Saturday, May 13, 2017

Slow Saturday Special: Loafing Around

"The latte a loafer thief left behind may help track him down" by Steve Annear Globe Staff  January 06, 2017

A medium latte from Dunkin’ Donuts could be the smoking gun that helps solve a petty crime in Natick.

A man walked into a retail shop in town on Dec. 16 and asked the clerk if he could try on an expensive pair of loafers. After the man put on the $100 pair of Rinjard slip-ons, the clerk went to help another customer. That’s when the alleged thief left and never came back, Natick police said.

To the officers who responded to the report of the theft, one detail of the case stood out.

A clerk told police that the alleged perpetrator, described as a white male, medium build, with an unshaven face who “likes caffeine,” had abandoned his Dunkin’ Donuts latte as he left the scene of the crime.

So police began their detective work. They went to the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts to ask some questions.

“Now there are a lot of Dunkies out there (and our relationship is STRONG),” Natick police wrote Friday in a Facebook post. “But the closest one sold only one latte in the preceding hour.”

Officers recovered surveillance video of the person they believed was the suspect from the Dunkin’ Donuts, Natick Police Lieutenant Brian Grassey said.

Police have now posted the video on Facebook, and are asking for the public’s help in identifying the latte-leaving man.

“The proximity, the time of the event, and the purchase of the latte — coupled with the description by the clerk — it kind of pieced together,” said Grassey in a telephone interview. “It was his undoing.”

Grassey, who calls himself the department’s “Facebook and Twitter guy,” said the video didn’t get posted until now because he was on vacation.


He said the department follows up on all crimes, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Sharing things to social media helps police zero in on suspects sooner, he added.

“We often get feedback quickly and we are able to close out a higher number of cases,” he said. “It’s not the crime of the century here. But he probably didn’t anticipate that leaving behind a cup of coffee was going to expose him.”


Not a word from the Globe since.

Maybe you would like to try on the other shoe?

"Boston-based e-commerce site ShoeBuy acquired by" by Janelle Nanos Globe Staff  January 05, 2017

ShoeBuy, the Boston-based e-commerce site that has been selling loafers, sneakers, and stilettos online since 1999, has been acquired by and its parent company Walmart Stores Inc. for $70 million. The deal, which was announced on Thursday, closed on Dec. 30.

The acquisition is part of Walmart’s aggressive strategy to go all-in with online shopping. Realizing that its role as the world’s largest retailer hinged largely on its brick-and-mortar stores, Walmart has begun shift its focus to e-commerce, acquiring the online marketplace in August for $3.3 billion.

That deal was largely seen as a way to hedge the fallout that big box stores are experiencing as shoppers continue seek out Internet deals. It’s also a way for the Walmart brand, which has largely been associated with discount offerings, to begin to expand its reach to new customers through its hipper platform.

It's a real Catch 22.

ShoeBuy’s 200 staffers will continue to operate out of its Boston offices in Downtown Crossing and ship from its Woburn distribution center, said the company’s chief executive, Mike Sorabella. The site will run independently of the and, though shoe brands that sell on ShoeBuy will have the option of expanding their reach onto the other sites.

Jet’s founder, Marc Lore, an e-commerce veteran behind, had designed the company to compete directly with, undercutting its prices by giving bulk discounts. Jet gave Walmart an instant foothold in the e-commerce. And it now seems ShoeBuy will help better establish that foothold in a more literal sense.

ShoeBuy was an early entrant to online shopping, launching in Boston the same year that its more prominent competitor,, got its start. In 2006, ShoeBuy was acquired by Barry Diller’s InterActiveCorp (figures were not disclosed at the time, but it the sale was rumored to be north of $60 million). Zappos eventually emerged at the dominate player in the category and was acquired by in 2009 for $1.2 billion.

Today, ShoeBuy carries over 800 brands, sells more than a million items on its site, and receives over 3 million unique visitors on a monthly basis, according to the company.

While those numbers may fall far short of Zappos’ traffic, the acquisition gives Walmart an edge in the shoe category, said Keith Anderson, a vice president at e-commerce consulting company Profitero. The company, he said, has been feeling a “great urgency” from investors to find a path to growth, and the fastest, easiest way to do so — and to compete with Amazon in the process — is through acquisition.

The purchase “reflects the growing urgency to adapt through partnerships or acquisitions,” Anderson said. “The pace of change is greater than the pace some of these number one and two retailers can evolve.”’

True fa$ci$m in its death throes.

The move is an important one for Walmart and Jet, said Walmart spokesman Ravi Jariwala. Apparel and accessories are now the top category for online commerce, outpacing computer hardware for the first time last year. “A lot of customers are already going to ShoeBuy,” he said, “and in the space of e-commerce it’s critical to be where your customers already are.”

Through the acquisition, Sorabella said, ShoeBuy is better able to continue to innovate and more closely align with a team of fast moving e-commerce players. “I think we found the absolutely best fit in this acquisition,” he said.

Not for me.