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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 19, 2013 3:44 PM. The previous post in this blog was As it's never been seen before. The next post in this blog is Farewell to the Man and to the Earl of Baltimore. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mini-Freddy's on the way

Here's an interesting interview with the president of Fred Meyer. Of course, the O dares not utter a critical peep about a big retailer, but even through that filter, he comes across as a smart manager.

Comments (13)

Critical peep? My family has been shopping Fred Meyer for four generations. They take care of their customers, period. If one has a complaint they fix it. Fred Meyer has been consistently the best grocer in this area for ever. Even being a subsidiary of Kroger has not neutralized their local flavor, instead it helped them lower their cost of doing business and passed those savings off to their customers. Fred Meyer is also very generous to local charities and involved in the communities they serve. You make flame me for wearing a tin foil hat on me favoring this retailer, but what I say is true. By the way, I am not affiliated with Kroger or Fred Meyer in anyway.

I heard someone a month or two ago refer to Fred Meyer as the "WalMart for rich people." Rich people? Really?

Actually, I remember who said this. It was an employee at WinCo, where I have taken to shopping in the last year because Freddie's is just too pricey anymore. My shopping there has been cut by 90%.

Good interview. But if you're really budget shopping, WinCo tops them by a country mile. Employee-owned, also.

I pitched the 'Frieda's Store' idea to them in the 90s and was soundly scoffed. Oh well, better late than never.

Freddy's internal operations was very different after it was bought by KKR in the 90's. KKR brought in the consulting firm A.J. Kearney to "modernize" Freddy's operations. Despite all the suits who flew up from L.A. every week, A.J. Kearney knew nothing about Freddy's business and wasted years and millions. Freddy later filed a malpractice suit against A.J. Kearney and either won or settled for millions of dollars.

Tom, you should look for the book by a reformed consultant called "Sorry I broke your company."

I've never gotten good corn on the cob from FM.

I'm a long-time Freddy's customer, and about a year ago they asked me to fill out a weekly survey on various aspects of their stores, my shopping habits, and areas they're looking to improve in. I was glad to do it because a)I'm sort of an opinionated person, and b)I like Freddy's. It's been interesting to see the topics of the surveys and then see if those things get improved down the road. Recent topics have ranged from online purchases to Christmas TV ads to improved signage on the shelves to improving the garden and hardware departments.

Let's see - smaller, more neighborhood focused stores.

So we have QFC, the neighborhood up-scale chain Freddy's bought back in the late 1990s (IIRC) prior to the Kroger merger. QFC didn't really take off in Portland and several stores were shut down; QFC still has a loyal following in Seattle, but that's about it.

Kroger owns Loaf-n-Jug which is similar to 7-Eleven in the midwest. I guess they could open up a few stores around here (especially at some of the gas stations that they bought out and whose C-stores are currently empty), but 7-Eleven is pretty well entrenched here. Kroger could, of course, engage in a pricing war...

Infill - in many parts of Portland it's just two or three miles that separates Fred Meyer stores. Many inner-city Portland stores are already smaller due to their 1950s and 1960s era construction. It was the 1980s and 1990s that brought out the super stores of nearly 200,000 square feet (Beaverton, Tualatin, Johnson Creek) but since then the trend has been stores closer to 125,000 square feet (Hillsboro, Wilsonville).

Where Freddy's needs to step up is in the rural areas where WalMart has already demonstrated its superiority but WalMart is not an absolute force in Oregon. Look at McMinnville (a smaller than normal WalMart with absolutely no room to expand), at Dallas/Independence/Monmouth (another small WalMart in Dallas; a store in Monmouth would serve the entire three cities with nearly no competition), Corvallis (no WalMart or Target and only a small, sub-sized Fred Meyer; Corvallis could probably support a Fred Meyer and a QFC or a full-sized store and a Marketplace), Lincoln City (no major chains; nearest WalMart or Freddy's 30+ miles south in Newport), St. Helens (another smallish WalMart store); even Rainier could attract the Kelso/Longview crowd who don't want to pay sales tax.

I've found that for groceries, no one store meets all my needs.

As I don't mind making several trips during the week, I find my way to trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Thriftway, Freddies, and even the new WalMart Neighborhood edition.

My mental list is checked each week as we determine what the home meal menus might be. Do I visit all each week? No. But I know which stores have the best in the foods we prefer.

Alas, Albertson's doesn't make the list even though it is the closest. My local one is mediocre when compared to the others. The better ones aren't convenient to my weekly travels.

Yes, I realize that not everyone can travel al over town to do their shopping. I'm happy that I have the ability and the choices.

And you do that all on a bicycle -- amazing.

all on a bicycle

For me, accessible conveniently on foot are: Trader Joe, Fred Meyer, Zupan's, City Market and Food Front. Wholé Foods and Safeway are a bit more distant, but still practical destinations for a pedestrian shopping trip. Fred's is by far the best all-around store for produce, meat and fish. But it's nice to have choices. As for bakeries , there are four or five really good ones, also reachable easily on foot. Density does have benefits.

Re: And you do that all on a bicycle -- amazing.

Nope. By car, of course!

"Tom, you should look for the book by a reformed consultant called "Sorry I broke your company."

I have many first hand experience with consultants and I have rarely seen one I could trust.

My company sold the first PC to Freddy in the early 80's and became it's sole source supplier. I built up a good relationship with most of Freddy's then executive team. I had the occasion of meeting Mr. Meyer and even tried to put a PC into his office. Mr. Meyer did not like that idea. That was the time when executives let their secretaries use computers to replace their typewriters but wouldn't be caught with one in their office.

When A. J. Kearney was brought in to manage the IS department, it fired and reassigned a lot of good people. Those who did not blindly comply were moved out of the way. I was asked by Freddy's audit department to give my thoughts about a portion of A. J. Kearney's plan. I pointed out how unworkable it was. Shortly after, the head of A.J. Kearney's team at Freddy started telling some Freddy's executives that I was in collusion with the IS and Accounting department and getting paid for equipments that were never delivered to Freddy as the reason Freddy should stop doing business with me. After word got back to me, I went to his office and asked him directly. He did not deny it but told me he did not have to prove it. I asked to schedule a meeting with him and either the CEO or CFO. He told me he answered only to KKR would not go to any meeting with me. That was the last time I went into Freddy's corporate offices.

Years later, one of the executives at Freddy told me that what I said about the plan was right and about the lawsuit that was quietly settled.

Just another one of my years ago stories and people I used to know.


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Chloe, Pinot Grigio, Valdadige 2013
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Domaine Digioia-Royer, Chambolle-Musigny, Vielles Vignes Les Premieres 2008
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El Perro Verde, Rueda 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Red 2
If You See Kay, Red 2011
Turnbull, Old Bull Red 2010
Cherry Tart, Cherry Pie Pinot Noir 2012
Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Cabernet, Oakville 2012
Benton Lane, Pinot Gris 2012
Campo Viejo, Rioja, Reserva 2008
Haden Fig, Pinot Noir 2012
Pendulum Red 2011
Vina Real, Plata, Crianza Rioja 2009
Edmunds St. John, Bone/Jolly, Gamay Noir Rose 2013
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Pete's Mountain, Pinot Noir, Haley's Block 2010
Apaltagua, Reserva Camenere 2012
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Fonseca Porto, Bin No. 27
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Silver Oak, Cabernet, Alexander Valley 2002
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David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
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Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
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Anthony Holden - Big Deal
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Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 349
At this date last year: 214
Total run in 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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