There’s a new product on the shelves at some Harris Teeter stores in Charlotte: cannabis. Some locations last week began offering a small selection of CBD lotions and oils made from hemp. For more on this and other business news „Morning Edition” host Marshall Terry is joined by Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business newsletter for our segment Biz Worthy.
Terry: So Tony it’s a small selection now at some Harris Teeter locations but is it likely to grow?
Mecia: I think it is likely to grow Marshall. I think what you’re seeing is that mainstream retailers are becoming a lot more comfortable with stocking some of these products on their shelves that maybe they wouldn’t have been a few years ago. This is only at some Harris Teeter stores, it’s not at all Harris Teeter stores. I went out over the weekend and looked in some of the stores, it seems more to be in suburban locations — down at Blakeney, down at Stonecrest at Piper Glen — they had a selection of hemp bath bombs, oils, lotions. Some of the stores closer into town didn’t seem to have that same selection but I think this is a trend that you’re going to see in more stores not just grocery stores but I think pharmacies, other types of retailers I think are kind of getting into this. You see this at a time when you’re seeing a lot of specialty stores pop up that are selling these hemp products in order to serve a market that is really interested in this and they say they have a much wider selection and are able to give a lot more personal service than some of these bigger retailers.
Terry: It’s been almost a year since a group of about 90 doctors left Atrium to launch an independent practice, Tryon Medical Partners. You spoke to try Tryon’s CEO Dale Owen this week. What did he have to say?
Mecia: It was really interesting. They were forced to grow very quickly, open up eight offices just in a matter of months, hire 300 staff, try to get all patients scheduled. It was kind of a big operation in terms of building something up really in pretty short order. So they’ve been focused on that. He told me that they’re going to be looking to grow. It sounds like potentially adding some additional practices, some additional doctors, trying to get more patients, going direct to employers to try to get employers to sign up directly, trying to help cut down some of these health care costs. What they’re trying to do is they’re trying to say ‘hey, we’re doctors, we’re not professional hospital administrators, we know medicine and we can provide patient care better than some of these big hospitals.’
Terry: There’s some big economic news out of Concord. Carvana wants to open a facility at the old Philip Morris site and says it will bring 300 jobs over three years. What exactly is the company planning?
Mecia: Well, it sounds as though it’s not going to be one of those vending machines like you have on South Boulevard. You know, those big, big glass buildings that you drive by and you say wow, that looks kind of interesting. Although, I think it’s probably — getting a car out of there — is probably a little more difficult than getting a Snickers bar out of the vending machine in the break room. But I think what they’re going to be doing up in Concord it sounds like, Marshall, is it’s going to be a site where they can kind of stage some of these cars, where they can inspect them, sort of warehousing logistics. You know, we’ve talked previously, Marshall, about how we’re seeing a lot of these warehousing operations move out side of Charlotte, out into Cabarrus County, York County. You know, the vending machines get a lot of attention but actually what Carvana also does it really allows you to do online purchases of automobiles. You don’t have to go to the vending machine. You can order online and they can deliver it to your house so they’re not just stocking a vending machine out of Concord. I think they’re doing… it’s a much bigger operation that’ll help deliver some of these cars throughout the area.
Terry: The stock price of Charlotte based soft drink bottler Coca-Cola Consolidated has doubled this year. Now normally that’s good news but you report some investors are actually not as happy as you think they might be. So why is that?
Mecia: It’s sort of interesting. Coke Consolidated, a big bottler based in South Park, its stock price has really surged this year but there’s a hedge fund in London that wrote an open letter to the Coca-Cola Company saying that he thinks it’s unfair that their stock prices increased that much. He thinks that Coke Consolidated which earlier this year changed its name — it used to be Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated they shortened it to Coca-Cola Consolidated — he said that that creates confusion with the Coca-Cola Company and that investors are being misled and that they’re confusing the two putting the money into Coke Consolidated stock and causing the stock price to go up. Ordinarily investors wouldn’t complain if a stock price is going up. But this hedge fund is a short seller which means that it makes money if the stock price goes down. And so it’s really a complaint that they were betting on a stock price to go down and it has gone up like crazy.
Terry: Well, let’s end on another beverage related item. The North Carolina ABC commission last week rejected the label of a Utah made beer called Polygamy Porter so it won’t be appearing on shelves here anytime soon. What was the commission’s objection specifically?
Mecia: The North Carolina ABC commission has taken a very hard line against some names that it says are inappropriate and there’s a provision in state law and regulations that says that if there is a practice that’s illegal or in bad taste that they can reject some of these names. And what they said was, you know, polygamy is illegal in North Carolina and therefore this name of this beer and this label of this beer is not allowed. The label, incidentally the artwork on the label, was a little bit racy I think, as well. And can leave that to people’s imaginations maybe but they said that was inappropriate.