Sorry, we have no Toast at Toast!


I can't say this is strictly Lean related, but I thought this was funny and I'll share it anyway. So I'm at the airport terminal in Edmonton on Thursday, waiting to fly home and saw this one (and only) food stand in the area. It's called “Toast!” It's not that I was in the mood for toast, but I laughed when I saw the second smaller paper sign hanging (see the second picture, you can click on either for a larger view.

The sign says “SORRY, NO BAGELS OR TOAST AVAILABLE AT THIS TIME.” No Toast available today!! Is this an inventory management problem? :-) Anyway, I just thought it was funny and I always have my digital camera handy, so here we go. Have a great week, everyone.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Great post. Reminds me of the new Starbucks in Forney, which continues to run out of items every week due the lack of inventory management and the fact that items are only delivered weekly. Being out of light mix for a cold drink, I asked why and they stated, they were still adjusting there inventory needs. I’m wandering if a simple KanBan system could have relegated a solution to the variance? After 3 months, I would suspect their is ample Lean activity, which could have improved the customer value.

  2. Wouldn’t you expect a Starbucks to not have that much variation in their demand, at least on a weekly basis? If demand varies just +/- 20%, that makes kanban a method that’s pretty likely to work. Now, seasonal items might be different, but normal coffee, milk, napkins, etc. might be pretty regular right?

    I wonder if they use an electronic re-order point? An MRP-style push ordering system??

    A Starbucks running out of the same items every week shows a frustrating inability to fix the root cause of their inventory problems, huh? They could try to shift to a distributor that could deliver more frequently than weekly too, right?

    I might be going back to Edmonton in the spring, so I’ll be curious to see if they are still out of toast!!

  3. Rick,

    Perfect opportunity to volunteer and explain kanban, the lead times, the variation…if they’re as focused on customer service as they say, you’d think they’d gobble up suggestions from a customer. Maybe you’ll end up as retail operations consultant for them?


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