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The Seattle Times has a story about how New Seasons Market opened a new store in Ballard, Washington, this week, an event that highlighted “a broader struggle roiling Seattle’s business and political scenes.”

Inside, the story says, “store employees touted the partnerships they’ve formed with local social-service groups and Pacific Northwest vendors, highlighting condiments from Ballard-based Mustard & Co. and lamb from Reister Farms in Washougal, Clark County, which share space in the store with national brands such as Cheerios and Coke. The company gives 10 percent of its profit to charitable causes and compensates employees for volunteer time, executives said as part of a ‘bread breaking’ ceremony to open the store.”

Outside, however, “labor and community groups criticized New Seasons for its labor practices and the gentrification that often follows the opening of high-end grocers.”
KC's View:
I’ve always thought that New Seasons - a company I like very much - is specifically challenged because it has so many constituencies it has to satisfy. There are the investors, the customers, the employees who expect much of the company they work for, and the community with which it has been so connected over the years. Even when it goes above and beyond, there will be some that won’t be satisfied; when it makes moves to satisfy the investor class, it’ll annoy the community, and when it makes community-oriented moves, it may go against investor short-term interests.
The key here is “short-term.” I simply believe that retailers - especially in the current competitive environment - have to be focused on the long-term. They cannot sacrifice effectiveness for efficiency. They cannot focus on transactions at the cost of lifetime customer value.

This isn’t easy. But it is, I think, necessary.

There may be extra pressure on New Seasons. But there are a lot of companies out there who would be lucky to have these problems.