Fribble Shop on the Wild Side

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October 12, 2000

I have been enjoying the Foolish Fellowship for a while and now feel that I might have a little something to contribute. I was inspired by a visit to our local Dollar Tree store. Every time I walk in I keep meaning to see if it trades anyplace. (It does -- on Nasdaq with the ticker DLTR). The store is clean, well lit, and full of items to entice shoppers. Sales are brisk. I often think I'll come back for something, and when I return the item is gone.

However, investing in the store is not what my Fribble is about. Instead, I want to pass along what I've been noting when I walk on the wild side (you'd know what I mean if you saw the shopping frenzies I'm privy to witnessing!). I am always intrigued by the products the powers that be make, then attempt (and fail) to sell, and end up selling at distressed prices to the customers at Dollar Tree.

Right now I'm seeing plenty of Star Wars products -- such as a lollipop that twirls around and has a figure from Episode One, and could scare a young child. Another is a bag that has to be put in water; five minutes later the child is supposed to dig out swamp creatures from the goo. I've seen Star Wars bubble baths, Star Wars CD shuttle storages, and Star Wars figurines.

These companies don't only market mistakes related to intergalactic sagas. Publishers get in on the action as well. I have seen publishers dump books raved about only months ago. I've seen every imaginable candy that was sure to be the next best thing, not to mention a zillion shampoos and other personal care products certain to sell billions. I have seen imitations of outrageously expensive perfumes, as well as the originals, standing next to each other.

Perusing the shelves of the dollar stores, I have learned to be leery of hype and our consumerism, and I've learned that investment knowledge comes from failures as well as success.

Learn, O' Fellow Fribble readers, to discern the chaff from the wheat, and Fool on!