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Talking about business decisions, good and bad

By in Press Enterprise on January 13, 2018

By Kevin Smith

Working in this industry, I can’t help but notice the way things shake out.

By that, I mean the way economic trends evolve, the way businesses adapt to changing consumer tastes and way decisions are made. Most businesses take a measured approach when they’re ready to make a significant change, whether it’s an expansion of staffing and facilities, or a downsizing that will reduce their head count and brick-and-mortar footprint.

Amazon’s a great example. The company’s $13.7 billion acquisition of the Whole Foods supermarket chain has already spawned Amazon Pop-Up stores at five Whole Foods locations scattered throughout the nation, including one in Pasadena.

And I have to admit I got a kick out of that when I walked into the Pasadena store and saw the pop-up on the second floor, nestled comfortably between the hand sanitizers, throat lozenges and a row cash registers. The store-within-a-store features a display of Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets, Amazon Echos and a host of other electronic devices.

Max Sopkin, who happened upon the display in mid-November, summed it up best:

“I think the products that they have in there, like the Kindle and the higher-end tablets, are geared toward Whole Foods audiences,” he said. “I buy products on Amazon literally all the time. Their margins are so good that I can’t help buying them.”

Now there’s a business move that makes sense.

On the flipside, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s move on Thursday can only be described as bipolar. One the one hand, the mega retailer announced it will be boosting starting wages for hourly employees to $11 and offering a one-time cash bonus of $1,000. The company additionally said it will be expanding maternity and parental-leave benefits and creating a new benefit to assist with adoption expenses.

That’s all well and good. But on the same day, Wal-Mart announced it is closing 63 […]    

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