That’s Why

This tragic tale reminds me of something of my own experience.

Back when I worked for the Great Big Research Company, I had a client who was VP of a large supermarket chain.  One day, the local Chicago “city” newspaper (i.e. 99% Black readership) published a stinging exposé which showed that the chain’s suburban store prices were as much as a third lower than those of their inner-city stores.

Cue a visit from an irate “community organizer” (I don’t know which one, but I sure hope  it was one Barack Obama) who demanded to see the VP, wanting to know why “his people” were being “gouged” by the (obviously) racial practice of discriminatory pricing.

The VP (a tough little Irish bastard from the South Side) then explained the facts of life to the “organizer”, thus:

“We’re in business to make a profit.  Our inner-city stores have a lower profit than our suburban stores because of what we call ‘stock shrink’ — which is a nice name for ‘theft’, or ‘shoplifting’.  Suburban stores typically have a shrink percentage of less than 2% — in other words, less than two percent of sales are lost each year to theft.  In our inner-city stores, that percentage loss is over ten times as much — between 12 and 14 percent.  We have to make up the lost sales and profits somehow, and so we put our prices up in those stores to make up the difference.  If we didn’t put up the prices, the stores would have to be closed altogether.  So,” he concluded, “if you don’t want your people to pay those higher prices or find the stores have closed, you need to tell your people to stop stealing from our stores.  And that’s the end of the story.  Was there anything else?”

This happened about thirty years ago.  Nowadays, of course, he’d be imprisoned for telling the truth being so racially insensitive.

I miss the old days so  much…

14 comments

  1. “…suburban store prices were as much as a third lower than those of their inner-city stores”

    FIFY 😉

    Also, while I completely agree with the grocery VP, he exaggerates a bit. Ten times as much of 2% would be 20%. 12% to 14% is not quite 10 times (but it’s for damn sure enough to kill profits in “neighborhoods of color”).

    Frankly, I have trouble understanding how grocery stores can afford to do business with that kind of shrinkage. Their margins are, well, marginal even in the best of situations. And a newspaper with 99% black readership is imponderable.

  2. The sad fact is, somewhere along the way, retailers decided that attempting to stop this theft was “bad” publicity. Security guards were instructed to “observe and report,” and not attempt to interfere; employees were warned that they would be fired if they attempted to stop a shoplifter/thief, and many were, and still are.

    Liberal management-types figured that a 2-3% system-wide loss was acceptable, as long as it kept them out of the headlines and the courts. Stores with the worst theft losses were quietly closed, mostly in inner-city neighborhoods.

    So what happened? Now the grocery retailers are being accused of creating racist “food deserts” in the inner-cities! The “neighborhood organizers” are now demanding that major grocers open new stores, stocked with all the same products as the stores in other neighborhoods, to restore the “shopping experience” inner-city residents used to enjoy.

    1. What has happened is that the chains are moving out of the inner cities for all those reasons, and the Korean- and Indian independent operators — who are NOT shy about making a profit — have taken their place.

      Now the suburban / city price differential is over 100% (and sometimes 200% for the high-theft items). So much for the “organizers” and their work.

      1. Kim,

        1995 +/- I was aghast when going over to New Orleans from Houston and wanting to buy some razor blades – they were locked up and you had to get someone to open the display to get them – I was from Wyoming and had never seen anything like that before. Welcome to inner city governed by Democrats!!

    2. Not just bad publicity. One store I worked in we were told not to pursue shoplifters out the door because the store owner did not consider that anything in the store was worth risking an employee’s life over, and given some of our clientele…

      The end result is the same, but not all such restrictions are based on caring what the “proper” people think.

  3. Well, yeah. Look at their neighborhoods, they treat them like shit, always have. Why would they treat other people’s property any different? This isn’t news to anyone except the *screaming ninnies* begging for attention. Since I was child in the 50’s I have always know about certain parts of town and all towns have em. Negro maintenance has always been a huge burden on everyone else and everyone knows what the cure is but no one has the balls to deal with it. So we just keep dragging this burning dumpster around like the dead albatross.

