It's craptastic!

When the economy is in the toilet, there's no such thing as dirty money

Here's an idea worth shitting on.

A group of business majors at the University of Minnesota have taken a project from their Entrepreneurship in Action class to professional levels, all with the help of a little toilet paper.

After months of brainstorming the students decided to form White Space Media, a company that sells ad space on bathroom tissue.

It's the type of thing that clients are initially hesitant about, says Andy Potasek, a senior at the school. But, once you get over the whole toilet paper issue, you realize it's really effective. Think about it: You have the full, undivided attention of a captive audience.

White Space Media launched its first campaign last week, distributing 1,000 rolls of ink-lined tissue advertising Boynton Health Service and promoting public health. With sayings like, "If you're reading this, you need to wash your hands when you're done" and "Everything working OK? If not go to Boynton," the advertisements are designed to get more students thinking about their personal health.

"I wasn't sure what to think," says Dave Golden, director of public health and communications at Boynton Health Service. "You're putting your company name on toilet paper and you wonder, 'Would Coca Cola do this?' I don't know."

The clinic staff was quick to question whether the toilet paper would be sanitary and if the dark ink would smear on their customers' bums. But once those concerns were wiped away, they jumped on board.

"We're much more comfortable with fluids and stuff here," Golden quipped about the health service. "I'm just happy it's two ply. It's kind of nice." —Beth Walton

 

Adventures in counterfeiting

Stop me if you've heard this before: A mortgage broker, a representative of a Thai petroleum company, and an undercover Secret Service agent walk into a Caribou Coffee.

The case of Chuchai Sristaya, currently before a U.S. magistrate downtown, is a bumbling tale of international intrigue.

Sristaya flew from Bangkok to Minneapolis in January. He claimed to represent the chairman of the Sukhothai Petroleum Company and carried a brown leather briefcase with two $100,000 United States Series 1934 Gold Certificates inside—the largest denomination of U.S. currency ever manufactured. He was looking to sell the certificates for .80 cents on the dollar.

Through a business partner, Sristaya got in touch with Ross Sveback of Stillwater-based Lifestyle Mortgages, who promptly contacted the Feds. Sveback, Sristaya, and an undercover Secret Service agent arranged to meet at the Caribou Coffee on Washington Avenue, a convenient two-block walk to a cell in the Federal Courthouse.

When Sristaya presented the two certificates, the agent knew straight away he was looking at fakes. First, because the 1934 certificates never went public, and all were accounted for. Second: The certificates, smuggled all the way from Thailand, were clearly not printed by the U.S. mint but rather by a clearly post-1934 product: the inkjet printer. —Jeff Severns Guntzel

 

High rent district

If it seems to sting a little extra every time your rent is due, there's a reason: According to a study released last month by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Minnesota's got the highest rental prices of any state in the Midwest.

Worst off are those making the minimum wage, the study finds. For a full-time worker earning $6.15 an hour, an affordable apartment, costing 30 percent of the renter's income—should be $320.

Try finding a rattrap for anything less than $500 in the Twin Cities.

"Working full-time simply is not enough to afford a modest rental apartment in Minnesota," says Danilo Pelletiere, the study's director. Jonathan Kaminsky

 
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