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Shopping for that special lady in your life? While no two people are alike, there are some gifts worth skipping.

 

It should go without saying that not everyone has the same idea of the perfect gift. There are men hoping for cologne and women longing for power tools.

But that won’t stop us from having some fun with potentially horrible gifts for the woman in your life. Here’s our tongue-in-cheek list of the 15 worst gifts:

1. Any appliance she didn’t ask for

Unless she specifically asked for a waffle maker or blender, don’t buy her one. Even women who enjoy cooking don’t want to feel it’s expected.

2. Clothes

Clothes are a no-no for several reasons. There’s the size issue: If you get her something too big, she’ll probably be offended; if you get her something too small, she might feel bad about herself.

There’s also the issue of style. If a wardrobe makeover is what she wants, make a nice card promising to take her on a shopping spree with your cash.

3.  A framed picture of yourself

This “gift” is strangely common, based on personal experience and its presence on almost every “worst gifts” list out there. Nothing says you’re self-absorbed like a framed photo of yourself posing like a model. And the picture of you when you were 6 years old? That’s not cute either. A picture of the two of you doing something memorable is a much better gift idea.

4. Anything that can’t be easily exchanged

If your significant other absolutely hates the expensive gift you bought her, be sure you can exchange it, for her sake and yours.

5. Diet or fitness products

Unless you’re looking for trouble, don’t buy her anything related to losing weight. The implication is that you’re not satisfied with her the way she is.

6. Gifts for yourself

Buying her the new flat-screen TV you want and calling it a gift because she’ll use it too doesn’t work. Give her something she can appreciate and enjoy.

7.  Tickets to sporting events

Your significant other might tolerate, or even like, baseball or football. But unless she’s a die-hard fan, skip the tickets to sports events. Tickets to the ballet or a Broadway musical (unless, of course, she hates those things) are a better option, and you’ll get bonus points if you go with her. Choose something you might not normally attend, and she’ll appreciate it even more.

8. Tacky novelties

She’s not going to be as amused by that singing coffee cup as you were when you spotted it at the store. Unless there’s an inside joke behind the novelty gift, and it’s in addition to a larger gift, this is a bad idea.

9. Perfume

If she asked for Elizabeth Arden’s newest fragrance, by all means, buy it. Otherwise, stay away from the perfume counter. She might hate the fragrance you choose, or worse, she might be allergic to it.

10. Cash

Remember the “Seinfeld” episode in which Jerry gave Elaine cash for Christmas? Elaine got mad, as will the lady in your life if you give her this thoughtless gift.

11.  Cosmetics (including wrinkle cream)

It’s almost unbelievable that men buy women wrinkle cream as a gift. I once heard about a woman who received wrinkle cream from her boyfriend when she was 22. It’s also weird to buy a woman makeup. Just stay away from the cosmetics department.

12. Alcohol

A bottle of wine is nice for a housewarming party, but it’s not quite as classy when you give it to a woman as a holiday, birthday or anniversary gift.

13. Flowers

Flowers are appropriate at certain times, but the holidays call for something more thoughtful and longer-lasting.

14.  Last year’s gift

She loved the one-hour massage you bought her last year, but she’s expecting something different this year. Even if you have a hard time remembering the details of last year’s gift, chances are she hasn’t forgotten.

15. Candy

Many women love chocolate,  but it’s just not a sufficient gift at the holidays. Use it as a stocking stuffer, and put some more thought into a larger gift she’ll appreciate.

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article by: Stacy Johnson

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The beleaguered retailer posts yet another dismal quarterly earnings report.

 

J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson continues to offer investors more spin than a dreidel at Hanukkah instead of actual results. His job is now clearly in jeopardy.

The iconic Plano, Tex., retailer Friday posted quarterly results that were even more dismal than Wall Street had feared. Its net loss narrowed to $123 million, or 56 cents a share, versus $143 million, or 67 cents, a year earlier. Total sales plunged an eye-popping 26.6% to $2.93 billion. Excluding one-time items, the loss was 93 cents a share. Wall Street had forecast a loss of 7 cents on revenue of $3.27 billion, according to Dow Jones. As earnings misses go, this one’s huge.

Not surprisingly, shares of J.C. Penney are plunging in early trading. They have fallen more than 38% since the start of the year. Johnson’s magic touch that served him well at Apple (AAPL +1.73%) has eluded him at J.C. Penney. Sensing that he may be on borrowed time, Johnson is pleading for investors to be patient. His hubris is remarkable.

“Today, JCP is really a tale of two companies,” he said in a press release. “By far the largest part of our store is the old J.C. Penney, which continues to struggle and experience significant challenges as evidenced by our third quarter results. However, the new JCP, centered around the shop concept, is gaining traction with customers every day and is surpassing our own expectations in terms of sales productivity which continues to give us confidence in our long-term business model.”

It’s hard to see what he means. Same-store sales, a key retail metric, plunged 26.1% during the quarter, indicating that Johnson’s store-in-a-store strategy, isn’t gaining traction. His gimmicks, such as free kid’s haircuts and family photographs, while interesting are not enough to convince these people to actually buy J.C. Penney merchandise.

Johnson has got plenty of self-confidence. Recently, he told Fortune, “We’re going to create an entirely new retail model that’s built for the next 100 years.” Some in the retail world are still convinced that Johnson is a genius who needs more time to realize his vision.

“Call me crazy, but this man has a reputation for vision and a track record that prompted members of the J.C. Penney board to hire him in the first place,” wrote David Selby, a former Sears (SHLD +1.08%,) executive, in Ad Age. “They wanted disruption, and they got it — but disruption is very, very messy and takes time.”

While Selby has a point, his call for patience doesn’t carry the same weight as Bill Ackman’s. The head of Pershing Square Capital, which owns about an 18% stake in J.C. Penney — far the retailer’s largest shareholder — earlier this year had argued that the retailer’s future under Johnson was bright. Whether he still feels that way is not clear.

If Johnson fails to produce decent results during the holiday season — and the odds are against him — the board will be forced throw in the towel and fire him. J.C. Penney would then be forced to sell itself at a fire sale.

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article by: Jonathan Berr

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