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The Retired Investor: Back to the Future in America's kitchens
By Bill Schmick,
05:34PM / Thursday, September 24, 2020
Whether it is recipes, groceries, home gardens, grilling, pots and pans or online cooking classes, Americans have rediscovered the kitchen, thanks to COVID-19. Where once an occasional meal at home, or a single-serve dish for the kid's lunch was sufficient, times have changed. Home cooking has become a bigger business.   Americans are cooking more and throwing out less food, according to the Food Marketing Institute, an organization that tracks grocery shopping trends. They saw a 40 percent uptick in home cooked meals, and a 27 percent increase in those who were planning more meals in advance in 2020.    However, cooking at home, many Americans

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The Retired Investor: Bicycles Sales Are Booming
By Bill Schmick,
05:44PM / Thursday, September 17, 2020
In the age of the pandemic, some industries have thrived. Take the bicycle industry, for example; sales have more than doubled this year, and the only impediment to further growth seems to be the availability of product. Thanks to COVID-19, biking has become a global phenomenon.   The real growth is centered in the metropolitan areas where much of public transportation has been curtailed due to the infectious nature of the virus. In April alone, bicycle industry sales grew by 75 percent to $1 billion year-over-year, according to bike manufacturer, Huffy. Leisure bikes, those that sell for under $200, jumped 203 percent, while mountain bike sales increased 150

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The Retired Investor: CSAs & Local Farms Make a Comeback
By Bill Schmick,
04:41PM / Thursday, September 10, 2020
While much of the nation's farming industry has been decimated by the global pandemic, here in the U.S. one tiny segment of the agricultural market is booming — the CSA.   The line at my local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) pickup station was short this week. As usual, everyone wore masks and waited in line, 6 feet apart. One by one, customers stuffed their carry bags full of lettuce, radishes, kale, cucumbers, tomatoes and whatever else nature's bounty and Kate, our farmer, had planted this season. CSAs charge a seasonal, or sometimes yearly membership fee in exchange, you receive weekly boxes, or bags of fresh veggies, fruits, and more. My membership

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The Retired Investor: Mask Mania Helps Small Business
By Bill Schmick,
02:39PM / Thursday, September 03, 2020
There was a time, when obtaining a protective mask to combat the spread of the coronavirus was almost impossible. That time has passed. Today, as more than half the country requires citizens to wear them, masks have become essential and almost a fashion statement.   Back in March of this year, as COVID-19 raged across the country, first-responders were desperate for all kinds of protective gear. In the Berkshires, where I sit, a cottage industry developed. Volunteers on home sewing machines were producing masks and delivering them to the local hospitals. Various small businesses around the nation were also producing masks. Originally, their motives were purely

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The Retired Investor: The Drive-In Returns
By Bill Schmick,
03:41PM / Thursday, August 27, 2020
There is not much good one can say about the coronavirus, but if one looks hard enough there are a few silver linings. One of which is the revival of the drive-in theater.   Cinemas have been closed for months, thanks to COVID-19, and are only now re-opening to limited audiences. In the meantime, consumers have been surviving on streaming movies and television series for entertainment. However, one bright spot for those who can take advantage of it has been the drive-in theater.    It is well-suited for a country in pandemic, and ready made for social distancing. At many drive-ins, autos are parked at least 6 feet apart. Ticket-holders do not need to wear a

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