We had an email last week from MNB reader John Rand in which he vented about the difficulty his local supermarket chain (Ahold Delhaize-owned Stop & Shop) seem to have in stocking product that it has on sale.

One MNB reader responded:

I can sympathize with John Rand, our ads in the store I work in run Friday through Thursday.  We were actually giving out rainchecks for sale items that were actually in the building, but nobody in the grocery department to put them out.  Again embarrassing, and should never happen.

From another reader:

I think John Rand has it right – ALWAYS ask retailers for Rain Checks when they are out of sale items. 
 
It doesn’t get you the immediate gratification, but usually one can get additional rain check quantities that will carry one over for a few months.
 
The hassle of keeping track of them is worth the “feel good” benefit when redeeming the check on a later shopping trip.





I had a FaceTime commentary last week expressing dismay about businesses that take short-term dollars that end up promoting the competition. One MNB reader responded:

This is exactly why I cringe, KC, when I see "Panera Bread Inc"  packaged soup in prime refrigerated space in most deli departments!

Agreed.

MNB reader Clay Dockery wrote:

Interesting article on the Amazon Prime ad being shown in AMC Theaters.  While there is certainly an appropriate point you are making, I think the more relevant consideration is that one does not choose between a movie theater and a television program by venue but rather by content.  If the offerings in movie theaters are differentiating and intriguing to the level of “I can’t miss this”, their business model is fine!  I may share your old school mentality, but a movie seen in a theater is experiential.  While a home movie can be equally enjoyable, the community connectivity is missed.  That is what needs to be sold.

I would be the first to agree that content is critical. But you don’t advertise the availability of content elsewhere. Sure, people will find it on their own … but you promote your own advantages, not the other guy’s.




On another subject, from MNB reader John Baragar:

There’s a great book by John Kotter called “Sense of Urgency” .  The main premise is that a successful company’s biggest threat is their own success.  “If everything is going well, why should I change ?”  or further “what if I mess things up ?”  Complacency, even with success, is the death spiral for a lot of companies.  Once you set into it, it’s hard to get momentum again when you do need to change.

Many years ago I was sitting at a dinner table with the # 3 guy at Walmart.  He was quite open about the business and told a lot of stories about Sam.  When I asked what he thought the secret to their success was he said “We go into work every day thinking that if we don’t keep moving forward and improving it will all fall apart tomorrow.”  This was at a time when Walmart was hitting on all cylinders but their mindset was still like a start-up and that they had to keep pushing every day.   This is the key to Amazon’s success.  No matter how successful they are, they keep pushing the boundaries to get better and try new things.





Finally…

Last week we took note of a Houston Chronicle report that Walmart has come under criticism for selling a controversial t-shirt on its website.

The t-shirt has emblazoned on it the following phrase:

"Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required.”

According to the story, “The ‘custom Hanes tagless tees’ are listed on Walmart's website for $18.99, and ‘guarantees the highest level of print quality on the market’.”

Since the criticisms of the t-shirt went public, Walmart has removed them from its site, though they continued to be sold online by the company that makes them.

I commented:

Forgive me if I take this one personally, but this is the kind of stuff that is totally beyond acceptable.

The t-shirt may offer the highest level of print quality, but it features the lowest possible level of discourse. Of course, to some people it may seem reasonable because these sorts of sentiments are made acceptable by some people in power positions.

Freedom of speech is one thing, but manufacturing a product that incites violence against journalists - people who, for the most part, are just trying to write the first draft of history as honestly and effectively as possible - is disgusting.

Retailer sought to pay more attention to what’s on their shelves, lest they be identified with the mutterings and ravings of the ignorant.


One MNB reader wrote:

You can say anything you want…and prove yourself to be wise or less than.

A retailer can have any opinion or strategy they want and they can choose to sell anything they want..at their own peril.

What concerns me the most is that some people actually have the opinion expressed on the t-shirt.

The fact there is demand for a product promoting that message is IMHO a statement indicating they do not understand our constitution or rights.

That belief regarding others perspective feeds my overall fears about our country…people want this country to be  a specific way … their way. When it isn’t going exactly how they think it should they are more than willing to sacrifice the fundamental pillars that actually make our country ..our country.

When will we return to realizing ALL opinions matter and people have every right to have a different opinion…to suggest a journalist ( especially as a general statement ) deserves to be hung by a lynch mob is CRAZY…and simply ignores the principles of a free press, freedom of speech and the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Seriously where has tolerance for differences disappeared to??? Scary…glad it’s only a t shirt.


Of course, it isn’t only a t-shirt.

From another reader:

While I whole heartedly agree that the T-shirt is beyond poor taste and downright disgusting, there is part of me that understands the frustration behind the message.  In absolutely no way do I condone something that incites violence and this is the type of rhetoric that is far too prevalent in our discourse today.  So many of the “so called” journalists today are not really journalists.

When you say there are “people who, for the most part, are just trying to write the first draft of history as honestly and effectively as possible,” I have to insert my opinion that today, there are very few.  I can’t really name more than a handful of national journalists who report in such a way that we can’t tell from which political persuasion they come.  Journalism should be reporting, as accurately as possible, the facts surrounding events.  Today, I can’t turn on a major news broadcast and not hear a political agenda.  I attribute some responsibility of the heightened divisiveness of our society directly to the national press.  If I want to hear political talking points, I will tune in to broadcasts of that nature.  It is extremely difficult to find news sources that I actually trust to be objective and tell the whole story, not just one side.  Most of us have the ability to form our own opinions based on facts.


I daresay that I probably consume more news than most people. I skim pieces of several dozen newspapers every morning, read a bunch of news sites during the day, and usually have TV news on in the background, rotating among CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. I actually think it is pretty easy to differentiate between the facts and the opinions … just as it is pretty easy to differentiate between the journalists and pundits. It also is easy to tell who the raving lunatics are … and who the people are who are unable to listen to and even consider facts and/or opinions at variance with their biases, or to consider the possibility that they could be wrong.

Got the following email from another reader:

Come on!  It's simply a joke.  Do you honestly think a humorous T-shirt will incite anyone to violence?????  Would you have the same reaction if it "incited violence" against the KKK?

Actually, I would have the same reaction

I’m all in favor of marginalizing members of the KK or white supremacists. I think that all legal means should be used to assure that they are unable to pursue their immoral and unconstitutional goals. They cross the line, they ought to be tossed in jail. But I would never advocate violence against them.

But I’m still gobsmacked that anyone would equate the KKK with journalists.

And, from MNB reader Brett Hassler, who wanted to take issue with my contention that journalists are “people who, for the most part, are just trying to write the first draft of history as honestly and effectively as possible

KC, this exactly what is not happening leading to these kind products being offered for sale ...... and people willing buy.

Shocked you are taking a political stance in your industry commentary, your bias shines through loud and clear. Might be time to look at other industry resources.


First of all, if it took you this long to figure out that I have a pro-journalism bias, you haven’t been paying attention. As I said above, I consume a lot of news coverage everyday and I think that most reporters are doing the best job they can, sometimes under difficult and hostile circumstances. (Again, I’m talking about reporters, not opinion writers and commentators.) They do their best to report the facts, but some folks - on both sides of the political aisle - don’t think they are facts if they don’t mesh with their view of the world. That’s called epistemic closure, and it is dangerous.

I think my biases do shine loud and clear. In fact, I label them as such - as “KC’s Views.” I don’t hide them, and I put my name on them. It really isn’t fair to suggest that I have a hidden agenda. There’s nothing hidden about it.

If you consider my pro-journalism, anti-lynching punditry to be “political,” that’s fine. If you think a pro-journalism, anti-lynching bias is sufficient to make you look at other “industry resources,” feel free.

Might you be looking for anti-journalism, pro-lynching sites? Won’t be hard. They’re out there. But MNB certainly isn’t one of them, and I’m totally comfortable with that.