business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday's "FaceTime" commentary decried what seems to be the common practice of using the holiday season as a way of racing to the finish line with countless sales and promotions that try to make up for the mistakes of the previous 11 months, as opposed to using the holidays to build on consumer relationships built during the previous year.

Which led one MNB user to write:

On great retailers who build on their brand equity for the past 11 months – all you need to do is look at Nordstrom.

I walked through my favorite lunch-time oasis, Nordstrom, this week.  No Christmas decorations, no holiday music.  Instead, they have a banner which proudly displays their philosophy on celebrating Thanksgiving (remember that holiday?)  Nordstrom has pledged not to decorate for Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving.  It is so refreshing!  I have seen sales associates working on their window displays, but they are doing so behind big white sheets so as not to be seen.  If the new strategy is to jockey for position during the holidays, Nordstrom has done it by not going out early.  And this shopper loves it!

I'm with you.

Responding to the piece yesterday about the US Postal Service opening windows in select Staples stores around the country, one MNB user wrote:

I’ve written to you before about how USPS is extremely limited in how much good advice like yours they can take.

Most of the financial troubles they have had are by design, created as a result of our Congress passing the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 which forced them to pre-fund 100% of its entire future obligations for 75 years of health benefits to its employees by the year 2016.  Funding at more than 30% is unprecedented in any other organization of any type.  In addition, the law severely limits the ability of the USPS to change business practices in order to better compete with competing private companies. (Refer to Title IV and V provisions.)

I’ll avoid injecting politics about why our Congress would want to do this to our nation’s third largest civilian employer, but I think that it’s important that any discussion or criticism of the current state of the Postal Service also inform readers about the 2006 law signed by President Bush on December 20, 2006.

Agreed. But that doesn't change the fact that there USPS has to find new ways to be relevant to American consumers.

From another reader:

Finally at the end of another year of disturbing losses the USPS takes a couple baby step in the right direction with Amazon and by testing some Staples locations. Sure beats the idea of stopping service on Saturdays that is a clear advantage over their more recent born competitors.  The business model needs to be one of eventual profit, not Band-Aids that cannot even capture all the blood. One has to wonder what the plans are for the satellite locations: Can it replace some post offices? Can current employees be an option to work at them? Is it the start of independent run offices? A revenue increase this year with a $5 Billion dollar loss requires digging quite deep into the system. Can the current leadership team be trusted to make their own decisions? Kevin, don’t let up on them…

I promise.

Regarding our story about how Costco got in trouble with a local pastor - who expressed his objections via social media, which then got him on Fox News - by having a stack of Bibles in the "fiction" section, one MNB user wrote:

Interesting argument. First off, all books on religion should be put in a 'religious' category.

However, if we are going to label them as fiction or non fiction, then isn't this a matter of your point of view? I would think that since there are many religions in the world that not all of them can be correct. Perhaps one of them is the 'true' religion and in that case only the books associated with that religion can be considered Non Fiction and all of the rest are Fiction.

I have the same thoughts when people discuss their passion for including 'under god' in the pledge of allegiance. Which god are they referring to? Personally I believe that the founders of our nation, who had a belief in the freedom of religion, would appreciate the vagueness of the phrase and would be opposed limiting this to a specific god. Isn't it enough that people in our society have some guiding principles of religion and a set of morals and we shouldn't be so concerned with where they claim to have originated from.

And from another reader:

I can’t help but wonder if it would have bothered pastor Kaltenbach to have found the Koran in the same place?
KC's View: