business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from an MNB reader who wanted to weigh in on the case of the Trader Joe's employee fired after writing the company's CEO for heightened health measures at his store:

Well I have a lot to say about this.  I work for an independently owned natural food store in Northern California.  I have worked in all aspects of the industry throughout my life.  I am currently the Procurement manager and oversee all departments for both locations. 

This pandemic has been extremely stressful on my coworkers and on grocery workers throughout the nation.  Everyone was given hazard pay and then the pay was quickly removed 3 months later and the hazard continues even more so today.  Everyone needs food, bottom line.  The folks that work in the stores did NOT sign up to be bouncers, police, and Constitutional rights experts, yet here we are.  Out store was allowing "medical" excuses at first as they tried to figure out the legality behind it all.  Allowing these people (who for the most part did not have any medical conditions) in the store was creating greater stress for the employees and other customers, a few months later they squashed it and took a hard mask no entry no excuses.

There is a group in the central coast that has been harassing grocery store workers since the start of the pandemic they refer to themselves as "freedom fighters"  I will refrain from using every profanity in the book to describe my feelings toward this group.  I bring this up because it directly ties in to Trader Joe's.  A few weeks ago this group stormed in to a TJ's in Santa Cruz without masks and did a cash drop - basically they buy things and write their own receipt and leave cash at the register.

It is quite clear from the employees actions and also some customers that they have had it!  Done dealing with this added stress of a few selfish individuals who refuse to wear masks.  Trader Joe's could have taken a stand and pressed charges but they refuse to step up to the plate and stand behind their workers and now that is even more apparent with the current situation with the firing of an employee who simply was asking for more stringent, safer measures for the workers and the people shopping.  People are now turning to even more troubling tactics and referring to us as "Nazis"  - the use of this term is obviously disgusting and disrespectful and has no place in this ongoing argument of to mask or not to mask.

Grocery workers need to be protected, if you don't want to shop use Instacart.  We are tired and stressed and trying to stay healthy for ourselves and our families.  I can tell you this is only going to get worse if the employer is not going to back the employees.  The incident below is a perfect example of this.  What you don't see in the video is customers throwing baskets and mangoes at these people (which did happen)  plenty of customers also told them to F&#* off - which I would have done as well.  Also, what you didn't see in the video was a customer and father of a small child take a swing at one of these morons.  In the end I hope that people and employers will stand behind their employees and do what is right but unfortunately many of the people making these decisions don't have to work in the store and probably never had.  

If you never have cried in a walk in cooler or a break room you have no say in what all these folks are going through.  Protect your valuable asset people, your employees are the face and culture of your company!!!  

I find that video to be appalling.  Who the hell are these people?  Not only do they behave like ignoramuses, but they seem to be the ones who record it and put it up on social media.

You don't like a store's policies, shop elsewhere.  You don't harass - and potentially put in danger - the poor people working there, and the other people shopping there.

Ignoramuses seems too kind. A store can't pay employees enough money to put up with this crap.

On the subject of retailers being able to use the data generated by people going into stores for the first time to get their Covid-19 vaccines, one MNB reader wrote:

We went to the Walgreens site in an attempt to sign up for the vaccine shot.  We had to complete all our information and once it was completed, we were notified that no appointments are available.  Really?  Why did you not tell us that before we gave you the info.  I’ll tell you why, our phone blew up with new Walgreens notifications right after the info was completed.  Seems like a real scam.  Plus, we could not find the link to unsubscribe, so now it just goes to auto junk.  This seemed to be just an info grab under the guise of community service.

Like I said yesterday, it is important for retailers not to abuse the data.  It'll backfire.

I do have to say, though, that this is the rare negative vaccination experience that I've heard about.  Most of the folks I know who have been vaccinated have raved about the seamlessness of the experience - though I concede I have a limited sample size.

On another subject, one MNB reader wrote:

Regarding salad bars….they are back in places like Texas and Florida. We should look into the volume they are doing vs a year ago. It may not be 100% yet, but the trend would be interesting. You are right, what comes out of this pandemic will be interesting. Things will change.

A lot of things are back in Texas, I gather.

Reacting to my piece about how Stew Leonard's has replaced its salad bars, embracing the new reality, another MNB reader wrote:

Interesting piece.  Stew Leonard’s has always been ahead of “the curve” when it comes to a shopping experience.

Regarding the repositioning of space, Publix has announced that they are no longer providing the Aprons program.  Some of those areas have been turned into catering, which fits the new shopper.  It will be interesting to see how Publix chooses to repurpose this space.  Personally, I will miss the creative meal solutions / builds they provided each week.   Since we all have not been getting around much anymore, I wonder how Wegmans is approaching this, since a major portion on their stores is focused on the meal bar concept. 

And finally, one MNB reader had a thought about another story:

I would definitely endorse having you give giving pickleball a try.  We are playing it outdoors in Boise, Idaho all winter long.  Our local park typically hosts between 15 - 40 players most every afternoon - early evening.  We have players ranging in age from 10 to 84.  We play two games in and then rotate out and it provides for a combination of competition - camaraderie  &  socialization.  Players will even meet early to shovel the courts when necessary.  Look forward to hearing how you enjoy it!

Sounds like fun.