business news in context, analysis with attitude

On the subject of Target's continuing grocery issues, one MNB user wrote:

Many of the Target PFresh stores located in the Midwest have small grocery departments and are often located on the far side of the entrance making a quick fill-in purchase a chore because you have to walk the width of the store. I often wondered if their management ever walked these stores as shoppers to realize this challenge. It seems a relatively easy fix would be to add a second entrance and a few registers down the other side where grocery is located much like Meijer and Walmart have done for their massive stores.

Got the following email from an MNB reader:

I’ve enjoyed your column for years, but have only ever written in on one previous occasion. I just happened to read through two articles about cars this morning, and that prompted me to write in.

I, for one, hope that Amazon does disrupt the car-buying process.  Being a native of NJ, we are essentially trapped into dealing with horrible dealerships by the arcane laws here.  Tesla tried, but ultimately had to move out of NJ, I believe, and sell through traditional dealerships instead of their “store” at the upscale Short Hills Mall.

At any rate, I had recent experience which illustrates what’s not working.  Like you, I refuse to give up my manual transmission.  (I’m currently driving a 2013 Nissan XTerra, because it was the only non-pickup, 4-wheel drive vehicle that came with a 6-speed manual.  If I were a man of more means, I could have gotten a Porsche Cayenne.)  I was recently very excited by the prospect of trading it in for a Chevy SS, as Chevy had a 20% off sale for a limited time, and the 415-hp V8 SS is said to be the “spiritual successor” to the E39-series BMW M5 of the late 90s/early 2000s.

Anyway, Chevy has their own online “shopping service”.  Which is, apparently, completely ignored by the dealership.  Not only did they not offer me anything close to what the website said for my trade-in (offer was about 15% less, factoring in a 10% profit on the trade-in), but they also taped a piece of paper to the windshield -- an “addendum” -- essentially saying that they were adding $3,000 to the price because they felt like it.  Combine this with the fact that they still hadn’t completed the repair of the car which was halting the sale of it.  So, not only was the monthly payment $290 more than what I was quoted online, but I couldn’t even test drive it and see that sweet, super-short-throw shifter in action.
Needless to say, I walked out of there with nothing.  And wasted 3 hours of my day driving there, being continuously disappointed, and driving home.  And with a very sour taste in my mouth for Chevy.  I may give it another shot next year (last model year for this car), because a car like this doesn’t come along all the time.  But now the other dealerships have to make up for this lousy one.
What a nightmare.  Amazon can’t do anything but improve this process.

One of those two car-oriented pieces yesterday concerned how manual transmissions gradually are vanishing, which I thought was too bad.

Another MNB reader wrote:

From my first car, Vermin Volkswagen, a '59 convertible with a manual choke, to my current 16 year old vehicle, Sherwood Forester, who has upwards of 345,000 miles, I've driven a stick.  Driving an automatic transmission is aiming, not driving.

Love your attitude.

And from another reader, Peter Talbott:

I bet you enjoyed the scene in The Right Stuff when the astronauts demanded to have a window on the spacecraft and to have control of the re-entry procedures, rather than to just ride like a monkey.

You betcha. Though, to be fair, I loved pretty much every scene in The Right Stuff, one of the great American movies.

On another subject, an MNB user wrote:

Re: Your comment that you hope when he retires, Stew Leonard Jr. decides to teach.  Well, I immediately had an epiphany...

You and he, traveling across country to your Oregon summer class, in your Mustang (with a stick), ala Martin Milner/George Maharis in "Route 66."

Hey, just a thought, sounds like you have plenty of time to plan it all out.  ;-)

Thanks, and Keep doing what you do.

Stew is welcome to join me anytime. Though I suspect he has a lot better things to do than be George Maharis (or Glenn Corbett, for that matter) to my Martin Milner.
KC's View: