business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from MNB reader Monte Stowell:

Great video today about your wife’s vacuum cleaner repair issue. I assume this guy who was going to repair the vacuum cleaner lives close by where you and your wife live. One thing you espouse and believe in are the small and independent grocers that you really like because of what they offer and how they compete against Amazon. In too many instances when we want something, we just go onto Amazon and order that item. Did your wife check out the local guy before she called Amazon? My wife is guilty of buying things from Amazon,  but I asked her if she called, went online to a certain local retailer, when she wanted something. Most independent businesses do have a website and will offer a price match or something close to Amazon.

We live in a small burg of about 5000 people for 40 years, and 5-6 miles from Gresham, OR, a city of over 100,000. We have been doing business with many of the independent businesses for many years. Many have been in business for 30-50 years. We feel that it is important to support the local business owners and keep them alive. Many of them remind me of the TV show Cheers. When you walk in,  they know your name and they appreciate our loyalty as a longtime customer.

The fact is, we had no idea that the guy even sold vacuum cleaners - we just thought he did repairs.

I do believe in supporting small and independent retailers, but to be honest, I don't have the time to check out all local options for everything we plan to buy.  I think local and independent retailers have a responsibility to come to play.

On the subject of EVs and the future of "mobility destinations" (that could replace gas stations), one MNB reader wrote:

We recently drove from SoCal to Bass Lake (Nor Cal) for a family wedding.  My brother-in-law took his new Tesla and he used the Tesla system to map out  a route and where to charge the battery.  On the return trip while he was cutting across farm land in the middle of nowhere he got a message that the fast charging station he was heading to was closed.   He only had 18% charge left so he looked up where he could plug in to charge his vehicle and found the nearest charger was at a high school far enough away that his charge dropped to 10% when arrived.

Just when you think that is good think again.   It was a level 2 charger which provides 15-25 miles of range……per hour.   It was 105 degrees.   My sister-in-law was hot (I guess you cannot keep the car cool and charge the car at the same time), thirsty, and had to go to the bathroom.   She went into the high school to beg to use the bathroom and buy a bottle of water.  They were there for hours.

I think C-Stores have an opportunity here to provide fast chargers.   Level 3 chargers are much faster than level 2 chargers.   EV Connect says level 3 chargers can “top up an empty battery in as little as 30 minutes”.   Just think if C-stores have level 3 chargers they will have a captive customer that may be hungry or thirsty.

PS.  The family wedding was beautiful and turned out to be a super spreader event.  We all got Covid in the days and weeks after the wedding.  

Helluva way to start a marriage.

On the same subject, from MNB reader Elliott W Olson:

Traditionally petroleum companies do not like too much time spent in store because it clogs up the gas bar. A major petroleum company once told me that they were committed to the convenience store concept. I told them I would believe it when they built a store in downtown Calgary without Petrol.

With the time it takes to charge a battery, stations are going to need more land, more revenue to support the land and a means to placate the wait. Prepared food, games, large screens for internet, other shopping alternatives, hello Ocado and Amazon, personal care such as barbers, masseuses and nail shops among others will be tried or perhaps tied into a strip center.


There was a conversation in this space yesterday regarding an Axios report about a new poll it conducted revealing that "eighty-two percent of Gen Zers say the idea of doing the minimum required to keep their jobs is pretty or extremely appealing — and 15% of that share are already doing so … 85% of young women find the idea of doing the minimum to get by appealing, and 79% of young men feel the same way.  82% of white respondents, 86% of Black respondents, and 79% of Asian respondents share this view of work, as do 84% of Democrats, 79% of Republicans, and 83% of independents."

In other words, "the desire to work to live, instead of living to work," cuts across gender, racial and political lines.

One MNB reader, when challenging my comment on the story, made the observation:

I guess you have a different perspective, being solely responsible and benefitting from your business. 

I responded:

I didn't always have this kind of autonomy;  I worked for other organizations for some two decades before striking out on my own.  Now, Mrs. Content Guy will tell you that this move was inevitable because I "don't play well with others," and I can't really argue with that. But I also know that I never worked for great companies, rarely had bosses who had any interest in nurturing my talent and taking advantage of my strengths, and never had a mentor.  The good news is that I'm what a therapist might call "self actualized," and so I always felt invested in my work even if my employers weren't really invested in me (and thought that I generally was a pain in the ass).

Here's the thing.  Even the smallest cog plays a role and has meaning.  When that cog is a human being, it is up to leadership to communicate that meaning to the employee and to help them understand their role.  It is about creating a culture of caring within an organization.

An MNB reader responded:

Too bad you didn't work for me, your life would have been so much better!!!!!!!

I learned a valuable lesson as a young lieutenant in the US Army in Germany that people want to succeed, you just have to get them to succeed at the appropriate things.  A sage Master Sergeant taught me to explain what needs to be done clearly, define the expectation and let people use their ingenuity to accomplish the task and they will perform to meet the expectation. 

 Through several companies, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who wanted to accomplish something and all I had to do was to point them  in the right directions and get out of the way unless they needed help breaking through some roadblocks.  I also learned that some people have a different agenda and you just have to help them move on to something that they really want to do, and the soon the better.

It finally worked for you and you have found something that you excel at and once again, Mrs. Content Guy is right.

I'm sure working for you would've been fine, but I do want to be clear - I wasn't complaining.  My professional life has been tremendously rewarding, and I've been lucky enough that the work that I do and the work that I love doing happens to be the only work that I actually know how to do, and that I've been doing for the last 30+ years.

And, go figure … it also, for the most part, has been lots of fun.  (Which always has been a priority for me - I don't really want to do anything that isn't fun.  Life's too short not to have a good time.)