Sunday, June 30, 2013

What-What?! Week of June 30th

So, how about rejection?  It sucks.  This week, I had an op/ed piece rejected from two newspapers, and also heard that I am no longer being considered for what would have been a nice job.  I’m not so upset about the newspapers, but the job is pretty disheartening.  However, from what I was told, they had thousands of applicants; that I got an interview is somewhat an achievement by itself.  I am seriously considering taking a few classes this Fall, and picking up some extra accounting skills, especially in QuickBooks and PeachTree.

Otherwise, this week went pretty well – other than being hot.  I did get more items to list on eBay, some of which have already sold.  I also signed up for iWriter, a place for freelance writers to find work; the reviews for this website are mixed, but it seems like a good way to get some general experience, as well as a greater variety of sample work.  I’ve written about half a dozen short articles for clients on there, and so far, so good; I’ve been rated 5 stars for all my work.

This article is actually pretty hilarious, because this is really old news.  Back when I wrote Trader Joe’s versus Whole Foods Market, I read industry reports discussing how warehouse stores were creeping into the specialty grocery industry.  What’s interesting about this article, however, is the point that Costco’s fresh food offerings are what its using to compete against Whole Foods; I’m more inclined to think that it’s Costco’s increasing selection of natural food brands, as well as its private brand products, many of which are also organic or “all natural”.  I’ve always considered that Costco’s main specialty grocery competitor is actually Trader Joe’s; the private brand offerings are very similar.  Costco, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s all have very similar target markets.  Looking at demographics, the customers are very similar; older, married, educated, well-heeled, and interested in quality.  Whole Foods’ customers are more interested in saving the environment, while Costco and TJ’s customers are more interested in saving a buck.
Whole Foods will continue to have convenience, specialty products, and the nice eatery area over Costco.  When you walk into Whole Foods, the store is large, but still not as large as a Costco, and checkout is pretty fast all the time (oh my goodness, the lines at Costco sometimes!).  Whole Foods still has specialty items that are difficult to get anywhere in-person, though that number will dwindle as pharmacies, discount retailers, and conventional grocery stores stock more of these items.  The number one thing that Whole Foods offers is the feel of the place; the stores feel special, like heading to a local market.  Unfortunately, that specialness is expensive to produce.  Whole Foods needs customers who aren’t price sensitive, which has been difficult for them to achieve – this is why the company has added coupons, sales and specials in recent years.  I don’t know how effective that strategy has been for them, but I really think that it undermines the charm of the stores.

What I would like to see is smaller Whole Foods stores with a tighter selection of in-demand items.  This would lower overhead while increasing profit per square foot -- Trader Joe's manages to have  a better profit per square foot, and, as you can see above, their stores are much smaller than a conventional Whole Foods.  I think that sizing down would be an effective strategy for the company, especially in that it would allow them to develop stores in more areas, especially in big cities where space is at a premium.

Look!  A llama in a minivan!  It reminds me of my youth – our alpacas used to ride in the back of our minivan.  I was one of the kids that sat in the back with them, and I can safely say that they had terrible breath.

While I was looking for craft ideas to do with the kids, I came across these adorable kokeshi doll erasers on Amazon.  Kokeshi are Japanese dolls that are distinctive in that they always lack legs, and usually lack arms.  Most kokeshi that I found were kind of expensive, but these erasers are pretty cheap, and very cute.
Until next week!
(images via,,

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