We share good ideas and conversation here.   Login, Join Us, or Take a Tour!
comment by thenewgreen
thenewgreen  ·  8 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Amazon Says It Will Buy Whole Foods In $13.7 Billion Deal : The Two-Way : NPR

Apparently they'll be keeping John Mackey at CEO. Who knows though, that may not last long. Culture is a hard thing to create in an organization. I've been privy to a number of conversations about it lately with other CEO's. My guess is that culture is something that is hard earned and easily lost. So, I suppose I'm with ya on this. I think the employees should be very concerned. I would be. I'm not convinced that Whole Foods has a very good culture now. I've known quite a few people that have worked there and were less than impressed. Though I suppose this could be region by region too.

I go to Whole Foods almost daily. It's very close to my house and is easily the most convenient spot to grab a cup of coffee, a six pack, a stick of butter or food for dinner. It's very clear to me that the people there work very hard and very long hours. I appreciate their work, it's not lost on me. I never worked in a grocery store but I spent many years working in restaurants and I think there are a lot of similarities.

We have a new grocery store coming in near my home called "Wegmans." -anyone familiar with it? It's a chain out of the East Coast. Apparently people really like them. They could stand to make some big gains by expanding now and benefiting from any potential Amazon backlash from consumers. Though I'm not convinced there will be any.

Edit: Also, why "fuck the shareholders?" These are people that invested in WholeFoods/Amazon. What's greedy about investing in a company that you think will do well by your investment?




Odder  ·  8 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    We have a new grocery store coming in near my home called "Wegmans." -anyone familiar with it?

Hell yes. I went to school in Rochester, the home base of Wegmans. Best grocery store ever. Better quality and less bullshit than whole foods, and also unpretentious. Also generally considered one of the best places to work.

thenewgreen  ·  8 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That's great to hear. I look forward to checking it out now!

ButterflyEffect  ·  6 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Fuck yes, Wegmans is the best. Go to Wegmans. Stop going anywhere else.

bfv  ·  6 days ago  ·  link  ·  

If thenewgreen is still mostly in NC, Publix, the only employee-owned supermarket chain in the US I'm aware of, is a decent substitute,

rd95  ·  8 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Whole Foods has a Glassdoor.com rating of 3.5. Wegmans has a 4.0. That's how employees who work for those companies feel about those companies.

Dude. Shareholders who are concerned about stock value and quick profits are part of the reason retail and grocery are so fucked up. Stockholders and their value over profits are why hours are cut, health care and salaries are slashed, employees are laid off, dumb ass policies are enacted, anti-union policies exist but don't fucking call them anti-union because of labor laws, and on and on and on. Know who fucking buys shares? People who have the money to buy shares and if you have enough money to buy shares, you got enough to live on and you're just chasing after more money and half the time you don't give a shit how it's gotten and that's bullshit.

I got a 401k. I bet you my portfolio has Amazon in it, probably some for profit prison companies, who knows what the fuck else. Half the time I think about it, I wanna fucking withdraw it all, take the tax hit, and fucking walk away from it. It feels like God damn fucking blood money and I feel like a fucking criminal for fucking having it. I'm making money because my portfolio invests in companies that care more about making me money than they do of the wellbeing of the communities they're a part of.

thenewgreen  ·  8 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Wait, you just wrote that Whole Foods has a Glassdoor rating of 3.5, which as I understand it is a good rating. Then you wrote that shareholders are why hours are cut and healthcare and salaries are slashed etc..

Whole Foods is a publicly traded company, with shareholders. Those shareholders are likely in for a good day. They've been rewarded by betting on a company that apparently treats their employees well. Not all companies make money the Amazon way, which seems akin to the Walmart way, which is to lower costs AT ALL COSTS to win market share. -Something that doesn't just affect their employees but also the employees of their suppliers etc. These actions have cross-market impacts that are negative and therefore, such companies rarely succeed. These two companies are anomalies, imo. In fact, I would argue that most successful consumer companies do the opposite in todays day and age.

edit: My dear god, what is happening to me? Am I turning in to wasoxygen?

rd95  ·  8 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Dude. Amazon and Wal-Mart are fucking winning. Their market share makes them fucking goliaths and other companies are trying their best to follow their examples from everything from employee management to distribution.

Speaking of, Wal-Mart gets a rating of 3.1. If there's a baseline for retail/grocery, I'd call it that. Between you and me, I'd call that generous.

Retail and grocery often has a high turnover rate these days when it comes to grunt workers, so you don't have a lot of people who know how things have changed. You talk to people in a lot of companies that have been there for a while and they'll say "Oh yeah, about five years ago, we had 6 managers in our store. Now we have three. We also have a third of the number of full time employees now because they don't want to pay for our healthcare" or "Oh yeah, every year they give us less and less bankable hours. We're down to about 45% of the alloted labor that we had six years ago" or "My health insurance wasn't great, but it was alright. Now it's a joke" or "Before Obamacare, I used to be able to work 35+ hours a week but now I'm lucky to get 15 and I haven't seen overtime in years."

Go to a Wal-Mart Worker in an at-will state. Dare them to walk by their boss and whisper the word "union." They won't fucking do it. They have a better chance of losing their job than you do of spitting into an olympic sized swimming pool and hitting water.

People are getting laid off, hours are getting cut, everyone is losing their healthcare, wages are going down, stores are closing, and it's all because these companies are worried about short term profits and short term share values and they don't give two shits about the lives that get ruined over in the process.

jadedog  ·  7 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    People are getting laid off, hours are getting cut, everyone is losing their healthcare, wages are going down, stores are closing, and it's all because these companies are worried about short term profits and short term share values and they don't give two shits about the lives that get ruined over in the process.

As much as I share your dismay about how workers are getting treated, and as much as I don't like how large companies have gained so much power to treat workers so poorly, I don't think the problem is centralized with these two companies or even retail companies in general.

Some of it has to do with the shifting trends of consumers to order online instead of going into brick and mortar retail outlets. People still generally go to grocery stores to get food, but for other things, many people have shifted to online ordering. I guess you could say that's Amazon's fault since they started the trend, but if they didn't someone else would have.

On the other side, the other way to make money is to overcharge customers. That's what Whole Foods was charged with doing. Both NYC and CA brought claims of overcharging.

The co-CEOs admitted it. It wasn't much of an admission, but the same happened in CA, so it probably happened in other places.

People say that the Whole Foods model died because it was too ethical or too local focused. I don't buy it. It failed because they overcharged customers, which made it easy for other chains to undercut their prices. Whole Foods excelled when they had the monopoly on organic and vegetarian/vegan food. When other chains could bring in the same items much cheaper, Whole Foods lost a lot of their customer base.

As for the acquisition, I'll be curious to see how it goes. On the face of it, it seems like an odd matching. Whole Foods has the reputation of overpricing. Amazon has the reputation of undercutting prices. Will they try to keep the Whole Foods branding or just use the stores and create their own branding?

I also noticed an article that Aldi's is planning on opening 900 stores in the next 5 years. I'm wondering how that will impact the market.

I just saw this video on the acquisition, so I thought I'd toss it in the mix. It's an analyst from Yahoo on CBS news talking about the acquisition.

rd95  ·  7 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The problem is, it's not just Wal-Mart and Amazon. It's nearly everyone and blaming a shift in consumer habits is a cop out. Consumer habits didn't change overnight and now SEARS and your local mall are just starting to have problems. A lot of these companies have seen the writing on the wall for years. A lot of these companies have had plenty of opportunity to try to innovate and adjust to stay competitive and half the time their solutions are more layoffs/closing and mergers. Now, I know what you're gonna say, you're gonna say "Well, what would you propose they do different?" Don't ask me, cause I'm not a business guy. But that's not my responsibility. That responsibility lies in the hands of the people running these companies and if a tag like #retailhell is any indication, they're fucking failing.

As for Whole Foods? Minus the 2008 crash, Whole Foods' stock value has been going up ever since the '90s. I don't know if the Whole Foods' model is sick, dying, dead, or whatever, but I do know Whole Foods has competition from similar grocery stores, conventional grocery stores that have started carrying organic food and have put a stronger emphasis on sourcing quality meat, deli, and produce products. Farmers markets are still a thing, buying shares in local farms for a cut of the food is becoming more popular, so is growing your own food. I'm not an analyst, but if you ask me, it sounds like Whole Foods got the trend going and the American Public, from other businesses to individuals, are finding ways to tap into the desire for the products they made popular.

I honestly don't know if it's a good buy or a mismatch. From my vitriolic rants in this thread though, that's obviously not my concern. My concern is for the workers and their wellbeing and I don't think this is a good deal for them in the slightest. I honestly think Wal-Mart buying Whole Foods would be better (but only slightly), that's how low my opinion of Amazon is.

jadedog  ·  6 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    That responsibility lies in the hands of the people running these companies and if a tag like #retailhell is any indication, they're fucking failing.

Not necessarily. Sometimes industries die out due to a change in technology. I don't think that people are pointing to a shift in consumer demands or changes in technology as a way to shift blame.

Just as a quick, hopefully illustrative example, there was a time when horse drawn carriages were really popular. The car was invented. It took a while for the car to get widespread. In that time, people who made the carriages and who made horse shoes and who changed horse shoes got fewer and fewer jobs with fewer and fewer hours. I'm sure they weren't happy about it. But at some point, the horse drawn carriage companies couldn't compete with the car companies. If twitter existed, there may have been a #carriagehell or #hooferhell.

It may not be a perfect analogy, but brick and mortar retail is dying. The fact that everyone knows what Amazon is, and most people have ordered something online shows that. Technology has changed the industry. Sears doesn't have the power to change that. It tried online retailing, but that's not their emphasis. Just like the horse drawn carriage industry shrunk and died out over time, the same is happening to the brick and mortar retail industry.

In that process, workers are displaced. There's no way around it. Giving some people more hours and great benefits means laying off others. If it was an expanding industry, and the companies were treating workers poorly, that's one thing. (I realize this is what Amazon is doing) But Sears is shutting down retail outlets. They're not doing that to mess with people while business is booming.

Some people are speculating that robotics will do that with many existing industries. The difference between this change in technology and the industrial revolution is that there was a place where workers could shift. They shifted to working in factories.

In this shift of technology, there are less productive shifts where workers can go. That's the reason that many people are arguing for universal basic income from their governments. At the point where technology displaces a majority of the paid productive work in the economy, there will need to be a solution.

As big as they are, corporations don't always have the power to innovate a solution big enough to change shifts in technology and consumer demand.

rd95  ·  5 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Dude. No.

Car analogy first. This is a list of Defunct American Car Companies. Some of them started out as coach companies, some of them started out as other things and tried their hands at cars when cars took off. Know what happened with cars? It started as a boom and eventually became survival of the fittest. The companies who had the best resources, the best capital, and the ability to survive the depression and two world wars were the ones that won out. Coach companies may have died, but car and car manufacturing lead to an economic boom. Car companies came about, then parts companies that made parts for car manufacturers, repair shops, gas stations, dealerships, on and on and on. The coach companies that died, died because either they became something else or because they refused to transition, but more jobs came about.

So yeah, if retail does fucking die, the workers are screwed. Not only because they'll be out of a job, but because this country has almost zero fucking chance of ever letting something like Basic Universal Income happen. This country voted for Trump. This country can't get its health care together. This country doesn't second guess all of the massive corporations and special interest groups that have their fingers in all levels of the government in so many different ways.

Back to fucking retail. Companies all over the place are being massive, massive fuck ups. It's either adapt, or die, and they all fucking double down on shit tons of stupid. Here's some random fucking thoughts that I had on the drive home from work today.

