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Investment lessons on retailing and dentistry

Retail is depressing. Thoroughly depressing.

Coachella Valley, California, is more typical of retailing throughout the U.S. than Manhattan is — where I normally live. Here we have a big highway, called SR 111, strewn with big box stores like Best Buy, Staples, JCPenney, Walgreens, CVS, Macys, Barnes and Noble and Petco.

Twenty years ago, these shops were fun. Walk their aisles. You’d encounter a thrill every aisle. A sale here. A new product there. The exploding world of American manufacturing innovation.

No more.

Today, it’s depressing to shop them. Their shelves are often half empty. (Have you been to Staples recently?) Their aisles are frustrating. The layout annoying.  You can’t find what you want. And when you do, it’s the store brand, not the brand you want and, worse, the store brand is expensive. Their “sales associates” are surly — if you can find them. They lack knowledge of the products they “sell.” they have no idea where anything is in their uninviting, cavernous store.

Not surprisingly, Best Buy, Staples, Walgreens, CVS and Petco are virtually empty, of customers. How they survive beats me. It’s time to sell the worst short — e.g. Staples and Best Buy.

In contrast, Amazon has real inventory, a search engine, user reviews of the stuff it sells and answered questions on its products. In short, everything you want to know before you buy.

In contrast to the Staples, Best Buys and Walgreens of the world, the local food retailers — Whole Foods, Vons, Jensens, Altertsons, Bristol Farms, Trader Joes — are actually a delight to shop at. Their food offerings vary, and often entice. Their salespeople are helpful. They’re all foodies.

I was sent on a  “HoneyDo” to find rainbow kale. Susan wanted it for some delicious Moroccan dish she was creating. I hate kale. But cooked, rainbow kale is OK.


It may also be called rainbow chard. No one knows the difference between chard and kale. Check out the images for it on Google here.

The moral of this boring story:

+ Don’t own box-box general retailing. Own food retailers, especially organic ones, like Whole Foods.

Oh yes, the only interesting non-food retailer is Apple.

India’s Chance to Fly. The Economist agrees with Larry Fink (see yesterday’s blog) that India is looking good. Last week’s Economist:


Two articles on India worth reading: Here and here.

There are several Indian ETFs. They’re doing good.




Four hours yesterday at the dentist; Lesson learned:

+ Get your dentist to do a full mouth set of x-rays every 18 months so so.

The x-rays should cover all your roots and all your teeth (assuming you still have some).

When you’re old (and crabby) like me, your mouth is a conglomerate of 50-years of dental experiments, varied weird materials, and sundry incipient nasties hiding in strange places.

Without the regular x-rays, you’ll only know about your problems when they’re far too late.

As problems get later, the price to repair them escalates exponentially. (Like bicycles, the lighter, the far more expensive.)

I had two extractions and four implants yesterday. None of this would have been necessary had my previous dentist been more diligent, caring and — shall I dare say — professional. I’m not mentioning names of my hopeless New York dentists this morning. But I really should. I’m really annoyed. Maybe tomorrow.

In sum, full mouth x-rays are the cheapest investment you can make in your teeth.

Which brings me to my Dental Investment Philosophy (DIP, for short).

+ Buy shares in the leading dental supplier:


Harry Newton, who is now raving about Coachella Valley’s best dentists, Drs. Robert R. McLachlan and David Corradi of the Desert Dental Specialty Group. They did a superb job yesterday … and took full-mouth x-rays. You don’t want to hear the disasters they discovered.

Apologies for everyone for being late with this blog this morning. I slept for 12 hours after yesterday’s heady dental work. I feel almost great this morning. I’ll be back to playing tennis tomorrow, with a new smile. Yipee!


  1. Sree says:

    Hi Harry,

    MINDX is a good India specific mutual fund

  2. charlie1939 says:

    Harry, don’t mean to be picky, BUT…
    Kale and Swiss Chard are both leafy vegetables of unrelated, totally different taxonomic genuses: Kale is a cole crop of the cabbage (brassica) family, including also, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, rutabaga, turnip and mustard seed; while chard is from the beet (beta vulgaris) family, note the similarity of chard leaves and beet greens (leaves) in your salad.

    • Harry Newton says:

      I’m guessing that all is healthy for me and I’ll live until the weekend?

      Just kidding. Thanks for the info.

  3. Sam says:

    I have changed dentists several times due to relocating. Every new dentist finds lots of problems with the work of the previous dentists. I do not believe dentists can be trusted. When extensive dental work is required get second and sometimes third opinions.

    • Harry Newton says:

      But that’s what they’re meant to do?

      Seriously, I could see with my own two eyes what is wrong.

  4. Fderfler says:

    Something about India has always caused me to be LESS than overly enthusiastic: “A staggering 70% of Indians living in villages – or some 550 million people – defecate in the open. Even 13% of urban households do so. Open defecation continues to be high despite decades of sustained economic growth – and despite the obvious and glaring health hazards.

    The situation is so bad that open defecation is more common in India than in that are poorer countries such as Bangladesh, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Burundi and Rwanda”

  5. Harry Newton says:

    I put some money into India a few years ago. So far, it’s done awfully.

  6. jon says:

    Been watching India’s economy for the last 66 years, it’s a work in progress. I’m sure they will get it right one of these days.