business news in context, analysis with attitude

I got a lot of email about last Thursday's FaceTime piece about the South Carolina couple who went to a Cracker Barrel and decided to leave their waitress, instead of a tip, a note scrawled on a napkin lecturing her on why she ought to be at home taking care of her husband and children.

(You can see the entire piece here.)

MNB reader Jeff Totten wrote:

Well said! Your suggestion as to what Cracker Barrel (or any other company) should do to reinforce its employee(s) is right on the money. I can't believe the note written by the couple. My Bible doesn't say that. Thank you for your excellent commentary.

Another MNB reader wrote:

Right on KC, right on.

I can tell you that when we’ve had similar things said in our stores, we have stood up for all employees. When we made a controversial decision, to some, to offer a local newspaper about the LGBTQ community and some were offended, we stood up for all of our shoppers. We listen to all of our customers but no, they are not always right.

MNB reader Louisa Falk wrote:

I want to say so many things about these people and this story but I’ll leave it at this. Why were the Watleys eating dinner at the Cracker Barrel in the first place? Shouldn’t Mrs. W.  have cooked a hot meal at home for the “Mr.” as “he and God intended”?

From yet another reader:

Makes me really sad that they would leave a note like that KC, and worse that there are still people in this world who still think that way, have those kinds of beliefs. I'm still in shock after reading their note. I am 55 going on 35 and would no more pen that nonsense than the man on the moon. I mean seriously?

This isn't the 1950's, Mr. and Mrs. Watley, shame on you both. You owe this young woman an apology in my book.

But MNB reader Jim Martin isn't so sure:

Hey Kevin, You know better. Just because you saw a picture of a napkin doesn’t mean the Watleys exist. It could just as easily been a person eager to disparage people of faith, maybe the waitress herself. It’s a story that’s impossible to document. it’s not responsible journalism. By the way, I do agree with your closing statements about the importance of all employees.

The story was reported in a number of places, and it certainly seemed legitimate to me. I certainly thought the point was worth making.

If I find out something to the contrary, I'll report that, too.

MNB reader Kevin Hollenbeck wrote:

Kevin…..hate to say this….but maybe Hillary was right…..”Deplorable."

On another subject, from another reader:

If Target wants to get my business back, they have to knock off the “Must Buy Multiple Items” to get a Target gift card worth $5-$10. I do not need all these big packs that have these offers attached to them in Target’s weekly ads. It would behoove Target to offer a good cost to a single package purchase to gain my business back. I do not want to spend $15-$20 on certain goods. Also, these BOGO ads for certain categories, vitamins and supplements turn me off completely. I only need one of something, not being forced to buy 1 at regular price. Just reduce the cost by 25%, and I might come back in and shop Target. Ditto for Rite Aid and Walgreens.

My wife used to be a big Target customer, but no longer shops at Target. FYI, I went into a certain Target the other morning at 10:00 am, and the produce and meat departments looked like they had not been worked for one or two days. They were not ready for business that day.

MNB reader Howard Davidson wanted to challenge something I wrote:

I’d dispute your comment about the daily deals model not creating on-going value. As a consumer I’ve been exposed to literally dozens of new retailers and even better- entertainment and recreational choices I would never have known about without the benefit of the daily emails. Frankly the savings were icing on the cake - just to be exposed to interesting new products and services from both local and national vendors has proved a great value to me, and I suspect to many companies as well for whom Groupon and Living Social have created new patrons.

Maybe. But I think at least some of the problems that Groupon and Living Social are facing may be related to the fact that exposure to new businesses is not leading to long-term relationships and non-savings-driven purchases by customers. How many folks just wait for the next Groupon before going back?

On the broader subject of online shopping, and why a lot of people just hate to leave home, MNB reader Gail Nickel-Kailing wrote:

We moved just a few weeks ago from Seattle to Helena, Montana. And if we still lived in Seattle, I’d agree that it’s becoming more and more difficult to “leave home” to do pretty much anything. Rush hour now lasts about 18 hours, and in some parts of the city gridlock is common. Simply getting in the car and heading out to any major retailer is a daunting task - never mind trying to cross Lake Washington from Seattle to Bellevue or back.

My husband and I were lucky that we lived in a neighborhood where we could walk for all our purchases - food included. Within just 4 blocks we could reach our doctor at a neighborhood clinic, our dentist (one of a half dozen nearby), a great little hardware store, a nice drug store/pharmacy, our regional bank, a sweet little bakery run by a French couple, one of the remaining independent bookstore in the city, a post office (and an independent mail and copy shop), my hairdresser, my husband’s barber, a branch of the public library, an independent coffee shop and a Starbucks, a cobbler (where I had shoes and boots repaired), an optometrist, and numerous little shops, restaurants, and cafés. I could dash out to a small Albertsons for select items and walk a little further to a recently upgraded Metropolitan Market. BTW, there’s a public swimming pool in the neighborhood too. And I forgot, our church was 5 blocks away.

Helena is in some ways similar, in some ways very different. I can walk 4 blocks to a special little natural food store where I can buy meat raised by I rancher I know and cabbage from a small market gardener. Three blocks to any assortment of churches… My walk is just a few blocks further here, but I can walk to the Post Office and our dentist, the public library, and several great coffee shops (not a Starbucks). We’ve only been here 6 weeks and are still exploring the city. The bad news is that we need to get into the car to drive for a lot of necessities - the hardware store, the pharmacy, any substantial supermarket, and on the northeast side of town a plague of big box stores has spread. 

It’s not the grocery shopping that has convinced me to stay home and shop online, it’s Shopko, Target, Macy’s, etc., that have done it. One visit and we decided they were all “Poster Children” for online shopping!

From another reader:

My wife and I stay home plenty…we’ll eat leftovers or eggs and toast before venturing out into this crazy right wing oasis called NW Arkansas…
It’s kind of ”peoply” out there…and the Trump folks scare me.

Disclaimer..I’m only joking. Mostly.

Finally ... we took note last week of a Boston Globe report that Dunkin' Donuts CEO Nigel Travis, when talking about the fact that the company did not meet revenue expectations during the most recent quarter (growth was a sluggish 0.5 percent, though profits and same-store sales were said to be healthy), blamed "the overwhelming dampening effect of the presidential election,” among other things.

I commented:

Everybody has to blame something, and the elections are a pretty fat target. (Another year, and it might've been the weather. Or the dog ate his homework. Question: Isn't it a CEO's job to navigate the shoals of current events and still grow sales?)

It is interesting, though. Franchisees may be worried about regulatory and wage issues, but you wouldn't think that would necessarily have an impact on coffee and doughnut sales. I don't know about you, but it is only an enormous amount of self control that prevents me from chowing down on a dozen chocolate glazed doughnuts after watching newscasts or debates. (Instead, I just drink.)

MNB reader Ron Rash wrote:

Please provide more information about this “self-control” thing.

I thought it was pretty self-explanatory.
KC's View: