for his gambling and subsequent lies. I also believe he should be allowed in the Hall of Fame for his contributions on the field.

If we are to keep out Charlie Hustle because of things he did after the fact, or rather because of things he did off the field, we may as well close the doors on the hall. If the reasoning is that baseball is all about Mom, Apple Pie, Good American Values, Honesty, and Sportsmanship. It reeks of hypocrisy to ignore all the womanizing, wife beating, adultery and drug abuse by professional athletes already in the hall.

Hey, as long as the Hall of Fame plaque explicitly says that he was banned from baseball for gambling, we have no problem with his being admitted into the Hall…but once again, keep him away from Major League Baseball teams and fields.

But we'll tell you something else. If they let Rose in the Hall of Fame, they damned well better let Shoeless Joe Jackson in.
KC's View: