Happy New Year! I meant to post this three weeks ago but I never thought January 24 would come so fast after January 1. Looks like 2023 is going to go by even faster than 2022. Is that possible?
You might be wondering why I haven’t posted recently. I decided to take time out and write a book. The book will highlight my entrepreneurial career from the age of 9 to current. That’s a lot of fucking years. Surprisingly, writing the book has been quick and smooth. I’m starting to write Chapter 18 today which goes through the history of Gaynor’s Health & Beauty Aids right before Nailco Manicurist Centers was launched in 1985.
It is quite fascinating writing this book. What is especially fascinating is how I recalled so many details from events that were more than 40 and 50 years ago. The book is non-fiction and is about my life as an entrepreneur with the focus on starting Nailco and how it ended up being TNG Worldwide. The three themes surrounding the book are all about being an entrepreneur: Magic, Curses and Luck. I have always said that living life is about 1/3’s: Luck, genes and how you take care of yourself.
The reader will be truly entertained because the book is going to be an excellent outline how business and technology evolved for more than 50 years. More importantly it highlights the start of true product innovation and the start of so many new industries only to see most of them fade into the sunset.
I hope to complete the book this spring and then take it to an editor or publisher for review. I have no idea if I will print 10, 100, 1000 or more copies. That really doesn’t matter to me. What matters is those that want to learn about my history and the history of retail in general, they will be mesmerized. I have five beta readers giving me feedback as I send them completed chapters and it is very encouraging because they want more chapters sooner than later to read.
I am going to pause the blog so I can focus all my efforts on the book. Surely my blog will be included in the book along with so many other tipping points that happened in my life. But the book isn’t just about my life, it is about the life of so many others that I came in contact with and their stories are sometimes just as fascinating to read. For those that have been with me during my journey, I am sure you will love the book when it finally comes out. I will be sure to blog when that happens!
Last weekend we had our Annual Meeting starting with lunch on Friday, breakfast the next morning followed by a sweet and short one hour meeting with me talking about 2022 results and 2023 plans. It was then off to Costco by bus where everyone had one hour to spend $1000. Shopping sprees are always a sight for the eyes and the wonderment involved in watching people shop with free money.
Afterwards we got back on the bus and went to The Gandy Dancer in Ann Arbor for lunch. While dessert was served, I stood up and like every year beforehand, toasted to health. I then went on to tell a story. As a loyal reader, you get to read my story.
The BUB and I are in our backyard last summer on a Friday night. As customary for zillions of years, we celebrate Martini Friday, the culmination of a great week and life celebration. And with the BUB’s new love of Kenny Chesney, Friday night’s are now Kenny nights and nothing better than his double live album to listen to.
As we finish the martini, I tell the BUB that I have this wild idea to do something special for our 30+ year employees who have been with the company. At 10 years, we offer them an all-expense paid trip to Vegas or Disney and at 20 years, a one-week Caribbean cruise.
I said if we do $100 a year, that would be $3000 (we have three qualifying employees this year). BUB loved the idea.
Just then Summertime, BUB’s favorite song came on and she asked “What are we drinking now?” I said a glass of wine sounds good so she grabbed the bottle and poured us a glass. Mind you, it’s 80 degrees outside, the sun is still shining and life is good. I also know that once this song starts to play, we will be dancing. As the song finishes, she says, “What about $250 instead?” I say “You know that is $7500.”
As Kenny continues with his live tunes, BUB asks “So what are we drinking now?” She recommends a nice bourbon pour and I say “Sounds good!” As she gets the bourbon, I serve the apps, yummy ahi tuna and guac and fresh Michigan tomato bruschetta. In between bites, I say, “What do you think about $500 a year?” BUB loves the idea even though it costs $15,000.
Now Kenny is belting out Boston and that means we have to get up and dance some more (you know he only sings this song live in Boston). Then she asks as the bourbon is gone, “So what are we drinking now?” I’m thinking as the main course is getting ready to be plated, “Sounds like a good time for a nice single malt.”
As Kenny is finishing up singing Boston, BUB wails out, “I think we should do $1000 a year!” I say to her “Are you crazy!” That’s $30,000!
Needless to say, everyone in the room is speechless and listening to my every word. The three qualifying employees (Gary, Dan & Jesse) are not even close to comprehending my story because certainly it cannot be true and I told everyone at the beginning that there were a few embellishments to my story.
As I finished the story, I took envelopes out of my sports coat pocket and said, “OK, I have three envelopes here so let’s see what part of my story is true. Everyone gasped. They wondered if I really was going to pass out money to these guys and how much would it be.
So I brought Gary up because he has been with us the longest, 32 years. I then told him to sit down because the story was not done. I went on to say that the checks are tax-free so as not to affect TNG’s bottom line as they are a gift from the BUB and I. Everyone gasped again.
Finally Gary comes up and I present him with the envelope. He slowly opens it up, takes out the check and as only Gary could say, “No fucking way.” I asked him how much the check was for. Gary was pretty much speechless but did manage to say “$30,000.” Not only did everyone gasp again, tears started pouring and it was a moment that would never be forgotten.
Next up was Dan who was a teary eyed as could be and he barely made it up. He opened the envelope and was totally in shock. Hugs, hugs and more hugs.
Last but not least was Jesse and he was still in shock as well and barely heard his name being called. I was hoping we didn’t have to call 911 he was shaking so much thinking to himself, “Can this really be happening?” Luckily he made it up OK and he opened the envelope. I asked him how much was the check for and for a brief moment, his sense of humor kicked in when he said “$60,000.” Everyone gasped. Especially both Gary and Dan. But he was quick to say it was for $30,000.
The best part about the story is how everyone in the room was genuinely happy for them. With so much bad going on these days, it was so nice to see what happens when so much good makes a difference.
I then went on to say that all 30 year employees would be receiving $30,000 and the room gasped one last time.
We finished dessert, boarded the bus and headed back to TNG. Now you know the rest of the story.
How did it suddenly become Thanksgiving week, does time have no respect anymore? Yes, TDAY is still my favorite holiday (all about eating, drinking and spending time with family) but I do miss the Turkey Trot and watching the Lions on TV (yes they are still on TV but there are so many better things to do than waste 3+ hours on a sub-prime team).
And even though the holiday season is here, I think so many people are overwhelmed that they can’t appreciate it and they just want to get through it. I was at Nino’s the other day and a 3-pack of Romaine lettuce was $8.99 and a head lettuce was $5.99. Mind you, Nino’s is known for their selection and prices of fresh veggies. But I think it’s about other factors besides food inflation.
Forecasters are calling for a flat holiday season in terms of purchases. I cannot remember a year such as this one that has absolutely not a single must-have item in any category. Even Apple products have become “boring” and kids fascination’s with toys seems to be ebbing with 3-year olds now streaming on their own devices.
Just as women love ULTA Beauty, I have to say men love Total Wine just the same. I have never seen a liquor store quite like it (Binny’s in Chicago is close). They have the greatest selection of wine, many with mark-ups of a dime, so by far the best prices. But the selection of bourbon, scotch, tequila, and anything alcoholic is overwhelming yet merchandised perfectly. They also have great employees who are very helpful. I will never buy wine and liquor anywhere else.
Sally Beauty reported their most recent quarterly earnings. Another down quarter in sales and lower margins. What is shocking is how well ULTA is doing in the same environment. No doubt inflation is squeezing Sally’s low-income customers but their Cosmoprof division which represents the pro beauty business (what’s left of it) is totally flat with no chance of growth. Go into one of their Cosmoprof stores and you will see the complete opposite of walking into an ULTA store.
Disney lost its magic and fired their CEO just after renewing his contract for three years. Oh well, Chapek ends up with $23 million just like that.
The FTX implosion. Is crypto nothing more than tulip bulbs?
And Musk. The world’s wealthiest guy, what is his end-game strategy? Would you spend $44B for a company and then implode it? Tesla has more problems than ever and Morgan Stanley has a $100 bear case price on it.
Instead of a whole turkey for Thanksgiving, this year doing a turkey breast and whole tenderloin. But when it comes to the feast, it’s the sides that are the stars. Still love candied sweet potatoes and stuffing (most likely because only time of year I eat this stuff).
Big election November 8. Who will win? MAGA or Biden’s Green Energy ideology are the centerpieces of who wins even though inflation, the economy, crime and abortion are the most discernable topics. At stake is the future of America’s middle class, America’s democracy (just look at what is going on at Twitter) and how the economic civil war will pan out. My guess: Republicans will win both the House and the Senate (Vegas has 72% odds on Republicans winning).
What’s going on at MSU is frightening, yet MSU keeps on humming with its record student population and annual tuition. Where is the breaking point? I had the opportunity to chat with President Stanley at the UM vs. MSU game and he made the right decision resigning. What a difference three years made when I first met him to now. It makes you wonder why anyone would want that job and with 85% of American’s stating that politics in America needs to be restructured, why would anyone want to be President of the USA?
I am so happy to be making and selling beauty products. The CEO of Mondelez which owns brands such as Oreo’s, Cadbury and Sour Patch Kids said in his latest earnings report, “It doesn’t matter how much we raise prices, consumers can’t live without chocolate.” The same is true about beauty products. I don’t know about you, but when was the last time you were angry, stressed out or wanting to put a fist in the wall when you ate a Snicker’s bar, hot fudge sundae or cider mill donut? And when consumers are indulging in the shower using Ginger Lily Farms Island Tranquility Body Wash, they are in the moment of enjoyment and perhaps wandering off to the tropical island they so very much want to visit.
How about that for the perfect lead-in to our newest products! Since I create them, I obviously have a passion for them all but some stand out more than others. Here are my latest fav’s:
ForPro Nurture Digital Paraffin Bath Kit features the most advanced paraffin bath and updated formulations of our best-selling paraffin wax available in four scents and fragrance-free.
Just in time for the dry winter season, I love our new ForPro Premium Moisturizing Cotton Gloves. I made the cuff elastic so the gloves stay on when sleeping and the cotton is 100% pure for comfort. Best to use with EMMA Triple Treat!
My last product feature is really out of the beauty space but something I wanted to create because I was irritated buying Finish for the dishwasher because it is overpriced and the only brand in its space. Add the fact that our Ginger Lily Farms Dish Soap is a best-seller on Amazon, it made sense to give Finish a run for its money. Ginger Lily Farms Rinse-Aid has four benefits to keep dishes and glasses looking their best at a fraction of the price. Love it.
I’m an addict, I admit it. I have to get in my daily fix of Candy Crush, Duolingo and Chess.com. Candy Crush is celebrating 10 years and I’m at level 7800 or so. It really is relaxing. Duolingo is the #1 language app and I have been on it for more than three consecutive years. They claim more than 2 million users have at least a one year streak so I am not alone in this department. Chess.com is the best chess app for playing and learning. I try to play at least 4-5 games daily plus an hour for lessons. I’m currently rated around 1180 Rapid but I will say there is no more challenging and frustrating game as chess. The agony of defeat and the thrill of victory is intense and this with no money on the line.
It was bad enough after the .com crash in 2000.
It was bad enough after 9/11 in 2001.
It was bad enough after the housing crash in 2007-2009
It was bad enough when Obama became President in 2009
It was bad enough during the pandemic that began March 2020
It was bad enough when Trump and his supporters rioted the capital in 2021
It was bad enough when Russia invaded Ukraine in March 2022
It was bad enough when U.S. inflation hit 8.5% in July 2022
It was bad enough when the FED increased interest rates and continues to do so creating one of the worst bear markets in history
It was bad enough when… (what will be next, recession in 2023?)
It is one thing to count on the Lions losing close games and just about all games.
It is one thing to count on the Spartans losing games even when paying their head coach $95M over 10 years.
With mid-term elections just a few weeks away, can we count on the election results being correct?
The new world order is here and right now we are in the early stages of the first Economic World War. The players include the U.S., China, Russia, U.K., Europe and this war could last through 2026.
We are witnessing worldwide power struggles unlike since WWII. The U.S. Dollar is wreaking havoc on just about every economy outside the U.S. The Euro is below $1.00 U.S. for the first time and the pound touched below $1.00 last week. It’s great for Americans traveling to the U.K. and Europe as prices have never been lower. But for U.S. manufacturers who ship internationally, they are being devastated and one reason profits are down and going down even more.
You have China which is going to give its Premier a lifetime membership later this month and at the same time, seen his country continue to sink lower and lower economically and socially.
You have Russia who has a dictator that will not accept defeat and will continue the war for as long as it takes even if his army is no more (he is now recruiting 300,000 citizens into the army). This will affect the cost of energy and food while the war continues and keep inflation high while Europe is wondering how it is going to keep warm this winter. In fact, many countries are telling their citizens to buy wood stoves and firewood which is the most inefficient source of heat. So much for the Green Deal.
You have the U.K. with a new prime minister that wants to cut taxes while inflation is raging at record levels.
You have the new Italian prime minister which is as right as you can get but at least understands the situation her country is in today.
And finally, you have the U.S. which is the best spot in the world and the envy of every citizen not living in the U.S. But with the recent hurricane, drought situation in the west, mortgage rates approaching 7% and inflation still over 7%, life is not a cake-walk. Even Mickey Mouse has raised the cost of attending his parks so much that many can no longer afford to visit to the ire of loyal fans.
So here we are in the last quarter of 2022 thinking that after the pandemic life would get back to normal. HA! The only thing normal is all of Detroit’s sport teams still losing. And the fans continuing to support them.
As we prepare for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, 2023 happens to be right around the corner. Ready or not, here it comes and what if 2022 turns out be a great year compared to 2023? YIKES! Everyone is predicting a recession next year and then we have to wait until the end of 2024 to see who our next President is going to be. That is a long time in-between for shit to happen.
What can we do to prepare for the inevitable? Well, if you haven’t prepared by now, forget it. It is too late. And for the issues in front of us, what can we individually do to help change the outcome? Pretty much nothing.
Here is my strategy for the rest of the year and into 2023: Optimism. I say fuck the pessimists. What have the pessimists done for you lately? It is no wonder mental health is at the lowest level in the U.S. in history.
Optimism is the only solution to the current bullshit. How do you stay optimistic? Drive by any hospital and think about how lucky that you are not inside. Look at the number of beggars on the street corners and on the sidewalks and think about how lucky that is not you. Think about that more than half of Americans are on some sort of social welfare and how lucky you are that you are not.
Optimism is mostly about that you get to do things in life and that you don’t have to do things in life. You get to work out, you get to go to work, you get to go raise money for charity, you get to enjoy the sunshine when the sun is out and you get to decide what you want to watch on TV (or better yet, not turning the TV on and flipping open a book).
In the meantime, all is good at TNG and we are ready to tackle anything that comes our way. Check out our website to see the latest new products (my next blog will focus on them). When it comes to survival of the fittest, only the fittest will win.