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The Los Angeles Times notes that “the fourth quarter offered investors the first glimpse of year-over-year results since Amazon’s $13.7-billion acquisition of Whole Foods Market in 2017. Sales in physical stores, which are predominantly Whole Foods locations, decreased 2.7% to $4.4 billion. In-store pickups of online grocery orders don’t count as physical store sales, further clouding the ability to track the performance of Amazon’s grocery push. The online retailer’s bricks-and-mortar strategy also includes bookstores and a cashierless convenience store called AmazonGo, which lets customers check in with a smartphone app and be charged automatically based on what they remove from the store.”

The New York Times: Amazon held off stiffer competition for online shoppers during the holiday season, once again increasing its sales. But the company said on Thursday that growth slowed from its usual breakneck pace — and it came at a cost, with the company spending far more on shipping to win customers. While strong, the latest quarterly results suggested that Amazon’s retail business not only faces more competition, it is also maturing … The company is compensating for slowing growth in e-commerce by expanding its fast-moving, highly profitable cloud and advertising businesses.”

The Financial Times: “Amazon signalled that it would be ramping investment back up in 2019, even as its stellar revenue growth slows, sending its shares lower … Investors have long accepted scant profits from Amazon as its sales soared and it funnelled money into everything from warehouses and data centres to drones, freight planes, and international expansion. More recently, the company has shown strengthening profitability, however, boosted by its push into high-margin cloud computing and advertising.”

Ahold Delhaize-owned Peapod Digital Labs said yesterday that it has made a deal with logistics company Deliv to provide same-day delivery services to customers of its Giant and Martin’s chains in select zip codes in the Willow Grove, Penn. area. The company says that the “pilot is expected to be scaled in the coming months to additional Giant/Martin’s markets and to other brand’s markets where delivery is powered by Peapod.”

In a prepared statement, JJ Fleeman, President of Peapod Digital Labs and Chief eCommerce Officer of Ahold Delhaize USA, said, “At Peapod Digital Labs, it is our mission to support each of Ahold Delhaize USA’s local brands in providing an industry leading omnichannel experience for their customers. This means being there for customers, anytime, anywhere – within hours. Through Peapod Digital Labs’ relationship with Deliv, we will assist the brands as they continue to conquer the last mile, and rapidly scale same day delivery to the benefit of millions of local brand shoppers by 2020. Deliv is an example of many partners we will work with to deliver this benefit to customers.”

The first thing I ask each of the students to do each summer is to write a short essay on the subject of their most memorable meal. I have a bias, long on display here on MNB, that too many people in the food business think only in terms of category management, sales lift and profit margins, and don’t think enough about food. So I want the students, to use a familiar phrase, to think different.

One of my favorites was written by a man who said that his most memorable meal consisted of Minute Rice and A-1 steak sauce consumed on Christmas Day; he was serving in Afghanistan, had just returned from patrol, and, he said, it was memorable because he was with his brothers, all of whom he would have died for, and each of whom would have died for him. (Puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?)

(Full disclosure: I stole the idea for this essay from the novelist and journalist Bob Morris, who uses the same idea with his creative writing classes at Rollins College in Florida. My class was full of business majors, but it had the same impact – it got people to write with passion about a subject easy to feel strongly about. So thanks to Bob for that.)

Agree with your position on all aisles coming to the table with how they’ll lead and stances on policy, domestic and foreign. The fact that the Democrats are talking about Schultz’ siphoning off support, just tells me they do not have a strong enough candidate that can codify the votes necessary. It also should be telling of the two parties that many Americans are fed up with the political wrangling of both the Democrats and Republicans. I changed my affiliation nearly 20 years ago to Independent because of the seeming idiocracy of both parties.

“Schultz has at least voted in every election for the office he’s now seeking, the presidency. He also voted in the most recent midterms, in 2018. But he has skipped most of the state and local elections over the years, as well as some of the big midterms (like in 2014, when Republicans retook the U.S. Senate, and 2006, when Democrats “blue-waved” the Bush administration).

I found BlacKkKlansman, nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, to be a problematic but entertaining piece of work … but not because it diverges too much from the true story the first African-American cop in the Colorado Springs, Colorado, police department, who infiltrates the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan; he does so with the help of a white, Jewish detective who interacts with the KKK on a live basis, while the black detective handles the phone conversations and mail interactions.

The film, in fact, is based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, and a memoir he wrote a couple of years ago, though it detours from the true story in order to make dramatic and narrative points along the way. Directed by Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman is as stylized as you would expect, and does an excellent job of portraying the cultural realities of the early seventies. Stallworth, played by John David Washington, finds himself betwixt and between – while he sympathizes with black protesters, he is unwilling to subscribe to their facile characterization of the police as “pigs.” And Adam Driver, playing the physical embodiment of “Ron Stallworth,” is equally good – he is a cultural Jew who never thought about his heritage until running headlong into the corrosive attitudes of the KKK.

I have no particular problem with stylized filmmaking, but what bothered me about BlacKkKlansman is that it served to underline the polemical aspects of the narrative, when the last thing it needed to be was underlined. And then, at the end, the stylized approach gives way to a more documentarian approach, which further underlines the firm’s political points in ways that I found unnecessary. I got the point the first few times, I agreed with it every time Lee made it, and then he hit me over the head with it again.

While both were children of the New York area who grew up in poverty, Breslin and Hamill were very different writers. Breslin was a machine gun of a writer, with little about his life and work that was subtle; he was all seething resentment and moral outrage, but he channeled those emotions into often unforgettable columns that trained a spotlight on people he thought were ignored or disenfranchised. And he had an indisputable gift for the dramatic – his column about the black man digging John F. Kennedy’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery is just one of his many classics.

Hamill, on the other hand, was a kind of urban poet – deeply in love with the city of his birth, with its people and buildings and streets and attitudes, and able to write spellbinding columns about all of them and more; his pieces about Vietnam and Robert Kennedy were remarkable. (Both Hamill and Breslin were with RFK on the night of his assassination.) Hamill was an elegant and probably the more versatile writer, capable of columns, book-length nonfiction, and some pretty great novels. (For my money, Hamill’s memoir, “A Drinking Life” and collection of journalism, “Piecework,” are two of my favorite books. Ever.) Hamill also, at various points in his life, dated Shirley MacLaine and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis … so it has to be said that he had game.

If I have a problem with the documentary, it is that too much attention is paid to the romance of the fifties and sixties and seventies, and not enough to the actual writing; this may be because writing is harder to illustrate in the video medium. But maybe this isn’t so bad, since the film also illustrates the degree to which Hamill and Breslin understood that they had brands that needed to be nurtured and even exploited as they plied their craft – their images as passionate, hard-working, hard-drinking, and even hard-living New York City columnists served their ability to do their jobs. It fit their images – and their professional goals – when they said that “the most interesting story always is in the loser’s locker room.”

I’m old enough to remember when New York had more than a half-dozen newspapers; we read three of them at home, and I can remember being sent down to the local newsstand to pick up the New York Times, the Daily News and, I think, the . And I can remember immersing myself in their pages, mostly the sports and comics sections, and somehow sensing that this was more than just paper and ink … it was the lifeblood of a specific place and time. (I even remember a kind of withdrawal during the 1962-63 newspaper strike.) From the opening moments of the documentary to the wistful closing scenes, Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists” shows us two people of extraordinary talent, who helped to define the art of the newspaper column and the possibilities and heartbreaks of the greatest city on the planet.

In this fast-paced, interactive and provocative presentation, MNB’s Kevin Coupe challenges audiences to see the fast-evolving retail world through a radical new technological, demographic, competitive and cultural prism. These issues all combine to create an environment in which traditional thinking, fundamental execution, and just-good-enough strategies and tactics likely pave the path to irrelevance; Coupe lays out a road map for the future that focuses on differential advantages and disruptive mindsets, using real-world examples that can be adopted and executed by enterprising and innovative leaders.

Constantly updated to reflect the hand crafted news stories covered and commented upon daily by MorningNewsBeat, and seasoned with an irreverent sense of humor and disdain for sacred cows honed over 30 years of writing and reporting about the best retailers and retail strategies, “RETAIL 2020/WTF” will get your meeting attendees not just thinking, but asking the serious questions about business and consumers that serious times demand. See a sample at left…

"Kevin joined us as a moderator and facilitator for a two-day client executive event we hosted. His role in the success of the event went far beyond his time presenting and sharing his great wisdom and content. From the moment our planning process began and we selected Kevin as a key part of our program, he dove in and worked with our team to review session topics, ideate on programming and help ensure our overall event delivered on the goals we had established. His quick wit, deep industry knowledge and ability to synthesize conversations into key take-aways enabled us to hit a home run!”

”Kevin recently participated in and spoke at our Annual User Conference. Our group consisted of independent retailers, wholesalers, and software vendors – a pretty broad group to challenge in a single talk. While his energy, humor, and movie analogies kept the audience engaged, his ability to challenge them to think differently about how they go to market is what really captured them! Based on dinner conversations afterward, he appeared to have left everyone thinking of at least one new approach to their strategy!”