When the recession hit, Bed Bath & Beyond saw an opportunity. Chief competitor Linens ‘n Things was laden with debt, so Bed Bath & Beyond “decided to destroy them,” says one analyst. It matched every Linens’ discount, issued a barrage of coupons in Linens’ key markets, and, sure enough, Linens soon went bust. It's one of several canny, cutthroat companies that saw the recession as a chance to grab market share from wounded competitors, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Ford gained share by touting its self-reliance as its rivals filed government-backed bankruptcies. Builder Toll Brothers, which stopped buying land during the bubble years, is now scooping it up at a discount. New York Life, flush with cash and stable, no-nonsense insurance policies, boosted its advertising budget 24% to tout its financial strength, and swiftly blew past AIG, Hartford, and Lincoln National. “This is a crazy environment,” says its president, but “we’re built for times like these.”