While many investors are still afraid to get back into stocks, there are signs that more people are hoping to profit from the recovery. Not only has the S&P 500 now passed its two-year high, but cash is also flowing into stock funds and Dow stocks.

So what does this mean for you? It means that if you plan to buy stocks, you should make sure you know how to pick the best ones.

In the video above, we spoke with a number of holiday shoppers looking for everything from aromatic teas to middle eastern pillow covers in New York's bustling Union Square to find out how they shop for stocks. You may be surprised by their answers. James Altucher, managing director of Formula Capital, then gives some important tips that will help us all to be better stock pickers.

One point worth repeating : If the market is in the midst of a true recovery, now is the time to be getting back in -- not later when the stocks are frothy and overvalued.

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