business news in context, analysis with attitude

On the subject of Lunds and its growth strategy in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MNB user David Livingston wrote:

Lunds is slowly and methodically closing in on Rainbow as the #2 market share leader behind Cub. Rainbow has fallen from about 22% to 17% ever since Roundy's took over. This is due to a number of factors to include the closing of underperforming stores, new competition from Cub, Target, and Aldi, problems inherited from Fleming, and finally a decline in same store sales of a bit more than 6%. Roundy's is going to wake up one morning and find themselves a notch behinds Lunds in the #3 spot. I think Roundy's will give it a good shot but Lund's smells blood and knows they are wounded.

We also keep getting email about Starbucks, and the apparently widely varying experiences that people have there. MNB user Seamus Walsh wrote, for example:

On my last trip to NYC, I walked away from change from $100 at a Starbucks Store on Park Ave, not realizing this until a couple of hours later, I walked back in...asked to speak to the manager...I did not have 6 words out of my mouth when he said, "I have your change". I have since switched brands...

Score one for Starbucks…

And on the same subject, MNB user Kimberly Coiner-Moyle wrote:

As a regular reader of Morning News Beat, I have never felt prompted to write in. However, when subjects of such incredible import as coffee are discussed, I can't help but feel compelled to comment….right after I finish my Grande, Triple, Non-Fat, Extra Hot, Sugar-Free Vanilla Latte…

I think the issue that many people have with Starbucks is a certain level of anxiety regarding how the HECK do you order your coffee? While I was waiting for my Starbucks fix…err…drink of choice this morning, I actually watched a woman REHEARSE her order as she approached the counter. I'm sorry, but one would think she was going to a job interview!

At any rate, this poor woman bungled her order in that she was unable to follow the established order protocol….size, extra shots, type of dairy, additional requirements (low-foam, dry etc), temperature requirements, flavor shot requirements, drink type (e.g. cappuccino, latte etc). I actually witnessed a condescending sneer on the part of the "barista" - a formidable individual all of the age of 19. Now, I ask you, is there ANY other fast-food, service venue where a) that type of behavior would be acceptable, and b) that we as consumers would allow ourselves to be that jangled in the face of ordering a beverage?

I think not.

While I personally am a regular customer at Starbucks, enjoy their product, have never had a problem with their personnel, and am able to complete the necessary regression analysis to order my beverage, I can certainly understand the commentary you are receiving. Maybe we should just all switch to decaf…low-fat...extra hot... mocha lattes…

And MNB user Denise Remark wrote:

You guys are obviously frequenting the wrong stores! I visit my local Starbuck's--in Montrose, Ohio, for the record—and am greeted warmly, with no hint of pretension or condescension, each & every time! I know the barista's names, they know my name. I frequently see the store manager (Amy) working the bar, as well as the shift managers (Beth & Aaron), and they are all smiling and happy to see patrons. And yes, the coffee is fab! No disrespect intended, but perhaps some of you folks who complain about staff attitudes are being crabby to them. That doesn't exactly result in a smile or complimentary cup of java!

We had a report yesterday in which we quoted the Houston Chronicle as saying that “a number of Texas companies - Belle Brook Farms, Springerhill Ranch and Nolan Ryan's All Natural Tender Aged Beef - are developing beef products that ‘rely on naturally lean breeds of cattle’ or use ‘scientific dietary practices’ to ensure a leaner beef product that ‘ounce for ounce has less fat and cholesterol than a skinless chicken breast.’”

To which MNB user Rosemary Fifield wrote:

I hope the quote regarding cholesterol comes from the newspaper reporter and not the spokespersons for the Texas beef producers. Cholesterol is found in muscle cell walls, not in fat, and is therefore not affected by leanness. Beef and chicken are already almost identical in cholesterol as indicated by the Nutri-Facts brochures distributed by FMI. Some cuts of beef are actually lower in cholesterol than skinless chicken breast, although the difference is not significant. It's true that a leaner piece of meat will have less saturated fat, which influences cholesterol production in the person eating the fat, but to state that the meat will have less cholesterol ounce for ounce is completely misleading and is misinformation that takes advantage of the public's lack of understanding on this topic.

And on the subject of Publix’s announced growth plans, one member of the MNB community wrote:

Since I've been in Chicago for a few days (Hardware Show for me), I was somewhat amazed to walk into the Winn-Dixie last night. Since the formal announcement of Publix's arrival in our community, the Winn-Dixie's been pulling out all the stops renovating the store -- painting, new signage, re arranging the produce department, new coolers, etc., etc. etc. I realize that the argument can be made that the "new" store's been open for five years, and so it's time.

But the timing sure is convenient. The first store was a disgrace -- it hadn't been updated once in the 15 years it had been open. Ticks me off to think that Winn-Dixie is only updating the store because they're scared --- and not because we might deserve a clean, bright, well-run store. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not convinced.

(Ironically, the Publix is moving into the retail center where the original Winn-Dixie was -- but they're knee-deep in gutting the building back to bare walls and concrete and starting over.)

In commenting on a story about wines being labeled as low-carb yesterday, we wrote, “So that nice little Cabernet Franc we had at dinner last night was low carb? And it is good for our heart? And our mood? Doesn’t get any better than that.”

To which one MNB use responded:

Before applauding the merits of your heart-smart, low carb, mood-enhancing bottle of cab franc, we'll need to first know what it was paired with!

We only said the wine was low-carb, not to mention good for our heart and mood. We said nothing about the pasta, meat sauce and crushed red pepper that we consumed.

Without guilt.
KC's View: