Bootleggers made money during the Great Depression, so who stands to make money now?

by Corwinnx 38 replies
I recently asked both of my grandmothers who lived through the Great Depression, "who was making money then?"

Their answer: BOOTLEGGERS.

Since it was prohibition, bootleggers, like any other black market trade, were one business that was making money even during the Great Depression.

Now, I'm not starting this thread to discuss 'illegal trade'

BUT

I beg the question, "What business model do YOU think will thrive in this economy we are in right now?"

Here are some of the ones I've come up with, let's see who can add what to the list...

#1. Thrift Stores
#2. Consignment Shops
#3. ANY type of "Rent To Own Business" from housing right down to furntiure and electronics.
#4. Credit Repair
#5. Education
#6. Business Training Opportunities
#7. Child Care Services.


Who has more ideas to add to the list.. and KEEP IT LEGAL.

Marcus
#main internet marketing discussion forum #bootleggers #depression #great #made #make #money #stands
  • Profile picture of the author Lee MacRae
    I've seen newspaper and television reports on the fact bartering is becoming a big thing again right now. Some local organizations and even websites are putting people together to trade services or product. Go to the doctor...bring a chicken?
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    • Profile picture of the author EcoverGuru
      Originally Posted by Lee MacRae View Post

      I've seen newspaper and television reports on the fact bartering is becoming a big thing again right now. Some local organizations and even websites are putting people together to trade services or product. Go to the doctor...bring a chicken?
      Yea...barter with food :p
      hey...we all need food, and you cant eat your blackberry or iphone ...so i think business in food for sure is the #1
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Hill
    I have 2 eggs but no chicken...

    Mike Hill
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  • Profile picture of the author Writing Warrior
    I think online retailers (who can offer lower prices) will continue to do well since everyone will be looking for cheaper prices.

    I'm not sure about child care services though. On the news the other night there was a story about how the child care providers in my area are suffering because more and more people are pulling their children out of daycare during these rough times.
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    • Profile picture of the author Dan C. Rinnert
      What about entertainment?

      On the one hand, it seems like that would be the first expense you'd cut out. But, it seems like there was a fair amount of fiction that came out of the 1930's. While unemployment reached a high of 25%, it seems there were still jobs to be found in entertainment. Illustrators drew comic strips, films were still being made--somebody had to be making money at these things.

      Maybe, even when you don't have a lot of money to spend, you still might save a bit for a comic, a book or a weekend movie--something to forget about your troubles for a little while.
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  • Profile picture of the author Slippy
    "Illegal Trade"? how about 2 for 1!

    Reefer Poker Online Poker and Community - Got your weed smokers playing with money over card games.

    Haha, just kidding... But gambling has always been big during slow economic times, as has increased purchases of lottery tickets. So going after the gambling/poker market in a country where it is legal, is a green light for me.

    Cheers,
    Nick
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  • Profile picture of the author Ken Strong
    Pretty much anything being sold to the wealthiest people will continue to do well.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dixiebelle
    I feel that the #1 flurishing business for at least the next 2 years, will be any type of training opportunities. I have noticed this past year, tv commercials offering training in every field imaginable - tech schools, colleges with eveing courses, etc.

    With so many companies closing or downsizing, people are losing jobs that they have had for many years, and they don't know how to do anything else. There are people who have been with the same company for 25-30 years, and nearing retirement, who are being laid off so that companies can save having to file for bankruptcy.

    Two businesses that always flurish during hard times is the liquor business and the funeral business. So sad, but it's true.

    Dixie
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  • Profile picture of the author LindaC
    During hard times used auto parts businesses stay busy.
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  • Profile picture of the author VegasVince
    Originally Posted by Corwinnx View Post

    I recently asked both of my grandmothers who lived through the Great Depression, "who was making money then?"

    Their answer: BOOTLEGGERS.

    Since it was prohibition, bootleggers, like any other black market trade, were one business that was making money even during the Great Depression.

    Now, I'm not starting this thread to discuss 'illegal trade'

    BUT

    I beg the question, "What business model do YOU think will thrive in this economy we are in right now?"

    Here are some of the ones I've come up with, let's see who can add what to the list...

    #1. Thrift Stores
    #2. Consignment Shops
    #3. ANY type of "Rent To Own Business" from housing right down to furntiure and electronics.
    #4. Credit Repair
    #5. Education
    #6. Business Training Opportunities
    #7. Child Care Services.


    Who has more ideas to add to the list.. and KEEP IT LEGAL.

    Marcus

    The entire depression era "bootlegging era" has turned into a cliche.

    Unfortunately, many people continue to miss the point years later.

    People back then didn't buy booze cuz it was illegal...they bought booze cuz it was something they desperately wanted....legal or illegal...didn't matter.

    IT'S A LITTLE THEORY OF MINE THAT GOES LIKE THIS...SELL STUFF PEOPLE WANT. Cuz those "things" are recession proof.

    But instead...marketers like to watch the news...get slick..and try and out think the market. Why?

    Why not just keep selling what people keep buying...and have been buyin' since the beginning of time? Why fight that trend? Never understood that.

    Booze has...and will... sell in any era..including now. And today it's legal. Booze will sell in boom times and times of utter despair. Often at a higher price in the latter scenario.

    The only difference between today and back then...is the scarcity factor of the depression era...that allowed savvy guys like Joe Kennedy to jack up the price of his home made bottles of Ripple.

    That's called free enterprise. Joe and Capone took the risk...they adjusted their prices accordingly. Capiche.

    Every time the economy goes in the tank everyone comes up with this list of stuff they think people will buy simply cuz the economic climate sucks.

    Truth is...people will buy what they always buy.....whether the stock market is booming or bearing.

    Again..the 7 DEADLY SINS ARE RECESSION PROOF!

    Whether you'se people accept this or not...or whether you'se like it or not...here's the real deal from the streets....

    People will always buy booze...they will always find money to bet on the horse in the 5 th race....they will keep purchasing lotto tickets...and they will continue to buy the magazine with girls of questionable moral fiber inside the pages of same.

    History will easily validate my premise.

    I have learned long ago...it's always better to go with the trend...go with the flow...rather then trying to reinvent it.


    xxx Vegas Vince

    Legend.
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    • Profile picture of the author Clyde Dennis
      Originally Posted by VegasVince View Post

      ..the 7 DEADLY SINS ARE RECESSION PROOF!
      That my friends pretty much sums it up!
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  • Profile picture of the author bgmacaw
    Just a little history note.

    Bootleggers made money during National Prohibition which lasted from 1920 until 1933. The Great Depression lasted roughly from 1929 until 1939 (or 1946 or 1948 by some measures). While there is some overlap, they really represent two different periods, the boom time of the 1920's and the depression of the 1930s. The Great Depression actually put considerable financial strain on organized crime syndicates, such as Al Capone's in Chicago. Many former bootleggers turned to other pursuits, such as robbery. The 'popular' criminals of the 1920's were the bootleggers, but in the 1930's they were the likes of John Dillinger and Bonny and Clyde.

    I think a better representation than the bootlegger would be "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou"'s John Goodman's Bible salesman/con-man character, Big Dan Teague:

    What kind of work you do, Big Dan?

    Sales, Mr McGill, sales! What do I sell? The truth, every blessed word of it. From Genesis down to Revelations. Yes, the word of God, which, let me say,there’s damn good money in during these times of woe and want. People want answers, and Big Dan sells the only book that’s got ‘em. And what do you do, you and your, uh, tongue-tied friend?

    We, uh…We’re adventurers, sir, pursuing an opportunity, but we’re open to others as well.

    I like you. I’m gonna propose you a proposition. You cover my bill for now, get your dinner wrapped picnic-style and we’ll retire to more private environs, where I’ll reveal how to make vast amounts of money in the service of God Almighty.
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    • Profile picture of the author SteveJohnson
      Originally Posted by Richard Odell View Post

      Credit repair agencies will be working overtime, as will the insolvency help companies. Debt collection firms will be in seventh heaven, as will the "repro men".
      I read a quote the other day (if it's important, I'll dig up where) from the owner of a debt collection agency that was asked about that very thing. He said (paraphrasing), "People think this should be a great time for us, but it isn't - we're struggling. We have to collect from people who have money or assets. When those dry up, so does our business. Believe it or not, our best business, like everyone else's, is in the boom times. More money out there, the more we can collect."
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  • Profile picture of the author nicholasb
    the movie industry,

    Even during the depression people still went to see movies to escape their lives for a few hours.
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  • Profile picture of the author The Wanderer
    Anything to do with recycling. Vegetable gardening and rabbit and chicken raising. Anything that saves money.
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  • Profile picture of the author CIIC
    Ahem...

    Lemonade Stands.

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  • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
    Offer products that provide the simple pleasures.
    tobacco
    liqour
    fast food
    video, cards and board games

    If you anticipate shortages:
    batteries of all types
    memory for computers, cameras, etc.
    light bulbs
    toilet paper
    canned goods
    ammo

    As for info products, offer how-to products designed to help people save money:

    urban gardening
    raising rabbits, chickens, etc. for meat
    canning, juicing, etc.
    how to make or mend your own clothes, shoes, etc.
    wine and beer making
    pottery making
    auto, motorcycle and bike repair
    hydroponics
    delicious foods on a slim budget
    home remedies
    do it yourself pet grooming and care
    home repair
    how to make money during rough times info

    Use your own special skills or hobbies to come up with ideas...
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  • Profile picture of the author GuruGazette
    I agree with the save money/do it yourself stuff. Basically self sustainability and possibly even survival stuff.

    - Growing your own food/hunting/living off the land
    - Cooking your own meals (recipes, instructions, basics - many people have grown up without being taught basic cooking skills)
    - Making your own clothes/shoes/furniture/etc
    - Trash to treasure/recycling
    - Fixing your own car/tv/vcr/etc
    - Generating your own electricity/heat/cooling
    - Frugal living/shopping

    and Yes all the "sins"
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      Originally Posted by Dan C. Rinnert View Post

      What about entertainment?

      On the one hand, it seems like that would be the first expense you'd cut out. But, it seems like there was a fair amount of fiction that came out of the 1930's. While unemployment reached a high of 25%, it seems there were still jobs to be found in entertainment. Illustrators drew comic strips, films were still being made--somebody had to be making money at these things.

      Maybe, even when you don't have a lot of money to spend, you still might save a bit for a comic, a book or a weekend movie--something to forget about your troubles for a little while.
      I think the key will be cheap entertainment. The same people who can no longer pony up $2,000 for a cruise will find the $12 to see a movie or the $4 to rent it.

      There will also be opportunity at the other end of the scale. The wealthy will still seek out exclusive experiences.

      Originally Posted by KenStrong View Post

      Pretty much anything being sold to the wealthiest people will continue to do well.
      Spot on. Here in my part of Florida, the housing crash hit like an atomic bomb. Yet I just read an interview with a Realtor specializing in high-end properties who said his business had barely dropped at all.

      Originally Posted by steveinidaho View Post

      I read a quote the other day (if it's important, I'll dig up where) from the owner of a debt collection agency that was asked about that very thing. He said (paraphrasing), "People think this should be a great time for us, but it isn't - we're struggling. We have to collect from people who have money or assets. When those dry up, so does our business. Believe it or not, our best business, like everyone else's, is in the boom times. More money out there, the more we can collect."
      I spent the recession at the end of the Jimmy Carter years [shudder] working as a collector for J.C. Penney. It may have been the most depressing, demoralizing job I've ever held. Day after day, hour after hour, pounding the phone trying to get people to pay on their store credit card instead of their utilities or insurance. You could not pay me enough to take that job again...
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  • Profile picture of the author NoBoss
    [QUOTE=Corwinnx;249314]
    I beg the question, "What business model do YOU think will
    thrive in this economy we are in right now?"


    ...WALMART...

    While others file bankruptcy....they keep rising. Up
    10% last week. And climbing. Consumers love bargains.

    WALMART is looking for affiliates. Think about it.

    ...Doug
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    ...the more they'll give you what you need." Zig Ziglar

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    • Profile picture of the author chazlcom
      [DELETED]
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  • Profile picture of the author looseleafpress
    Pawn Brokers will do fairly well in this current environment. They are the lender of last resort for the group that will be most affected by the current recession.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sandi Valentine
    I agree with Vince. Vices are recession proof - people want to feel good when times suck. As always, there's big money to be found in gambling, the adult industry, etc.
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  • Profile picture of the author Chris Lockwood
    I think someone's memory is foggy. Prohibition ran from 1920-1933. The Depression was basically the 1930s, so the bootleggers were doing their business long before that started.