    **Need to be slapped, HARD, across the face with a wooden boat paddle.

  4. Back in my youth there was an area of Staten Island call Port Richmond (probably still is). Back before my time it was THE downtown shopping area and was reportedly very nice. It had gotten rather seedy by the time I came along. There was a store called John’s Bargain Store that sold mostly cheap clothes and such. I recall hearing when I was in High School that they’d gotten a shipment of cheap sneakers and put them on sale, when they were all gone they found that they’d actually SOLD less than half of the inventory, the rest apparently walked out the door under their own power.

    Nowadays your VP would be publicly lynched for being so blunt, the company would be sued nearly out of existence, and they’d be forced to open a store which ran at a loss to appease the diversity crowd.

    Mark D

  5. Therein lies yet another problem with a general public unwilling and unable to think and a certain political persuasion that sees racism hiding behind every corner.

    When the average consumer sees $LARGE_STORE_CHAIN_NAME on the front of the building, they see the store as one of many owned by the larger corporation. They do not see it as the corporate big-wigs see it as an individual store that stands on its own, but rather part of a much larger whole. Thus the prices should be the same in the inner-city store as the suburban one because stock shrinkage at one store can easily be made up for by a lack of stock shrinkage at another and prices should reflect stock shrinkage company-wide not on a store by store basis.

    I’d wager the community organizer did not go back to their community and tell them that if they want prices in their grocery store to go down, they need to stop stealing. First, explaining such things to a mob perpetually on the verge of torches and pitchforks rarely goes over well. Second, it makes you appear as though you’re siding with those people are bent on casting as the villain.

    Lather rinse repeat over 30 years and no wonder race is the powder keg it is.

  6. My ex-wife works for our local HEB, and is the lead for the part of the store that include cosmetics. Cosmetics has a pretty high pilferage rate, because a lot of the items are small, and not exactly cheap. And the half of humanity that would steal cosmetics tends to carry handy containers for stealing small items around with them all the time. (The latest items to go under the lock – requiring a customer to summon a store employee to make a purchase – are fake eye lashes. So the thieves were either hoes or drag queens.)

    I’m not usually in that part of the store, but I had a couple of occasions recently to notice that there was a kind of metal grate gate (think the ‘door’ on really old elevators) across the end of the cosmetics aisle nearest the outer wall of the store. I asked my ex about it, and sure enough, it’s for theft prevention – when there’s only one way out, it’s a lot easier to catch would-be thieves. Both of the newer HEB stores in the county apparently were built with the cosmetics section only having one way in and out.

    She also said that every so often, someone from regional shows up, sees the grate, and tells them they need to remove it – until they’re shown the pilferage comparisons with and without the grate.

  7. I worked many, many years for a world-class large retail grocer at one of their outlets in Phoenix, Arizona. That store was built in South Phoenix in 1999, with the lofty idea that they “would provide first-class groceries and service” in an underserved neighborhood.

    Bullsh*t! That store was opened with the idea that it would lose money from the day the doors opened. It was only built there because politicians offered monstrous tax breaks and loan guarantees to a billion dollar company that normally would self-finance projects like that. They knew theft would be a problem from the start, and the store was designed with a police substation inside the store to provide security and take care of the law enforcement business they knew was coming.

    From the beginning employees were trained to not attempt to stop shoplifters, we were to report them to store security people who were trained in proper arrest techniques so as not to step on anyone’s rights.

    During the numerous remodels the store went through over the years, barriers were built to prevent thieves from getting away; they just went over or through them. Locking areas of the store where theft was highest did nothing to stop the losses. Locking cases were installed for things like disposable razors and blades; they broke the cases. Finally, high priced cosmetics liquor, and razors simple were taken out of the set. They can’t steal what isn’t there.

    One of the last remodels before I retired, the Corporation spent $1mollion to up-grade the video surveillance system. High definition, full color cameras were installed, digital recording equipment was installed, many of the cameras were “steerable” to follow the bad guys and record what they did and where they did it.

    However, most of this high tech stuff was installed at the check stands so they could watch, not the customers, but the employees. Some corporate type decided that the majority of the losses were caused by employee theft.

  8. Kim, why do you think Democrat run cities are so in love with mass transit? This allows the hood rats to go shopping in the suburbs…. and why Amazon is such a money maker.

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