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Craig Sundstrom

CFO, Weisner Steel
  • Posted on: 08/22/2017

    Will a former eBay and Home Depot exec help Macy’s get turned around?

    While none of these ideas (to the extent that reiterating a bunch of clichés equals "ideas") is bad, per se, they aren't exciting either. Cut some people here (there and everywhere), analyze the data for the umpteenth time, come up with a new slogan....The reality is, Macy's has too many stores -- too many bad stores -- and while it seems clear the long-term plan is to reduce that portfolio to half, or maybe even (only) a third of what they have now, it will be a dispiriting ride.People might recall the plan years ago supposedly was a three-tiered structure with Bloomingdale's at the top, Macy's in the middle and Sterns at the bottom (competing against Nordstrom et al, JCP/Kohl's and Sears, respectively). The May acquisition complicated this, but a plan of retaining strong regional brands (Fields, Burdines, Kaufmann's) for flagship/premier locations, selling-off the weaker stores, and retaining "Macy's" for the rest, might have allowed for a more coherent marketing strategy. Too late now, I guess.
  • Posted on: 08/21/2017

    Where did Applebee’s go wrong with Millennials?

    Applebee's is in a difficult position: the fast/casual field is crowded, maintaining consistency with alcohol service on a nationwide basis is challenging, and as noted in the article, upgrading without alienating existing customers limits options. Plus they have the problem that many businesses have that cater to the middle class, as that group seems to dwindle: abandoned by the more successful for "the real thing" and by the less for (even) cheaper options.My personal relationship with them is mostly on trips: you can get a beer with your meal and they're "better than Denny's"...if that's enough of an edge to succeed on I don't know.
  • Posted on: 08/21/2017

    Why are Target’s small stores much more productive than its big boxes?

    The articles are rather vague as to what is meant by "productivity." Is it sales? Profit? Something else? Whatever it is, the answer isn't mysterious: they're likely more productive because Target filled the stores with their best sellers.But the question is misleading: smaller is usually more profitable on a per foot basis -- think kiosks -- but the business as a whole maximizes profit with size, and economies of scale (it amortizes fixed costs, obtains buying clout, etc.). That having been said, it's possible the larger stores could be trimmed and made more productive; food comes to mind, although there are claims that is actually one of their stronger areas, so I hesitate to say much more.
  • Posted on: 08/17/2017

    Did retailers shine or go dark on the rare solar eclipse sales opportunity?

    As I've said before, not every "event" is a "(sales) opportunity." That we could enjoy this, apparently, without an "official" beer or credit card was, I found quite refreshing (now please excuse me while I turn down that annoying "Labor Day Car Sale" ad).
  • Posted on: 08/17/2017

    Should drones be used for data collection in addition to deliveries?

    I don't normally comment on the Amazon stories anymore, but since this one was snuck in ... oh by all means, take an unproven idea that many of us think is little more than PR fodder and give everyone an idea to hate it. Expect preemptive legislation/regulation to prohibit this before it gets off the ground -- pun intended -- and we'll all just have to look after our own roofs.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2017

    Will more promos fix Dick’s Sporting Goods pricing challenge?

    Just as patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels, (price) promo activity might be seen as the last refuge of the unimaginative.If they already have a "best price guarantee," it's hard to see what more they can do ... are there too many restrictions? Are people unaware of it? At any rate, this sounds like a good recipe for falling into the trap that snared JCP and Macy's -- the one they tried to get out of ... and failed.
  • Posted on: 08/15/2017

    Is Target ready to make a move on the home delivery front?

    Home delivery, is the area where I suspect all businesses lose money. So does "compete effectively" mean they'll lose more than others? If so, then, yes, I think they'll make it.
  • Posted on: 08/15/2017

    How should vendors respond to Walmart’s reluctance to raise prices?

    Unless you're Amazon -- and maybe some day even them -- businesses need to sell things for more than they pay for them (or more than it costs to make them, for manufacturers), so at some point, you have no choice, and must accept the loss of a customer, and a smaller market. Before that point, though, you (simply) have diminishing profits, so it's a question of what one can live with.And it's really here where the question of "who is hurt more" comes into play: larger businesses generally have more resources to ride out storms, but are usually answerable to "the market" in what is expected of them. Smaller firms OTOH usually have fewer resources, but may have greater flexibility in what ownership will accept financially,
  • Posted on: 08/14/2017

    Will Aldi upset the grocery home delivery cart?

    What's next, a dollar store offering home delivery ... presumably with a $10 delivery charge on a 50¢ item?I think anyone familiar with my thoughts on the subject knows I see grocery delivery as a niche business at best, and this seems to challenge every assumption that might make the niche work. I'll give Aldi some benefit of the doubt, given their general level of expertise, but I don't have much faith in it lasting.
  • Posted on: 08/14/2017

    Why is Adidas partnering with a knockoff brand?

    I'm not a lawyer -- and even if I were, I don't know the specifics, so wouldn't be able to say for certain -- but I'm confused by the statement "(HS) at least in technical terms ... violation of ... trademark." A knockoff is not a trademark violation; at least not per se, though obviously the specifics of the situation may dictate a violation has occurred.Back to the specifics of this case: I don't really understand what Adidas is trying to accomplish, other perhaps than some publicity (which hardly seems worth the effort, given the low profile this has); and whatever it may be, I can't see too many other brands emulating it.
  • Posted on: 08/11/2017

    Is a positive quarter a sign of results to come for Nordstrom?

    I'm confused by the thinking in both the poll and the article: it makes sense to break down Nordstrom's business into two parts -- "full line" and Rack -- as those are the two merchandising segments ... and indeed their comments seem to reflect this. But to break it down into three (Full-line/Rack/Online)? If most of the online sales are coming from full-line and perhaps a small amount from Rack, why say that the former is rising while the latter is falling? The whole point of omnichannel is to emphasize aggregates and avoid this type of thinking.That having been said: +3.5% ... a positive sounds ... well ... positive.
  • Posted on: 08/11/2017

    Will Toys ‘R’ Us take Manhattan the second time around?

    No. I don't. Pop-ups make sense for seasonal merchandise, or for new retailers as an advertising ploy ... neither of these is true of TRU. That they couldn't make a go of the former store, in a location that should just scream "success," tells us the brand is just fundamentally weak.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2017

    Should Walmart buy Birchbox?

    Crazy idea ... but crazy smart or crazy stupid (or just plain weird)? Superficially, the companies seem to have little in common -- other than that they're both retailers -- so I'd have to see a better explanation of what someone sees in this idea. For Walmart, of course, it would just be playing the penny slots, but for Birchbox it would likely be a life changing event, so I would expect a lot of resistance. I don't think the founders or even many of the customers envisioned its destiny was to become a drop of water in the ocean that is WM.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2017

    What to do when shop local turns into look local and buy online?

    I don't think there's really an answer to this, and I think all but the most naive realize that. That having been said, I think it's important to not make the situation worse, although something like "guilt signs" might seem to fall into the "can't hurt/might help" category, I don't think that's true. I know a local merchant that has such signs in their window and -- for me at least -- the tone of the remarks sets up such a negative aura that it discourages me from even entering the place.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2017

    Is an urban revival a sign of hope for indie grocers?

    Washington's probably a bad example to use if you're trying to portray "typical America" (IIRC, the original "Middletown" of the 1920s study was Muncie, IN ... but I digress).That having been said, there are urban areas that are doing well, and as such represent a growth market. Whether it's particularly an advantage for independents is harder to say. On the one hand, the (presumably) higher incomes and more sophisticated tastes seem to match well the niche where indies can do well -- and in smaller areas a small market may be all that can be supported. OTOH, the same issues (cost, scalability, financial stability) that favor large chains may come into play as well. And it's easy to overstate things -- the urban centers that are (truly) thriving tend to be in metro areas that are truly thriving, and it's far from being the entire country.