I just finished my annual review and it was very good with little reference to the Lupus, except that I should make sure to outsource certain projects when I need to. Whew!
I have an open-ended question to the board. We do original research on all our investments -- which are mostly in public companies. No relying on other analysts or cheating with insider info for us. Often, we get ideas from friends or family, or from contacts who happen to comment on what a great experience that had with "x" or what a great supplier "y" is etcetera.
On a selfish side, I would love to hear about companies you or those you know have had great experiences with -- either as a consumer or in a business context. Plus -- it would be a great change of pace from the venting (which I actually think is one of the great things here -- and I'm sure our friends and family agree) that this board lets us get out of our system.
I'm glad your review went well, even when you don't expect problems, I think they are always a nerve wracking experience.
Most of my favorite companies are small businesses set up as sole proprieterships or LLPs, so none are publicly traded. I'm a big believer in trading locally whenever possible - anything to avoid dealing with wal-mart or any company like it. But I'll certainly keep my eye out. Many of my friends are getting more interested in "hearth and home" as they get older - they are buying fewer electronic toys for work, and more things like gourmet bread machines and fancy truffle oils. So companies like Williams-Sonoma, Chefs, Harry and David, anything that caters to the nesting instincts of the post-baby-boom generation. Most of my friends are also willing to spend obscene amounts of money on their kids for things like Kellie's Kids for the toddlers. Coach and Downey and Bourke handbags are both very popular in this area, but stuff like that is so regional, it's hard to judge what might be popular elsewhere. But all of the high-end children's clothes and toys seem to be doing well if my friends and relatives are any judge. People are also willing to spend huge amounts on their pets. I buy all the time from Drs. Foster and Smith (online) and Petsmart (retail).
The newest craze among the scrapbooking and card-making crowd (including me) is the Cuttlebug by Provo Craft, a machine that die-cuts, enbosses, and textures paper - these things are so popular, the local craft stores can't keep them in stock. I don't know if Provo Craft is a public company or not - it is a well-respected and established name in the craft industry, and everyone who tries it loves the Cuttlebug. Ellison Design is also a company that provides great products for both crafters and teachers. I also love anything manufactured by the Daisy D Paper Company, which makes gorgeous vintage-looking scrapbook kits and paper products.
I hope you get some interesting responses - It will be fun to know what other people like to buy.
Thanks much MaryCain. That was good info. What we are looking for are what I would call "Wow!" stories.. For example, companies like Costco, SW Airlines, Commerce Bank etcetera -- but ones that may not be that well known -- or are making a turnaround that's not yet obvious.
Just interested to hear everyone's stories about why they are Wow! experiences. Not looking for financials etc -- we do our own research.
I think it's alway's encouraging to hear (amidst all the bad Dr stories or tales of insensitive colleagues/relatives) about companies that are doing their work right -- and not creating more work for their customers who have to sort out what the company did wrong....
I know Costco is doing well on Wall Street, but my experiences with it have been very negative - the few stores in this area are not very "handicap friendly" - cluttered aisles, no assistance with getting items off shelf (very important if you're using a wheelchair), difficulty returning items, and employees who seem both unfriendly and uninterested. I stopped bothering - I don't even go there any more. I'd rather pay a little more and go to our local Target, which has incredible customer service and goes out of its way to assist disabled or older shoppers. Plus, Target earned my loyalty a couple of years ago when my niece had a house fire in December which destroyed everything, including the kid's presents. She called me in tears in the middle of the night, we brought her to our house, and her children didn't even have shoes on because they had run out of the house barefoot. I went to Target that night to buy them a few things, and try to replace some of the presents. The checkout clerk mentioned the amount of stuff I was buying, and I told her about the fire. She called the store manager over and told him, and he then told me to go through the store and get anything I needed at no charge. He asked me the kids' ages and sizes, then several employees scattered thru the store, bringing back coats and undies, socks, clothes, blankets, toys, games, even milk and bread. My van was completely full. That kind of generosity goes beyond customer service, and once you've experienced it, you don't forget it.
MaryCain, your story brought tears to my eyes! There really ARE good people out there...we just don't hear about them on the news.