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Friday, March 13, 2009

Talbots: New Style, New Stock?

This is a rather rambling post. It ends up asking a question about how to pick stocks. Gender issues in finance and aesthetics are also raised.

Before I began this blog, I spent some time reading blogs by people interested in frugality and personal finance. These piqued my desire to write on the topic myself. But lately I've found some new blogs that I like on the topic of style for women "of a certain age." Two favorites are Une Femme d'un Certain Age and Passage des Perles.

I will now reveal how I happened upon these. I had noticed that Talbots had updated its style. My mother, age 78, has long been a Talbots shopper, but I think that's because she summers in the Berkshires, and the store, with its New England vibe, reminds her of her Boston girlhood. When we would visit the Lenox branch, my mother would shop, while I, age 55, would make an effort to find something halfway decent to try on. My daughter, age 18, would sit in a chair reading In-Style magazine. You can gauge the demographic from this scene.

Last summer I was amazed by the new fall clothing coming in. These were things I might even buy (on sale, of course). Then, in the fall, as my retirement accounts continued their precipitous decline, I thought, I should buy Talbots stock. Now, I don't own any stocks, because--chicken that I am--I always stuck to mutual funds.

The only other stocks I ever wanted to buy were Home Depot (20 years ago!) and Big Lots (about 5 years ago!). I didn't buy either, but should have.

So I googled "Talbots stock" and discovered that the Motley Fool fellows picked it as their Halloween stock--scary, scary, scary. The price was about $1.80/share the day I started thinking about this.
Then I googled "Talbots new style" and discovered Une Femme and, through that blog, Passage des Perles. Une Femme d'un Certain Age, especially, admired the newly chic style brought in by the new president of Talbots.

The Motleys are, needless to say, men. The bloggers are women. The stock is now $3.06, a rather impressive percentage rise in a few months, especially given the economic news and the further precipitous declines of nationwide retail sales and my retirement accounts.

I bought some items yesterday, since I got a further 20% off the sale prices and free shipping. I don't know how any of these will look, but I can always return to the store in the next town. What do you think of my choices?

So Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury: do you think Talbots has a future? Would you buy the stock? Do the chic women bloggers know something that the investment professionals do not? Did I make the mistake of buying the sweaters rather than the stock?


The Fabric Bolt said... I probably wouldn't dip into this one - I've heard this one could be a sinking ship. Also, after working with a guy who was a millionaire, I do what he does - stick to safe, no-risk investments. True, they offer plain, well-made clothing at a moderate price. However so many people are already swept up by Boden, which falls into the same category and has an almost fanatical following (and awesome clothes - LOVE their bags, free shipping from England, free returns, mrrebates benefits and always at least 10% off). Is this more of a sentimental venture for you? It almost sounds like it.

Mary said...

Do your research and then buy what you believe in. The sweater and/or the stock! Don't sink your life savings into it but if you like Talbots, buy a few shares. The whole world is on sale right now. Now is the time to dabble in what you love.

Funny about Money said...

I'd support Talbot's by purchasing their clothes... Like you, I've also noticed they've upgraded their style. The pants still fit, though... ;-)

Have the impression, though, that the chain is in trouble. Maybe stay clear of buying its stocks???

Frugal Scholar said...

@Fabric--I like the Boden catalog too, but I am very confused with that English sizing.

@Mary--I was going to buy 100 shares for $180 in November. That now would be worth $320!

@Funny--I am still interested in the fact that all the 40+ women are raving about Talbots new style and all the stock pundits are saying "scary." I don't know if the sweaters will work (I'm having my doubts now), but Talbots pants definitely don't fit me!

Thanks to all, as always.

The Fabric Bolt said...

I used to be confused, too. Now I have my size down and when in doubt, order two sizes and read the reviews as the people will let you know how stuff fits - free shipping and free returns! (You usually have to go up about 2-3 sizes from what you would order in the U.S.) Seriously, most of my clothing purchases are from here and I actually buy/have less clothes now because they are so well-made and I enjoy wearing the same stuff over and over! In the end I save money.

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Frugal Scholar said...

@graciela--Thanks for stopping by. And I hope you come back.