Presidents Day History Facts and Traditional Party Theme Ideas

A favorite holiday for shoppers, Presidents Day is the last chance for retailers to unload less than popular winter merchandise before restocking for spring. The only aim is to clear the shelves so stores offer rock bottom prices in order to cut their losses. It is an effective strategy since lots of people in February have cabin fever and are ready for some semi-serious recreational shopping.

It is not certain how Presidents Lincoln and Washington, whose birthdays were fused in order to form one legal holiday, would have felt about those bargains named in their honor. Washington endured cold, wintry battlefields probably wishing he had a new, warm coat or boots. Lincoln would have understood the shopping fever: historians say that his wife, Mary Todd, was a shopaholic. Any tribute is better than no tribute.

Back at the home hearth, especially in snowy regions, Presidents Day is a fun break from the monotony after Christmas. It’s a great time to get some extra mileage out of red decorating items or paper party goods. Young children who are getting their first exposure to early American History lessons find reinforcement of those schoolroom lectures when the holiday is celebrated at home.

A cherry pie is a traditional reminder of the Washington chopping down the cherry tree story–even if the validity of said story is under current scrutiny. Gold wrapped chocolate candies could allude to both the story about tossing the coin across the Potomac River and the fact that Presidential profiles end up on currency much of the time.

Yankee pot roast or Boston baked beans with brown bread are fitting fare for such an historic menu. Pewter plates or tankards can hold paper napkins or plastic flatware. A red gingham tablecloth and wooden bowls and implements complete the humble theme.

Presidential Sites – Visiting the Home of James Polk, America’s 11th President

Welcome to another in a series of travelogue articles spotlighting presidential historic sites. America’s 11th president, James Polk, was born in North Carolina and later moved to neighboring Tennessee. His birthplace in North Carolina and family home in Tennessee are both open to visitors and historians. Join us as we visit both sites and learn more about President Polk…

President James Polk: An Overview

James Polk was born into a North Carolina farming family in 1795. Ten years later, Polk’s father moved his family into Tennessee, where Polk eventually made a name for himself. After his graduation from the University of North Carolina, he established a law practice in Columbia, Tennessee.

In 1822, Polk was elected to the Tennessee Legislature and married his wife Sarah, who became an integral part of his later campaigns. Polk himself was well known as a staunch supporter of President Andrew Jackson and became a United States Senator at age 29 in 1824. He remained in the Senate for fourteen years, before successfully running for governor of Tennessee.

With his national ambitions intact, Polk was drafted as a compromise candidate for the presidency in 1844. Running on a campaign of continued westward expansion, he won the election and served as president until early 1849.

During his productive administration, the boundary of the United States was extended to the Pacific Ocean, and thousands of square miles of land was acquired in the northwest territory.

After leaving the presidency, Polk returned to Tennessee. Long suffering from rather frail health, only three months later he died of cholera at age 53.

Polk Home In Columbia, Tennessee

In historic Columbia, Tennessee, in the eastern part of the state, visitors can tour the only remaining home where Polk lived. The handsome two story structure was built in 1816 by Polk’s father. It is here where Polk lived as a young lawyer until his marriage in 1824.

Tours of the home are available year around for $7. Over 1000 items belonging to Polk and his family are displayed here, and there is a beautiful garden adjacent to the property. Campaign memorabilia, inauguration items, and White House china are among the many items to see. A small gift shop is also on site which carries a number of interesting presidential themed gifts.

Polk’s Birthplace

In Pineville, North Carolina, just outside of Charlotte, a memorial site is dedicated to James Polk on the land where he was born. The actual birthplace building is long gone, but faithful reconstructions of period buildings now occupy the site.

Visitors can view a film about Polk’s life and his presidential administration. The buildings are authentically furnished and emphasis is placed on Polk’s North Carolina roots.


Both of these historical sites give visitors and historians a glimpse into the life and administration of President James Polk.

Polk’s influence is still felt today. He was a visionary who foresaw the need for western expansion and making the United States a continental country.

Mystery Shopping: Learn How It Can Work For You

Mystery shopping is a prospering business and more and more companies are relying on the shoppers’ anonymous feedback to determine how they can improve customer service.

In an article titled “Spies like us; Mystery shoppers keep eye on customer service” (The Washington Times, July 2004) we can learn that mystery shopping has become a “critical marketing tool” used by companies to develop customer loyalty:

“Consumers have more choices than ever before. The smart companies realize they can compete by creating an optimized customer experience.

More companies are relying on the shoppers’ anonymous feedback to determine how they can improve customer service, which plays an important role in business transactions.

‘If the customer has had a bad experience, they’re going to go somewhere else,’ said Jeff Marr, vice president of Walker Information, which provides research on customer loyalty.
‘When it comes to retailing, you’re only as good as your last interaction.’

The mystery shopping industry has grown over the past decade as more companies – from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies – have tried to focus more heavily on customer service, officials say. Companies such as McDonald’s, Starbucks, Home Depot, Kinko’s and Giant Food are just a handful of the companies that use mystery shoppers.

The industry has expanded from typical service-oriented clients – such as restaurants, retailers and hotels – to industries like banks, insurance companies, car dealerships, funeral homes and apartment buildings.

“This is a critical marketing tool,” said Jeff Hall, who is chief executive of a mystery shopping company in Michigan. “Companies need to connect with their customers – not just with a fake smile.”

“Mystery shopping is nothing more than receiving feedback from anonymous customers,” said Paige Hall, president and chief executive officer of a mystery shopping company in Atlanta.

It is estimated that between 600,000 to 700,000 active mystery shoppers – also known as secret shoppers – are in the United States.

In this same article we read the story of Max Jakeman, a secret shopper working at it in his spare time. His story can be yours:

“Max Jakeman is an undercover agent – for a pizza chain. He also has spied on fast-food chains, upscale restaurants, movie theaters, bowling alleys and golf courses.

The Alexandria resident is one of the thousands of mystery shoppers who get paid to give feedback on their overall customer experience…

Mr. Jakeman, who is in the Army, mystery shops between three and four times a week, usually on weekends and evenings. He calls his answering machine at home and leaves notes about his experience so he doesn’t forget details before he has to write the report.

Mr. Jakeman thinks his job helps make a difference.

“I’m a consumer and I’ve been places where I’ve been treated badly,” Mr. Jakeman said. “With mystery shopping you feel like you’re making an impact.”

The shoppers get paid different amounts for their work, depending on the industry and degree of difficulty. For instance, grocery stores pay $10 to $25, movie theaters pay $10 to $50 and florists pay $45 to $100 per assignment.

Mr. Jakeman brings home $300 to $400 a month in cash, in addition to about $1,000 in perks including free movies, free oil changes, free pizza and free rounds of golf.”

Industry experts say “a full-time mystery shopper who works 40 hours a week can make about $40,000 a year.”

The Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal (see the former issue of the Get Paid Coach) and other newspapers publish articles on mystery shopping because it’s a growing business and hundred of thousands of people make top dollars to shop and have fun.

Would you like to bring home $300 to $400 a month in cash, in addition to about $1,000 in perks just for shopping between three to four times a week like Max Jakeman?

Would you prefer to work at it full time and make $40,000 a year?

Mystery shoppers are needed all the time and there are jobs all over the US and Canada but also in Australia and UK.

The best way to go is to subscribe to a professional resource for secret shopper jobs. You will get a step-by-step guide on how to get started successfully (a must for new shoppers) AND you’ll have access to an extensive database of shopping jobs in your country and in your state.