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"Keep Saint Paul Boring" T-shirt is a joke made out of love

About three dozen people, or roughly 1 in 4 St. Paul residents, have already bought one of the shirts.

About three dozen people, or roughly 1 in 4 St. Paul residents, have already bought one of the shirts.

St. Paul is a city of natural beauty and historical import. Its distinct neighborhoods have unique character and charm, and the impressive, sometimes beautiful state office buildings in and near the Capitol complex help keep the state of Minnesota humming. 

All that said, it's got a bit of a reputation as the sleepier twin sister to its world-beating neighbor, Minneapolis. One resident is taking this image problem head-on, creating a T-shirt that both acknowledges the notion that St. Paul is a bit dull while also, in his mind, making fun of the wrong-headed people who think that's true. 

Nick Hannula launched his "Keep Saint Paul Boring" T-shirt campaign earlier this week, expecting to sell a handful, literally. 

"I didn’t expect it to sell more than five,' he says. "I've got good cadre of twitter friends who are snarky and funny, and share my sense of humor. I thought we’d get a couple who wanted to buy it, and not hit 15."

That number of sales was required for Hannula to get a round of shirts printed by the Teespring website. Hannula is surprised and happy to report that the shirts have been selling like hotcakes at Mickey's Diner, at least relative to expectations: By midday Wednesday, he'd sold 34 and counting.

After reaching the 15-shirt threshold in about 24 hours, Hannula bumped the price by a buck to $12 (shipping not included), meaning he'll rake in a buck-a-shirt profit from now through the end of the campaign, due to end about a week from now.

Does this look boring to you? Look at that steam! You know how exciting that steam is?

Does this look boring to you? Look at that steam! You know how exciting that steam is?

That's not enough dough for Hannula to quit his day job as an analyst for the state. (Is it wrong to point out that job sounds a bit, well, boring?) But interest is enough to convince Hannula his shirt struck a chord with his fellow capital citizens. The shirt is modeled off one Hannula had seen referencing Raleigh, North Carolina, which was itself a send-up of the "Keep Portland Weird" line.

"Playing off our bruised ego, I guess, I thought it’d be funny joke for a little self-deprecation," Hannula says. But he's quick to add: "I'm not satirizing St. Paul. I'm more satirizing attitudes about St. Paul. We don’t lack for interesting places, or people, or institutions." 

In fact, he'd argue that St. Paul, with its history, its arts scene, and sophisticated restaurants, is probably a lot more lively than most of America.  Only when compared to its overachieving neighbor Minneapoils, Hannula says, does St. Paul seem a tad slow. 

Hannula has lived in St. Paul with his fiance for going on three years, but previously lived in Minneapolis while attending grad school at the University of Minnesota. Both have plenty to offer, he said, and his line of shirts should not be taken as a slight at the people on either side of the river. 

"Minneapolis and St. Paul each have their strengths," he says. "I would love to live in Minneapolis again some day. I make fun of Minneapolis, I make fun of St. Paul, but honestly, it’s out of love."