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Sunday Poll: Are You Currently A Paid Member Of A Warehouse Club or Online Free Shipping Club?

December 11, 2016 Featured, Retail, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Are You Currently A Paid Member Of A Warehouse Club or Online Free Shipping Club?
Please vote below
Please vote below

This is the time of year that many associate with shopping, but we all buy things throughout the year. Warehouse clubs Costco & Sam’s, both started in 1983, have millions of paid members.  You must pay an annual fee to shop at either.

In 2005 Amazon started their paid Prime service, offering “free” 2-day shipping on many items regardless of how small the amount. Paying up front for free shipping throughout the coming year was a new idea in 2005.

Out of curiosity, I’d like to know how many of you are currently paid members — or not. You can also add one not listed.

The poll will close at 8pm. Tomorrow I’ll post more on modern retailing, Wednesday will be the results from this poll along with my thoughts.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Opinion: Service Workers Rarely Get Holidays Off

November 23, 2016 Featured, Retail Comments Off on Opinion: Service Workers Rarely Get Holidays Off
South County Center is one of four area malls that will be closed Thanksgiving Day, August 2015 photo
South County Center is one of four area malls that will be closed Thanksgiving Day, August 2015 photo

This afternoon we’re driving up to Springfield IL for Thanksgiving with my husband’s family tonight, his uncle has to work tomorrow. Like many service workers, my husband is off this afternoon & tomorrow only because he requested unpaid time off.

Though only a 90-minute drive, we stay overnight in a hotel to avoid a late night drive back to St. Louis. Tomorrow we’ll drive home, grab a casserole dish from our fridge, and head to my 20+ year tradition of a vegetarian Thanksgiving with long-time friends. Though we won’t stop at any malls or traditional retail stores like Target, we will encounter people working on Thanksgiving Day. .

The first people we’ll encounter working on Thanksgiving will be hotel staff — preparing breakfast and working the front desk. We won’t see them, but after we check out, a cleaning crew will get our room ready for the next guests. We may get gas before we leave Springfield — even with pay-at-the-pump someone is working inside. I’ll set the cruise control at the speed limit because the highway patrol will be working. Hospital, fire & EMS crews will also be working, as always.

If we’ve forgotten anything we might stop at a convenience or drug store, where more people will be working. Many of them will reach their jobs via public transit — bus drivers & train operators don’t get holidays off. The airport isn’t closed either.

My point is many people have to work on holidays, cities just don’t shut down completely. This is related to one of the few areas where I strongly disagree with Sen. Bernie Sanders’ push for a federal election holiday.

Big businesses like banks and the white collar jobs at pharmaceutical companies shut down, and all the employees get a day off with pay. Schools and universities shut down, giving teachers and professors time to vote.

But you know what doesn’t shut down for federal holidays? Retail. Restaurants. Hospitals. Smaller businesses that can’t afford to lose a day of revenue, and if they do, they certainly can’t afford to pay people for the time off. (Inc)

Interestingly, in the Sunday Poll nobody voted that retail stores should be open.

Q: Agree or disagree: Brick & mortar retail stores, shopping centers, malls, etc. should be closed on Thanksgiving DayStrongly agree 25 65.79% 65.79%

  • Agree 4 [10.53%]
  • Somewhat agree 2 [5.26%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 5 [13.16%]
  • Somewhat disagree 0 [0%]
  • Disagree 0 [0%]
  • Strongly disagree 0 [0%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 2 [5.26%]

Hopefully everyone who encounters anyone working tomorrow will think about how their day would be impacted if they weren’t working. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying retail stores should be open on Thanksgiving.  I’m saying service workers are an under-appreciated part of society.

A friend who works retail will be off tomorrow, his employer will be closed. Unfortunately, he can’t go visit the person he’d like to because he only has the one day off.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Should Malls & Retail Stores Be Open or Closed on Thanksgiving Day?

