Joshua Kennedy: ‘Fresh Direct is the joint. I got to hear Founder Joseph Fedele (who also founded Fairway uptown) speak about it at school, and he made a pretty clear and compelling case that the FreshDirect business model – while it doesn’t necessarily work in every market – pretty much assures you will be getting better, fresher food at a better price (definitely the case here on the Upper East Side of Manhattan). Just a tidbit: do you think its 70 degrees in your supermarket for the food’s sake? Or for the people’s sake?’

☞ I’m not saying you will save money overall by moving from, Columbus, say, to New York. But if you do move, you could save money on thinly sliced smoked salmon. (I mentioned to a bunch of young friends we had over for dinner this weekend and every one of them immediately started raving, especially the guy who lives at the top of a five-floor walk-up. He clicks on a week’s supply of groceries and beer; up it comes, flight after flight, the next day. The delivery folks are fit and he tips them well. But I think he needs to get a portable defibrillator, just in case.)

Karen Collins: ‘I used them once and wanted to again but I cannot get past the massive waste of boxes. If they would pick up used boxes, which I would happily flatten and tie, then I could feel good about using them again.’

☞ The devil in the details. Unbelievable planning must go into the Fresh Direct operation . . . yet they lose a customer over a consideration that might never have occurred to them. Price is great, quality is great convenience is great – but Karen is quite right: one is struck by the large cartons that often contain very little. (Each department seems to fulfill its own piece of your order, so the big box with the two cans of Barbasol and the tube of Crest is separate from the box with fish which is separate from the box with vegetables, and each one may be less than a third full.) The lesson here is not so much about cardboard recycling as about marketing. The tiniest things in the customer experience can really make a difference. Charles Revson, who founded Revlon, might not take a call from the president of a bank or a Congressman. But when a customer was on the line with a complaint, he had the call put right through.


Stephen Gilbert: ‘A friend of mine went to an open house at the school where he adopted a class. (Five handicapped kids in the class.) He loved it, said it was the best charity he knew of. I’ve adopted four classes so far, and feel the same. Thanks for telling me about it.’

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Tomorrow: Municipal Bonds and Smelly Cat


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