Sometime last night or early this morning, the following draft letter was slipped under the undisclosed and also not-open door of Unexpectedly, Inc. HQ. Granted, it was written in orange ball-point on a greasy Wendy’s bag in vaguely familiar handwriting, but we have no real reason to doubt its authenticity. In the interest of guiding our investors toward continued smart investment decisions, we share it with you now, complete and unexpurgatorial.


Esteemed Shareholders,

If you’re like me–and I bet you are, I just bet you are!–you loaded up on Pier 1 equities back in early March when they were at 12 cents a share, and you’ve now ridden them on up for a 2000% gain in a couple months. How did you know it was time to buy? a lot of envious non-participants ask. Well, as Pier 1’s vibrant ownership base, you don’t need to be told! I’m sure many of you are savvy shoppers of our stores, so you know a bargain when you see one. Heck, 12 cents, that won’t even have bought you one of those rattan backscratchers we sell right there at the checkout. Sure, we marked ’em down in February for that so-called “recession”, but they were still 39 cents each way back then. What would you rather have, a happy back or your own slice of retail powerhouse pie? I thought as much. See, you are like me.

Two thousand percent is a big vote of confidence, and I wanted to take a few moments to share with you some of the prudent cost-cutting and innovative value moves Pier One has made these last eight weeks to deserve that vote. Those backscratchers are a perfect example. They’re made by the cutest little blind boys and girls you’ve ever seen, in a factoryfar, far away, in a country called “Laos”. Now back when the economy was strong, we were paying those tots 31 cents a month–“a penny a day keeps the doctor away,” has always been a motto of ours–even in months that didn’t have 31 days. Excessive generosity is all well and good, but Pier 1’s first obligation is to show growth for our shareholders, and when consumers quit ponying up for the enticing array of knick-knacks we bring you from all over the world, we had to react. So we knocked those wages down to 12 cents a year, and updated our motto accordingly. (And yes, for those of you out there staying up late nights, wringing your hands over “labor rights”, here’s your Pier 1 valerian tablet: we’re going to maintain that wage commitment, even in leap years that have only 11 months.)

But wage adjustment for a few rugrats is hardly aggressive corporate action. So we moved those adorable little dolls (the labor, I mean, not the $3.99 plastic matroshkas on our shelves) into cozier on-site quarters. They now sleep 14 to a dorm room instead of 7 (2 to a bed, nice and toasty!) and to prove our commitment to community even in countries that don’t have one, we knocked down those extra dorms and buried the debris right there, beneath a wide-open field of rich brown dirt. Recess, anyone?

Now, innovation at the product-line source can sure help the bottom line, but we needed to make changes at home, too, and boy did we ever follow through. Stop into any Pier 1 store today (go ahead, right now, if you feel the urge!) and you’ll find it’s staffed by just “1” person. And what a person! These are the elite, hand-picked from thousands of former employees, more than able to meet our stringent new standards. To reflect this healthy natural selection, we felt the title “team member” was no longer appropriate–there is no “team” in “I”, after all. So here’s the next brainstorm: next time you go into one of our stores (say, 10 minutes from now?), walk up and say hello to its “Sole Proprietor”. Uh-huh. (They don’t own the store, mind you–you do!–but the sense of ownership the new job title confers is really catching on.)

We’re proud of the synergies our crack force is leveraging in this fast-paced streamlining operation. Take this testimonial from “Howard”, sole proprietor of our Missoula store #1321:

Working on my own has given me a new sense of freedom, and a strong independent streak. I stock the shelves, mop the floors, sell everything, buy everything, inventory everything, open and close the store, do all the bookkeeping, seven days a week, and I still have a little time left over each night to catch a few Z’s. Store 1321 has never been more profitable, and to paraphrase Mickey D’s, I’m ownin’ it!

Rest assured, Howard may be a little confused where matters of property are concerned, but as a can-doer, he’s not alone. My secretary prints out letters from happy sole proprietors all over the nation, and I can spend half the day getting her to reread them aloud in different character voices. (Here at Pier 1 headquarters, we work hard, but we play hard too!) I was especially touched by a letter from “Elaine” in “St. Louis”, who tells me she’s holding down sole proprietorship of not one, but two Pier 1 stores, simultaneously. She just runs back and forth between #847 and #2091 all day long. Every time someone wants to make a purchase, there’s Elaine at the register. Elaine, you get a gold star, right from the head office!

Of course, as any dolt who’s been in business more than a week can tell you, cost-cutting isn’t enough, especially in these tough times. You can’t deliver 2000% more value every couple months if you don’t put a few greenbacks in the till. Which is why when you get to the checkout counter–and we hope you’re visiting it often!–you’ll find that rattan backscratcher will now set you back $47.50. In moments of adversity, consumers need to feel like they’re getting solid, durable value, and that’s what our new price structure purports to offer.

Well, looks like my page is full, and it’s time to sign off. Remember, honored shareholders, Pier 1 is you. Not that it isn’t me, I mean. Really, it’s me and it’s you. Let’s just call it “us”. You might be tempted to sell those shares now, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: we’re gonna hit the next 2000% leg up before you can count to Pier 2. I’ll be holding on to mine, whatever future SEC filings might indicate to the contrary, and we’ll be trading at backscratcher prices before you know it.

Thanks for all you’ve given for Pier 1.

Yours Very Sincerely,

Alex W. Smith

Director, President, CEO, and yeah, and Shareholder, too, just like you!

Pier 1 Imports


Disclosure: Unexpectedly Inc. is mid-development on the “itchless back” (patent and trademark pending, y’hear?). We are also long arms and fingernails as a hedge.