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Craig Sundstrom

CFO, Weisner Steel
  • Posted on: 02/15/2019

    Will Amazon’s decision to bail cause a New York backlash?

    Last question first: you'd need a microscope to see the effect. My opinion of the process was like that of many or most on here ... I hated everything about it: government subsidy, monopoly (or at least "really big company") power and (as noted) unequal competition. So am I pleased? I don't know, that will depend on whether or not the result is a search that is free of or at least less saddled by the complaints above, or the burden is simply shifted ... maybe to a city less able to afford it.
  • Posted on: 02/14/2019

    America has too many retail stores

    "With any vacant department store, an owner has the opportunity to increase their rent..." Huh? I suspect only a broker would have this non-sequitur be the first thing to pop into his head. Anyway, we're frequently told that there is "too much" space because of comparisons to Europe, where the per capita levels are lower; OTOH, it is also pointed out that Europe "is different" and strict comparisons aren't meaningful. So my compromise opinion is that there is too much, just not quite as much as some fear. Natural obsolescence -- accelerated by the shift to online sales -- should gradually winnow the surplus.
  • Posted on: 02/13/2019

    Can Whole Foods’ business afford higher prices?

    I would amend what George wrote to "ATTEMPTING to pass ... the full increase..." After all, it's ultimately the consumer that decides whether that works or not (indeed I think that's the focus of this post). But will WF's customers allow this or not? Given that their focus was never on price, per se, I think they have some flexibility ... particularly on fringe items. No one's going somewhere else to save 20 cents on toothpaste after they just spent $365.13 on food; but of course there's a limit: raise everything 20% and you'll find the aisles of TraderJoe's, Sprouts, et al just got a little more crowded.
  • Posted on: 02/13/2019

    Will the new plan for Sears work any better than the previous ones?

    Let's not waste space on discussing whether Mr. Lampert has any intention other than (further) lining his own pockets; nor -- tempting as it may be -- should we focus on making sure what happens is worst for him, but rather what is best for everyone else.
  • Posted on: 02/12/2019

    Is Allswell with Walmart’s tiny house tour?

    It's interesting -- why not just demonstrate these in their stores? (Probably because people don't associate Walmart with furniture) -- but as is (almost) always the case with a ~ half-trillion-dollar company, I wonder how much of an overall impact an esoteric effort like this is really going to make.
  • Posted on: 02/12/2019

    Barneys to become first major retailer to open legal weed shop

    My opinion? Just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD. Granted this is probably in keeping with Barney's image -- and to a large extent, reality -- of being a trendy retailer. But I'm doubtful it does anything to advance the brand. If I were in management, I'd be more worried about problems with the New York "flagships" and the danger that Barney's is slipping into the "has been"/fad territory. OTOH, they can probably count on repeat business ... the people won't remember they already bought something !!
  • Posted on: 02/11/2019

    Is there really wisdom in the crowd?

    Dare we ask how many know what the capital of Massachusetts is? (Though lucky for them, the easy answer is the correct one ... perhaps an example of your "specific circumstances.")
  • Posted on: 02/11/2019

    Is there really wisdom in the crowd?

    I didn't read the study, but I'm not sure a question about the capital of Pennsylvania -- i.e. a "right/wrong" question -- has much applicability in retail. People are usually quizzed about their habits or beliefs, not factual issues, and reason they're being asked is we believe they're the one's most likely to know the answer. Now of course those familiar with research know responses often aren't accurate, and use their knowledge to try to translate what people said into what they SHOULD have said, but I'm dubious the "vox populi" will come up with equally good info ... so basically either GIGO or "you get what you pay for." Take your pick.
  • Posted on: 02/07/2019

    Are legacy retailers on the right track or heading off the tracks?

    In general terms -- if not precise detail(s) -- they're the same ones that have always been faced: guessing what the future might bring (and the perils of guessing wrong). For example, a few days ago we had a discussion about Trader Joe's dropping delivery. There was a lot of opposition to this move, though not a monolith of it, ostensibly because that's what grocers are "supposed" to do nowadays ("...or you'll be sorry"). But Tony O -- you know, the one among us who actually sells things [in a grocery story] for a living -- pointed out the obvious: it's appears hopelessly unprofitable. So why this seeming abandonment of common sense? It's someone's (a lot "someones) guess as to what the future will be. So if I were to describe the challenge in simple terms: not to forget fundamentals in following someone else's paradigm.
  • Posted on: 02/07/2019

    J.C. Penney dumps appliances

    Well, Ben I would say there was a something else unnerving -- albeit unnoticed -- yesterday: you DIDN'T walk into a Sears.
  • Posted on: 02/07/2019

    J.C. Penney dumps appliances

    I think a better IP question might have been "did you approve of JCP getting INTO appliances?" IIRC the discussion when they began this experiment the responses clustered around "no" and "why not?" We now know the answer to the latter: if (some argued "when") it ends up being abandoned, it tends to reinforce the view of not having any clear plan, even desperation. But back to appliances: whatever. I think everyone saw this as a long shot. Furniture, OTOH, gives me more pause; it's not so much that they're known for it, it just seems like a category that's so underserved. I know everyone has (still) been buying couches and dining room sets over the years ... but where? Levitz closed years ago, as have many local quality chains, (other) department stores have cut back, it seems if not "online-proof" then at least "online-resistant." I refuse to accept that all anyone wants is IKEA, or a back strain from trying to heft a 200 lb box at Target....
  • Posted on: 02/06/2019

    Farmstead taps AI to bring grocery prices down

    Should everyone welcome new technology? Certainly. Is any technology ever going to completely eliminate waste in perishables? No ... not as long as people are allowed to be fickle (on the demand side) and Mother Nature is allowed to influence the supply side. 10% (vs 40%) sounds impressive, but people would be wise to see how both of those numbers were calculated before commenting further.
  • Posted on: 02/05/2019

    Will Target’s dynamic pricing strategy erode customers’ trust?

    People will accept differences -- presumably small -- that they can understand. Only the most clueless think a hotel room at the Super Bowl or a flight on Thanksgiving eve should be same price as they would be a month later, and most realize that stores have overhead to cover. But that's not the same thing as "because we think we can get away with it." $100 on a TV falls into that latter category. Bad move Target (and shame, shame!).
  • Posted on: 02/05/2019

    Are malls better off as fulfillment centers?

    I don't really see this as being a big trend. Most warehouse space is purpose-built for a reason, it's more efficient that way (and of course the same could be said for any other kind of building from retail to hospitals, etc.). Oh, sure, there are some (former) malls that are good for conversion, but I think that's really more a coincidence that anything else ... so irony, but nothing else.
  • Posted on: 02/04/2019

    Which commercial won Super Bowl LIII?

    Didn't watch the game, and (so) not gonna watch ~10 YouTube's to vote, but it gives me the warm fuzzies that enough people apparently still remember when department stores had elevator operators that the Hyundai spot made enough sense to do well. (Indeed, I'm happy that enough people even remember department stores!)
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