business news in context, analysis with attitude

We had a story yesterday about Amazon getting back into the private label diaper business, which prompted this email from an MNB reader:

Saw your story about Amazon’s Mama Bear diaper launch and I had to reach out. I’m a loyal Prime member and have been for 13 years. We just had our second child a few months ago and have reinstated our subscribe and save purchases for baby care (including diapers). I was “invited” to the Mama Bear diaper launch and was a little surprised by the nature of the launch and the pricing. First, Amazon’s invitation price was $39.69 for a package of 184 diapers ($.22/count) while my subscribe and save diaper item is $.13/count.

I was baffled that they invited me to the launch of this brand without a price that was comparable to my subscribe and save item (which is Pampers). Seems like an odd way to generate trial and feedback from your pool of loyal customers especially when you compare this to the Happy Belly snack launch earlier this year where they offered Prime members a free item.

I totally understand the price differential between free snack mix and free diapers but it seems like a big miss to not at least offer a comparable price on the Mama Bear launch to match what they know I pay through subscribe and save. In the end, I passed on the opportunity and Pampers will continue to receive my business!

My FaceTime commentary yesterday focused on the need for employers to focus more on employees and make them feel invested in the business, and how this could help them create for themselves a differential advantage in a tough competitive climate.

One MNB reader responded:

I work for a large grocery retailer in the Northeast, and am frustrated at the staff level in our stores to the level of embarrassment.

Most departments severely understaffed, especially checkout.

Our customers pay more to shop here, and then we make them wait in long lines, for cashiers with no baggers.

I keep hearing nobody is applying for jobs, but I've been hearing that for years. Or that Corporate told us to cut hours, blah blah blah. It's now holiday season, I don't know how we'll get staffed in time, I'm not holding my breath. But paying a $7.25 minimum wage in NH stores isn't going to cut it.

On the subject of sexual harassment, MNB reader John Rand wrote:

My mother was harassed – in several ways – and told me about it at the tender age of about 9 or 10, as I recall. Harassed sexually as a woman. Harassed for a different religion. And once was refused service because she “looked like she might be” another ethnicity (which she wasn’t, as it happens, but it did make her a life-long supporter of the civil rights movement).
That was more than a half-century ago, but I never forgot it.
My wife was sexually harassed on the job at least twice that I know of and who knows what innuendos, discomforts, and unspoken implications there may have been.
I have witnessed all sorts of inexcusable behaviors over the decades, and am still feeling guilty that I may not have done enough to prevent, mitigate, or terminate such behaviors on others.
I have had literally hundreds of people work for me in some way over the years, and dealt with thousands. I have made it a point to try and be better than that - and that is the only way this will change – in the minds and hearts and awareness of everyone.
Teach your children, folks.  Teach ‘em young and don’t protect them from knowing a bad thing exists.
Don’t hold back Kevin.

I won’t. Emails like yours only serve to reinforce my feeling that there are a lot of pigs out there, and they deserve to be exposed for what they are.

As the days pass, I also am persuaded that perhaps the most important change that has taken place is that most people now start out believing the women who are making the claims. That’s a real shift from not that long ago, when most people believed the men’s denials.

On another subject, MNB reader Tim McGuire wrote:

You described Wegman’s expansion in Massachusetts as “moving beyond its mid-Atlantic roots”. The people at Wegman’s HQ in Rochester, NY may be surprised by that description?

My memory from school was that New York is, in fact, a Mid-Atlantic state. It’s not New England, and it isn’t the Midwest. What would you call it?

And by the way … I checked online after getting your email. In this case, I find that my memory is accurate.

And, regarding another piece, MNB reader Chris Utz wrote:

Your article about California raising taxes on pot is another glaring example of how government does not have a grasp of simple economics.  If they increase taxes to make the cost go up 70 percent, that’s a green light for the black market to kick in.
This smacks of high New York and New Jersey cigarette taxes, which created a thriving black market in cigarettes hauled from lower-taxed states.  It also reminds one of Chicago’s failed soda taxes; which simply drove customers to drive elsewhere.
When will they learn?

And MNB reader Bill Prescott wrote:

These high taxes will also send consumers back to the black market, where prices will remain cheaper. In Humboldt County, CA, the current figure for a pound of primo weed, wholesale is $750 per pound, down from $2,000 just a few years ago. Unfortunately, legalization will create huge opportunities for illegal, environmentally disastrous grows.  The market is flooded, so growers are growing more to compensate, and exporting their goods from California to non-legal states is the only way to  maintain their tax-free, regulation-free, extremely high profit lifestyle.  Which is a very serious concern for the rest of us living here.

On the subject of how to build a cheeseburger - which Kate McMahon wrote about in a piece about dueling emojis - we got several emails.

MNB reader Tom Murphy wrote, after having read about Kate’s and my opinions:

Are you kidding me, you didn’t even mention: 1) the slice of red onion, 2) the roasted Hatch green chilies, 3) course brown mustard and 4) toasted bun or not.

For the record, and I am sure we all know this, the order is, from the top, Hatch green chilies, Tomato, Red Onion slice, Lettuce, Cheese, Meat.

And the course brown mustard goes on both the top and bottom of the bun!  Now…let’s determine which microbrew follows!!
I am sure no one will disagree!

MNB reader René Franco wrote:

Having worked at the wonderful In-N-Out Burger chain, I can tell you that the proper built order, bottom to top, is Bun, Special sauce, Pickles, Onions, Tomato, Lettuce, Patty, Cheese, Ketchup/mustard.
KC's View: