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Rich Duprey

Contributor, The Motley Fool
  • Posted on: 05/26/2022

    Is now the perfect time for grocers to sell imperfect food?

    Supermarkets are afraid of being sued. I asked my local Stop & Shop produce manager once about getting access to their produce they were going to throw away (I wanted it for my backyard chickens) and he refused saying they couldn't. The fear was if someone got sick from eating food that was expired it would open them up to liability. In today's litigious world, it's not an unreasonable fear.
  • Posted on: 05/13/2022

    Has Best Buy found an outlet for future growth?

    I tend to agree it sounds like a good idea, but outlets can be tricky businesses for retailers. Coach, for example, saw its outlets undermine its full-price stores because consumers were able to attain something of the same cachet at a discount. It had to dramatically scale back their usage. The same thing happened with Michael Kors and arguably even with Nordstrom Rack, particularly as Rack stores now outnumber full-price stores by more than 2.5 to 1. Whole Foods also abandoned its lower cost 365 by Whole Foods stores. In general, discount sales end up cannibalizing full-price sales and profits. Yet there are plenty of instances where it works, too. Macy's Backstage has arguably given the retailer a new lease on life. It will be interesting to see if it can make them work, or will it be more like Kohl's opening its Off/Aisle concept, stores that were exclusively dedicated to returned merchandise, which it eventually shut down.
  • Posted on: 03/29/2022

    Walmart appears ready to quit its cigarette habit

    Another dumb decision, though c-stores will cheer as they own about 70 percent of the cigarette market. Yes, smoking isn't good for you, but I'm sure Walmart's candy aisle, soda aisle, and all the other unhealthy foods the retailer sells aren't going away. It's ludicrous to talk about Walmart's decision being born of developing "healthy" relationships with its customers when it's killing them through obesity-inducing products throughout the rest of its store. It will unnecessarily drive customers who choose to smoke to the competition.
  • Posted on: 03/08/2022

    Are banned books a sales opportunity or political risk for Barnes & Noble?

    It's a good marketing ploy, but realize that's all it is, is a ploy. Barnes & Noble has had no problem banning books itself. Just last year it removed books from its shelves that denied the Holocaust took place and removed several Dr. Seuss books over "offensive imagery." Whatever your views about those books are, B&N can't claim any moral superiority simply because they're displaying controversial though otherwise popular titles. This country was predicated on free speech, on defending the speech we hate, not just what we agree with. Also, some books like the 1619 Project weren't "banned" because they're controversial, but because it's riddled with errors and outright falsehoods about U.S. history. But books and ideas shouldn't be banned or hidden away. Paraphrasing Justice Brandeis, "sunlight is the best disinfectant" for odious ideas and incorrect beliefs. Good for B&N supporting banned books, but it's being very selective about what sort of books and ideas it will display.
  • Posted on: 10/29/2021

    Should brands and retailers stop destroying unsold merchandise?

    Brewers are strictly forbidden from selling alcohol directly to the public due to the antiquated three-tier distribution system. While selling product at a discount would also undercut the premium nature of the beverage, the real issue for Boston Beer was freshness. Believe it or not, hard seltzer goes "stale," and because this inventory had been sitting around too long, selling it would have meant possibly hurting its reputation with an inferior product. There's also nothing to say Boston Beer won't be recycling the packaging. CEO Jim Koch said the brewer would be "crushing" the old inventory, which sounds like it could very well be recycled. While there is often a good reason to discount, donate, or otherwise use a product instead of wasting it, that doesn't seem to apply to Boston Beer's situation.
  • Posted on: 10/08/2021

    Your next c-store online order may be delivered by a robot

    Delivery robots seem at best an upscale suburban community phenomenon because they will either be unworkable (a rural setting) or prone to damage or theft (urban areas). They seem more novelty than viable delivery option.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2021

    Is the government’s vaccination mandate plan good for retail?

    Because anti-vaccine mandate comments are blocked. I have submitted several comments over the months taking an opposing view and every single comment has been deleted. When you only allow the debate to go in one direction, you only get one side of the issue. It's not that the anti-mandate crowd is silent, it's that our voices are silenced.
  • Posted on: 08/25/2021

    Do new Shipt and Walmart programs signal big changes to come in the retail delivery market?

    Walmart needs this to remain competitive with Amazon, which is expected to surpass Walmart as the largest U.S. retailer by 2025. Earlier this year, Walmart executives told its advertisers it was losing market share to its rivals and Instacart was on an almost equal plane as itself for grocery delivery. But delivery for local retailers is part of a larger plan to bring small businesses into its ecosystem. Earlier this year it began offering its e-commerce technology to third parties in a bid to help small (and even national) businesses utilize Walmart's capabilities to establish their own e-commerce presence and offer convenient buy online, pickup in store options. As noted, it's a bit of incremental revenue enhancement that can also marginally help increase its own store traffic and sales, but one which also helps thwart an accelerating slide in retail dominance.
  • Posted on: 08/24/2021

    Home Depot turns off thieves’ power to use or sell stolen tools

    What could go wrong? Technology always fails. I see lots of customer complaints arising out of this as activation fails to activate or somehow reverts the tool to a brick sometime after purchase necessitating a return to the store. The checkout pace will also slow. Maybe instead of having a "no stop" policy with regards to shoplifting -- how many good store employees have been fired for thwarting a theft against company policy? -- retailers aggressively combat the source of the problem: the shoplifter. Stop, arrest, and prosecute every single shoplifter. It's amazing that retailers think there would be any other result from their hands-off policy. Just look at what's happening in California where a no arrest policy has been initiated for shoplifting. Criminals are going into stores and just loading up bags of merchandise and walking merrily out the door with no concern. Swift, sure punishment is always the cure.
  • Posted on: 08/24/2021

    Following full FDA approval, should employees be required to get COVID vaccines?

    I follow Paula's lead and forego a more long winded answer, but I go in the opposite direction: Hell no on mandatory vaccines, for employees or customers.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2021

    Are websites a must-have for all retailers?

    Agreed, they're vital regardless of size. And when you do have one, a contact point is essential. There is nothing more infuriating than a business that offers no way to interact with it. It's probably more common with the tech giants that don't feel they need to be responsive to their users, but I've come across a few retailers too who have at the very least buried their contact info to make it difficult to respond. But yes, with so many people using the internet as their first form of interaction with a company, any retailer that doesn't have a website probably won't be in business very long anyway.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2021

    Has Simone Biles struck marketing gold at the Tokyo Olympics?

    The Olympics are not so important that participation should come at the expense of one's mental health, but let's not go to the opposite extreme and lionize Ms. Biles for what she did. The Olympics are about overcoming adversity, not collapsing under its weight. There were many other athletes who were ready, willing, and able to go and compete on the world stage. Had Ms. Biles stepped aside before making the team, THAT would have been a true profile in courage. Companies partnering with her then for exhibiting strength in the moment would have been a truly remarkable and honorable achievement. As it is, this rush to recast failure as success, weakness as strength is a mistake because it ignores the truly exceptional individuals who lost out on a chance to compete as world-class athletes because of Ms. Biles's choice to accept a spot on the team.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2021

    Pinterest says it’s all about body positivity as it bans weight loss ads

    So obesity is good? Promoting being healthy is bad? There's nothing positive about being overweight. The myriad health problems associated with obesity don't magically disappear because you're now into "body positivity," which is basically the participation trophy of health. And, yes, I say this as someone who is himself overweight. This policy is just idiotic.
  • Posted on: 07/01/2021

    Is self-checkout tech the answer for DSW and other retailers facing associate shortages?

    This is the result of a two-fold issue: employees demanding higher wages for low- and no-skill jobs and the government paying people not to work. We're already seeing it in the fast-food industry with the rise of automation and robotics replacing the need for expensive, but unskilled labor, and now we'll see it more often in more retail settings. Self-checkout and just-walk-out technology need only minimal staffing to generate the same, if not greater return. It also shouldn't surprise anyone that the government providing "unemployment" benefits that are greater than the wage someone would make at their job is going to result in people not looking for work. You reap what you sow and businesses will turn to technology to replace these workers and it is the workers who will be worse off for it in the long run.
  • Posted on: 06/30/2021

    Is fast food going too slow in reopening for dine-in business?

    Because consumers were trained over the past year and a half to expect just drive-thru/walk-up, and because it's more profitable for chains, dine-in fast food may be a thing of the past. You had Shake Shack, Chipotle, and numerous other chains saying they were going to knock holes in the walls of even existing restaurants to install pickup windows while new locations would have them as a priority. No need to go back to the other more labor intensive method. A new Blimpie's sandwich store opened up nearby late last year and though it has a seating area the chairs remain on top of its tables warding off customers who want to sit. Same with Subway. A McDonald's by me just closed for renovations to shrink its dining room and expand drive-thru to two lanes. I don't see fast food going back.
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