Harmonic Therapy

Bazoo Headphones

Bye Bye Bazoo.  Sorry to have drowned you!

I like to listen to music as a form of harmonic therapy in the best of times and circumstance. I even melded my love of electronics and music into a profession.  Because I’ve got so much of the music in me, music is much more than just a small comfort to me at this particularly stressful time.

“Kick Ass” Coffee

The other night, after a long session of listening to my favorite #timtunes, I managed to set the right earpiece of my aging, yet beloved Bazoo bluetooth headphones into an abandoned cup of coffee sitting next to me here at my workstation.  I didn’t even notice at the time and it spent the night soaking in stagnant coffee. The next morning I unconsciouslyI reached over, picked them up, and placed them on my head before noticing my idiocy.  It’s enough to make an old man fear he might be going crazy. I will refrain from recounting the feeling of placing that dripping, coffee-saturated foam pad on my ear.  I had a pretty good run with my Bazoos.  As audiophile headphones they were just barely adequate, but compared to the limited selection of audiophile bluetooth headphones available three or four years ago when I got them, they were above average.

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Grocery Shopping

You can take you dog to dinner at a nice restaurant but you can't take him in the grocery store.

You can take you dog to dinner at a nice restaurant here in Germany, but you can’t take him into the grocery store.

I did my Saturday morning honey-do list today and part of it included going by the local market and picking up a few groceries.  Inspired by Jane’s Facebook post, I decided to share my shopping pics with everybody for critical analysis and derision.  All prices shown include tax, so there’s no surprise at the register.  You bring your own grocery sacks to the store or you grab an empty box from the box bin.  You have the option to purchase plastic bags at checkout (if you want to stand out like a fart in an elevator).  This is a neighborhood market, not one of the larger grocery stores in the area, so the prices are a bit higher because of that, but you can still get a feel for the local grocery economy.


Saturday Window Shopping

Obligatory Background Music

Petula Clark - Downtown

The Windows


Why Walmart Failed in Germany

Walmart, the most successful retail operation in the US, failed to make even a dent in the largest and most vibrant European economy (Germany) after losing a billion dollars in the process of bungling their German market experiment with so much failure it is now the stuff of local urban legend..  Let’s examine the reasons.

Update: Latest American Fail here.

Cultural Hubris

“The problem was the company’s business philosophy, which had always worked so well,” wrote Frankfurt’s Börsenzeitung in what pretty much amounted to an obituary. “It’s people-centered – but that doesn’t actually work when the people aren’t American.

The company gave the job of masterminding Wal-Mart Germany to an American who didn’t speak a word of German.

The Germans weren’t fond of the Walmart practice of hiring old people to accost greet them at the door, nor were the German workers impressed with morning warm-up sessions (“Higher Profits Uber Alles! — Can I get an Amen there Fritz!!”)

Economic Hubris

They have all kinds of laws over here against the kind of disruptive market “capitalism” that has decimated small towns across America, (and still threatens the world economy IMHO):

1. You can’t sell below cost in the Eurozone countries just to run your competition our of business, even if you have a billion dollars to give it a go.  Helps to level the playing field.  Gives the small guys half a chance to compete with the bigger players.

2. You can’t abuse the workforce with “falling wages” and expect the government to subsidize your slave-wage workforce with food stamps and healthcare just to make ONE corporation rich at the expense of the society at large.  Something else the German workers were repulsed by?  A ban on flirting in the workplace.   Germans to Walmart: You Don’t Own Us.

Playing by the same rules as everybody else proved FATAL for Walmart here in Germany.  This Atlantic Times summed up Walmart’s German problem nicely back in 2006,

One consequence was less competitive prices than those of their rivals.

I don’t think the American business community learned much though.  The same US based recap of the Walmart fiasco quoted above, also said this:

The third problem was bad press. The media reported that shoppers were turned off by Wal-Mart staff hired to greet them at the door and bag their groceries. This sort of thing was and still is unusual practice in Germany, so it was done away with.

Dam you media.  If only you hadn’t highlighted all of Mitt Romney’s lies Walmart’s practices, we would have Seal Team Six deployed alongside the IDF right now Walmart in Germany!

There is a full thirty five pages of Walmart Schadenfreude, (apparently written as a German business college research paper) at the end of the abstract reprinted here from linked English language PDF following.

Clearly dominating the US retail market, Wal-Mart expanded into Germany (and Europe) in late 1997. Wal-Mart’s attempt to apply the company’s proven US success formula in an unmodified manner to the German market, however, turned out to be nothing short of a fiasco. Upon closer inspection, the circumstances of the company’s failure to establish itself in Germany give reason to believe that it pursued a fundamentally flawed internationalization strategy due to an incredible degree of ignorance of the specific features of the extremely competitive German retail market. Moreover, instead of attracting consumers with an innovative approach to retailing, as it has done in the USA, in Germany the company does not seem to be able to offer customers any compelling value proposition in comparison with its local competitors. Wal-Mart Germany’s future looks bleak indeed.

Walmart Fiasco in Germany (35 page PDF)