November 20, 2016 Featured, Retail Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Malls & Retail Stores Be Open or Closed on Thanksgiving Day?
Please vote below
Please vote below

Thanksgiving with my husband’s family in Springfield IL is held the Wednesday night before, largely because his uncle, the family patriarch, has to work Thanksgiving Day.

This year some stores will be closed this Thursday, from last month:

CBL & Associates Properties announced Wednesday that it would close 73 of its malls across the U.S. on Nov. 24, including its four St. Louis properties — West County Center, South County Center, St. Clair Square and Mid Rivers Mall. 

All four malls will close on Thanksgiving for the first time in several years and reopen at 6 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 25. CBL’s St. Louis malls first opened on Thanksgiving in 2013. (Post-Dispatch)

So here is today’s non-scientific poll:

As always, the poll is open for 12 hours — will close at 8pm. Wednesday I’ll discuss retail, workers, holidays, and the final results.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Should Municipalities Make Sure Ordinances Keep Out Businesses With Female Servers In Body Paint?

Please vote below
Please vote below

In March an establishment featuring females with pasties on nipples & body paint on their upper bodies opened in the Delmar Loop, with the limits of University City.

When John Racanelli announced last winter that he was replacing his failed sports bar, the Market Pub House, with a spinoff of Soulard’s Social House, U. City officials argued that it was a dramatic change in use — and that Racanelli needed a new liquor license. They then began to hastily revise the city’s code to bar sexually suggestive businesses.

But Racanelli and his always-quotable attorney, Albert Watkins, knew a good First Amendment case when they saw one. They pointed out that other businesses in the Loop had hosted burlesque — how were their servers’ costumes any different? And at any rate, it was the same ownership, Watkins insisted, so no new liquor license was needed. Social House II could open whenever it wanted … and so, on March 4, it did.

In court, the city sought a restraining order in court to close the bar and, at City Council, stripped the bar of its liquor license. Ultimately both efforts were unsuccessful: Judges both denied the restraining order and forced the city to give back the liquor license, suggesting there was a likelihood Racanelli would ultimately prevail on the merits. (Riverfront Times)

The months-long drama had other municipalities scrambling to review their decency ordinances to prevent this from happening within their municipal borders. From last month:

St. Peters has joined the list of area municipalities tightening indecent exposure ordinances following a controversy in University City over a bar which featured female servers with body-painted torsos.

Aldermen on Thursday night passed an ordinance that includes under the definition of nudity the female breast with “less than a fully opaque covering.”

The measure goes on to say that “fully opaque” doesn’t include body paint, dyes, tattoos and liquid latex.

City officials say that’s aimed at keeping bars from employing body-painted servers similar to those used at the now-closed Social House II in University City. (Post-Dispatch)

The Social House II closed months ago, but the issue remains in the minds of many. Which brings us to today’s poll question:

The poll will be open until 8pm tonight, share your views in the comments below.

— Steve Patterson

 

Third Lucky’s Market In Region May Open In Downtown West In 2017

The grocery market in St. Louis is constantly changing —  yesterday the long-awaited Whole Foods at Euclid & Pine opened in a new mixed-use building, the Orion apartments are upstairs.

The grocery market in the St. Louis region is one of my areas of interest — the combination of retailing & food is irresistible to me. Here are some of my past posts on the subject:

Now it looks like a new grocery store might open in the building behind mine.

Lucky’s Market, a specialty grocer based in Boulder, Colo., is considering a store on the first floor of the Ely Walker building in downtown St. Louis, sources say.

Saggar Holdings LLC recently acquired the space at 1520 Washington Avenue from SA Group Properties Inc.

Sources say Lucky’s would occupy about 20,000 square feet of space formerly occupied by the London Tea Room and the English Living furniture store. (Post-Dispatch)

I say might because a lease hasn’t yet been signed. As soon as I saw this article last week I looked up Saggar Holdings LLC and my instinct was correct — Downtown Urgent Care’s Dr. Sonny Saggar puts his money where his mouth is — buying space and helping bring a new retailer to the city.

That day I began chatting with Dr. Saggar via Facebook — we’d been online friends for some time — before my 2015 fall resulting in a broken finger & visit to his urgent care facility on Olive. We chatted online but earlier this week it was his business manager Laura Malley that let me in so I could photograph the space in the  Ely Walker Lofts building.

You might not be familiar with the Ely Walker building:

Built in 1907 by Eames & Young as a dry-goods warehouse, the building once housed manufacturers of shoes, Catholic school uniforms, gun holsters and party supplies. The Ely Walker Lofts retain the building’s original name, commemorating David Walker, President George W. Bush’s great-grandfather. Renovations began in January 2006 and were completed in May 2007—just in time for the building’s centennial. (St. Louis Magazine)

Here’s background on David Davis Walker:

In 1857, Walker went to St. Louis for business training with the merchandiser Crow, McCreery & Co., then the largest wholesale dry goods house in the city. He worked his way up from office boy, and became a partner after just eight years with the firm. He became ill as a result of his workaholic habits, quitting in 1878, and spent the next two years recovering.

In 1880, he went back to work, forming Ely, Walker & Co. with Frank Ely and others. The business was a huge success, and in 1883 it was incorporated as the Ely & Walker Dry Goods Company. He remained President of the company until 1892, and thereafter retained the largest interest in the firm. His sons David Davis, Jr., Joseph Sidney and George Herbert all had involvement with the Ely & Walker firm, which continued as a major clothing manufacturer until it was acquired by Burlington Industries after World War II, but George went into banking. (Wikipedia)

You might not have shopped at a Lucky’s, it’s still a small chain. But that’s going to change quickly:

The Kroger Co. has forged a “strategic partnership” with Boulder, Colo.-based specialty grocer Lucky’s Market. The hybrid deal, terms of which were not disclosed, is expected to significantly accelerate the growth of the 17-store Lucky’s banner in new and existing markets.

Kroger officials said the partnership, which closed on April 1, is designed to further enhance the best products, practices and techniques of Lucky’s Market, combining them with the Cincinnati-based retailer’s scale and experience to generate more benefits for customers. The alliance further demonstrates the Cincinnati-based grocery giant’s “deep ongoing commitment to providing customers with affordable fresh organic and natural foods as a part of its Customer 1st strategy,” according to Kroger, which indicated that the deal will gel well with its first-ever small format Main & Vine concept store in Gig Harbor, Wash., which mixes local, specialty and everyday products. (Progressive Grocer) 

The two existing Lucky’s aren’t the only presence Kroger has in the St. Louis region, from April 2015:

After a years-long hiatus, Kroger Co. has returned to the St. Louis market with its Ruler Foods store brand, Cincinnati-based Kroger’s small-footprint, low-price format.

The company plans to open about 10 stores in the area over the next year or two. (Business Journal)

Kroger has an alternative to Aldi and now it has an alternative to Whole Foods. Let’s take a look at the building and the space:

Lucky's would occupy the Western half of the ground floor. the rest is occupied.
Lucky’s would occupy the Western half of the ground floor. the rest is occupied.
The space includes a loading dock at 16th & St. Charles St
The space includes a loading dock at 16th & St. Charles St
The London Tea Room used to occupy a tiny amount of the space
The London Tea Room used to occupy a tiny amount of the space
Most was English Living Furniture, the space has been vacant since the owners retired a few years ago
Most was English Living Furniture, the space has been vacant since the owners retired a few years ago
The main entrance would be onto Washington Ave, not the resident lobby. Lucky's will reconfigure the interior to include ramps for carts and wheelchairs.
The main entrance would be onto Washington Ave, not the resident lobby. Lucky’s will reconfigure the interior to include ramps for carts and wheelchairs.

This Lucky’s would be smaller than their Ellisville & Rock Hill locations, but about the same as Schnucks’ Culinaria. The parties are woking toward signing a lease in July with the store opening in Spring or Summer 2017. I’m grateful Dr, Saggar chooses to invest in downtown.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

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