    Bootleggers made money because their product was not legally available. It had nothing to do with the Depression or the economy.

    As far as which industries will be successful, two companies reporting good earnings recently are McDonald's and Walmart. What do they have in common? Low-priced products.

    Starbucks (known for high prices) just saw earnings drop 97%.
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    • Profile picture of the author Corwinnx
      Chirs,
      Well, my grandmothers are both in their late 80's so I'd say that their memories COULD be foggy, (though both really are sharp as tacks at their ripe ol' ages,) but the question was about who was making money during the depression.

      Not WHY they were making money. Although the 'why' is 'relevant' to the subject, it's not the centrist point of the post. True, booze is going to make money in any economy, whereas certain other businesses, i.e Starbucks ( I just think they have horrible coffe) will not do well in a faltering economy.

      And THAT, my friend, was what I was trying to get at.. what will succeed in THIS economy.

      -Marcus
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  • Profile picture of the author getsmartt
    Wow, everyone missed companies that offer Lay-Away, one of the greatest inventions of the Depression era, that was killed by cheap credit. With credit getting harder to get Lay-Away will enjoy a resurgence.
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  • Profile picture of the author Chris Lockwood
    Wow, it's been a while since I saw a place that offered layaway, not that I was looking for it.

    Is that type of credit really hard to get now? I can't tell from all the credit card offers I get in the mail. I know mortgages are a different story, but I also see lots of ads for 90 days same as cash and so on.
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    • Profile picture of the author getsmartt
      Originally Posted by Chris Lockwood View Post

      Wow, it's been a while since I saw a place that offered layaway, not that I was looking for it.

      Is that type of credit really hard to get now? I can't tell from all the credit card offers I get in the mail. I know mortgages are a different story, but I also see lots of ads for 90 days same as cash and so on.
      Kmart still offers layaway, as a matter of fact they are pushing it in advertising this Christmas, Burlington Coat Factory and T.J Max also offer layaway.

      Credit is getting tight, you will still get a lot of offers mainly from 3rd party (thing CPA) because they pay well, but fewer are getting approved.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ouroboros
    This is a bit off topic, but

    The onset of the great depression and the profits made by bootleggers is entirely co-incidental. The movement that banned alcohol sales just happen to come along about that time...

    Bootleggers will flourish in any economy...IF someone has something you want or need and there is no other source, they will command the price. Look into rum running from Cuba back in the 1800's

    Just wanted to point out that bootleggers didn't make money off the depression...two entirely different markets that made for the perfect storm

    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author hiphil
    eBay is booming.

    Many more people are buying used Christmas gifts this year.
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  • Profile picture of the author The Wanderer
    Corwin-- Chris is right. The equivalent of bootleggers-- people selling illegal products that are in demand-- make money in any market. If your grandparents are in their late 80's they were children during all but the tail end of the Depression. Ask them what their parents and grandparents did for a living during the Depression and how they got by.

    My paternal grandfather was a very savvy businessman. During the course of the Depression he moved from farming to junk salvage and sales to used furniture and finally to new furniture as times improved. His father had been a farmer all his life and had done pretty well. All his savings were in a bank that crashed. As a creditor he was given several small pieces of property in compensation which he rented out for a small income.

    My grandmother's father had been a businessman, owning and managing general stores. While he was still in early middle-age he came down with some sort of disease that kept him bed-ridden for the rest of his life. He switched to real-estate sales and built a quite successful business which he operated from his bed, just using the telephone.

    I think the basic lesson which I take from this is: be flexible. The worse things get, the more you need to look around you for new opportunities and be ready to take them when they arrive. Oh, and keeping in mind my grandfather's maxim isn't a bad idea either: The purpose of business is service.
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    • Profile picture of the author myob
      Invest in the stock market. Quality companies are going for garage sale prices right now. During the depression, my grandfather made a fortune by buying low priced stocks. I did very well during the S&L crisis of 1987, and am positioned to make buckoo bucks when the stock market rebounds this time around. The stock market has historically created more wealth than just about anything else.
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