business news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB reader Steve Ritchey had some thoughts about the story looking at the dwindling group of people who, for a variety of reasons, resist the lures of Amazon:

I'm in that age group being 58 now, and I do use Amazon fairly regularly, however, I'm not entirely comfortable.  Not due to safety concerns or product quality.  I've seen too many reports about mistreatment of employees, particularly those employees who pick and package our orders.  I don't like supporting employers who don't respect their employees, I've been down that road a few times as the used and disrespected employee.  So, while I still use Amazon, I also look at other online retailers that I'm more comfortable supporting.

We had a story yesterday about an internet-connected hairbrush, which prompted one MNB user to write:

Extend this technology to a toothbrush and imagine the possibilities.

That's a really good point.

And from another reader:

Boy, Marcia Brady could have used this; or better yet, Kerastase could have used Marcia Brady to product place this one...missed each other by 40+ years.

Extra credit for the semi-obscure cultural reference...

Nice to get the following email from MNB reader Mark Boyer:

Great piece on Shake Shack. Not even sure where to begin, since it touched on so many pieces of learning, so let’s just leave it at “well done.”


I love emails like this one, from MNB reader Howard Schneider:

Changing times, changing business models...

Here in Portland, Ore., a former Radio Shack has become a marijuana store.

Point taken.

Regarding the auto repair store designed to appeal to women by offering spa services as well as oil changes, MNB reader Philip Herr wrote:

Love this idea. My wife hates the condescension at auto dealers/repair shops. So I am the designated driver when service is necessary. Interestingly, we purchased a Saab for her several years ago based on the respect afforded by the salesperson at Saab of Westport. The decision wasn’t entirely based on how she was treated, but it was the factor that closed the deal for her.

From MNB reader Stacy McCoy:

This. Is. Amazing.

If the auto and spa services were great, I would completely support a business like this in my town. But, like anything, they would need to have great quality, reliable services for all of their offerings. I wouldn’t even think twice about the costs, because I would be saving Time. And my time is worth a lot of money to me.


Regarding the closing of stores by Macy's, one MNB user wrote:

The Evil Amazon strikes again! Does Macy’s and Sears/Kmart, and most likely Kohl’s and others have a part in their becoming less relevant? Of course they do, and a major part, but Amazon is certainly a contributor. Not to mention the loss of working class jobs effected by lost foot traffic at the malls and strip malls all across the country. The irony of it is, it is the packages delivered by Amazon drivers (more jobs Amazon is planning to destroy) that are stolen from front doors by (some) people who have lost their jobs because of Amazon.

I just think this is so much nonsense. Amazon isn't evil, and these competing retailers aren't hurting because of Amazon ... it is just that Amazon has seen the future and is acting on that vision, and they haven't.

People and companies have to adapt to the future, because the future is not going to adapt to them.

From MNB reader Woody Weddington, on the same general subject:

For the consumer it is more about the shopping experience.  Going into a big box store searching and searching and searching for product (normally without assistance from the retail associates).  Then waiting waiting and waiting in line to get checked out.  Consumer see their time as a valuable asset and are not willing to spend it in a big box store.  My opinion is retail has to create a great shopping experience in order to survive.  I personally like to touch and feel the item I am about to buy but am will to forgo that and turn to online due to poor experiences in the retail bricks and mortar stores.


We had a story the other day about companies that are addressing diversity issues in their advertising and marketing, which prompted one MNB reader to write:

I believe in everyone's freedom to choose to worship whomever they wish. As a veteran, I served to protect that freedom. However,  I do not like it when people try to convert me to their religion, and imply that whatever I might believe in is wrong. Muslims not only believe that anyone who is not Muslim is an infidel; they also believe that if infidels don't convert they should be eliminated.With that in mind,  I can't grasp the thought of respecting any religion, or allowing anyone who believes in that religion, to live where I live. I appreciate those that are concerned, and share their concern.

I think it might be more accurate to say that some Muslims believe that anyone who does not convert to Islam should be eliminated. (The ones who feel this way are pretty vocal about it.)

To be honest, I've been strong-armed more by people who are Jehovah's Witnesses than by Muslims. And if I'm not mistaken, there are least some Catholics who believe that unless one is baptized into their faith, one cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.

I just think a bit of context is needed. Pretty much every religion believes that what everybody else believes is wrong. On this point, I agree with you - I don't like it, either.

Yesterday, in an email regarding my comment about the story concerning a 37-year-old Spokane man who was banned from a Starbucks there after he hit on a 16-year-old barista, and then complained about ageism and said that he believes in "age gap love" - I said he was a creep and that if he'd hit on my 16-year-old daughter, I would use my baseball bat to persuade him to focus his attentions elsewhere - one MNB user suggested I was being hyperbolic:

Unless you’re using inflammatory language to intentionally get “fan mail” you’re starting to sound like Trump.

One MNB reader thought this was a good thing:

“…starting to sound like Trump.” I knew I sensed subtle improvement in your writing.

But MNB reader Brian Blank had a different reaction:

No, you’re starting to sound like the father/husband/boyfriend of the many women that Trump has sexually victimized over the years.  Trump IS the creep.  I mean, anyone who would tell an interviewer that he would sleep with his own daughter…WAY beyond the guy trying to pick up a 16 y/o barista.

Sounds like the MNB readership is just like the country. Divided.

But fear not. I may not be able to bring us together, but I'm at least going to shoot for civil discourse.

That said ... I don't completely understand the following two emails, but thought I ought to post them anyway.

One seemed to want to bring politics into the discussion of Macy's issues:

You'd think Macy's would be able to stay in business by selling more tissues, security blankets and prefabricated safe zones. Or better yet, how about those giant form hands with the pointer finger extended so people can use them to deflect the blame away from the poor decisions of their losing political party and candidate. She did after all win the "popular vote" so there should be ample opportunities to make money especially when we consider all the crying that they have been doing for the last two months. Please keep posting these articles Kevin, as it provides a nice break from you usual Amazon Pravda articles that you always write.


Another reader wanted to comment on my response to the person who accused me of being hyperbolic in my baseball bat comment as a way of generating fan mail:

You stated:

First of all, I don't have to use inflammatory language to generate email. I get hundreds of emails from readers every week. (Though, to be fair, I wouldn't characterize all of it as "fan" mail. A percentage of it could be described as "you're an idiot" mail.)

Maybe it's the content of the blog that could be garnering all of these negative emails. You know, all those articles that always seem to stray away from the retail business and your usual Amazon articles. I guess you could say it's the fault of the that's what I call a real Eye-Opener!

First of all, I didn't say I was getting a lot of negative emails. (I actually get a lot more positive reinforcement than any single human being has any right to expect.) I'm glad people write in when they disagree with me, because it creates discussion and makes me think about my positions. Sometimes I even change my mind.

I do, however, resist the characterization of some stories as being not business-related. I like to think that the vast majority of stories that appear on MNB are related to business and retailing ... not always in obvious ways, I concede, but usually in ways that I think are important. I firmly believe that businesses are only going to be successful if they are aware of and adapt to the technological, political, demographic and cultural changes taking place around them, and it is stories about such things that I think best serve the MNB readership. They're more interesting, I think they're more fun to read, and, frankly, they're more fun to write.

Is every story featured on MNB interesting to every reader every day? Of course not. Like every writer and editor, I make choices daily. They reflect my sense of what I think the MNB readership ought to know, as well as what interests me.

You're right. When MNB fails, it is entirely and completely my fault.

I'm totally okay with that.
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