October 22, 2010
A Friday afternoon blog –
Ever notice how much happier people are on Friday afternoons, or Friday mornings for that matter. I like to compare the faces I say goodbye to on Friday evening with those I say hello to on Monday mornings. Really, it is quite different (and probably an interesting psychological study). That’s one of the reasons I like to run around the office on Monday morning wishing everyone a ‘Happy Monday”. I get some icy cold stares as a response. But ultimately I get to my goal of a smile. I must have a weird sense of humor.
When I got back from China earlier this month, I was going to write a political blog. You see, China is facing much pressure from our government to increase the value of their currency. Many of our law makers feel that the Chinese are purposely devaluing their currency to make it lucrative for other currencies to purchase goods manufactured in China. The thought is that if it was dollar for dollar, we would have less reason to buy there, and they would have more reason to buy from us. As it is, last year one U.S. dollar could buy 7.8 RMB (Chinese currency). On this last trip, our same U.S. dollar only buys 6.8 RMB. And most people we met with thought that it would soon go to 6.4. It makes sense if in fact the Chinese were buying stuff here – they would be encouraged that only 6.4 or so RMB is needed to buy a dollar as opposed to 7.8. They do buy here, but I don’t see that as the end result. What I see: is that it is making it more expensive for us to buy in China. And, there is no doubt that we spend money in China. There even was a vote passed in Congress to tax incoming goods from “de-valued” currencies by 19%. The thought process is that it will make “Made In USA” goods more competitive. I don’t think it passed the Senate. But, I say all those folks who voted that way are voting for inflation. Because I don’t think those manufacturing jobs are coming back here. I think they’ll go to other poor countries that can pay workers a few hundred dollars a month - and the workers are happy to get it so they can feed their families. I guess I could make this my blog this month, but I won’t.
I will blog that it is your duty to vote on November 2nd. We can make a difference and get rid of some of the knuckleheads voting for things that don’t make sense.
So, it is a late October Friday afternoon in Michigan. The leaves have mostly fallen, high school football is heading to the state playoffs, and Halloween is right around the corner. The die hard golfers are struggling to get their last rounds in before the long winter. Everyone in our industry is praying for cold weather. It is not a good feeling to say that the weather will decide if this is a good retail year for the clothing business, but nobody is betting on the economy. So, if you know a prayer for cold weather, you might as well say it.
Here’s the final story of this blog. I went out for dinner and drinks with some industry friends last week. We were all wearing hats. In the restaurant, we took off our hats. During dinner we asked the waiter if we hadn’t had taken off our hats would the manager have asked us to? He said no, we were welcome to don them at any time. After dinner we went to Sullivan’s Steak House for drinks. They are cool restaurants with big food, drinks, and music. In the bar there was a group playing music and I noticed murals on the walls with jazz music and even silhouettes of musicians wearing hats. So, we took a table in the bar and ordered drinks. After we were served, our waitress came back and told us her manager asked her to have us remove our hats. Not what I wanted to hear. I wanted to fight, or at least lecture the manager. But my friends told me to calm down. We drank our drinks and left. This is my way of getting back at them. If Sullivan’s Steak House wants to be a cool as they think they are, then let their customers be themselves and wear their hats. Could one of our hat fans send this blog to the management at Sullivan’s? Really, it is a good place to eat if you like to spend money at a steak house. But, I won’t support them unless they change their policy – or - get a sexy hat check girl.
So, that’s the end of this rambling blog. Business at Broner is ok. It’s still not easy out there, but we are seeing things improve. Our hats are retailing strong, and our pre-books for next year are better than last year. Now I’m rooting for the weatherman to tell everyone that they will need hats and gloves when they take the kids “trick or treating”!