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Craig Sundstrom

CFO, Weisner Steel
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  • Posted on: 11/25/2020

    Retailers show essential workers their appreciation with promotional perks

    Doesn't "pursu(ing) ... promotions" undercut the very altruism we'd like these efforts to represent? And without getting too much into the weeds, I think I see a problem already developing: as the circle of candidates for recognition grows, so too will the number of people who feel slighted by not being included among them.
  • Posted on: 11/25/2020

    Are the best Christmas commercials made outside the U.S.A.?

    IMHO, this was a non-contest: Woodies; sentimental without being sappy, and actually tying to the products offered. The Myer spot was humorous, but as is so often the case when we evaluate these ads, too wrapped up in itself to really say anything ... too clever by half (well, let's be metric: by .50) And of course for those who are interested in recycling, the former can be played every year; the latter -- hopefully! -- will make little sense a couple years from now.
  • Posted on: 11/24/2020

    To furlough or not to furlough?

    If we assume the furlough decisions were made out of necessity -- i.e. conserving cash (and implicitly not going out of business) -- then I think the main issue was how they were communicated. (And my memory of this is that performance on that front ranged from great to awful). I also recall that many companies initially tried to minimize the financial impact on employees by preserving everything but actual pay, but that commitment began to wane as the shutdowns dragged on (and on and on...). Unfortunately, uncertainty continues to rule: just because something worked -- or didn't work -- in the spring, doesn't mean the same would be true now ... conditions are fluid.
  • Posted on: 11/24/2020

    What will an ex Crate & Barrel CEO bring to her new job leading CVS Pharmacy?

    I'll not question their votes -- many may follow these types of things -- but I think the many A's and B's readers gave are a reflection of the theory that any top-notch individual can run any type of company. There's certainly nothing in her background that I can see -- partner in a VC firm, running a housewares company -- to suggest this is a logical match. I wish her well.
  • Posted on: 11/20/2020

    Should landlords get a cut of online sales?

    Short answer: no. Longer answer: NO!!! The thinking behind tying (physical) sales to rent is simple and makes sense: the location itself contributes to the higher sales, so the tenant is willing to pay more for the location. What's the logic here, other than the obvious fact that a successful company -- i.e. a lot of sales -- will probably pay more than an unsuccessful one? If Wave 2.0 sends the economy into free fall again, and the idea of "fairness" is that everyone is made whole ... regardless, then we'll see very little of it.
  • Posted on: 11/19/2020

    Do masks and social distancing matter in 2020 Christmas spots?

    Oh dear, the hope I felt after seeing those first ads two weeks ago has melted like an early snow. I didn't like anything about the Target ad: jazzy music -- admittedly it's a matter of preference, but it's not mine -- generic products with a (seemingly forced) diversity of people that seemed more like a "social studies" film than an ad. So Macy's wins by default. It was very clever, but quite literally "too clever by half": it was hard to keep in mind the girl's transformation, and I kept asking myself, "what?"
  • Posted on: 11/19/2020

    Can retailers get store brand growth back on track during the pandemic?

    I think we all agree that none of us can agree on how trends will be affected by the Pandemic (other than the obvious one that online sales have been given a big boost): some will be re-enforced, while others will be reversed ... but exactly how that will play out is a wildcard. As for house brands, I seem to be thinking along contrarian lines here: my thought is that people who order online will order what's familiar, and that's more apt to be name brands; but of course that assumes substitutions aren't allowed, and that someone doesn't just click "can of peas."
  • Posted on: 11/17/2020

    Oreo lovers gladly pay a higher price to customize their cookies

    I think kids might appreciate this -- or people with too much money on or IN their hands -- but let's get real here: no one's going to want to customize a can of creamed corn or bag of chips (how would that even be done?). Limited "customizations," e.g.school or team colors, "Wheaties" boxes -- I'm sure have always, and will continue to be done, but it's a limited opportunity.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2020

    Are retailers cutting their way to profitability or slowly bleeding to death?

    It depends, of course, on the nature of the closings; closings, per se, aren't a problem. OTC regular evaluation of store performance is a function of a healthy and well-managed retailer. (In the past, this meant closings balanced by openings, but nowadays the latter isn't necessarily forthcoming.) But yes, a retailer that finds its optimum base constantly shrinking may start to notice a pattern.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2020

    Chipotle’s expansion plans include adding ‘digital-only’ restaurants to its menu

    This article is somewhat confusing: supposedly there is "no sit-down dining," yet the picture seems to show just that ... albeit limited (I don't fault George, the photo comes from the PRWire story). As for the idea itself, I'm not overly enthusiastic: suffice it to say if you don't have access to a PC/Smartphone/tablet, you're out of luck (This probably isn't a huge issue, but we often discuss how businesses can unintentionally discriminate, and this would seem to be an example). Also, if you don't understand how this operates, you're apt to be disappointed when you step inside expecting to order. I think the (potential) problems cited above will be minimal for this particular location -- given the somewhat captive clientele it will serve -- but I think they might start to surface with a widespread rollout.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2020

    Should C-suite execs keep their opinions to themselves on store visits?

    I think we should all appreciate the irony here, but yes I agree; criticism should only be offered if it's informed, and that will seldom be true for the limited time given to a typical visit. His self-serving comments about why HE, in particular, shouldn't, I'll not comment on.
  • Posted on: 11/12/2020

    Is it the right time to open an experiential, socially-distanced toy store?

    Let's cut to the chase: "social distancing" -- "distancing" is the important part here -- takes space and space costs money. So that's seldom going to be a winning formula, except in upscale shops in tony neighborhoods (which of course is what this appears to be). Superficially, I suppose, one could say this is the best time, because rents are collapsing and (many) lessors are desperate for tenants, but that doesn't sound like a winning formula for more than a few months ... or at least we all hope that's the time frame.
  • Posted on: 11/12/2020

    Target reopens looted store as a symbol of its pledge to do better for Black communities

    Speaking of equality: "White residents in the area ... drove to Targets that were further away rather than shop there." Isn't it more accurate to say "area residents with cars drove"? I doubt race, per se, had much to do with whether/not people shopped there. I think Target showed a very real commitment to equality by reopening a store which they could have very well closed; that was certainly a problem in decades past, as one chain after another pulled out of inner cities. And ultimately I think that's what matters most: whether Target -- and stores like Walgreens (which decades ago here in the Bay Area took over inner city stores that Safeway had closed) -- continue to operate stores in areas that are diverse, both demographically and economically. Far more important than whether or not some company takes out an ad in the NYT to tell us how "woke" they (think they) are.
  • Posted on: 11/10/2020

    Are grocers downplaying curbside pickup at their own expense?

    I could go on a rant about how this is another study by some academic who doesn't actually run a grocery (but then neither do I) but I won't (since I didn't fully read the full paper). However, I will note the word "sales" appeared in it several times but "profit" seemingly not at all; that makes a difference in how one views things.
  • Posted on: 11/09/2020

    Should Trader Joe’s have gone public with COVID-19 rates?

    I'll have to vote "no" on this. I'm a little unclear on what the purpose (even) was, but whatever it was, it seems like a privacy violation. No one was actually named, of course, but it still seems like an unnecessary step on that slippery slope that separates the public's "right to know" from "nobody's damn business."
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