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Yesterday we reported that Ahold Delhaize-owned Stop & Shop plans "a $140 million capital investment in its New York City stores to improve the shopping experience for local customers with a focus on adding thousands of new items from around the globe to ensure the assortment at each store reflects the diversity of the neighborhood it serves."

I commented:

The first thing I wonder about is the impetus for this move.  Is it just a sense that the stores are out of date and need refreshing?  Or is there something else going on here?

Kroger has announced its plan to move into the northeast with a pure-play e-grocery model, but has not said where in the northeast.  I wouldn't have bet on the New York City metropolitan area, but it is possible that Stop & Shop is worried about a bigger competitor coming and starting to steal market share.  Better to play offense than defense.

I cannot recall the last time I was in any of these NYC Stop & Shop stores, so I have a limited frame of reference from which to work.  But if those stores are anything like the Connecticut Stop & Shop stores with which I am familiar … well, they have some work to do.  My experience is that those stores are just good enough, but never transformative, never exciting.  There are a couple of them within miles of where a new Wegmans is scheduled to be built, and I suspect they'll be in a world of hurt when that store opens.

Good enough rarely is good enough these days.  Depending on how things play out, Stop & Shop may find that out the hard way.

MNB reader David Diamond responded:

I have a slightly different take on this.  The Stop and Shop urban stores are primarily the remnants of Pathmark, and to describe them as “good enough” is being very kind.  I actually do not think that they have the appetite for building big, beautiful stores in the urban environment – it costs too much and takes too long.  Whole Foods will do it, but that is about it.  I think that the real agenda is that delivery is becoming the primary distribution method in the city, and they have reached the conclusion that consumers go to their stores and say “I’m not ordering from this dump”, so they need to upgrade the physical stores essentially to sell the brand to those who are ordering for delivery.

I could be totally wrong on this, but I think that is where their heads are at.

So when I think some Stop & Shop stores are dark, it is because they actually are being turned into dark stores that let customers in?

Never thought of it that way before.

MNB reader David Spawn wrote:

Completely agree with you on this one. 

Their stores in the city are very lackluster and seem to survive simply by offering better pricing and product breadth relative to the local small-scale competition (Key Foods, Trade Fairs and C-Towns that are our other local options w/out a car).  I live in Jackson Heights and have shopped their “Astoria/Long Island City” store – it is the epitome of “good enough,” uninspired and under-managed from its presentation & cleanliness, to its staffing, to its lack of grocery carts on weekend days (when they are all left on the rooftop parking structure). 

Despite this, I shopped there on a monthly basis since even with an Uber ride home it was less expensive than doing the same trip in our neighborhood.  However, it was just announced that it is closing earlier next year – a fact that was noticeably absent from the article trumpeting the reinvestment in the city.  A new BJ’s just opened across the street and Stop and Shop does not seem to have been able to compete with a new player.  I wish them luck in their new endeavors in the Big Apple!

I offered a business lesson last week that I gleaned from a new book, "The Baseball 100," by Joe Posnanski, which prompted one MNB reader to write:

"The Baseball 100" is the best bathroom book since the Guinness Book of World Records…

I'm so glad you said that.  When Michael and I wrote "The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies," we wanted the publisher to promote it as the perfect bathroom book - lots of short, standalone chapters - but the publisher resisted the imagery.

And from another reader:

Thanks for sharing.  I am a sports nut, a baseball geek in particular – just added this book to my reading list.

A fun read about Mike Mussina is “Living on the Black” by John Feinstein where he follows Mussina and Tom Glavine for an entire baseball season.

I'll add it to the stack.  Thanks.