business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  Thrillist reports that when Wegmans opens its first store in the New York City borough of Manhattan laster this year, it will include a 2,637-square-foot high-end seafood restaurant.

According to the story, "Serving both lunch and dinner, the restaurant will delight guests with sushi and sashimi as well as seafood platters and raw oysters. A variety of appetizers and side dishes will also be available, including dim sum, poke bowls, and many others. Those looking for a fancy meal will also be able to sit at the sushi bar, which accommodates up to 10 guests, and enjoy a wonderful omakase experience. There will also be an oyster bar, which sits up to 8 people."

I'm already hungry, just reading that description.  The new Wegmans is in one of my favorite parts of New York City - Greenwich Village's Astor Place neighborhood, in what used to be a Kmart store, just a couple of blocks away from McSorley's.  Road trip!

•  SpartanNash announced that it has acquired Great Lakes Foods, an independent grocery wholesaler, including its 300,000-square-foot distribution center in Menominee, Michigan, which it said serves approximately 100 independent grocery customers across the Midwest and employs 125 Associates. SpartanNash said it will be will be "investing in capital and IT updates to the facility and expanding service offerings to customers."

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

•  Specialty food retailer Plum Market said that it will open its first South Florida store, a 24,000 sq. ft. unit in Ventura, next Friday, January 13.

In the announcement, Plum Market said that it "has a strong commitment to the local communities they serve. Plum Market makes a tremendous effort to support local growers, artisans, and makers and displays signage that highlights how many miles each local product has traveled to reach the store. This not only helps to support local brands but also ensures that the freshest and best quality products are offered, including seasonal produce, artisan breads and pastries, and dock-fresh seafood."

Plum operates "more than 25 multiple format locations throughout Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Texas and Florida with new full-service locations announced in California and Washington, DC."

•  The National Grocers Association Foundation (NGAF) announced that it "has been awarded a $5 million grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to establish a technical assistance center that will guide grocers through the process of implementing online Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) grocery purchasing … These funds will facilitate creation of the SNAP EBT Modernization Technical Assistance Center (SEMTAC), which will guide grocers through the process of establishing an online purchasing program, including required technology, as well as support for the Mobile Payments Pilot. SEMTAC will teach retailers the federal requirements for SNAP EBT modernization, including the online purchasing and mobile payment programs."

“Independent community grocers have been actively pursuing expansion of their online purchasing platforms, including online SNAP and mobile payment capabilities, to meet the ever-growing consumer demand for online shopping, but obstacles and a lack of resources have hindered the ability of many smaller retailers to pursue innovative solutions, resulting in reduced access for customers to needed essential food products and services,” said Chelsea Matzen, NGAF director. “This grant will pave the way for more smaller grocery operators to offer SNAP online purchasing, making them more competitive in their respective market areas and better able to provide service to food-insecure Americans.”

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that "Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. is preparing to file for bankruptcy within weeks after the home-goods retailer came up short on sales during the critical holiday season, according to people with knowledge of the matter. 

"The retailer is in the early stages of planning for a chapter 11 bankruptcy filing and the discussions could extend into February, these people said. Bed Bath & Beyond warned earlier Thursday that it might file for bankruptcy protection and that it has substantial doubt it can stay in business after enduring another quarter of deep losses and slumping sales."

To me, Bed Bath & Beyond is a textbook example when a retailer doesn't really stand for anything distinctive other than discounts - for years, it seemed, its customers wouldn't patronize the retailer if they didn't have one of those blue-and-white discount cards that would show up in the mail.  That put the company in a tenuous position made even more difficult because very little that it sold was differentiated or unique.  They can reorganize until the cows come home, but it probably won't matter - this is a retail entity that is way past its expiration date.

•  The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that Bloomingdale's is coming to Seattle, opening the third of its small-format Bloomie's stores in the University Village shopping center.  The format offered a more curated clothing selection than the retailer's traditional stores.

According to the story, "Bloomingdale's opened its first smaller-store Bloomie’s in 2021 in Fairfax, Virginia followed by a second location in Skokie, Illinois. The brand, owned by Macy's Inc., operates 34 stores and 20 outlets nationwide."