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Call to Action Update: Pick 'n Save/Metro Market Shoppers

Roundy's Response

Nov. 2, 2011
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First of all, we want to be very clear that we feel that we have always had a good relationship with Roundy's. We thoroughly respected Roundy's decision to move their corporate headquarters to Downtown Milwaukee, as well as "Chairman Bob" Mariano's leadership in promoting the extension of the Chicago-Kenosha commuter rail line through Racine and to Milwaukee (the KRM). The rail extension would have been another factor in helping to create more jobs in southeastern Wisconsin.

As we stated last week, the Shepherd Express had been in all of Roundy's grocery stores, both Pick 'n Save and Metro Market, for the past 10 years. That changed on Wednesday, March 30, within hours of the issue with the Shepherd Express' endorsement of JoAnne Kloppenburg hitting the streets. Roundy's emailed the Shepherd and told us that we had to get all of our newspapers out of their five Brookfield stores. Now we have been told to get our papers out of all of their remaining stores. The newspaper rack takes up 2 square feet at the exit door beyond the cash registers—the least valuable floor space in the store, due to theft issues, according to a business consultant. Those are the facts.

We asked the 192,700 Shepherd readers (according to Media Audit statistics) who do some or all of their shopping at Roundy's to please call "Chairman Bob" Mariano and politely ask him to keep providing the Shepherd Express at Roundy's stores if they value the convenience of picking up their Shepherd when they shop for groceries. We provided the phone number to Chairman Bob's assistant.

Roundy's had two responses. First, they said that this was not a political decision, but rather a business decision. After reading the facts above, you can decide whether the timing was a mere coincidence. Secondly, after receiving hundreds and hundreds of phone calls from concerned customers at the phone number provided by the Shepherd, Roundy's simply shut down that phone number without even providing an outgoing message or any opportunity for their customers to express their opinions. They just killed the number.

Regarding this business decision, Roundy's argues that they had removed the pocket racks in their stores, those large multi-slot racks that had commercial publications for auto sales and apartment rentals—and since they were out, the Shepherd Express also had to go. But the Shepherd is a newspaper, which has a very different status, as clearly defined in Wisconsin statutes because of First Amendment free-speech considerations. Former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson even signed into law a provision that reinforces the unique status of a newspaper, as opposed to a commercial publication. His provision stated that even if a grocery store has an exclusive contract with a company that has the multi-slot racks featuring commercial publications, a grocery store could override the exclusive contract and choose to allow a newspaper because of its different status. Newspapers have a unique role in a democracy, and the state of Wisconsin recognizes that role. If some people do not want to read the newspaper, they do not have to pick it up.

To be perfectly clear, Roundy's is a private company, and they have every right to make whatever business decisions they choose to make. They also have the right to shut down their phone line so that they don't have to hear from their customers. That is a business decision. Just recently another popular company, Netflix, made some business decisions designed to increase their revenues, and their customers also expressed their disapproval. Netflix lost more than 800,000 customers, and their stock price fell 75%. Netflix quickly re-evaluated the business decision that had focused solely on what they thought would be good for their profits and had totally ignored their customers' needs. Netflix then apologized to their customers and backed off.

Now, we are not saying that Roundy's owes the Shepherd Express anything, but the question is: Does Roundy's owe its customers something? If 192,700 of their customers read the Shepherd Express and some of them like the convenience of picking up their issues of the Shepherd at a Roundy's store when they shop, should Roundy's care what their customers want?

If you want to express your concerns to Roundy's, you now have to call Roundy's customer service number at 866-279-6269 or email "Chairman Bob" at robert.mariano@roundys.com.

Thank you for your help.


Louis Fortis


The Shepherd Express

UPDATE: We've been hearing from readers that the email for "Chairman Bob"
isn't receiving messages right now. If you want to email Roundy's to voice
your support for the Shepherd Express, you can fill out their customer
service form at http://www.picknsave.com/Contact/. You can also call them at
1-866-279-6269. Thank you for your support.


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