Money from (almost) nothing: 8 mundane items that became money-making products


In a world of music-playing phones, Internet-enabled refrigerators and satellite-based car navigation, some companies still find success with such low-tech products as urine, dirt and even air. This is not the "money for nothing" Dire Straits sung about in its classic hit, but it's awfully close.

For example, a clever duo from Ireland was inspired by the ground under their feet. Business partners Pat Burke and Alan Jenkins founded the Auld Sod Export Company to sell "Official Irish Dirt" by the pound to those who want to "own a little piece of Ireland no matter how far from the Emerald Isle (they) are." According to an article in The New York Times, the company shipped $2 million worth to the United States in the first 5 to 6 months of launching its web site,, in November 2006.

But they are not the only ones who have taken the simplest of items and turned them into a sales success story. Here we highlight freelance writer Jonathan Berr's list of 8 mundane products that make (or made) money from (almost) nothing.