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Craig Sundstrom

CFO, Weisner Steel
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  • Posted on: 08/23/2019

    Will the next recession devastate mall-based retailers?

    Before we read tea leaves, I think it's important to realize the retail scene is different that it was ten years ago: i.e. there has been a large -- though overstated - shift to online, much of it with companies that didn't even exist then. There's also been a large decline in a few companies -- Sears, JCP, even Macy's -- that enjoy an oversized presence in people's minds. So if the pattern of the next recession follows the last one, i.e. weaker players go out-of-business, and it favors largely invisible ".com's" at the expense of highly visible store-based sellers, then the downturn would have the appearance of being worse ... even if that's not the case.
  • Posted on: 08/23/2019

    Why is Whole Foods CEO dissing plant-based meat alternatives?

    For those who were afraid Amazon would change everything about WF ... well, here's one constant: Mackey's ability to put his foot in his mouth (wonder what the nutritional value of THAT is?). His comments, of course, aren't without merit -- or at least they're no different that what (many) others have noted -- but I see them adding little value, either to the topic of healthy eating generally, or to WF specifically.
  • Posted on: 08/22/2019

    Groupon hopes its rewards program engenders more loyalty

    "Vichy: are they still in the league?" quipped Spencer Tracy in a movie, and I think most people have the same reaction to Groupon: are they still around? I suspect that most of their problems stem from the quality -- or really lack of same -- of the deals offered, or at least the perception of a lack of quality ... so simply offering more of what people don't want in the first place is no remedy.
  • Posted on: 08/19/2019

    Will a rental subscription program lift Banana Republic’s results?

    When I was growing up long, long ago, the only time one rented clothing was for either your Senior Ball or your wedding (and in both cases it was usually only men who rented). Things have probably changed a bit since then, but I'm still having a hard time picturing clothing from Banana Republic being the kind that would make a rental list. BR was always the "upscale" component of GAP, but it was still inexpensive enough, and (its fashions) timeless enough, that there seemed to be no barrier to just buying something. But even if not much comes from this, I don't think they have anything to lose either.
  • Posted on: 08/19/2019

    Will a new grocery private label spur more Target runs?

    Slow news Monday? Well no matter. There is nothing -- and I mean nothing -- here that says to me "increased market share." They're dumping a pair of private labels in favor or a new one. Why? (And even if there's a reason, I hate the name.) Target grocery doesn't do as well as hoped for a number of logistic reasons -- the food section is often too far from the front, the stores are often far from residential areas and there are too few of them (Walmart overcomes similar issues by overwhelming volume), not a single one of which is improved by this move.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2019

    Can Jill Soltau rebuild J.C. Penney?

    "...Same-store sales fell six percent." Sadly, these six words overwhelm everything else.
  • Posted on: 08/15/2019

    New site wants to make independent grocery jobs into careers

    While there's certainly nothing to dislike here, I don't think there's really anything innovative either. If retail has a problem attracting people, it likely due to either 1) low pay and/or 2) poor working conditions (who wants to stand all day?). Neither of these is going to change soon, save perhaps for the replacement of some of the lower end jobs with automation ... which will simply narrow the pool of potential advancers. Having now said that, maybe there is actually something to dislike: the site seems entirely focused on serving people already in the industry, but does little to attract people to it ... a much larger group.
  • Posted on: 08/14/2019

    Nordstrom’s Local concept needs work

    A store that has to be "explained"? Houston...er...Nordstrom, I think we have a problem. Or maybe it's not really a store at all. I don't disagree with any of Pat's suggestions, but I think it's important to remember this is supposed to supplement N's (existing) model, not replace it; so service-heavy -- BOPIS, barbers, tailoring -- locations in downtowns make a lot of sense given the many office workers/tourists that surround them, but the applicability to the chain overall is limited.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2019

    Is Nike’s new subscription program for kids a parent’s best friend?

    I suppose I should restrict my response to the brand aspects of this (i.e. the questions actually asked), but if this were, say a "subscription service" for some sugar-laden cereal -- or (for adults) a cigarette brand -- would we be so complacent? Back to the question: I think it will bring mixed results: there are plenty of reasons to become attracted to another brand, even if you're wedded to your current one.
  • Posted on: 08/12/2019

    Is FedEx smart to say goodbye to Amazon’s U.S. business?

    Like many, I imagine, I was surprised by what a small percentage of business Amazon accounted for (I'm curious what the corresponding numbers are for UPS). Was it a smart move? As always, without the actual numbers, it's impossible -- or at least meaningless -- to make a definitive statement, but what would be the grounds to criticize it?
  • Posted on: 08/09/2019

    Can Victoria’s Secret recover from its founder’s past relationship with Jeffrey Epstein?

    The letter (for those who found it, the link didn't work on my try) is rather vague: "there've been allegations," "take meaningful action," etc. And to be quite honest, at this point I think this is an industry-level issue that few people (i.e. customers) have been alerted to (though admittedly I don't follow fashion news, so perhaps there's publicity of which I'm unaware). Certainly Victoria's Secret shouldn't tolerate misconduct, but it risks fanning the flames if it publicizes that it does nothing wrong ... "methinks the CEO doth protest too much" is likely to be a reaction from people (previously) unaware of the issue.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2019

    Whole Foods gets serious about partying

    The rather impassioned responses here tell me -- or rather reiterate for me -- that perception is all important. Recyclable or not, many will see only "plastic" while "$16" for a stack of cups will convince many that the "Whole Paycheck" reputation is being upheld. As for its success, whether "yes" or "no" the impact will be small.
  • Posted on: 08/07/2019

    Has Christmas arrived too early at Selfridges?

    Unless they decorate the main floor, I'll forgive them. No, actually it is within reason a store's job to offer what people want, be it Xmas in July or "Boxing Day at the Beach," and I'm sure plenty of Downunder'ers can tell us celebrating the day in the middle of summer is quite reasonable.
  • Posted on: 08/06/2019

    What are the signs of a dying retail business?

    While I agree that all of these, particularly in combination, can be symptoms of trouble, I couldn't help but notice that (1) and (3) are actually business models.
  • Posted on: 08/06/2019

    Can an e-tail startup establish a physical presence using hi-tech vending units?

    I'm well familiar with that particular spot -- it's the main entrance to the mall (with the Muni and BART entrances directly behind it in the picture) -- and my prediction is either (1) people will be too busy going by the machine to use it, or (2) they WILL use it and it will be the source of added congestion to an already badly congested spot. So we have one basic problem -- finding locations that have traffic, but not too much of it. But beyond that, we have the basic issue that people aren't likely to buy something from a vending machine they've never heard of, and the machine itself offers little opportunity to make an impression. So as an element in a marketing campaign, perhaps; as the sole point of distribution: no.
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