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The Sarasota Herald Tribune reports that Publix is shutting down its Aprons Cooking School operation after almost a quarter century.

According to the story, Publix "once boasted 11 in-store culinary spaces in select stores. The Apron Cooking School, designed to give everyday customers the chance to enhance their cooking skills and enhance their recipe arsenal, nixed the in-store cooking classes after 22 years … The Publix Aprons Cooking School once served as a hub for date nights, a classroom for those from every walk of life, and a weekday hobby for 22 years.

"All 11 chef-led, in-store cooking classes have now shifted online Publix officials said late last week."

KC's View:

Clearly this never a huge component in the Publix business model, and I don't know the economics of the program.  But there is part of me that thinks that this is a shame.

Cooking schools - big or small, ambitious or traditional - can serve as a wonderful way to nurture shoppers' aspirations.  But it also is a great way to personalize the customer's experience with the store - it gives a business direct access to what customers think and want.  Cooking schools are a way not just to help the shopper learn, but also for the business to learn.

Sure, the world has gone digital.  And while I don't want to sound like an analog guy in a digital world (though my kids might argue that this might be an apt description), I do think that there are things one can learn in person that cannot be gleaned from data.  (Not to understate the importance of actionable data actually acted upon.)