I am in Tucson at the moment and was out doing some research for future Adventures in Retailing, when I dropped into a Circuit City store. Tucson appears to have a severe labor shortage and this manifests itself in a lower quality labor force. I was looking at a giant bank of HDTVs to get a closer look at what’s been driving the retail market of late, when I noticed that the grass on the field in whatever bowl game was being televised didn’t look like grass at all. It didn’t even look like grass in a good DVD transfer. It was green clumpy stuff.

The 12-year-old kid who was posing as a salesman came over to me and asked if I had any questions. I asked (politely, of course), “What is the source of the signal on all these TVs? You do know that grass doesn’t look anything like that?” There was actually a time when Tucson didn’t have grass, but now it does. Too much of it. He seemed perplexed, but answered, “DirecTV” and then got away from me as quickly as possible.

Quick web research indicates that DirecTV is facing legal action for their degraded signal, and Circuit City is down about 25% relative to Best Buy over the past year. The executive at Circuit City who decided to use DirecTV to feed his sets should be jailed as an economic criminal for probably knocking a good several bips off the GDP. The folks who actually know what grass looks like, went out and looked in the stores, and did the pairs trade (BBY vs. CC) months ago. And are now sitting fat and happy.

To boost the local economy, I bought a rather expensive CD that contains what I have decided is the ‘Second Greatest Song of All Time.’ I’ll be writing about that at some later date.

Circuit City aside, Tucson has got lots of great retailing. And I visited a Waffle House. None of the patrons had on any of the $360 men’s shirts that they were hawking at the new luxury shopping mall. The waffle house sucked, but (as always) Tucson has got amazing food and it is much cheaper than the fake Manhattan version of the same stuff.

P.S. I caught a few minutes of Cramer on CNBC in my hotel room. Not bad. Good stuff on limit orders. He also praised speculation while disembowelling a stuffed bird. I guess I’m late to that party, too.


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