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International Investments & Converse

international investment trends

Gary Scott

International investments and spotting trends can bring more profit than any other investing activity. Combine a keen eye for what's going to happen with synchronicity and you have an explosive combination. Here is a story of the powerful blend that is taking place right now.

Enter Converse All Stars. I grew up in them. We kids loved the way they squeaked on hardwood floors. Dad hated the Connies (or did we call them Trannys?), because slovenly teenager that I was they were often scattered on the living room floor or lurking in the hallway as a hidden obstacle course to the bathroom. Dad would try to kick them away but they gripped like glue and as he stumbled down the hall he would grumble. Something like "move the darn tennis shoes".

They were more than tennis shoes. They were the Boomer shoes at school, at work and at play. We knew how to tie them in a special way so the laces did not cross (you know what I mean if you know). Larry Bird and Magic Johnson wore them.

Then the Converse popularity died. Who knows why? I certainly did not care. I had left America, lived in Hong Kong, England and Europe. On that global journey I didn?t consider wearing shoes called "All Americans".

Decades later after returning to the US, I would occasionally see a batch of them, flung in corners at some dusty country department or sporting goods store. An ancient nostalgia would swell. Yet there was never a pair that fit. Converse only seemed to be making size 13s and 5s at that time.

Then last week in trendy Naples, Florida I walked into a major shoe store chain. The very front display was Converse All Stars. There were all types and pairs in every size for man, woman and child.

What's going on? Nostalgia quickly whipped me into the me's section where a buying frenzy took hold. I promptly bought two pair from the many forms and colors there. They were exactly my size, one low cut (in denim distressed which meant a batch of strings were hanging loose that I promptly cut off) and a pair of fleece lined tan high tops. We never had so many choices!

Boy this felt good. I was 16 again and when the shoe clerk said "these have no ankle or arch support", I quickly replied, "yes but they have the support of nostalgia". I quickly ran to the car and while Merri was pulling out of the center, put on the high tops and bounced and squeaked back to Barnes and Noble for a latte and to read the Sunday New York Times (which now costs $5-a real statement about inflation). Enter "synchronicity" As we thumbed our way through the NY Times, a newspaper that is a real leader of American thought. Merri pointed out an ad stating that the New York Times Thursday Style was featuring an article entitled "Get in touch with your outer self" and this ad pictured the Converse All Start, the shoe I had just purchased! This flashed backed to my messages of some years ago about the book, "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell. This book tells the story of Hush Puppies shoes. Once hugely popular, by the end of 1994, the makers of Hush Puppies were only selling roughly 30,000 pairs a year, and the shoes were viewed as passé. They were mainly stocked only in shoe stores in small, rural communities.

Then Hush Puppies started being considered hip. Top fashion designers wanted to use them in their collections. Word of mouth spread. In 1995, 430,000 pairs of Hush Puppies were sold, and the next year four times that amount.

At the peak of this revival of Hush Puppies craziness, Hush Puppies won the prize for best accessory at the Council of Fashion Designers' awards.

Could Converse be making a come back, If so, how do I follow the money?

A bit of research reveled what is going on.

Converse, nearly a century old company, and makes the classic Chuck Taylor All Star basketball shoe and had, as mentioned, been struggling for years.

Nike and Reebok had taken over much of Converse's market along with Puma and Adidas.

Converse shoes had become an American icon with 750 million pairs sold in 144 countries. But the firm lost touch with the market place, business fell and Converse filed for bankruptcy in 2001. Later that year, private investors bought the company, but it was too late.

Nike and some of the other shoe giants had too much momentum. Nike reported revenue of $10.7 billion compared with Converse's full-year 2002 sales of $205 million. There was no way for the struggling firm to get back in the game. In 2003 they were sold to Nike for $305 million. Does this make Nike a good investment? I do not know. I am looking at this company now and will report more tomorrow. The point of this message is that our investing can profit if we keep our eyes on what we are doing. Always stay in tune with how you feel and how you think. Mix this with synchronicity and you'll be surprised at where this can lead,and just think of the fun you'll have getting there! More on Nike next message. until then, good investing!


P.S. Join us in sunny Ecuador this winter.

Join Merri, Thomas Fischer, me and our Converse tennis shoes for International Business and Investing Made EZ (plus an expedition to the Andes) and learn more about the MultiCurrency Sandwich.

Continue on to the High Andes, for a real estate tour.

Tour the country with us on our Import-Export Expedition. (Don't come if you are looking for a "class room experience"!)

Learn more about Converse

You can see the entire Baron's story on the Converse Nike sale

international investment trends
international investment trends


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