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    Published on: October 5, 2012

    Go figure. Christopher Walken - of The Deer Hunter, Pulp Fiction, Hairspray, and The Dead Zone fame - does at least some of his food shopping at Stew Leonard's.

    And he does it on-camera to try to get laughs.

    On the website, created by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay to be a place where all sorts of comedy videos to run, there is a new video entitled "Cooking with Walken" which is, to say the least, an oddity. It is all about Walken shopping for and cooking a chicken with comedian/actor Richard Belzer and two exotic women. And when they go shopping, they do it at Stew Leonard's ... where not only do they run into some of the costumed characters who wander the store, but also into Stew Leonard Jr., who makes a brief cameo.

    But on theory that all publicity is good publicity, here it is.

    What the hell. It's Friday.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 5, 2012

    The New York Times reports that "several dozen Walmart worker in Southern California staged a one-day strike on Thursday, according to workers and union officials, a move that culminated in a rally of some 250 workers and supporters in front of a Walmart store in Pico Rivera." The employees said they "were mainly protesting what they said was management’s frequent retaliation against employees who spoke up about working conditions. Several of the workers, who said this was the first-ever strike against Walmart in the United States, also said they were protesting low wages and short hours."

    According to the Times, Walmart "sought to play down the job action, with a company spokesman saying it was a mere rally and not a real strike." That same spokesman said that this was not, in fact, the first strike against the company, "pointing to a 2006 protest by 100 workers at a store in Hialeah Gardens, Fla."

    The Times writes that "Thursday’s walkout occurred three weeks after several dozen employees at warehouses that serve Walmart walked off the job in California and Illinois to protest what they said were onerous conditions, including toiling in warehouses that they said sometimes heat up to 120 degrees. The California job action included a 50-mile, six-day march by warehouse workers from Ontario, Calif., to Los Angeles City Hall." Walmart responded to the job action by saying that it "does not manage those warehouses but takes accusations of workplace problems very seriously," and has promised to address any legitimate problems there.
    KC's View:
    I couldn't help but think when I first saw this story that these striking employees may be about to find out what "frequent retaliation" really means.

    But maybe not. Walmart would be wise, I think, to not let this become more of a story. Let them protest, and then let them go back to work. Sometimes, you have to allow people to let of steam...

    Published on: October 5, 2012

    In Texas, Brookshire's has become a school lunch vendor, contracting with the All Saints Episcopal School and transforming the school cafeteria into what it calls "a haven for fresh, homemade breakfast and lunch choices."

    According to the company, Michael Brady, executive chef at FRESH by Brookshire's, a new concept created by the retailer, "began making preparations to partner with All Saints at the end of the last school year after hearing about customers’ desires for better options for their children. All Saints selected FRESH from several vendors, and now has contracted with the store for their cafeteria operation.

    "Under the supervision of Michael, along with Kyle Glasscock, FRESH food service director, a team of FRESH partners serve about 500 meals a day to students and staff at All Saints."

    “Every day I’m cooking something different,” says Brady. “Whether it’s broccoli, brussels sprouts or cauliflower, I offer something that’s an absolute ‘no’ to a child. And if they don’t like it, they can spit it out, but they know it’s okay to try it ... These kids are the next generation, and I want to be an influence on their habits at an early age."

    Brady also has worked with students to create a vegetable garden on campus, where he will eventually use homegrown ingredients in his recipes.
    KC's View:
    I love this. It is great for the kids, great for the company, and precisely the right kind of connection for food retailers to make with their communities. More of them ought to do it.

    Published on: October 5, 2012

    USA Today writes this morning that obesity is getting greater visibility in American ad campaigns, as "some of the nation's largest brands ... are featuring images of obese or overweight folks in their advertising in a bid to change consumer behavior."

    The story notes that "the move comes at a time almost two in three adults are overweight or obese, and diseases caused by obesity cost Americans $145 billion last year. In the past, when obese folks showed up in ads, they were often the butts of jokes. Now, they're visual images for change."

    Example: A Blue Cross/Blue Shield commercial in which "an obese father with a tray full of fast food thinks twice when he overhears his large son arguing with a fat friend over whose father can eat more. The second features a young girl following her mother in the grocery store and picking up the same junk food and putting it in her kiddie cart."

    Another example: A Nike ad "showing an obese runner jogging." See it here.
    KC's View:
    That Nike commercial is one of the best of the year. Tonally, it sort of reminds me of the fictional Nike commercial that was featured in What Women Want.

    It is an important statement when companies decide to gently nudge society in the right direction.

    Published on: October 5, 2012

    The Kroger Co. this week was awarded the Alliance to Save Energy's top award, the "Galaxy" Star of Energy Efficiency.

    The Alliance to Save Energy describes itself as "a nonprofit organization that promotes energy efficiency worldwide through research, education and advocacy. We encourage business, government, environmental and consumer leaders to use energy efficiency as a means to achieve a healthier economy, a cleaner environment and greater energy security."

    Kroger was lauded for utilizing "a variety of practices to increase energy efficiency, employing technology such as LED lights and engaging store associates in energy savings initiatives. As a result, Kroger has reduced its energy use by 32 percent since the year 2000 – saving enough electricity to power every single-family home in Columbus, Ohio for one year. These initiatives have also saved Kroger more than $100 million per year in energy costs."
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 5, 2012

    Starbucks will add functionality to its mobile payment application that will allow users to leave a tip for baristas, the Associated Press writes.

    The application will become available next summer. In addition, when a Starbucks payment option is added to the Square app next month, a similar capability will be included.

    According to the story, "Starbucks Corp. doesn’t break out the percentage of payments that are made with mobile phones, but says a quarter of payments are with a Starbucks card, which can be either a physical or mobile payment. The company also said its existing app is now integrated with Apple’s Passbook, meaning a customer’s Starbucks card automatically appears on their iPhone screen when they enter one of the cafes."
    KC's View:
    I've always thought that it was a shame that the mobile app seemed likely to cut down on tips at Starbucks. If they're smart, they'll construct the app so that, if I so choose, I can add either a percentage or a specific amount to every order, automatically.

    Published on: October 5, 2012

    • Walmart has been sued in Florida by 11 women claiming gender discrimination, a suit brought just two days after a similar suit was filed in Tennessee. There also are gender discrimination cases pending in Texas and California - all of them filed since the US Supreme Court ruled last year that a national class action suit could not be certified because the cases did not have enough in common.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 5, 2012

    ...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary...

    Advertising Age has a piece about Campbell Soup Co. CEO Denise Morrison and how she is "focused on two things: a process she calls 'disciplined creativity' based on studying how innovative firms brought great ideas to market and a focus on working for the consumer."

    Morrison says, "I pulled high-potential people off the base business -- and left some on the business as well -- and then formed cross-functional breakthrough teams, who had a disciplined approach to studying the consumer, finding the points of pleasure, finding the points of pain, finding the commercialization opportunity that existed … and then creating products to deliver to the consumer."

    Morrison tells Ad Age that she wants every employee of the company to say and think that they work for the customer. "If everyone in the company gets up every day and says that, they will operate totally differently," she says. "Because then they'll start to say, is what I'm doing at this moment, this day, really going to make a difference for the consumer? And if it isn't, don't do it."

    Bloomberg reports that "Best Buy may cut online prices as it heads into the holiday shopping season to compete with rivals such as" The story says that Best Buy does just eight percent of its business online, but it recognizes that price competition during the upcoming end-of-year holiday season is likely to be "intense."

    It won't matter if the online prices are low if they don't match up with store prices, When a retailers going to learn that they have to be both consistent and transparent?

    The New York Daily News reports that two alligators have been found in a single Pathmark parking lot on Long Island, New York, this week. Nobody seems to know how they got there, though the suspicion is that someone may have dumped them there.

    The gators were captured and are being sent to a reptile sanctuary in Florida.

    Somebody wrote me yesterday to suggest that since A&P-owned Pathmark seems to have trouble getting people into its stores, maybe it should keep the gators and start up a tourist attraction...
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 5, 2012

    Yesterday, in a piece about CEO Lisa Sedlar leaving New Seasons Markets to start up a healthy c-store chain, I got a little ahead of myself by describing NewSeasons as an ESOP, where employees own stock in the company.

    In fact, New Seasons has been "exploring broad-based ownership options which could be achieved through an ESOP, a community stock offering, a combination of the two or other mechanisms," the company told me in an email.

    Apologies for the goof. As I said, I got ahead of myself.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 5, 2012

    Yesterday, when I laid out the baseball playoff picture, I think I got it all screwed up. Not sure why, but I did.

    If you want to see who is playing and when, go here.

    I don't want to risk making another mistake.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 5, 2012

    Yesterday, I responded rather harshly to a reader who seemed to be yearning for the days when "heterosexual, Christian white males" reigned supreme without fear of having their world view challenged, and where the only real fear was of letting people in who don't fit into their world view. I wrote:

    The world as it actually exists must be a scary place for you, though it must be reassuring for some heterosexual, Christian white males to get together with other heterosexual, Christian white males and complain about how the "other people" are ruining this country...

    You poor bastard.

    MNB user John F. Welsh Jr. responded:

    Your final “you poor bastard” comment was stupid. You made your point earlier and you needn’t show your displeasure again with such a sign-off. Shame on you. Period.

    Point taken.

    I may have crossed the line. But he annoyed me. And sometimes, I let my emotions get the better of me.

    Only problem is, when I do it, I'm doing it in front of 24,000+ people.

    Not all of whom were annoyed at me, by the way.

    One MNB user wrote:

    I would bet money that the poor bastard, heterosexual, Christian, white male would be quick to turn around and sue if he thought he and his "belief in equality" were victims of age discrimination.

    And another reader chimed in:

    I have to say if you had a "like", "triple like", "most awesome ever"....  button, I would have pressed it over and over.  The way you responded and ended your comment to the absurd email from another reader today left me laughing.  Thank you for the smile today.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 5, 2012

    • In Thursday Night Football action, the St. Louis Rams defeated the Arizona Cardinals 17-3.

    • After what can only be described as a disastrous season, the Boston Red Sox yesterday fired manager Bobby Valentine. No successor has yet been named.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 5, 2012

    Monday is Columbus Day, which happens to be a school holiday for both my wife and my daughter (who is coming home from college for the long weekend). I'm going to take the holiday off to spend the day with them ... and MNB will be back on Tuesday.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 5, 2012

    There is almost nothing sadder than the funeral of a young person.

    I had to go to one of these yesterday. The 24-year-old son of a cousin died in a tragic accident earlier this week, and we went to what was called a "celebration of life" yesterday morning.

    It was an extraordinary event filled with love and memory. The place was packed, and perhaps half the congregation looked to be under 30; I wondered how a death such as this one would affect their thoughts about life and mortality, issues that nobody of that age should need to think about.

    I did not know this young man. His dad and I are not close, and I may not have seen this young man in 20 years. But as a parent, sitting in church, it was hard not to think about my own kids.

    When I got news of this young man's death, my first instinct was to hug my kids and tell them how much I love them. I was on the road, though, and had to settle for emailing them. I said I wanted to remind them how precious life is, how important it is that they be kind and generous to each other, and to explain in some small way why their Mom and I always worry about them and think about them, even when they think we don't need to.  I also wanted them to understand why we always want them to be careful, no matter how safe and invulnerable they think they are.

    Most of all, I wanted each of them to know that we love them very much.  We can't say those words too often to each other.

    I wrote all those things to remind them of how we feel. I think I also wanted to remind myself. Because in life, stuff often gets in the way of what is important.

    This week, there was bad stuff. But it forced me to think about the things that matter.

    No movie or wine or beer or book recommendations this week. We'll save that stuff for next Friday.

    Have a good weekend. Hug your kids and all the people you love.

    I'll see you Tuesday.

    KC's View: