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Pandemic St. Louis Style: Policy Fragmentation & Cognitive Dissonance

November 28, 2020 Featured, Metro East, Missouri, Politics/Policy, Retail, St. Charles County, St. Louis County, STL Region Comments Off on Pandemic St. Louis Style: Policy Fragmentation & Cognitive Dissonance

Early this week the KMOV News (CBS/4.1) had a story on the Jefferson County Health Department approving a mask mandate — and the upset group protesting outside. The very next story was the St. Louis Area Task Force saying hospital beds, including ICU, beds were filling up with COVID-19 patients.

People were protesting wearing masks in public while area hospitals are announcing they’re filling up quickly. There’s a term for this: cognitive dissonance.

The mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information. The unease or tension that the conflict arouses in people is relieved by one of several defensive maneuvers: they reject, explain away, or avoid the new information; persuade themselves that no conflict really exists; reconcile the differences; or resort to any other defensive means of preserving stability or order in their conceptions of the world and of themselves. The concept was developed in the 1950s by American psychologist Leon Festinger and became a major point of discussion and research. (Britannica)

Metro requires riders to wear masks on buses and trains. Metro doesn’t serve Jefferson or St. Charles counties.

How does this relate to masks?

Because of the intense polarization in our country, a great many Americans now see the life-and-death decisions of the coronavirus as political choices rather than medical ones. In the absence of a unifying narrative and competent national leadership, Americans have to choose whom to believe as they make decisions about how to live: the scientists and the public-health experts, whose advice will necessarily change as they learn more about the virus, treatment, and risks? Or President Donald Trump and his acolytes, who suggest that masks and social distancing are unnecessary or “optional”? (The Atlantic)

I don’t like wearing masks, but it’s the right thing to do around anyone other than my husband. The worst days are when I have treatment at Siteman Cancer Center, my mask is on for hours.

Then on Wednesday I saw a news story at Lambert airport on holiday. An airport spokesperson was explaining how everyone inside the terminal had to wear a mask — except she was inside the terminal and not wearing a mask! Two different travelers inside the terminal, both with masks, said they weren’t concerned because they were taking precautions — but their nostrils were visible!

My mom was a waitress for many years, so I feel for food service employees and restaurant owners. A recent story showed an owner upset at recent St. County restrictions prohibiting indoor dining. They argued it was unfair, if people could go into Target & shop they should be able to dine in. Uh, except that shoppers have to keep their masks on in retail stores — inside bars & restaurants the masks come off after being seated. Apples to oranges.

As I was writing this yesterday I saw a story on dine in supporters in St. Louis County. I wish as much effort was put into improving the carryout experience (ordering & packaging).

We’re back to limits on items because some placed their own important over that of the community.

A lot of this cognitive dissonance is due to the vastly different pandemic policies in different jurisdictions in the region. At least the Illinois side of the region has one uniform policy imposed by Governor Pritzker.  Here in Missourah Gov Parson has taken a hands-off approach, resulting in an infection rate double that of Illinois.   As a result each county has to go at it alone even though residents frequently cross over borders. Other than the hospital’s pandemic task force we have no regional leadership.

Our hospitals are full and their workers are exhausted. All because people aren’t willing to wear a mask in public or eat their restaurant dinner at home.

– Steve Patterson

 

Downtown St. Louis Grocery Store ‘Culinaria’ Will Soon Become A ‘Schnucks’

November 12, 2020 Downtown, Featured, Retail Comments Off on Downtown St. Louis Grocery Store ‘Culinaria’ Will Soon Become A ‘Schnucks’

In August 2009 Schnucks Markets opened a small format grocery store in downtown St. Louis. It has been called “Culinaria, A Schnucks Market.” They had little choice, the Schnucks’ development company Desco had razed the historic marble-clad Century Building to construct a parking garage for their Old Post Office project across 9th Street — but the ground floor retail space wasn’t getting leased. To save face, Schnucks opened a grocery store in the space.

They didn’t have much confidence it would be successful, so they called it Culinaria rather than Schnucks. To their surprise it has been a success, though the average transaction amount is likely less than the big stores.

The entrance is at 9th & Olive, the Culinaria name is still present. For now.

Very soon they’ll drop the ‘Culinaria’ brand name to become a ‘Schnucks’, like the bigger stores.

Schnucks family members cutting the ribbon at Culinaria on August 11, 2009

Over the last 11 years they’ve made physical changes, such as a minor reconfiguration of shelves in 2013. They also stopped doing wine tastings in the upstairs mezzanine long ago. The Kaldi’s Coffee station closed before the pandemic. The pharmacy became a CVS pharmacy this year, as Schnucks sold their pharmacy business entirely.

In 2013 shortcut was eliminated (red circles) to gain needed shelf space. Grocery items were largely rearranged.

Currently the store is undergoing the biggest changes since opening. Here’s a list of just some of the ongoing changes I’ve observed:

  • New shopping carts
  • New flooring is being installed throughout
  • The coffee station is gone
  • The wine & spirits will be moving from the mezzanine to maim floor
  • The dark shelving is being changed to white shelving
  • New aisle guides
  • Self-check stations have been added for the first time, replacing most cashier stations
  • The wall over the deli, meat, seafood areas is now red with new signage.
  • Only very longtime employees still have Culinaria name tags.

You could say they’re just revising the store, but everything new now has the Schnucks name on it. The Culinaria name and the design elements that distinguished it from regular Schnucks stores are all being removed.

The Schnucks name over the front door is new,

Schnucks hasn’t yet announced the name change, and a spokesperson didn’t confirm it upon my inquiry. But clearly it’s happening. The very last change will likely be new exterior signage.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Urban Design After COVID-19: Restaurants & Carryout Windows

May 1, 2020 Featured, Planning & Design, Retail Comments Off on Urban Design After COVID-19: Restaurants & Carryout Windows

The current Coronavirus pandemic will change many things about our lives going forward, others not so much. Restaurants will likely see some of the biggest changes — both inside and out.

Restaurant owners/managers will have a standard table layout (packed) and a reduced capacity layout. Dividers, fake plants, etc might be pulled out of storage to use to keep the dining room from looking to sparse. Extra tables & chairs will go into the storage room, stacking/folding chairs saves space.

Hand washing at the entrance would be nice.

The biggest change may be placing a small kitchen up front, so a carryout window can be easily managed. For a few years now some restaurants have already operated with two kitchens: one for the dining room and another for carryout & delivery orders. This was a response to more and more customers taking food home to binge watch shows.

Placing the carry out/delivery kitchen in the right place would eliminate the need for customers to come inside. There could be a separate order window. Think if it like a brick & mortar food truck.

Ted Drewes has been serving frozen custard through a walk-up window for decades. Grand location in May 2013.

The walk-up window restaurant would have online ordering to reduce lines. Those located in walkable neighborhoods will need larger public sidewalks to allow for adequate space for customers and passing pedestrians. I love the idea of going from window to window getting different street foods. Pizza by-the-slice is a favorite.

None of this will happen quickly, but expect newly built/renovated restaurants to be physically different in response.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers Primarily Grocery Shop At Large Supermarkets

August 14, 2019 Featured, Retail Comments Off on Readers Primarily Grocery Shop At Large Supermarkets

The recent non-scientific Sunday Poll was to see where readers get their groceries. No surprise, large supermarkets was the top answer.

Local supermarket chain Dierbergs, 12599 Olive. 2015 photo

Here are the results:

Q: What are the three types of places where you get most of your food? Purchased in store or delivered.

  1. Full-service large supermarket (Dierbergs, Schnucks, Whole Foods): 21 [29.58%]
  2. Discount Grocery Chain (ALDI, Ruler, etc): 11 [15.49%]
  3. Medium Grocery (Culinaria, Straub’s, Trader Joe’s, Fields Foods, Lucky’s, Fresh Thyme, etc.): 10 [14.08%]
  4. Big Box (Target, Walmart, etc): 9 [12.68%]
  5. Warehouse (Costco, Sam’s): 7 [9.86%]
  6. Farmers’ market (Soulard, Tower Grove, etc): 6 [8.45%]
  7. TIE: 2 [2.82%]
    1. Mail order (Amazon, meal kits, etc)
    2. N/A – I eat out
  8. TIE: : 1 [1.41%]
    1. Convenience store (7-11, QT, etc)
    2. Local/small grocer (Local Harvest Grocery , Vincents, etc.
    3. Other: Grow it
  9. TIE: 0 [0%]
    1. Drug Store (CVS, Walgreens)
    2. Food Pantry
    3. Food Co-op
    4. International grocer (Jay’s, etc)

What’s interesting to me is the rise of ALDI. Last week I noted the new ALDI at Gravois Plaza, replacing the South Grand location, was my new favorite grocery store in the city.

Aldi has more than 1,800 stores in 35 states and is focused on growing in the Midwest, the Mid-Atlantic, Florida and California. It’s on track to become America’s third largest supermarket chain behind Walmart and Kroger, with 2,500 stores by the end of 2022. Its close competitor Lidl, another German grocer with a similar low-cost business model, is racing to grow in the United States, too. (CNN)

I’ve been hearing about the other German grocery chain mention above, Lidl. In 2017 they planned to open their first 100 stores in America, starting on the East coast.  But they had problems and didn’t reach their goal.  It may be some time before they reach St. Louis, if at all.

Schnucks family members cutting the ribbon at Culinaria on August 11, 2009

The grocery business operates on very slim profit margins and competition in most of the region is fierce. Other parts of St. Louis are food deserts.

“There’s a cultural aspect to food,” said Tosha Phonix, food justice organizer for the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. “People don’t know how to cook.”

Studies back up those claims. One, from 2015, found putting government-subsidized grocery stores in low-access neighborhoods did little to change people’s diets. Another, from the National Bureau for Economic Research, found education and income levels were much more indicative of people’s food behaviors than proximity to a supermarket.

Community-led solutions and education are key to making people healthier, Phonix said.

“The grocery stores aren’t coming back,” she said. Alternative models of stores, such as farmers markets and co-ops, can assure investment stays within a neighborhood, she said.

“If you own what is in your community, no one can say, ‘Hey, I don’t want to be here’ and move out. It will be the community’s. The community will benefit from it, and it will go back into the communities.” (St. Louis Public Radio)

It’ll be interesting to watch as change continues in the grocery space over the coming years.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Where Do You Get Your Food?

August 11, 2019 Featured, Retail, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Where Do You Get Your Food?
Please vote below

It was ten years ago today that Schucks Markets opened their smaller urban format store, called Culinaria, in downtown St  Louis.

From August 11, 2009:

Culinaria – A Schnucks Market opened this morning at 315 North 9th Street. The store features a 21,000-square-foot main floor and a 6,000-square-foot mezzanine.  (Riverfront Times)

This was much smaller than their newer stores, from May 2018:

A Schnucks spokesman said the chain’s stores average over 60,000 square feet, but their size varies according to location, age and the customer base — ranging from the Culinaria location to stores exceeding 130,000 square feet. “We have several stores that are ‘smaller’ formats, some because of space limitations such as Culinaria (an urban format with limited space) and others because they were built many years ago when the typical supermarket was much smaller,” he said. (Supermarket News)

Culinaria has changed a lot over the last decade, primarily the product mix is much better than it was when it first opened. For a while I’ve been able to buy various King Arthur flours, recently they added Chinese hot mustard.

However, today’s non-scientific poll isn’t directly about Culinaria…at least not directly. Today’s poll is about where your food, primarily groceries, come from. Whether you go to a particular store, or have groceries delivered from there, it counts the same.  This is more about the types of stores where you shop, the answers are randomized.

Today’s poll closes at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

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