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Bad Times for Some are Bonanzas for Others

With the U.S. economy in deep recession, this is a terrible time to be in the home building or new-car businesses, where sales are way, way down.

By and large, bankers, architects, hoteliers, resort operators and owners of expensive restaurants aren't doing so well, either.

But a surprising number of businesses are prospering.

Soup companies and candy makers, for instance. Soup and chocolates are inexpensive comfort food.

Seed companies and home-improvement stores. "Grow it yourself" and "do it yourself" are bywords in a down economy.

Cosmetics. For whatever reason, people spend more on looking good in tough times - but at the drug store, not fancy spas.

Pizza places and inexpensive restaurants. Eating out, even at a fast-food joint, is seen as a welcome treat.

Movie rental outfits. Almost by definition, movies are an escapist release.

Used car dealers. Automobiles do break down, and Americans still need wheels.

Alcoholic beverages. Beer sales are up, wine stores are doing fine, and corner taverns aren't reporting too many barstool vacancies.

You might not have guessed the next one: It's the makers of coin-counting machines. These days, people in droves are taking their loose change to stores with machines that can turn buckets of coins into more portable paper money.

Finally, although Americans with pets are cutting back on trips to the veterinarian, sales of pet food are strong. After all, in tough times pets are a comfort, too. And unless they're desperate, Americans who are cutting back are reluctant to crimp Fido and Fifi's lifestyle.

Read more of Ted's personal reflections and stories from the road on his blog, Ted Landphair's America.