for 29 October 1996. Updated every TUESDAY.

BIG IDEA Crazy Eddie meets Best Buy... on the web!
25 WORDS <= Sometimes you have to almost give your
product away to make it succeed.
When prices drop through the floor,
lossleader.com shows you where to score.
HARD SELL The story of business is, more often than
not, the story of failure. And as the
prospect of failure nurtures strong
reactions of desperation, careless,
panic-driven schemes often masquerade as
modest proposals. The concept of loss
leaders is one such anomaly, wherein
companies drive up sales by reducing
prices below cost, in the name of
building customer awareness of the brand
and service and establishing consumer
patterns. It's a time-worn tactic, and
one need not search out $49 Southwest
airfares or 99-cent Whoppers to find
footprints of this Armani-clad Yeti -
just look at the web.
Lossleader.com both recognizes and
respects the pretzel logic of this market
proposition while exploiting the
opportunities it presents for
value-minded consumers. While a fool and
his product may easily be parted, those
who supply the cleaver deserve, at
minimum, a butcher's wage. By monitoring
the full grid of consumer industries and
sorting on the basis of location and user
profile, lossleader.com will help users
find bargains while cultivating
much-needed market entropy. Just as
self-destructive tendencies in
individuals often inspire friends to
stage "interventions," lossleader.com,
friend of industry, intervenes on behalf
of shoppers everywhere. Screwball
business antics were never this much fun!
OVERHEAD While initial implementation costs could
be low if the breadth of the service is
kept modest, this enterprise could scale
to be not just a service, but a way of
life for many. Like Consumer Reports,
this could function as an ad-free
service, and even be delivered directly
to people's desktops via time-sensitive
email bulletins or a Pointcast-like
screensaver. Unlike the companies
monitored by lossleader.com, though,
we would launch with a firm
subscription-based revenue model that,
while modest, would more than cover the
nominal expenses of inspecting
traditional value outlets for
irresponsible offers. Within a year of
launch, we predict that the same service
could be repurposed to apply to stock
trading, providing even more lucrative
opportunities for buyers - and ourselves.

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