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Thursday 27 March 2014

Commercial Opportunities


Cash for Pallets (Oakland): photo by efo, 23 March 2014

Makeup of a business opportunity

A business opportunity consists of four integrated elements all of which are to be present within the same timeframe (window of opportunity) and most often within the same domain or geographical location, before it can be claimed as a business opportunity. These four elements are:
  • A need
  • The means to fulfill the need
  • A method to apply the means to fulfill the need and;
  • A method to benefit
With any one of the elements missing, a business opportunity may be developed, by finding the missing element. The more unique the combination of the elements, the more unique the business opportunity. The more control an institution (or individual) has over the elements, the better they are positioned to exploit the opportunity and become a niche market leader.

-- Wikipedia

Primos Autosales (Vallejo, California): photo by efo, 21 January 2014

Times Square: photo by robert holmgren (menlo), 12 April 2013

Flew in from Miami Beach, BOAC (Lennox, California): photo by michaelj1998, 21 March 2014

Smile (Los Angeles, California): photo by michaelj1998, 14 March 2014

Ying Yang (Los Angeles, California): photo by michaelj1998, 20 February 2014

Portland: photo by Austin Granger, 21 March 2014

Portland: photo by Austin Granger, 7 March 2014

Delicious Texas Pit BBQ & Catering, Portland: photo by Austin Granger, 7 March 2014

 Portland, Oregon: photo by Jorge Guadalupe Lizárraga (el zopilote), July 2013

 Portland, Oregon: photo by Jorge Guadalupe Lizárraga (el zopilote), 12 July 2013

  St. Helens, Oregon: photo by Jorge Guadalupe Lizárraga (el zopilote), June 2013

 Fossil, Oregon: photo by Jorge Guadalupe Lizárraga (el zopilote), July 2013

Portland, Oregon: photo by Jorge Guadalupe Lizárraga (el zopilote), August 2013

  Portland, Oregon: photo by Jorge Guadalupe Lizárraga (el zopilote), August 2013


ACravan said...

What a remarkable collection of photos/businesses. How on earth did you locate and assemble all of them? I was interested to look up the definition of "unique" in Webster's and learn that using the word in a comparative sense, e.g., "fairly unique," "more unique," wasn't actually incorrect and can be traced in the history of its usage. So, I guess Wikipedia can't be faulted on that score. That being said, I think I'm going to stop speaking the word and merely think it if I want to because I find the knowledge discordant and disturbing, like some of these weird businesses. Curtis

Nin Andrews said...

Oh I love this.
Love the Wikipedia entry. Good grief.

TC said...


All I can say is that sometimes at the point Wikipedia descends into pure dopiness, it has a way of miraculously revealing a kind of minimalist truth, almost despite itself. Of course there's no implication one way or other as to the ethical or moral aspects of what is being "defined", in that tidy (and hilarious) bullet-point definition.


The weird businesses strike me as cartoon simulacra of larger, less weird businesses.

The old "better mousetrap" seems to be haunting the business psyche, still.

Being stuck in the house with a broken body and one radio station has allowed (well, enforced, really) an inordinate concentration on the daytime consciousness of Americans. Commercial opportunities seem to obsess them without cease.

There's one tremendously noisome spot that runs six times per hour. An aggressive huckster informs us that in mere seconds he can teach anyone to "flip houses using somebody else's money".

(That means, of course, capitalizing boldly upon the misfortunes of others. The American way.)

As for the pictures, I don't know how the words we have available to us could ever say what these images tell us.

As to "How on earth did you locate and assemble all of them?" -- it's seven years of closely following the work of some several hundred photographers, each of whom I find to be a better analyst of what Trollope once called "The Way We Live Now" than an army of paid pundits (any persuasion), or a regiment of "art photographers" (that is, the "official" kind, who are "curated" and have "shows" in "museums").

Hazen said...

From my grandfather, I inherited several years of Fortune magazine from the late ‘30s/early ‘40s, and occasionally, as an adult, I would read them to get a better idea of how the capitalist media interpreted events of that period. One article impressed me greatly. It was a history of a certain US businessman who’d made his fortune in Mexico beginning post WWI. His first big score came when he negotiated, by telegraph, the sale of a large number of bales of cotton—at so many dollars per pound—to a distant buyer. He failed to inform the buyer that the bales of cotton were waterlogged, which naturally boosted his profits enormously. He not only got away with this deception, but was proud of his cleverness at putting one over on a hapless buyer. And the editors of Fortune had no qualms about including this account in their story, which was full of praise and admiration for a “successful” man of affairs. Which is why “business ethics” will always be an oxymoron.

TC said...


The fawning adoration of the heroic masters of capitalism was engraved in the national mythology by Fortune magazine. Who can forget the enthralling invitation to the grand cathedral of money (but... beggars go round by the back door)?

Even as the religion of capitalism was enveloping the aspirations of the nation, however, there arose ripples of irreverent amusement in some quarters.

mis-Fortune (Vanity Fair spoof, 1934), page 1

mis-Fortune (Vanity Fair spoof, 1934), page 2

mis-Fortune (Vanity Fair spoof, 1934), page 3

Unknown said...

Last paragraph first: Thank you. This was a fine, fine composition.

Re the commercials, I remember in about 1985 when the first "no money down real estate investment" ads appeared on tv, my father, who was hospitalized for several months anticipating and recovering from a major surgery, began watching them and became enormously fascinated because he was knowledgeable and sophisticated in the area, and incredibly skeptical/cynical as well.

The ad you're describing belongs to the same genre and is telling while revealing terrible aspects of the human character. It reminds me of those recurring commercials in RoboCop terminating with the tagline: "I'd buy that for a dollar."

If you really have only one radio station, I would like to find a way to obtain at (the very) least one more for you. One radio station is, I think, one too few. Unless you really like it.

But I'd also say that businesses are obviously unequal in their merits. Some people produce items of undoubted use and value. Others don't. Once, a person who is kind of well known and famously disreputable in his field, who was a friend of a boss of mine, told me when I had to tell him that I felt he was trying to defraud us, "Curtis -- ok. I don't want you ever to think of me as the kind of person who would ever try to sell you air." As I said, he was my boss's friend; I just smiled.

Years later I saw this fellow in his youngish and equally disreputable days posed in a photo with Phil Spector, Mort Shuman, Leiber and Stoller, Morris Levy, and one or two other notables. They were at an awards dinner all wearing tuxedos. It seemed to me like a history of the business world in miniature.

I know nothing and feel more and more confused. I'm glad I discovered Graham Greene novels in my 50s.


TC said...


Realtors and insurance agents are continually sniffing out areas of vulnerability in this particular landscape.

These are professions based on the exploitation of the lowest human motives. Possessiveness, fear, acquisitiveness, the escape from material anxiety.

The house-flipping thing is a kind of sport. It has its own media "platforms".

Flip It To Win It

When a house comes up empty, the realtors arrive with props. They clear out everything, truck in (temporary) furniture, and fancy things up so that it "appears" to be a pleasant, lived-in home. This goes to extreme detail, as in construction of movie sets. Typically there will be a comfortable sofa with a woman's shawl draped across it, a pair of reading glasses and a book left open, as if the reader had just stepped out for a moment.

A sort of diorama representing an ideal concept of wealth and life style and happiness.

All a total lie, of course.

About the one radio station, I don't like it much, but it's the one I get. The sound of idiotic talk show voices echoes through the rooms. I don't actually listen to it. But it drowns out a bit of the continuous traffic noise -- the realtors and insurance people racing back and forth to and from the money.

No cable, so no tv, which is just as well.

Closing down the incoming information becomes essential when physical distress reaches a certain point, and there is no relief in sight.

For me any more, entertainment is not an issue.

Everything now is in the mind, for better or worse, mostly the latter (of course). The human mind is a difficult thing to trust. Even, or perhaps even especially, I find, one's own.

Hazen said...

And then there are The Developers of this and that, usurpers of space and light: the worst, to my mind. But they and the real estate folks are only handmaidens of the bankers, the real captains of our economy of debt . . . a numbers racket that’s run not out of some dingy backroom, but right up front, on Wall Street.

To shift gears in mid-stream (?!) I should also second Curtis and say how much I like the photos in this post. The Times Square image says it well: a self-canceling,meaningless blur of messages.

tpw said...

Thanks for this one, Tom. I was laughing all the way through it.

TC said...

Thanks very much, Terry. Each one of these photos seemed to me to give a fresh and terrible revelation, a new angle of viewing the desolation; each might have come out of Ed's House of Gems.

The awful noir humour of the period can almost make one cry, even as it makes one laugh quietly to oneself, in the satisfaction there are actually artists out there who see the b.s. for what it is, and help us to see it too.

And Oh yes, Hazen, Our Little Town has been Developed too!

There is, for example, no transportation for old sick people to the anyway remote, widely dispersed, overcrowded and largely useless medical facilities (though of course UC students and Google employees get packed up and dropped off on spacious, expensive transit vehicles, as they go about their stress-shielded, lightweight, portable and disposable New Generation days).

Whereas the "liberal" mayor industriously cuddles up to every Development that happens to flop on his plate at that high end Cathedral of Cuisine which is honoured with hushed reverence by tourists from far away, who stand in the doorway taking pictures of each other even as the derelicts wander past in dazed detachment.

The City is notorious among its citizens for its wastefulness and overspending on idiotic projects that keep the redundant workers quite well paid.

But the bankers, oh no, let's not forget them, for it's surely a case of without them, nothing.

Not that they're not hard-working and all.

For instance, that wonderful Oakland-Modern couch pictured by efo in the brilliant top shot here -- designed, manufactured, shipped and slept in exclusively by generous, civic-minded members of the local banking community.

Mose23 said...

There are creatures who've built up vast consultancies on the basis of a paragraph like that.

Dancin' Bare: there's a place that knows how to sell itself.