"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors." - Edward Winslow, Plymouth, Massachusetts 1623
As bold and optimistic as our original pilgrim settlers may have been, not in their wildest dreams could they have imagined what would become of their original humble feast nearly 400 years ago. While Edward Winslow's letter to a friend in England is thought to be the earliest official reference to what is now called the first Thanksgiving, even he used the opportunity to, not only give thanks, but to take stock of the world around him as well as his relations with the Wampanoag Indians.
In much the same manner, my co-host Jeff Macke and I have set out to be emissaries of tranquility at a time when many of us will be consumed by the hectic hustle of the holidays. Given that there is no way to avoid the rush, circumvent the crowds or put off that last minute run to the stores, in the attached video we are instead urging our fellow Americans to take a different tack this year.
Instead of being angry this Thanksgiving, be an analyst.
As simple as that seems, this little morsel of wisdom can turn a frustrating wait on a long line into a cornucopia of due diligence and priceless investor insights. So don't fight the madness, embrace it, learn from it, and profit from it.
As you sit in traffic on some nondescript stretch of American roadway take notice of the price of fuel in the area. Is it above or below the national average of $3.42? How are they changing as you travel from one place to another? Ask yourself what this might mean for discretionary spending during this, the key season for it. Prices are 2% higher year over year, but is it really having an impact on the consumer?
As my partner and the son of retailing royalty points out, if you're killing time in some far away land or airport, take it in. Absorb it. See which stores are busiest and which ones aren't. Take notice if people actually have bags (e.g. are buying things) or are simply browsing for bargains. Try to determine what the must-have item of the season will be and which purveyor of pleasure has it in stock and at what price. And finally, I recommend studying service as this is fast becoming the only definitive reason to go to into an actual store, even though most of the help has just been hired. This also applies on the phones too, as call centers can make or break a customers karma faster than the express-check lane at the supermarket.
You may not think you have much in common with your rich uncle or your troubled cousin but they provide valuable insight into the "man on the street." Take advantage of the fact that you're at the same dinner table this one night a year and ask them about their job or their local economy. Who knows what investable nugget you may uncover.
And so, just as there's no point in fighting the tide, or for the Pilgrims to have made a u-turn, we too are determined to get through the weekend with our blood pressure unaffected and emerge at the other of it a whole lot smarter and only a little bit fatter.