business news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to yesterday’s story about the decision by the Fresh Market’s owners not to sell the company, MNB user Jack Di Salvo wrote:

As a man there are only a few stores that I like to shop, Home Depot, Best Buy and don’t usually enjoy the trips to your run of the mill food store with my wife. However, I’m out the door in a second when it’s a trip to Fresh Market. Yes, it’s premium priced, but how many ways can I sing their praises. Produce A, Deli A+, Meat department A++, Sushi fresh, Fish department…only place to shop. Reminds me of my youth with all the specialty stores available to you but Fresh Market has it under one roof.

Fresh Market …. Keep it up and keep it in the family.

And MNB user David Livingston observed:

Sounds like Fresh Markets, Roundy's, and others are in the same boat as homeowners in a soft market. They put themselves up for sale but the market is so soft that they decide they cannot afford to sell out at garage sale prices. That’s fine with me because I know that whoever will buy those companies will not run them as effectively as they are run now. We have all seen what happens after an acquisition. Everything A&P, Safeway, Supervalu, or any of those private equity firms have recently bought have all seen sales declines.

On the subject of innovation – much discussed in this space over the past few weeks, MNB user Phil Censky wrote:

I've noticed a paradigm shift, although I don't know how long it's been going on, or why it started. Remember when the American Spirit came with a "can-do" attitude that can overcome all odds?

Is this just an idealized, June and Ward Cleaver image of American history? Why is it that any "shoot the moon" concept today is met with criticism stuck in the status quo? When did we become a nation of "can't do" naysayers? What happened to our collective bootstraps and why can't we tighten them?

It's no wonder why oil prices are skyrocketing and some are calling for drilling/tax cut solutions. It's all we really know how to do. We must find a way to overcome our current state if inertia. I don't think it'll happen until gas goes well above $6 per gallon.

Perhaps then we'll see that fossil fuels are exactly that: fossils, relics of a bygone era.

I'm wholeheartedly in favor of the solar space collectors. I'm willing to ask "why not", instead of "why". I'm willing to look for solutions instead of problems, and yes, I'm willing to invest in companies with the same mindset whether it's as lofty as building solar collectors in space; or as simple as canvas bags and parking lot signage.

Agreed. Completely.

And on another subject, MNB user Jeff Folloder wrote:

I saw your blurb on the possible $100m pay out to the tomato industry. If anyone did not see *that* coming...

In an earlier not to you I mentioned the twin concepts of total government incompetence and marketers' capitalizing on the trust of the consumer with regard to government keeping food safe. Two sides of the same coin that result in a plodding erosion of that trust. But what if there is an even more nefarious mechanism at work? "Gaming" the government could be the latest brand manager's tool! Have a product that has declining sales and profitability? Get somebody with a food-borne illness to seek medical care and claim that he/she consumed your product. The FDA or the USDA or whoever, will issue a warning, there will be a voluntary recall, and you get the US taxpayers to pick up the bill for your whole quarter. Many will see it as a no-lose situation: the raw product producers still made their money, as did the finish producers, the brand, the truckers, the stores, the garbage collectors, the landfill operators...

I can see it now! Instead of Efficient Consumer Response (how about that blast from the past), we have conferences dedicated to navigating government programs for gain. Specialized centers for the reclamation of recalled goods will pop up, there will be an automatic fee deducted from every invoice by retailers to support these centers (at a profit), computerized models will predict "clusters" so that these centers can plan in advance for recall trends... Oh yes, I'm cynical.

And, regarding the hit movie “Wall-E”, one MNB user wrote:

I’m on your side regarding the “Wall-E” movie. We took our 6yr and 71/2 yr olds to see the “Wall-E” movie opening weekend. As the movie went on, I was worried that without a lot of talking or action that the kids would get bored and want to leave. To my surprise not only did they understand all that was going on – they actually GOT the movie! Bravo to Pixar and Disney for getting a message across in a way that both adults and kids understand and enjoy. Not only did it make me re-think some things – but I can’t put anything plastic in our trash without being yelled at by my children for not recycling correctly. My children have become my environmental conscience. Probably a good thing too – since we can’t seem to straighten out this mess we are in, at least our children are already working on it.
KC's View: