Perhaps you tried to goose your stock portfolio last year by putting your faith in groundbreaking electronic products like the iPad by Apple, or essential online tools like the search algorithms cooked up by Google.

If you did, you probably made out okay. But who knew real financial gain lay in banking on demand for shaggy bath mats and glass ball tea light holders?

Bloomberg reported the other day that “Cost Plus, the Oakland-based home-goods retailer, gained 851 percent in 2010, besting the other 2,673 members of the Nasdaq Composite Index…”

Eight hundred and fifty one percent! That’s $85,000 for an initial investment of ten grand. Who knew! I guess a stock going from 1 to 9 doesn’t have the same sex appeal as even one with a more modest increase that dallies in the three-digit range. Plus, you know…retail.

Look at this Yahoo! Finance chart comparing Cost Plus shares to those of Google and Apple. Cost Plus kicked their Silicon Valley derrieres:

Yahoo! Finance: Cost Plus vs. Google and Apple

I’ve never been to a Cost Plus, but people seem to like it on Yelp. Here’s one reductively enthusiastic comment:

“Its like a multicultural garage sale!”

Insert your own joke here…

Update 4:44 p.m.: A friend of mine points out the Cost Plus stock chart from 2004 to 2009, when the stock went from about 45 down to about one, before it started shooting up in 2010.

So the lesson for the day: Buy low, sell high.

Thank you.

  • Crystal

    Every mention of retail stores selling home goods seems to start with some snide jab at the merchandise. All I can say is, “Yes, there is demand for making your living space cute and your partner won’t have to hide the receipts for shame of overspending at Cost Plus.”


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor