International investing: Still a journey to consider

Columbus Day is observed on Oct. 9. And while it may be true that Leif Erikson and the Vikings beat Columbus to the New World, Columbus Day nonetheless remains important in the public eye, signifying themes such as exploration and discovery. As an investor, you don’t have to cross the ocean blue, as Columbus did, to find opportunities. But it may be a good idea to put some of your money to work outside the United States.

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A holistic approach to aging’s ‘new normal’

 “How Do I Get There from Here?” by George H. Schofield, 2017, Amacom, $16.95, 237 pages. White sandy beaches. Waves that gently kiss your toes with warm water. In your minds’ eye, they stretch for miles and they’re yours to explore. That will be your retirement — or so you hope.

Houston’s small businesses inch back to work

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
FEMA estimates that nearly 40 percent of small businesses never reopen after a disaster. HOUSTON — Bobby Jucker has had it with hurricanes. In 2008, Hurricane Ike tore the roof off his business, Three Brothers Bakery. Now, he estimates, he’s facing $1 million in damage and lost revenue from Harvey — the fifth time a storm has put his bakery out of commission. He’s always recovered before.

Photo by Peter Cobb

Martial artist turns equipment gripes into business

What can you do when the equipment needed to fuel your passion, traditional martial arts, is not as good as you think it should be? For Jeremy Lesniak, the answer was to make his own gear. Frustrated with the martial arts gloves, helmets, boots and other safety gear that was available, Lesniak decided to make his own equipment and sell to others, like himself, who were desperately seeking high-quality equipment that lasts. In 2010, Lesniak started Whistlekick, LLC. His company sells sparring gear and apparel for karate, taekwondo and other martial arts.

Not investing carries risk

You’ve no doubt heard about the risks associated with investing. “This investment carries this type of risk, while that investment carries another one.” And it is certainly true that all investments do involve some form of risk. But what about not investing? Isn’t there some risk associated with that, too? In fact, by staying on the investment sidelines or at least by avoiding long-term, growth-oriented investments, you may incur several risks.

An odd trend in wheat country: Farmers opt for chickpeas

The Associated Press
DES MOINES, Iowa — An odd thing has happened in wheat country — a lot of farmers aren’t planting wheat. Thanks to a global grain glut that has caused prices and profits to plunge, this year farmers planted the fewest acres of wheat since the U.S. Department of Agriculture began keeping records nearly a century ago. Instead of planting the crop that gave the wheat belt its identity, many farmers are opting this year for crops that might be less iconic but are suddenly in demand, such as chickpeas and lentils, used in hummus and healthy snacks. “People have gone crazy with chickpeas. It’s unbelievable how many acres there are,” said Kirk Hansen, who farms 350 acres south of Spokane in eastern Washington, where wheat’s reign as the king crop has been challenged.

Nick Smith, quality assurance specialist, and Allison Gagne, product developer, work in Vermont Village's food lab Tuesday in South Barre. Virtually all of the company's products contain apples or cider vinegar.
STEFAN HARD / STAFF PHOTO

Sour is sweet for Barre company’s vinegar shots

BARRE — Just because it’s good for you, doesn’t necessarily mean it tastes good. Such was the case with Vermont Village and its organic apple cider vinegar. Since its debut more than two years ago, sales have grown. But Vermont Village was looking for a way to broaden its appeal to many consumers who perhaps had trouble adjusting to the bitter or sour taste. Andrew Lawrence, the South Barre company’s vice president of marketing and sales, said customers appreciated the health benefits of taking apple cider vinegar, but even diluting it with water for some people wasn’t “palatable.”
So the company came up with a solution and is now introducing a line of flavored cider vinegar shots, that are sold in 1-ounce, throwaway plastic pouches.

Social media and workers’ comp fraud

The no-fault nature of the Vermont workers’ compensation system means that almost any worker injured on the job will receive benefits. That system relies on an assumption of truthfulness from the injured worker as to the circumstances, extent and nature of the injury. When an injured worker is found to have misrepresented their injury, it’s possible the employer will be able to defend against the claim or discontinue ongoing benefits. This past spring the Vermont Legislature passed legislation addressing employees’ social media account privacy and prohibitions. The law goes into effect on Jan.

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Chose your own adventure: The work book

“In a Daze Work” by Siobhán Gallagher, 2017, TarcherPerigee, $16, 156 pages. They say you can choose your mood. If you want to be happy tomorrow, then be happy. Want to get rid of the blahs? It’s all mind over matter: Pick some other way to be and don’t forget to tell yourself.

The Den at Harry's Hardware owners pose behind the granite counter at the new pub in Cabot. From left are Johanna and Rory Thibault and Bobby and Stephany Searles.
STEFAN HARD / STAFF PHOTOS

Paints to pints: Hardware store offers more than hardware

CABOT — On Main Street, the lively sounds of keyboard, song and laughter drift from the hardware store, as the man behind the bar serves up eight craft beers on tap to thirsty patrons. At a time when entrepreneurial spirits often enable small villages to thrive, the owners of Harry’s Hardware have taken a new approach to reinvigorating a 100-year-old Vermont business. With The Den at Harry’s Hardware, they have created a new meeting place to bring people into town for a good laugh and a cold beer. Bobby and Stephany Searles own the Cabot Village Store, the only place to buy groceries in the village. When the hardware store next door was put up for auction in 2014, they made the winning bid, and installed new gas pumps out front.