business news in context, analysis with attitude

We had a story yesterday about how Consumer Reports is recommending that “consumers avoid buying and eating pre-sliced melon until the end of June and discard any that they've already purchased. That’s because in the past two months, 60 people in the U.S. have gotten sick from a dangerous strain of Salmonella bacteria, likely from eating presliced watermelon, honeydew, or cantaloupe shipped to major retailers across the country.”

One MNB reader wrote:

Thirty five years in the retail side of the produce business and now another ten years on the supply side….I virtually NEVER eat cut melons that I did not cut myself. I’m especially weary cantaloupe and honeydew in hotels, or kiosks at the airport….why? Because I just don’t think that folks know how to recognize visual signs that the fruit is going bad, and that the cold chain’s been maintained…I see too much of it on display that I would never eat. They take best if used by dates on cut fruit as the gospel. That’s just store level handling…not even thinking about the prep before cutting. That said, every meathead I’ve ever known always has their steak cooked well done. I like mine rare, but I always wonder what those meat guys know that I don’t!

From another reader:

At Albertsons/Shaw's everything, and I mean everything, is processed in store at great labor expense.  We are required to wash all fruit and vegetables in Sterilox before processing them, thus preventing any possible contamination. Probably why we're not one of those stores on the list.

Chiming in on the discussion about Chewy, one MNB reader wrote:

I agree with Pat I. (who also has my sympathy on her loss) regarding Chewy.  That’s not the first time I’ve heard of them doing wonderful things for their customers.

I just started auto-ship from there a few months ago and I usually get my shipment in 1 day.  I’m thrilled to not have to lug a 42 lb. bag of kitty litter into a cart, into my car, out of my car, into the house, along with the cans of cat food, etc.

I do order my fair share of items from Amazon, but for pet supplies Chewy is the place to go.

On another subject, one MNB reader wrote:

I am puzzled by the statement in the article that proclaims, “… Whole Foods sales are up, though “sales per customer are down by an average of 1%.” That may not necessarily be a bad thing - it could mean that people are going more often and making more frequent, if smaller, transactions.

Retailers (except perhaps Trader Joe’s) have been pursuing bigger rings per transaction with a passion, and for a long, long time. Now, smaller transactions are better?

That was my observation … and I was just suggesting that maybe, under some circumstances, more frequent trips, even with a lower ring, could be a good thing if it promulgates greater loyalty and a higher spend overall. Is it necessarily a bad thing if I go to Whole Foods three times a week and spend $20 each time I’m there, as opposed to going once and spending $50?

An MNB reader yesterday wanted to bet me on where Amazon’s HQ2 will end up, but I declined, saying that too many people have wanted to bet with me on this subject. Another MNB reader wrote:

 If you are getting dozens of people wanting to bet that a certain location is going to win the HQ2 sweepstakes, if the bet is if that one location wins, you pay, if any other of the 19 location wins, you win, you should take the bets if the offers are spread out over between multiple finalists.  For example if you have 10 people all wanting to bet you $1 that a different finalist will win, taking all 10 bets guarantees you a net win of $8, 9 wins minus 1 loss.  Just make sure no more than half of the total value of all bets are not on one location.

I get your point. But I’m not getting into the bookie business.

Finally…yesterday we took note of a CNN report about a 23-year-old man, Thomas Frudaker, who was arrested last week and charged with making fraudulent returns - to the tune of $1.3 million - at more than 1,000 Walmart stores around the country over the past 18 months. He was arrested when trying to do so in Yuma, Arizona, and charged immediately with six felony charges, “including two counts of theft, two counts of fraudulent schemes and two counts of criminal damage.”

I commented:

Think about that. This guy visited almost 25 percent of the Walmart stores in the US in less than two years. I wonder how many Walmart executives did that. They ought to go after him with the full force of the law, but they may want to consider pulling an Alexander Mundy with him, and use Frudaker as an invaluable resource.

MNB reader Mary Schroeder wrote:

Nice “It Takes a Thief” reference. 
Thanks for the chuckle.

MNB reader Mark Boyer wrote:

Or Frank Abagnale.

If I have to choose between being Frank Abagnale or Alexander Mundy, I’m totally choosing the latter. Mundy (Robert Wagner) was much cooler, went to better places, and he had Alistair Mundy (Fred Astaire) has his father. Doesn’t get much better than that.
KC's View: