Spam and depressing books: Making money in a rough economy

Published: Thursday, Oct. 11 2012 11:19 a.m. MDT

Not everything loses money when an economy goes bad. Like the undertaker at the shootout at the O.K. Corral, some people and businesses not only find ways to survive but to thrive around bad times.

An article by Tyler Cowen in Foreign Policy scoured the Internet for some of the jobs and schemes people have come up with to make money while people are losing money:

L'Oréal sold a lot of cosmetics due to the "lipstick effect," meaning "women buy more lipstick in tough economic times to make themselves more attractive to men."

In failing Greece, pessimistic books are selling well.

Diaper sales slow in bad times, while demand for diaper rash ointment goes up. Families are either changing diapers less frequently," Cowen explains, "or using lower-quality diapers, thus necessitating the ointment."

Foodcarts have grown 8.4 percent annually in the United States "because they are cheaper than typical restaurant meals."

Other articles on the Internet also found more examples of money-making anomalies in the recovering economy.

PT Money talked about an indoor waterpark in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., that is having its best year ever: "Turns out that increased gas prices, people having less money, means that they don't travel as much from Wisconsin to areas like the Caribbean or Europe. They simply drive up to the Wisconsin Dells vacation area and have an enjoyable week that's more affordable. … In this situation, the tourist industries of paradise islands are probably struggling, but local tourism is most likely up."

KSPR in Arkansas wrote about how people are spending on pets: "According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to spend a record $370 million this year on Halloween costumes for pets. That's a whopping 40 percent more than pet owners spent just two years ago. The NRF's report also shows national pet spending surpassed $50 billion for the first time in 2011."

Simona Covel at The Wall Street Journal mentioned several things that do well in a bad economy:

eBay: "During difficult times," Covel said, "people are likely to start hunting for deals, and eBay is a popular hunting ground."

Thrift and consignment stores.

Car-repair shops: "People are liable to hang onto their cars, rather than trading them in for a new model every three or four years, creating lots of opportunity for automotive repair."

Scooter sales: Low miles per gallon and cheaper than cars.

Andrew Martin in the New York Times spotted a hard-times standby: "Through war and recession, Americans have turned to the glistening canned product from Hormel as a way to save money while still putting something that resembles meat on the table. Now, in a sign of the times, it is happening again, and Hormel is cranking out as much Spam as its workers can produce."

The New York Times found several foods were also doing well such as pancake mixes, instant potatoes, vitamins, fruit and vegetable preservatives, rice and beans, macaroni and cheese, Jell-O and Kool-Aid.

"And sales are still growing," the New York Times said, "if not booming, for Velveeta, a Kraft product that bears the same passing resemblance to cheese as Spam bears to ham.

EMAIL: mdegroote@desnews.com Twitter: @degroote Facebook: facebook.com/madegroote

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS