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An inside look at top retailers and the consumers they covet

Costco angers members by dropping Polish hot dog. Minnesotans say, 'What Polish hot dog?'

Costco execs were probably never so glad to see National Hot Dog Day end on Wednesday.

Costco recently took on hot dog lovers by ditching its Polish hot dog in the food court. At first glance, kicking the Polish dog off the menu seemed harmless enough. Costco still sells a regular hot dog and soda for $1.50, one of its best sellers. Aren't a hot dog and a Polish dog virtually two peas in the same pod of beef parts? 

Apparently not. Customers are riled about the dog being banished and the inevitable petition to bring back the Polish dog has nearly 10,000 signatures on Care2 and 15,000 on Change.org

What really cooked Costco's goose of good intentions is replacing the Polish dog with healthier fare such as an al pastor salad with meatless soy topping and an acai dessert bowl, both $4.99 each. Costco's chief executive Craig Jelinek remarked at a shareholder meeting that he had tried the meatless salad, but his response seemed lukewarm. "It tastes pretty good, if you like those kind of things. I tried it once," he said. 

Costco also recently added an option at select stores that would seem to please both the politically correct and incorrect--a cheeseburger made with all organic ingredients (6 oz of beef) and a diet-busting number of calories (1,030) for $4.99. It's being tested in St. Louis Park where it debuted about a month ago. 

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2010 Dietary Guidelines, meals should contain 650 to 700 calories for a woman or 800 to 850 calories for a man.

 

Why are Minnesotans for the most part immune to this controversy? Costco food courts in Minnesota haven't sold the Polish hot dog for quite some time, said one Costco store manager. All sell the hugely popular one-quarter pound all- beef hot dog and 20 oz. soda, which Costco has no plans to drop. Nearly all Minnesota locations also sell a bratwurst and soda, except the St. Louis Park food court, which recently dropped the brat for the organic cheeseburger. 

Jelinek reported to the Seattle Times that comments about the food menu are popular in the suggestion boxes and may be the reason healthier fare was added. A different set of suggestion box stuffers may be able to bring back the Polish hot dog. 

Sam's Club, which has long played a distant second fiddle to Costco's much higher sales per square foot, has tried to work the food court controversy to its advantage. It recently resurrected the Polish dog or kielbasa in its food courts nationwide, although many were already carrying it. Sam's Club tweeted recently that it will lower the price of its Polish dog to 99 cents starting Monday, July 23. It's also stressing that nonmembers can make purchases at the food court too.

Sam's doubled down by doing another of its Groupon specials--a one year Sam's Club membership for $35 with a free $10 egift card. 

Costco members can take comfort in knowing that it still sells Polish hot dogs, but they have to find them in the meat department, not the food court.

Both Amazon, Target bask in biggest sale days of year thus far

Well, it worked.

Offer consumers discounts and deals, and promote the sales heavily, and poof, people will buy stuff! Both Amazon and Target were basking in the aftermath of their big online sales this week -- Prime Day (well, days, since it spanned two days), in the case of Amazon, and Target's one-day online sale on Tuesday to counter it.

Minneapolis-based Target said its online sale, which included Black Friday-like discounts on categories such as 25 percent off small appliances and beauty and personal care items, was its single biggest traffic and sales day thus far this year.

That's not really a surprise though since it was Target's first big sale in 2018 and the biggest shopping days of the year are still to come around the holidays.

Some of the biggest sellers on Target.com were Dyson vacuums, Instant Pots, air fryers, Harry's razors, beauty boxes, car seats, and Google Chromecast.

Amazon also bragged that its Prime Day sale, now in its fourth year, "surpassed Cyber Monday, Black Friday and the previous Prime Day" in making it one of the biggest shopping events in Amazon history. Again, not a surprise since the online sales continue to grow every year and the biggest shopping days of the year are still to come.

The bestselling products for Amazon included many of its own devices such as the Fire Stick TV and Echo Dot, which many experts noted were some of the best deals in the sale. 

Now that Amazon owns Whole Foods, the online giant extended its Prime Day savings into the grocery aisles, too. The biggest seller at Whole Foods on Prime Day? Organic strawberries.

Amazon also noted that the 43-inch and 50-inch Toshiba 4K Ultra HD Fire Edition TVs were its most popular TV deals. That's good news for Richfield-based Best Buy, which in a partnership announced earlier this year, is the exclusive seller of Fire TV-embedded models. Best Buy sells them as a third-party vendor on Amazon as well as directly through its own stores and website.