Got the following email from MNB reader Paul Schlossberg:

My expectation is that the combination of Amazon and Whole Foods will lead to an all-channels and all-places solution.  

If Amazon Fresh is chapter #1, this new vision can be delivered with some brick-and-mortar stores.

The innovative and different element will be automated stores. Think about limited selection and highly refined curated product offerings defined by the local demographics of each store. They'll be able to compete at B&I (business and industry) locations, colleges and many other venues. In other situations, Amazon can deliver, within hours or less, at sites with smaller populations. 

Automated stores can be deployed to be self-service, no staff required and with cashless payment alternatives. While there has been limited success in automated retail to date, my guess is that Amazon (and Whole Foods) will build their own automated stores or, maybe, buy existing hardware/software and adapt it to their own unique specifications.

MNB took note yesterday of a New York Times report on how several outdoor and clothing equipment retailers, including REI and Patagonia, are challenging a plan announced by the Trump administration “to slash the size of two national monuments in Utah by some two million acres.” President Trump said this week that he plans to shrink Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent, and another monument, Grand Staircase-Escalante, by half.

Patagonia, for example, sent an email to people on its mailing list in which it said the following:

“The president stole your land. In an illegal move, the president just reduced the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. This is the largest elimination of protected land in American history.”

I commented, in part:

In this case, it seems to me that what Patagonia and its brethren are doing is right in synch with their public images, corporate priorities and general value propositions - most of their customers won’t be surprised by this particular stance.

And, Patagonia has been consistent. When the governor of Utah did not oppose the administration’s plans, it successfully pushed for an outdoors trade show to be moved to another state.

When I got the Patagonia email today (I am a regular customer), I was only a little surprised by the vehemence of the statement, “The president stole your land.” It is all black-and-white - no gray here, and no vacillation. But I was not surprised by the position the company is taking.

MNB reader Steve Workman wrote:

In response to your call out regarding retailers REI and Patagonia protesting the Trump Monument changes, I would like to add some more juice.  You mentioned how the companies pressured the Outdoor Retailer Show to be moved from Utah when the Governor of Utah backed Trump and did not defend the Monuments.  Well, it was much bigger than that.

I attended this years’ Outdoor Retailer Show in Utah this past July and it was the entire Outdoor Industry that revolted the Governors decision.  There was a expression of solidarity when the entire trade show floor shut down 2 hours early on Thursday and the companies and attendees left the floor and marched to the State Capital building to protest.  You are talking about some large influential Companies and Brands like VF Companies (Northface, Jansport, Eagle Creek, Wrangler, Lee, Timberland, Nautica) , YETI, Coleman, Skechers, Birkenstock, Marmot, Columbia, Camelbak, Adidas, Otterbox, Thule, etc.

BTW, the trade show took place in Utah for 24 years and brought in a few Million to the economy each year, so not so sure it was a smart move for the Governor.

MNB reader Jonathan Lawrence wrote:

Long time reader, it's a daily ritual for me, I really like how you develop and distribute the pertinent news to our industry.

The notes about the change in size to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase hit a personal chord for me. At this point in my life I work in the grocery industry (small manufacturer) but previously I worked in the outdoor industry and I've had a life long love of the outdoors. Most of the time, regardless of the season, I’ll be wearing something from Patagonia, REI, or several of the other companies that I respect based on their quality clothing, customer service, warranty, and least of all their political stance (with the exception of the REI #optoutside program, which I feel is a breath of fresh air away from the consumption season that has replaced the holidays).

I opened the same email that you did from Patagonia, and I was overcome by the same sort of feeling that you had, “this must be a big deal." I decided to read a little more into the situation and found my way to the NYT ( From that article which, I found to be surprisingly unbiased, it seemed like less an issue of Trump shrinking the protected lands and more about previous presidents overstepping bounds that the Antiquities Act established.

Do I think that the protected lands should be made smaller to allow for economic infrastructure, absolutely not, I have a small Daughter (often decked out in Patagonia as well) and I want her to have access to as much of this great land throughout our country as possible.

However, I vehemently oppose anyone, including lawmakers, who try to decide who can and cannot develop the land that they own.

I was not at election time, nor am I now a Trump supporter, however the ability for a company to sway popular opinion based on slanted (or omitted) facts is, in my opinion, an overstep. I guess I’m old fashioned and don't believe in the fact that everything has to be politicized. Do lands need to be protected, yes, absolutely. But it seems as though, in the times in which we live, nothing can be that simple.

And, from MNB reader Steve Zimmerman:

The blowback does not surprise me. Its funny though. They claim President Trump "stole" the land, and that his actions are illegal. Well what about Obama designating these two areas as a National Monument only days before he left office? It was legally done using the Antiquities Act of 1907, so why can't Trump give it back to the State of Utah and let them designate it if they want.

And how are his actions illegal? Why has state land become a federal issue? The FED's should stay out of it and allow the states to designate what they can afford to maintain. Besides, no one talks about the tremendous burden that Obama put on the US Forestry Service and US Park Service by using the Antiquities Act a record 29 times to the tune of millions of acres.

There is currently a $12 Billion-Dollar backlog of maintenance to be done across our monuments and state parks. Who is paying for this, and how can anyone patrol this many acres, while having their budgets slashed? Maybe it would be good to think about this from many perspectives and not just politically and socially? What about the economics of these decisions and lowering the governmental burden? Record credit card debt, record student loans, record national debt. and record bankruptcies. Maybe no one cares about economics anymore.

To be clear, my purpose in posting this story was less about the politics of the debate than it was about the issue of retailers getting involved in politics, and pointing out that what Patagonia and REI seemed to be doing is on-message when it comes to their broader value propositions.