Sears and Amazon - Fucking shit. Sears doesn't know if they'll make it through the fucking year. You wanna talk about Amazon? YOU USED TO BE ABLE TO ORDER A GOD DAMN HOUSE THROUGH SEARS! They fucking owned the catalog distribution business and they were fucking tits amazing at it. When Amazon came about, someone at Sears should have said "Hot tits, these guys are on to something. We have the institutional knowledge through our catalog division to follow Amazon's example and do it fucking better. We'll be God damn amazing at it too, cause we're fucking Sears." Know what happened? The fuckers sat holding their dicks in their hands for so long, they got bought by fucking K-Mart in the mid-2000s. Let me repeat that again. Sears fucked up so hard, they got bought by K-Mart. Amazon came out in the early '90s. If you told investors in '90s that that was gonna be Sears' fate, they'd fucking laugh at you.

Other Models Have you ever been to a good, quality mom and pop deli or butcher? Go inside, fucking talk to the guys behind the counter. They'll tell you everything you want to know about certain cuts of meat, what kinds of food and drinks to pair it with, and even give you recipe suggestions. They take the time to make sure you enjoy the fucking product that you're paying your own fucking money for. Same for good comic shops. Same for good craft supplies stores. On and on and on. Maybe, instead of big retail trying to fucking hire people at minimum fucking wage to push products fast, which is fucking miserable for everyone involved, they hire knowledgeable people who are passionate about what they're selling and are paid fucking well for the advice and the services they can offer. If grocery stores are willing to staff sommeliers for wine tastings, what's keeping retail stores from doing something similar?

Have you ever heard of a Retailer's Coopertive? Basically, it's a bunch of companies getting together and pooling their resources. It's usually smaller companies, that have maybe from 1-20 stores, but in this way, they can have the same buying power big companies have. Wal-Mart is massive. Amazon is massive. Part of the reason they're doing well, is because they're MASSIVE. Can you imagine if larger companies, say, Kohl's, The Gap, and JCPenny all got together and tried to form a retailer's coopertive? FUCK. Their buying power would be FUCKING SICK. Shit, that's half the reason companies try to buy each other in the first fucking place. I'd half be willing to bet, this method would be a lot less risky and a lot less controversial than trying to fucking form fucking monopolies.

Fucking Study Other Companies Know who's doing amazing? Micro-brewers. Why? I don't fucking know. But I bet there's something there that retail can learn from. Know who else is doing amazing? Restaurants. Why? Fuck if I fucking know. But I bet there's something there that retail can learn from. When Wal-Mart came about, they fucking turned distribution tactics on their head overnight and companies were rushing to emulate that.

Look. I don't know jack shit about how to run a business. I can barely run my own fucking personal life. But shit man, if I can see half the shit going on and these fucking butt monkies that run these companies can't try and figure shit out, fucking embarrassing man. They fucking deserve to fail. But the workers? The workers don't deserve to be let down.

jadedog  ·  5 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    So yeah, if retail does fucking die, the workers are screwed. Not only because they'll be out of a job, but because this country has almost zero fucking chance of ever letting something like Basic Universal Income happen. This country voted for Trump. This country can't get its health care together.

I don't have a crystal ball, but I have seen a couple things that make me question your predictions.

First, the state of Hawaii is already investigating universal basic income because of their dependence on service industries.

    His interest in the idea, he said, is motivated by a concern that automation will make good jobs rarer, particularly in a service industry-dependent state like Hawaii

    Lee's resolution, HCR 89, was supported by major unions and the Chamber of Commerce, and sets up a working group to study the idea of implementing a basic income. Its text cites these concerns, and positively mentions basic income as a potential means of addressing them:

Will it happen now? Maybe doubtful, but the idea that people are looking at it right now and considering legislation says to me that the trend is in that direction.

On the national level, people are too busy playing political games, but more progressives have universal basic income on their agenda.

As for single payer health insurance, Charles Krauthammer, a conservative pundit on Fox News predicts that the US will have single payer within the next 7 years. There are a lot of reasons, but if the system crashes, everyone will be affected. At the point everyone is negatively affected, people will be more inclined to do something about it. If a conservative pundit on Fox News is predicting it, that's an indication things might be moving in that direction. I've seen at least one other republican commentator say the same.

In the states, Nevada just had their medicaid for all bill vetoed by the governor (although he said it was a good idea that needed more details to be ironed out) and California's single payer bill is still in process.

    The coach companies that died, died because either they became something else or because they refused to transition, but more jobs came about.

Yes, it's true that the industrial revolution brought about a boom due to the increased need of labor. The current technological change is different because the labor is being replaced by the technology itself. The prediction is for less jobs overall because of this change.

The analogy part was just to show that as technology changes, some industries die out in the process.

    Sears and Amazon

    When Amazon came about, someone at Sears should have said "Hot tits, these guys are on to something. We have the institutional knowledge through our catalog division to follow Amazon's example and do it fucking better.

If Sears tried to become Amazon back then, it would have done what it's doing now -- closing down its retail outlets and laying off its employees. The difference between the Amazon model and the Sears model is that Amazon doesn't have the high cost of overhead from paying for retail stores and paying for employees to work in those stores. That's why Amazon was able to undercut prices. Amazon didn't have to pay for employees or retail outlets.

In some ways, Amazon got a free ride off retail outlets like Sears. People would go into retail outlets, look at the product, get all the details at the store, then order it at a lower price on Amazon. But Amazon didn't have to pay for the overhead of showing those products. Sears did. If most of the major retail outlets close down, it will be interesting to see if people will start to buy everything sight unseen.

Sears couldn't become Amazon back then. I'm not even sure Amazon could have become Amazon without retail outlets like Sears.

    Other Models

    Maybe, instead of big retail trying to fucking hire people at minimum fucking wage to push products fast, which is fucking miserable for everyone involved, they hire knowledgeable people who are passionate about what they're selling and are paid fucking well for the advice and the services they can offer.

This is the opposite model of the Amazon model. Amazon's model undercuts prices by offering no service. This model relies on being able to charge customers more for a small selection of products and quality service.

The Sears model is in the middle of these. Sears carried huge quantities of products, which it priced competitively but offered only minimal service on them. In order for this alternative model to work, Sears would only be able to offer a small selection of products or would have to dissect its workforce into experts in each product field and offer way less products in each field.

From what I've seen, retail is headed more in that direction. The number of items for each retail outlet is getting scaled way down with more experts in the field to show those products. It's more of a boutique model.

Could Sears have competed that way? I don't know, but I would be doubtful. It would have required it to have increased its prices and changed its image to a more upscale boutique place. I think it has tried and is probably trying that. As a brand though, I don't think of Sears as an upscale boutique place.

    Can you imagine if larger companies, say, Kohl's, The Gap, and JCPenny all got together and tried to form a retailer's coopertive? FUCK. Their buying power would be FUCKING SICK. Shit, that's half the reason companies try to buy each other in the first fucking place. I'd half be willing to bet, this method would be a lot less risky and a lot less controversial than trying to fucking form fucking monopolies.

I'm not seeing the difference between the conglomeration of many major retail outlets to form one big outlet as different from a monopoly. If enough major retailers got together that they were able to control distribution of some products to the point where they could command any price they chose to sell certain products, wouldn't that be monopolistic pricing?

At this point in time, the market might still be fragmented enough for consolidation to happen, but at the point where it would be advantageous to smash the competition is the point where monopolistic pricing can happen.

    Fucking Study Other Companies

I don't see the connection between those other industries and retail. Some industries doing well might not impact other industries doing well. When the computer industry was doing well, the car industry might have been doing poorly and vice versa. I'm not sure that the industries are enough alike to make any comparisons.

As a note, you've used the f word or one of its derivations 33 times in this one post. Since I haven't seen you doing that in most other notes, they stood out.

elizabeth  ·  5 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The first thing that came into my mind when I heard Amazon was buying whole foods was their video of the no checkout store, where the bill was just sent to your phone after. What's more whole foody than the fact you won't be able to shop there without the newest iPhone?

To me it's premium hippy market meets high tech solutions. Forget about the employees, we won't need them in 2 years. And who's more likely to be on board with weird innovative grocery solutions? Not mr 50 year old farmer dude that pays cash everywhere, that's for sure. Whole foods is the perfect test run before you open Amazon store.