Sunday, December 29, 2013

Speak No Evil, YouTube No Evil

Dominick DiMatteo started a grocery store and grew it into a chain of supermarkets that provided Chicagoans with food and imported items that weren't to be had at the nearest National or Jewel. He worked hard, responded to customer needs, and built up a grocery empire.

Then along came a gaggle of suits from out of town, loaded down with piles of cash. They made the DiMatteo family an offer that they couldn't refuse because retail is a hard business and if someone buys you out at the price you want, you'd be a fool not to take it.

Bob Mariano was working for Dominicks when Safeway came in and started changing things. Mr. Mariano was raised on the DiMatteo philosophy of putting the customer first. He found that Safeway was all about turning a profit to earn back their investment, so he left for the Roundy's chain of grocery stores up in Wisconsin.

Roundy's flourished while Dominicks declined, with Safeway focused completely on making money without investing anything in the stores. Sales continued to slide, until the fateful day when the beancounters said things would never turn around. The Dominicks brand that had become a Chicago icon had to be cut out of the corporate balance sheet because it was too much of a drag.

Those who owned Safeway proved their incompetence at running a once successful string of shops. They would prefer, however, that their disgruntled employees not speak evil of their idiocy.

And so, on his last day at work before the Glen Ellyn branch of Dominicks was set to close forever, Steve Yamamoto was suspended for the day. He had sinned against Safeway by making a YouTube video that "thanked" Safeway for closing up and putting 6,000 people out of work, a few days after Christmas.

Thanks Safeway. And Bob Mariano would like to say "I told you so". He is buying up eleven Dominicks locations and putting in Mariano's, a somewhat upscale grocer that is more what Dominicks was before Safeway, and the way Dominicks would have been if Mr. Mariano had been allowed to run things his way, rather than Safeway's way.

And 6,000 people would likely be facing the New Year with full employment, rather than a bleak job market. Thanks, Safeway.

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