No Action Talk Only

keeblelogoMy late friend George Nelson used to use that term (No Action Talk Only) as a descriptor for the organization with the same acronym as its name (NATO), and over the years we have applied it to many organizations and groups. The closing of the venerable camera store, Keeble & Shuchat in Palo Alto at the end of October of this year, after 51 years in business, is an unfortunate example of how many people in our society practice NATO.

There is an outcry in the US for more US manufactured goods. Walmart used to pride itself on carrying only US manufactured goods. Then their customers told them they wanted the low price regardless where made (assuming acceptable quality). Walmart now outsources much (most) of the products they sell. While they are responding to the current outcry for more US made goods, I suspect they are going slowly as they recognize NATO when they see it.

New Balance has been a US shoe manufacturer for over 100 years and still makes some of their products in the US. However in 1994 it was 70% now it’s 25%. They are hoping to boost it by requiring the Department of Defense to buy shoes for new recruits from a US manufacturer.

We have a client, Lavelle Industries, in WI that makes the Korky line of toilet repair products in the US. Their major competitor, Fluidmaster, makes their products in Mexico. The products sell for virtually identical prices. Do the major retailers care that one is US made? Not as far as I can tell. Do consumers? Can’t see that they do. NATO.

Back to Keeble & Shuchat. A primary reason for their closing is so much business is being lost to internet sales. Many people say shop local, but then NATO. Worse Keeble & Shuchat has noticed no real decline in prospective customers in their stores, just not ones who buy. They will come to the store to learn, then buy online. They will come to the store for help using or fixing their camera equipment, but still buy online. As Terry Shuchat notes, “We’ve become a big showroom for online stores.” I have noted back in 2013 that showrooming was becoming a major problem for retailers.

Shuchat added: “We always hear how people want to support local retail, but in reality they’re not showing that in their spending. ” NATO

Sad commentary.



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