"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

New Thrifty White reportedly will not be big

I had envisioned the new Thrifty White in Morris as a super-duper place. I am now hearing that it will be a quite scaled-down place. It will be small, at least compared to what we might have imagined. Certain departments will be phased out. These departments were obviously judged insufficient for generating profit. That is the yardstick by which we judge everything these days.
Thrifty White will be conceding certain departments to Family Dollar and ShopKo. Thrifty White will stick with the departments that do best for them by the bottom line. Will this shift have collateral damage? By that I mean, will the number of employees be cut way down? The company saves money by not having to pay as many people.
I encountered a long-time Thrifty White employee at East Side Park over PPD weekend and asked about this. Will the staff size be shaved? This person immediately did a big shrug and made a face as if to indicate: "I have no idea." Employees are never told about these things in advance.
I remember when rumors were afloat about Coborn's closing. I asked a carry-out man (other than Glen Helberg) about what was up, and he responded the same way as that Thrifty White employee at the park. At Heartland it was the same story as rumors began about their re-location. "They (the company) don't tell us anything."
No company has any moral obligation to pay any more employees than it wants to. But there are growing economic fissures in this country, and that's why Bernie Sanders attracts such huge crowds to his rallies. We hear about a growing economic divide in the nation. The so-called middle class appears increasingly stressed, or so they say.
I'm never comfortable talking about the middle class and its problems. The term itself implies there is a lower "poor" class whose travail must obviously be greater. Vince Bugliosi has pointed out how in a previous time, we heard concern about "the poor," the remedying of their lot. Today the whole mantra is about the "middle class," even coming from the likes of Barack Obama who has been called a socialist by so many on the right wing. Ron Paul got boos at a right wing gathering once when he described Obama as a "corporatist." Obama is a mainstream Washington politician.
(BTW millennials aren't bothered by the term "socialism.")
The numbers rule
The Thrifty White re-location in Morris will probably reflect the typical corporate ethos of today. Decisions will be made by the totally detached bean counters. There will be some very short-term hand-wringing. And then everything will go quiet and everyone will just move on. At some point, stresses in our economy - the kind of stresses that cause real hardships for average people - might tip the scale in favor of a political shift, wherein government does more to ensure calm and continuity in the lives of the folk. That of course would bring a shift to the Democratic Party.
Think that can't happen? You think you can just "mail it in" for the Republicans in solid red states? Oh, you'd be surprised. Take a look at interest rates. No matter where interest rates settle, people will say those rates will stay there indefinitely, maybe forever. Remember where interest rates were, back in about 1980? They must have been at that level for a reason. We cannot rule out our nation's circumstances reverting back, due to pressures we cannot predict now.
When I was a kid, the stock market was a distant and mysterious place populated by very rich folk. It was nothing that common folk needed to give any mind to. We always heard stories about people losing lots of money in the stock market. Miraculously, that whole outlook has changed to where the stock market appears to be the financial foundation for most people. They (not me) have "401Ks."  Let me tell you why companies like 401Ks. They like it because it's the employees, not the company, taking the risks.
We have had this bizarre economic environment where interest rates have been down near zero way too long. There is no precedent for this. That's what is unnerving. How many financial advisers know what it's like to work in an environment where interest rates are going up? Oh, "interest rates will never go up." Well, we'll see.
All this new construction on the north end of Morris may not be what it's all cracked up to be. We'll have the substantially downsized Thrifty White with fewer employees (based on background I've been able to obtain), and we'll have Heartland Motors which is just a re-location, and then there's Grandstay which we'll probably find is just an extension of Superior. It may all be very underwhelming. And we've been very inconvenienced by all the roadwork through the summer.
And now we have to worry about killer amoeba possibly in area lakes. The Star Tribune says the recent death occurred from a "central Minnesota lake," thus adopting a stance of vagueness, after first reporting that the problem was associated with Lake Minnewaska. You don't suppose a few irritated Glenwood spokesmen called the Star Tribune and went into a hair-pulling tirade, do you? Starbuck too, I suppose. BTW does Starbuck still have that resident who prominently flies the Confederate flag? Just curious.
At present there are two Thrifty White stores in Morris. One occupies a major space at City Center Mall which hasn't gotten off the ground, let's be honest. The other is on the west side of Atlantic Avenue and seems to attract more people traffic. The Del Monico Cafe used to occupy part of the space where the west side Thrifty White is. The Del Monico used to share that space with Messner Drug.
I have been begging for years for Morris to have a true main street diner again, a place where you can get a reasonably priced hot beef sandwich special with an ice cream scoop of mashed potatoes and gravy, in the afternoon. (I recall Dan Schmidgall ordering that at the old Shorty's, next to the movie theater.) How about an all-day breakfast buffet?
Since Thrifty White at present has two locations, I suspect there are two chief pharmacists, one for each location. At the new place, will these two people be expected to work together? I think that could be problematic. My theory is that the company will select one of the two, and then just surround that person with (lower-paid) worker bees. Profit is the crux of everything now. But the future is always hard to predict.
We would be best off if Thrifty White just kept its two downtown locations going. We'd also be best off if Stevens County had just kept its offices at City Center Mall. How convenient. It made too much sense.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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